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Top 15 Famous Indian Musical Instruments Names with Description & Pictures

An integral part of Indian classical music is the Indian classical music instruments. These instruments have not only given us memorable music but also many famous Indian musicians who have represented India on the world stage. Today in this blog we will discuss the list of Indian musical instruments along with their pictures.

India is one such country where art and culture are a big part of people’s lives and music by far tops the list. Whether it is a reality show or a concert, the crowd and viewers give a clear indication that India is a land of music.

People in India have been worshipping Goddess Saraswati, who is known for her knowledge and wisdom of music since time immemorial. From the Vedic age till today, classical music has always sustained and played a pivotal part in moulding the journey of Indian music.

In ancient times musical sessions were conducted in the king’s court where music was performed in a pompous way. Today people in different corners of the world witness the aroma of Indian classical music through various concerts performed by maestros in Indian classical music.

An integral part of Indian classical music is the Indian classical music instruments. These instruments have not only given us memorable music but also many famous Indian musicians who have represented India on the world stage. Today in this blog we will discuss the list of Indian musical instruments along with their pictures.

All Indian Music Instruments Names with Pictures


1. Sitar Music Instrument


Sitar is one of the most popular Indian classical music instruments. It has a long neck with twenty metal frets and seven cords. These frets are adjoined with thirteen strings which are tuned to the notes of raga. A round shape or a gourd which acts as a soundboard is grounded at the lower end of the neck of the sitar.

Famous Sitar Music Artists in Indian

Renowned sitar players who have established themselves playing sitar are Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Abdul Halim Zaffar Khan and many more.

Also Read: Indian Classical Music- A Sneak Peak

2. Flute Music Instrument

Whenever we pronounce or imagine the flute, the first image that pops into our mind is the image of Lord Krishna and the melody associated with the instrument. Hence, it proves the importance of the flute which has been associated with Indian music since time immemorial.

Flute Music Instrument Description

The flute is an instrument which provides exuberance in the mind and soul. It is structured into the cylindrical tube of the uniform bore. To produce sound, one must hold the holes with fingers of left and right variations. Similarly, variations of pitch are generated by the length of the air column.

Famous Flute Music Instrument Artists in India

Pt Pannalal Ghosh and Pt Hari Prashad Chaurasia are considered the best curators of flute playing in India.

3. Shehnai Music Instrument

It is a traditional Indian musical instrument where one can hear melodious music on occasions like marriages and temple processions.

Shehnai Music Instrument Description

Shehnai is a double reed instrument with a tapering bore which progressively increases towards the lower side. The Shehnai has finger holes to produce micro-tones.

Famous Shehnai Music Instrument Artists in India

Ustad Bismillah Khan is the unrivalled maestro of the Shehnai.

4. Tabla Music Instrument

The most popular musical instrument used in North India is the Tabla.

Tabla Music Instrument Description

The Tabla consists of a pair of drums – one is the Tabla and the other is the Bayan. The Tabla is made of wood and its upper portion is made of stretched animal skin. The tuning of the Tabla can be adjusted by striking the rim of the Tabla with a small hammer.

The Bayan is the bass drum and is made of metal and the upper portion is a stretched skin. Both drums have a black spot in the centre made of manganese or iron dust. Tabla is mainly occupied by harmonium which is also a well-known Indian classical instrument. 

Famous Tabla Music Instrument Artists in India

Zakir Husain is the renowned personae associated with Tabla.

5. Harmonium Music Instrument

The harmonium is a traditional and popular musical instrument in India.

Harmonium Music Instrument Description

The harmonium has a keyboard of over two and one-half octaves and works on a bellows system. The keyboard is played with the right hand while the left is used to operate the bellows. Harmonium is more popular in North India than in the South.

6. Jaltarangam

Jaltarangam Music Instrument Description

A Jaltarangam consists of a set of eighteen porcelain cups of varying sizes. The cups are arranged before the performer, in order of size. The largest cup is kept on the left side of the performer and the smaller one is placed on the right-hand side. Water is poured into these cups and the pitch is changed by adjusting the amount of water in the cup. The cups are struck with two thin bamboo sticks.

Famous Jaltarangam Music Instrument Artists in India

Milind Tulanka

7. Algoza

It is an instrument that is dying in the new India.

