Origin And Development

Guler is supposed to be the place of origin of Pahari school of miniature painting according to different scholars. some scholars consider Basohli as the origin of Pahari school of miniature painting.In 1780 A.D. the GULER KALAM was its peak. Then entered Kngra and came to be known as KANGRA KALAM.

Auranzeb was the cruel Mughal ruler. He hated painting and music .so most of the Mughal artists went to hills where they got shelter and there they invited s different new style of painting known as Pahari miniature painting .in the beginning, Pahari school flourished as a folk art, it came to be known as a Pahari kalam.

Some scholar considers Guler as the palace of origin of Pahari school of art for many different reasons. firstly, the kings of Guler had friendly relation with Mughal emperors. There can be the possibilities that the artist from Guler might have shifted to Guler as it was nearer place for shelter and they might have renewed the folk art of Guler by adding some newness to it. some scholars consider that due to Aurangzeb’s cruelty, Mughal artists might have shifted to Basohali and according to them, Basohali which flourished under Raja Kripal Pal is the origin place of Pahari school.
The oldest Kangra painting are connected with Guler where raja Goverdhan Chandra and his family has been depicted. after him raja Prakas Chandra and then raja Bhoop Singh came into power. then under raja Sansar Chand’s Protonege, finest paintings were created. the raja Sansar Chand’s period is considered to be the golden period of KANGARA KALAM.

Features of Pahari School

following the main characteristics or feature of Pahari school of miniature painting

Description of women

Face of women is in profile and are round in shape. their nose is almost in line with forehead, eyes are long narrow and expressive like bows and the chin is sharp.

Depiction of line

Rhythmic lines have been depicted which are smooth in nature and are very fine and worth praising.

Colour schemes

Mostly primary colours have been used. some colours are like pink, mauve, gray and green have also been used. Golden colours is used in large scale. The red coloured border have been used having an influence of Mughal style. The colours are strong and contrasting. in the garments and ornaments, golden and silver colours have been used .th lightening has been shown through silver colour.


Choli, lehnga and transparent odhani have been worn by women. Males have been turbans and angarkhas. Krishna is always shown wearing yellow pitamber.

Depiction of nature

Trees, clouds jungles mountains foliage river aquatic birds etc. have been depicted beautifully. the rainy season and lightening effects have been nicely painted.


Inspite of having no proper perspective, the Pahari paintings appeal to us

Romantic scenes

Many romantic scenes have been founded in Pahari style. Krishna symbolizes God (Nayak) and Radha symbolizes (heroine) in many of these paintings.

Sub School of Pahari School


Basholi was a small estate in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir state. Basholi style was developed as the local folk and religious art traditions and refined realism of Mughal miniature. This style attained its individual style and reached its climax during raja Kripal pal of Basholi. The main center of this school were at Kullu , Chamba Mandi, Nurpur, Bilaspur , Suket and nalgarh.one can see the influence of Vaishnav cult on Basholi paintings because mainly artist painted lord Krishna and his various moods. The themes from Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bhagwat Purana, ten incarnations of lord Vishnu Geet Govind, Barahmasa are the subject matter of this school. Here Radha and Krishna have been painted as the symbol of god which conveys a spiritual message that soul has to cross many obstacles to meet almighty power and submerged into god.
Basholi paintings are beautiful and pleasant. They are full of love, romance, moods, emotions and spiritualism. Profile human faces are painted in bright intense flat colors. Lovelorn lotus like large eyes and use of posture of hand s for expressing thought and emotions are the main features of this school. Ornamental landscapes and high horizons are painted as its other special quality. It was just a tradition in Basholi school artist to paint one-inch wide blue sky called high horizon at the top of the composition. Females are shown wearing luxurious lehenga, half sleeves choli and transparent veils. Men and women both are decorated with variety of ornaments. There is much stress on color scheme in this style. The clarity in designs, forms, figures and emotions are shown by colors.  Mostly red, yellow, blue and green colors are used. Red represents the love and blue represents Krishna. He is wearing yellow dhoti his upper half if naked. He is also wearing long white pearl garland and crown with peacock plumes along with ornaments. Light and heavy rains are shown with dotted and straight lines. Sunlight is depicted by yellow color. The portrait named of Chamba Jeet Singh and king of Sansar Chand made by Nainsukh is worth seeing portraiture in Basholi style. Devidas, Nainsukh, Manaku, Golu Ranjha were the main artist of this school.

Features of Basohali School

1. In Basohli, use of strong brilliant colors reinforces (bright red, yellow green etc.) its spirited approach to the subject matter .

