Sitar is one of the common stringed instrument of Northern India. The invention of the Sitar is commonly credited to Amir Khusrau, the great musician and statesman at the court of the Khilji. The name Sitar is derived from the Persian expression 'Seh-tar' meaning 'three strings'.
In appearance Sitar is very much similar to Tambura. The body of Sitar is more or less spherical gourd at the lower end. The gourd is almost flat, like the back of a tortoise. Such a Sitar is called 'Kachchawa'.
The finger-board of the Sitar is about three feet long and three inches wide, hollow and deeply concave, covered with a thin piece of wood. There are sixteen to twenty-two slightly curved frets of brass or silver which are secured to the finger-board by pieces of gut.
The Sitar originally had only three strings, but the modern one's has a total number of seven strings which are fastened to pegs on the neck and the sides. These include the side strings (Chikari). Side strings are used both for the drone and rhythmic accompaniment.
There are eleven or twelve sympathetic strings (Tarab) which runs almost parallel to the main strings under the frets. These tarabs are secured to small pegs fixed at the side of the finger-board. These strings are tuned to produce the scale of the melody.
The Sitar is played by means of wire plectrum (Mizrab) worn on the forefinger of the right hand. All the styles peculiar to instrumental music namely; alap, jod, meend etc. can be played on this instrument with marked effect. Artists such as Ravi Shankar have well known this instrument around the world.