A store that caters to the vast choice of Hyderabadi musical taste is Dharam Sangeet Shringar. No, it's not another Music
World or Planet M
- it's a music store in the true meaning of the word. The shop sells musical instruments of all kinds, ranging from sitars to guitars, tabla to drums, shehnai to clarinets, cymbals to jamborees. Located in Gowliguda amidst wholesale paper suppliers and electrical or hardware stores, just beyond the Guru Nanak Chaman in the heart of the Sikh community of the Old City, the store is on the corner of the main road, and isn't easy to miss.
A sign advertising guitar lessons welcomes you inside. And you enter to a whole nother world of weirdly-shaped instruments (especially weird if you aren't one of the aforementioned connoisseurs) hanging from the high ceiling, covering every inch of the wall space.
The acoustics of the shop, even if unintentional, are just right for a first-time customer: the sounds of many different instruments being tested by many different customers at the same time can be heard from the entry, forming a harmonic discord.
Dharam Sangeet Shringar was founded by Baktula Dharampuri about 52 years ago, to promote classical Hindustani Sangeet and culture in an independent India. It is now run by his grandson, Manish Baktula, the third generation of the family. Over the years, the store has grown to accommodate other genres in music, and now sells all kinds of instruments.
You find a plethora of stringed, percussion and wind instruments of every imaginable type. And just as there is variety in the instruments, the customers also include classical masters, dedicated students of music, school children discovering their talents, foreign tourists, and aspiring rock stars forming their first band.
This once-modest shop now has three more branches: New Music Palace and Chords on S D Road, and an extension at Hi-Tech City. But the charm of the main branch on Guru Nanak Marg never seems to fade.
Dharam Sangeet Shringar also supplies wholesale musical instruments to dealers in districts outside Hyderabad. And if you're looking to take classes for any instrument, the folks here are more than happy to guide you in the right direction by providing names and telephone numbers of related music teachers in the city.
If you wish to be properly guided around the shop, however, you must do your homework: the shopkeepers help you only if you know exactly what you want. To quote A R Rahman, "There is only one way to understand music. Keep listening." Or, in this case, keep playing.