Bismillah Khan was born in the small village of Dumraon in Bihar. He spent his childhood in the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganga, where his uncle was the official shehnai player in the famous Visvanath temple. It was due to this that Bismillah became inclined toward the Shehnai. At an early age, he familiarized himself with various forms of the music of UP, such as Thumri, Chaiti, Kajri, Sawani, etc. Later he studied Khayal music and mastered a large number of ragas.