Algoza Music Instrument Description

Used mainly in the music that originates from Sindh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Baloch, Algoze remains popular in folk music. However, we see less and less of it in mainstream music. It is a flute-like instrument with two wooden pipes, attached through a string. The number of holes on each pipe varies. One flute is used for melody, while the other plays drone. It is played by keeping three fingers on each side of the reed and blowing air into it. Recently, it has gained much love in the UK to cater to the Punjabi population residing there.

Famous Algoza Music Instrument Artists in India

(Late) Ustad Khamiso Khan, (Late) Ustad Misri Khan Jamali, Gurmeet Bawa.

8. Ravanahatha

That is one interesting name, isn’t it?

Ravanahatha Music Instrument Description

It is an instrument that finds its roots in Rajasthan. If legend is to be believed, then this instrument was first founded, built and used by the Hela community during the prehistoric times of King Ravan.

It features a bowl-like structure made from the hollow of a coconut which is covered by goatskin. A stick made out of bamboo is attached to this bowl. There are two strings- one of which is made from steel and the other is made from horse hair. Small bells are other pieces of jewellery are often fixed along the bamboo stick.

Some say that this instrument was brought to North India by Lord Hanuman after the battle at Lanka was over. It has a great part to play in mythological history.

Famous Ravanahatha Music Instrument Artists in India

Dinesh Subhasinghe

9. Mridangam

It is a primary accompaniment of Carnatic music.

Mridangam Music Instrument Description

Mridangam finds its place in ancient temples, music, hymns, and paintings, especially in South India. It is a double-sided drum made from jackfruit wood which is known to be very thick. The two open ends are covered with goat skin and leather straps are tied around the circumference to tighten them.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha and Nandi are said to have played this to accompany Lord Shiva’s Tandava. The word Mridangam is derived from two different words, Mrida- meaning earth, and Meaning limb/part, and in earlier days the instrument was made out of these materials.

Famous Mridangam Instrument Artists in India

Nagercoil Ganesa Iyer, Palana Subramaniam Pillai, Palghat Mani Iyer, Palghat R. Raghu

10. Sarangi

This instrument forms an important part of Hindustani music.

Sarangi Music Instrument Description

It is believed that Sarangi is made up of two words- Sar, meaning “essence”, and Ang, meaning “limb/part”. Another theory also says that Sarangi is derived from “sol rang”, which simply means a hundred colours. It is a block-like structure with three hollow chambers, namely- pet, chaati and magaj. The pet is in the lower chamber and is covered with goat skin, on which a thick strip of leather is placed. There are three main playing strings in this instrument, and players use fingertips, nails and surrounding flesh to play them. Not only is this difficult to play, but also difficult to master.

Famous Sarangi Instrument Artists in India

Ram Narayan, Dhruba Ghosh, Surinder Sandhu, AR Rahman

11. Panchavadyam

In the literal sense, it means “an orchestra of five instruments”.

Panchavadyam Music Instrument Description

The five instruments included in this unique ensemble are timila, maddalam, ilathalam, idakka and kombu, where only kombu is a wind instrument, and all others are percussion. It constitutes a pyramid-like rhythmic structure, which goes on increasing in tempo. It is a temple art form that one can find predominantly in South India, more specifically in Kerala. The performance lasts for about two hours and has the artists of each instrument sitting in an oval. The artists use personal improvisations to bring novelty to the art form. Playing Panchavadyam is not an easy task, and requires much dedication and patience from the artist.


Venkichan Swami, Madhava Warrier, Annamamada Achutha Marar

12. Tanpura/Tambura 

Tanpura, also called Tambura or tanpuri forms the root of the ensemble and of the music itself in classical Carnatic and Hindustani musical art. The dynamic acoustic reference chords from which the melodic modes or ragas derive add to the flavour, colour and character of the music.

Tanpura Music Instrument Description

It is a long-necked plucked string instrument that does not play a melody but rather supports and sustains the melody of another instrument or the singer by providing consistent harmony drone or bourdon. The precise timing of plucking, a cycle of four strings in a continuous loop is the determinant factor of the resultant sound. 

