Pahari Style of Painting

The Pahari region comprises the present State of Himachal Pradesh, some adjoining areas of the Punjab, the area of Union Territory of Jammu in the Jammu and Kashmir State and Garhwal in Uttar Pradesh. The whole of this area was divided into small States ruled by the Rajput princes and were often engaged in welfare. These States were centres of great artistic activity from the latter half of the 17th to nearly the middle of the 19th century.

This school of painting is primarily characterized by a coarsely flamboyant style which blossomed into the most exquisite and sophisticated style of Indian painting


  • This school of Pahari painting received patronage from Raja Kripal Pal
  • Famous paintings belonging to this school:
    • An artist named Devidasa executed miniatures in the form of the Rasamanjari illustrations in 1694 A.D.
    • An illustration from a series of Gita Govinda painted by artist Manaku in 1730 A.D is another famous example of this school of painting
  • What can be gathered from the above paintings?
    • There is a change in the facial type which becomes a little heavier and also in the tree forms which assume a somewhat naturalistic character, which may be due to the influence of the Mughal painting.
    • There is the use of strong and contrasting colours, monochrome background, large eyes, bold drawing, use of beetles wings for showing diamonds in ornaments, narrow sky and the red border are observable in this miniature.

Indian Paintings

Figure: Devi rides on a Chariot, Basohli, and Pahari School of Painting

The name Kangra style is given to this group of painting for the reason that they are identical in style to the portraits of Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. Paintings of the Kangra style are attributed mainly to the Nainsukh family.

Some of the Pahari painters found patronage in the Punjab under Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Sikh nobility in the beginning of the 19th century and executed portraits and other miniatures in a modified version of the Kangra style which continued till the middle of the 19th century.

Salient features of this school of art:

  1. The delicacy of drawing and quality of naturalism are the stand-out features of this school of art
  2. The Kangra style is by far the most poetic and lyrical of Indian styles marked with serene beauty and delicacy of execution.
  3. Distinctive is the delineation of the female face, with a straight nose in line with the forehead, which came in vogue around the 1790s, is the most distinctive feature of this style.
  4. Most popular themes that were painted were the Bhagvata Purana, Gita Govinda, Nala Damayanti, Bihari Satsai, Ragamala and Baramasa

Indian Paintings

Figure: Kangra school of Painting