Bhatiyali is the music of mystic rivers and the lives of boatmen rowing gently upon them. It is distinguished for its long drawn notes. Bhatiyali starts at a high pitch, and slowly settles, gently meandering into low notes The metaphor of river and search for direction is interminable.

Bhatiyali Featured Artists

History of Bhatiyali

Bhatiyali is a folk song form known for its long-drawn notes and is traditionally sung by boatmen. Some say that the name’s origin is in the word ‘bhati’ but others opine that the word is ‘Bhata’, meaning ‘ebbing tide’. Bhatiyali is also called ‘Bhati Desher Gaan’ and is related to the Mystic River. The music is inspired by the confluence of nature and expresses one’s pure love for his/her beloved through simple language. Some songs depict the love of Radha-Krishna.

Historically, Bhatiyali gained popularity in Mymensingh and Sylhet of undivided Bengal and the Sunderbans. Later, it spread across Bengal and even reached the banks of the Brahmaputra in Assam.

Many legendary singers sung Bhatiyali. Notable composers-singers include Miraz Ali, Ukil Munshi, Rashid Uddin and Jalal Khan. Singers like Abbasuddin, and later Malay Ganguly and Bari Siddiki, made Bhatiyali popular before Sachin Dev Burman, Girin Chakraborty, Hemanga Biswas, Suren Chakraborty, Nirmalendu Chowdhury and Amar Pal took it to new heights. Rabindranath Tagore was also deeply influenced by Bhatiyali, as is reflected in many of his songs. The Golden Age of Bhatiyali was 1930-1950.


Several distinguished composers and artists contributed this folk tradition which reached its peak during the 1950s. However, multiple factors led the tradition to a path of decline through the years and the downfall continues. Today, there are no artists or composers of iconic status who can inspire the new generations. Local Bhatiyali artists do not have much exposure. New generation artists are deviating from the original form. Recognition and earnings of the instrumentalists are much less when compared to the singers.

Cyclone Aila in 2009 devastated the lives of several artists in the Sunderbans. Bhatiyali has survived because of a few living legends and their love for this music genre. The only young artist who has established himself as a Bhatiyali exponent in mainstream music industry and received recognition is Saurav Mani. He is invited to perform at many events, including popular shows like MTV Coke Studio.


There are 45 Bhatiyali artists in the two districts of North and South 24 Parganas who are engaged with the Rural Craft and Cultural Hubs (RCCH) project.