While Hindustani musicians favour the term tanpura the Caranatic musicians say tambura or tanpuri. The instrument is available in Miraj style and Tanjore style and is widely used by Hindustani and Carnatic musical artists. 

Famous Tanpura Music Instrument Artists in India 

Gowrishankar Guruswamy, Nellai Krishnan, Indira Sheshadri, Soman Pillai 

13. Ghatam 

Etymologically derived from the Sanskrit term Ghatika (pot) and related to the term Kunda (pitcher) in Telugu and Kundam (water pot) in Tamil, Ghatam is a traditional percussion instrument used in various repertoires across Indian musical culture. Its variant played in Punjabi music is called Gharha and is also analogous to Madga or Pani Mataqa in Rajasthan.

Ghatam Music Instrument Description

Known to be one of the most ancient percussion instruments in India, it is a clay pot with a narrow mouth which slants the music outwards to form a ridge. The instrument is mainly made of clay with brass or copper fillings to create the pitch. 

Ghatams though available in cities like Bangalore and Chennai are widely available in Tamilnadu’s Manamadurai, a place known for high tonal quality ghatams that are prepared with mud of great quality. 

Famous Ghatam Music Instrument Artists in India 

Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram, also known as Vikku Vinayakram is known as the god of Ghatam and is widely attributed to popularising the art. 

Umayalpuram K Narayanaswamy, Tirchy Sankaran, Sukanya Ramgopal 

14. Nadaswaram 

Conventionally considered to be auspicious among Hindu traditional weddings, especially in south Indian temple weddings, Nadaswaram is a part of family instruments known as Mangala Vadyam.  In ancient Tamil texts, the instrument is referred to as Silappatikaram referring to Vanigyam. The instrument is widely popular in Tamil musical culture and Tamil diasporas. 

Nadaswaram Music Instrument Description

It is a double-reed wind instrument partially similar to North India’s Shenai but much longer, with a hardwood body and a large flaring bell that is usually made of metal or wood. Nadaswaram is known to be ‘the world’s loudest non-brass acoustic instrument’.  The instrument is usually played in pairs and is accompanied by a pair of drums usually referred to as Thalvi.  

Famous Nadaswaram Music Instrument Artists in India 

Hirumarukal Nadesa Pillai, Vedaranyam Vedamoorthy, Thiruvarur Latchappa Pillai, T.N Rajarathnam Pillai 

15. Shankha 

Attributed to the sacred symbolism of lord Vishnu in Hindu religious culture, a Shanka is a sea shell of any suitable sea snail which has a hole made for performance embouchure. It is used as a trumpet throughout the civilisations as a ritual in war fields. This can be witnessed in many ancient Indian historical wars and also in Mahabharata’s  Kurukshetra. It is also a symbol of water and female fertility and is the state emblem of Kerala. 

Shankha is also very important in Buddhist rituals and religious practices. It is widely regarded as one of the most famous classical instruments of pancha vadyas which translates to the ‘orchestra of five instruments’, used in temple musical art forms through the ages, especially in South Indian Temples even to date. 

To conclude,

The rich and diverse musical tapestry of India is woven together by a harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary instruments. The top 15 musical instruments highlighted in this exploration reflect the country’s cultural depth and showcase the technical brilliance and artistic mastery that have been passed down through generations.

From the soul-stirring melodies of the sitar to the rhythmic intricacies of the tabla, each instrument plays a pivotal role in shaping India’s musical landscape. As we celebrate the legacy of these instruments, it becomes evident that the musical heritage of India is not just a collection of notes and rhythms but a vibrant expression of the country’s history, spirituality, and artistic ingenuity.

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  1. I am sorry but I need more instruments names with their information because I got only few photos on the Stationary can you recommend me any other link for this??

  2. Im doing a project for school wich I need to think of a indian food, clothing, indian culture, traditions etc. for every letter of the alphabet and I saw flute but when I looked bit deeper to make sure the flute originated from India, I found that it originated in France and now I’m confused,please tell me if it originated in India or france

    • Well i would say if u asking who discovered flute then the answer would be France, because they introduced it to the western world, but flute was invented originated in India.

  3. Thx! I’ve been looking everywhere for something actually helpful, and here it is! really good for my school project 🙂

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