Generally, I do not miss Girija Madhavan’s “Looking back” write-ups as they offer interesting details in the background of her vast and varied experience. Similarly, I did not miss her write-up on the renowned Hindustani singer of the Mysore Royal Court, Gauhar Jaan (Star of Mysore dated July 13).
Earning fame and fortune, Gauhar Jaan led a lavish life with an ostentatious display of wealth and power. Her alliance, a third one, with one Abbas, younger than her, was a disaster. He is alleged to have cheated her and embezzled her funds. It led to a frustrating court case, which left the renowned singer in penury. It was Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar, who invited the impoverished Gauhar Jaan to Mysore and appointed her as the court musician in 1928.
She was given a bungalow to stay in Nazarbad. The ‘Queen of Khayal singer’ died some 18 months later due to failing health in this bungalow. She did not die in the Mysore Palace as mentioned in the article.
It is also known she was buried at the Muslim Burial Grounds (Khabarastan) near Mysore Jail. An elderly Muslim gentleman had agreed to show me her burial. His son, he had told me, was a doctor in Mysore Medical College and he would take us to the Khabarastan in his car. I waited for his response, but, when I contacted him later, he was ill and bed-ridden.
My subsequent efforts to find out the exact burial in the Khabarastan were not fruitful. Unfortunately, the aged gentleman had not revealed his son’s name to me.
The renowned musician who took the music world in awe earning accolades lies buried unknown and unwept in the Mysore Khabarastan.
– Gouri Satya, Sr. Journalist, Chamaraja Mohalla, 16.7.2023
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