The ghatam is a percussion instrument, used in the Carnatic music of South India. It is an earthenware pot; the artist uses the fingers, thumbs, palms, and heels of the hands to strike the outer surface of the ghatam. An airy low-pitch bass sound, called gumki, is created by hitting the mouth of the pot with an open hand. The artist sometimes presses the mouth of the pot against their bare belly, which deepens the tone of the bass stroke, and is another way to produce the "gumki" sound. Different tones can be produced by hitting different areas of the pot with different parts of the hands. The ghatam usually accompanies a mridangam.

Although the ghatam is the same shape as an ordinary Indian domestic clay pot, it is made specifically to be played as an instrument, the tone of the pot must be good and the walls should be of even thickness all around to produce an even tone. In fact, there are two types of ghatams; Madras and Manamadurai. The Madras ghatam is a light pot which requires less force to play, thus is suited for extended fast patterns. The Manamadurai ghatam is a heavy, thick pot with tiny shards of brass mixed into the clay. This type of ghatam is harder to play but produces a sharp metallic ringing sound which is favored by some players.


Bangalore K. Venkataram is one of the oldest and most respected players in South India, who also founded the Percussive Arts Centre in Bangalore. One of the modern virtuosos of the ghatam is T. H. Vinayakram affectionately known as Vikku. His younger brother T. H. Subhashchandran and son V. Umashankar have followed him in playing the instrument. Other Ghatam players have arrived onto the carnatic music scene such as N. Rajaraman and Robert E. Brown. Now a days there are many popular Ghatam players including but not limited to Ghatam Karthik, Ghatam Suresh, T.V. Vaasan, Manjanatha (who also plays tabla, mridangam, kanjira),etc.

Ghatam Udupa is another stalwart who is often compared to Vikku Vinayakram A list of other contemporary players may be found here Ghatam Sukkanya Ramgopal - Popular lady Carnatic Ghatam artiste ,Sukkanya by her GHATA THARANG concept has brought Ghatam, which has been an accompanying instrument in carnatic music concerts, to the main platform.

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