A History of Kartar Chand Sitars
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Kartar Chand Sharma, nephew of Rikhi Ram Sharma and founder of Kartar Music House, was born in 1924 or 1925.
His brother, Hari Chand, was born circa-1935.
In 1943, Kartar Chand Sharma and Hansraj Sharma, also a nephew of Rikhi Ram, joined their uncle and Mohan Singh at Sher Mohammad Sitar Makers in Lahore. Kartar Chand and Hansraj both were from Himachal Pradesh and had good carpentry skills. Rikhi Ram, Hansraj Sharma, and Mohan Singh made sitars together at Sher Mohammad until partition in 1947.
As a result of partition, Rikhi Ram Sharma, Kartar Chand Sharma, & Hansraj Sharma moved to Delhi and started the Rikhi Ram Musical Instrument Mfg. Co. in Paharganj. The original location is now demolished. Rikhi Ram Sharma, Kartar Chand Sharma, & Hansraj Sharma continued to work together until 1959.
Kartar Chand’s brother, Hari Chand, arrived in Delhi in 1954. He was married in 1955 and began working as a mechanic/craftsman at TW Carriage & Wagons workshop for the Northern Railway in Delhi.
Rikhi Ram Sharma, Kartar Chand Sharma, & Hansraj Sharma broke up in 1959, and the original Rikhi Ram workshop in Paharganj closed down. Rikhi Ram Sharma, together with his son, Bishan Das Sharma, started a new workshop in another location. Kartar Chand Sharma started his own workshop, Kartar Chand Musical Instruments Manufacturer.
n 1962, Hari Chand quit this job to join his brother Kartar Chand in Paharganj. Together, they started making sitars in the Kartar Chand Hari Chand shop at 9050/1 Multani Dhanda, Paharganj, New Delhi 110055. That same year, Hansraj started Raj Musicals near Patel Nagar.
Kartar Chand and Hari Chand adopted the 14-year-old Kartar (Kaku) Chand Dhiman as a helper in 1974. Kaku’s uncle was working at that time in the Rikhi Ram Sharma shop and had asked to Kartar Chand Sharma to teach his nephew how to make sitars.
The ten-month apprenticeship of luthier and scholar Jay Scott Hackleman at the Kartar Chand Hari Chand shop started in January 1987.
Kartar Chand Sharma passed away in January 1993, at the age of 69. Hari Chand Sharma continued the Paharganj Shop alone, assisted by Kaku, who also operated a mobile sitar maintenance and repair service in New Delhi.
Scott Hackleman's landmark paper in which he chronicled his internship at the Kartar Chand Hari Chand shop was published in 2002. Sitar Making in India, JOURNAL of THE GUILD of AMERICAN LUTHIERS, NUMBER 67 / FALL 2002.
Hari Chand built his last complet