The counterpart of the mridangam in the North of India is called the tabla bhayan.
It can be described as the mridangam or pakavaj cut into two part thereby creating the tabla and the bhayan. It is said that the great Amir Khusro created the pakavaj from the mridangam and then cut the pakavaj into two parts to create the tabla bhayan. The right hand drum called the tabla which is oval shaped is carved out of a single block of wood and the opening on the one end is covered with two layers of hide. In the middle of the first layer a permanent black mixture of rice paste and black powder is applied, this provides the rich treble sound and pitch determination. The cap on the tabla is secured around with a strap and these are used for tuning purposes and tensioning of the cap all around the table there a wood cylindrical blocks which are used to tune the tabla by tapping on it up or down to increase or decrease the pitch. The tabla has a very bright and high pitched sound. The left hand side drum called the bhayan is usually bigger than the tabla, is made of metal and is bowl shaped. It has a hide cap of two layers secured around the drum with a strap or thin rope. Here again thin blocks are placed in between the straps to regulate the tuning. It also has a layer of black paste applied to one end of the cap.
The bhayan has a very deep and rich sound and can be regulated to produce a variety of colourful sounds.
There are various gharanas (traditions) of tabla playing like the Punjabi, Delhi, Banaras, Thirakwa, etc.