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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.