New Delhi: Legendary Kathak dancer Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away on Sunday at his home in Delhi after suffering a heart attack.
The 83-year-old Maharaj was a recipient of the country's second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan.
He was fondly known as Pandit ji or Maharaj ji by his disciples and followers.
According to reports, he was playing with his grandsons late on Sunday night when his health deteriorated and he became unconscious. After he was imediately rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead.
Pandit Birju Maharaj had been suffering from a kidney ailment and was under dialysis treatment.
He was a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers, which includes his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj.
He was also a great drummer with the ability to play nearly all drums with ease and precision. He was especially fond of playing Tabla and Naal.
Taking to the micro-blogging site Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his death is an ''irreparable loss'' to the entire art world.
''Deeply saddened by the demise of Pandit Birju Maharaj ji, who gave Indian dance art a unique recognition across the world. His passing is an irreparable loss to the entire art world. My condolences to his family and fans in this hour of grief. om Shanti!,'' he tweeted.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman described the artiste as a "legend of performing arts".
"Extremely saddened by the news about the passing away of Legendary Kathak Dancer- Pandit Birju Maharaj ji. We have lost an unparalleled institution in the field of the performing arts. He has influenced many generations through his genius. May he rest in peace," singer Adnan Sami tweeted.
''ॐ शान्ति! My heartfelt condolences to his family & near ones. It's an end of an era.Sad to know about the demise of kathak legend & vocalist Padma Vibhushan Pandit #birjumaharaj ji after suffering a heart attack in Delhi,'' tweeted filmmaker Ashoke Pandit.