The Shankh, a popular, ancient wind instrument, is associated with temples. It is often blown at religious festivals and rituals to drive away evil spirits and demons. Amaravathi and Sanchi sculptures of the 3rd century B C have mentioned about this instrument. In Hindu mythology, Shankh is sacred and was used during wars. The Mahabharata
mentions a unique Shankh called 'Panchajanya' used by Lord Krishna
. Built from conch shell, the Shankh produces a powerful sound. Sustained breath control and stamina are needed to use this instrument. The player blows at the open pointed top of the shell with taut lips. The pitch varies according to the lip tension.
The shankh has only limited musical applications. It has just one note, however, by controlling the breath, the player may vary the magnitude, tone and resonance.