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CHIMNABAI I (1864-1884)

Born Laksmi Bai of Tanjore, she was the first wife of Maharaja Sayajirao III Gopalrao Gaekwad of Baroda, whom she married in 1880. He was an enlightened prince who after ascending the throne established the Baroda College as one of his first public acts. Coming from the cultured court of Tanjore, Chimnabai I was trained in classical dance and Carnatic music, and brought her own dance troupe to Baroda. Other masters and virtuosos followed them, including Nattuvanar Appaswamy and his wife Kantimati, who had studied with Kannusamy and Vadively, two members of the Tanjore Quartet. Appaswamy and Kantimati’s son took the name Tanjorekar and the family continued to teach music and dance. They left for Lucknow but were recalled to Baroda in 1949 by thr reigning Raja to teach in the Music Department in the Kalavan Palace, later absorbed into the Maharaja Sayajirao University. Later, the Tanjorekars established the Tanjore Dance Music and Art Research Centre at Baroda. Chimnabai was instrumental in making Bardoa a flourishing centre of Indian classical dance and music. However she died young from tuberculosis before she could consolidate her efforts. Sayajirao married Lakshmibai Mohite on in 1885 who became Chimnabai II upon her wedding.
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