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Chhotelal Pal’s Aalha group comes from the Fatehpur district of UP, which lies on the banks of the Yamuna River bordering the Awadh region. Members of the group come from poor backgrounds and are daily wage labourers and sheepherders. The group is led by Chhotelal, a self-taught musician who speaks in the region’s distinct dialect. They specialise in performing Aalha, a folk genre from the Bundelkhand region in UP.

Alha is a narration-based folk music that tells the story of Bundeli warriors, Alha and Udhal, who fought on behalf of king Parmal against the invading armies of Prithviraj Chauhan in the medieval period. The tales are filled with mythologised anecdotes to pay homage to the bravery and courage displayed by the warriors and an ode to all the other warriors who lived and fought for Bundelkhand. The songs celebrate the martyrs’ sacrifice for the nation’s building. The genre is also an ode to Bundelkhand, praising its many places of historical importance – from Jhansi to Chitrakoot to Fatehpur – and the important people who lived there. Written in the chaste Bundeli language, Alha is the traditional folk music of the region.

The group has performed for about 15 years in various places around Bundelkhand, like Mahoba, Maihar, Jhansi and others places. Maihar, in particular, holds a special significance for Alha performers. It houses the temple of the goddess Sharda, to whom Alha and Udhal were devoted. The group frequently performs in festivals and other ceremonies at Maihar. The group has also recorded with Kanhaiya Cassette in Jhansi.





Abhishek Sharma




Contact CHHOTELAL at +91 7570068077