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Pahari Paintings

Saturday, July 04th, 2009 | Author:

pahariOne of the rich but relatively less known traditions of Indian paintings is Pahari Paintings. As the name suggests the paintings are from the hills of India. The credit of this rich tradition goes to Rajput kings of Himachal Pradesh. The kings were known for their great taste of art and culture. They patronized the tradition of Pahari paintings during 17th to the 19th century. The beauty of this Northern state greatly inspired the artists to create mesmerizing pieces of art. Generally, the backdrop of these paintings is breathtaking landscapes of the mountain ranges. Pahari paintings are mostly in miniature style.


One interesting aspect of Pahari painting is sort of modification or evolution it has undergone in last few centuries. Three distinct schools of Basohli, Guler-Kangra and Sikh have clearly defined this wonderful tradition. If we talk individually about these schools then Basohli School refers to early stage of Pahari painting. It started in 17th century and it has some unique characteristics. The most distinct characteristics is usage of bright colors like red, brown, green and yellow in the background of art works. Mythological characters were the primary themes of this school.


Guler-Kangra School had its time during 18th century. This school lots of change in Basholi style. As the name suggests, this style got developed in Guler and Kangra area and boasted of particular traits. Guler-Kangra style was more subtle in nature and had more of a lyrical nature. Delicate and fresher hues gave a distinct feel to Pahari paintings. This was followed by Sikh school which incidentally was the last developmental phase in Pahari painting. Though, it did not last long because of its raw theme.

History of the Kangra paintings

Sunday, May 31st, 2009 | Author:

kangra_painting1_tIt is said that Kangra style originated in the first half of the eighteenth century in a small hill state ‘Guler’ in the Lower Himalayas. Here, a small family of Kashmiri painters who were trained in the Mughal style of paintings sought shelter at the court of Raja Dalip Singh of Guler.


The early phase of Kangra paintings was thus commonly known as the Guler painting era. Sometimes, it was also commonly known as the Kangra Kalam. These new painters interacted with the local artists of Guler and praised the beautiful landscapes and environment of Guler.  The artists beautifully depicted the landscapes on the country; they painted love themes of the eternal love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Fresh colours and naturalistic tone made these paintings highly baroque and graceful in style.

The colors were extracted from minerals, plants and vegetables and enamel-like luster. Lush greenery, brooks, springs were the recurrent images that were seen on the Kangra style of paintings.


Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch who was a great patron of Kangra art made this style extremely popular during his reign. The Kangra painters received great commission while others received commission on form on lands. Maharaja Sansar Chand was an ardent devotee of Krishna. He would and commission painters to paint subjects based on the love and life of Lord Krishna. The Guler-Kangra art is precise, fluid, lyrical and naturalistic in its tone and themes. In these styles the faces very ornately and delicately modeled.

Kangra Paintings

Saturday, May 30th, 2009 | Author:

radkri2There are so many different types of paintings in India, some of which have been obsolete, while some have not been that popular. On the other hand, some schools of arts have emerged and have been significantly popular in keeping India on high grounds in the international art market and art industry. Thus, one of the better known gifts of Indian to the global art world is Kangra paintings. Kangra was a princely state in Himchal Pradesh. It is this place that patronized this art. The popularity of Kangra paintings accelerated after the fading of the Basohli School of painting in mid-eighteenth century. Soon later, Kangra paintings emerged in great magnitude and volume and the Pahari painting school, came to be known as Kangra paintings. The epicenters of Kangra paintings are Guler, Basohli, Chamba, Nurpur, Bilaspur and Kangra. Later this style also spread in Mandi, Suket, Kulu, Arki, Nalagarh and Tehri Garhwal. Today, this style is collectively known as Pahari paintings. In the 17th and 19th centuries, Kangra paintings were patronized by the Rajput rulers and thus they belong to the School of Pahari paintings


Pahari, which means hilly in Hindi language, were paintings that were made in the hilly regions of the ever so beautiful Himachal Pradesh. It is the development and the evolution of the Pahari paintings, which the Kangra School of paintings has evolved. Under the patronage of Maharaja Sansar Chand, who was an early patron of Kangra style, it became the most important center of Pahari painting.