2. Figures with distinctive features such as fish shaped elongated eyes or large expressive lotus shaped eyes. round chins, prominent nose oval face, receding foreheads, powerful body with a pleasant plumpness present an idealistic body symmetry and lend distinction to female figure.

3. clarity of design and wonderful effect is created by the mixture of blue and yellow, red and blue, gray and brown color which enhance the beauty of the painting.

4. The shining bright fragment of beetle wings imitating emerald in jewelry and droplets of thick white paint giving the effect of real pearl are basohli trademark.


Kangra painting s have been considered one of the best miniature paintings of the world. This school was born in 18th century as a mixture of Rajasthani and Mughal style. It teaches its peak due to its real splendor under the sincere protonege of Kangra raja Sansar Chand (1775-1823) A.D. Kangra School flourished due to devotion and efforts of the refugee artists of Aurangzeb s court and local folk Pahari artist of Guler and Chamba. After a series of long research work. Its noticed that kangra paintings are painted in planed manner after removing all the defects of Rajasthani and Mughal miniatures. Kangra style has its own original virtues and traditions. Guler Nurpur and Tira- Sujanpur were main centers of Kangra school.

Raja Sansar Chand devotion to Krishna cult and his love of romantic, literature inspired the Kangra school artist to [paint on themes like romance, religious, and literature. They painted numerous painting based on deferent episode of Ramayana .and Mahabharat. Bhagwat Puran .Geet Govind rasik Priya Bihari Satsai  Barhmasa and Ragmala. They also painted general life scenes like workers in the field, people taking warmth of the fire festival s like Holi and fairs etc. very gracefully. 

The matchless impressive female figures painted with required facial expressions have put life in Kangra paintings. They are slim and soft. Their round profile face, large bow like eyes and long fingers are able to express internal sentiments effectively. They are painted wearing Indian traditional garments choli lehenga and transparent veil. They are decorated with Payal, Bangles, Rings, Garlands and Kumkum on forehead. Males are shown in Angraka, pajama and turban. Krishna has alwaya been shown in yellow dhoti and blue naked body. There is very alive and naturally depiction of birds and animals in this school. Kangra artist used mostly very bright red, yellow and blue colors. They used colors like pink, green and mauve etc. application of gold and silver color has increased the beauty, reality and brightness of Kangra paintings.

Features of Kangra School

1. Along all Rajput paintings, the paintings of kangra have a status of their own because, of their maturity, fine sense of beauty, artistic and poetic sensibility, rhythmic lines and color combination which is soft and mellow.

2. Only in Kangra, the artists synthesized different shades   of primary colors and use delicate and fresher hues.

3. A single character has been serially portrayed in different postures engaged in different activities to convey the community of incidents of life.

4. The female representing an ideal of beauty is depicted with soft, refined and rhythmic curved lines with a look of innocent sensuality.

5. The depiction of flowers plants, creepers and trees birds and animals – reveals the power of keen observation of the artists.

Guler School

The last phase of Basohli style was closely followed by the Jammu group of the paintings mainly consisting of the portrait of raja Balwant Singh of “Jasrota” (a small place near Jammu) by Nainsukh. An artist who originally belonged to Guler but has settled at Jasrota. He worked both at Jasrota and at Guler. These paintings are in a new naturalistic and delicate style making a change from the earlier traditions of the Basohli art. The colours used are soft and cool. the style of appears to have been inspired by the naturalistic style of the Mughal painting of the Muhammad shah period.

At Guler another state in the Pahari region, a number of the portraits of Raja Goverdhan Chand of Guler were executed in circa 1750 A.D. in a style having close affinity with the portraits of Balwant Singh of Jasrota. They have been drawn delicately and have a bright and rich palette.

The finest group of miniature done in the Pahari region is represented by the famous series of the Bhagwat, the “Geeta Govind” that the “Bihari Satsai” the “Barahmasa” and the “Ragmala” painted in 1760 A.D.  The exact place of the origin of these series of painting is not known.

An illustration of the famous series of the Bhagwat painted in the Guler style is in the collection of National museums. In this miniature Krishna Is shown Killing a demon Vatsasur on the bank of Yamuna. Gopas and cows Appear tariffed and a tree has been uprooted by the violent movement of the demon in the guise of a calf to kill Krishna. The style is naturalistic and is marked by delicate drawing and fine modeling.

Kullu – Mandi School

Along with the naturalistic Kangra style in Pahari region, there also flourished a folk style of painting in there Kullu – Mandi area mainly inspired by the local tradition, bold drawing and the use of dark and dull colours mark the style. Though influence of the Kangra is observed in certain cases yet the style maintains its distance folkish character. A large number of portraits of the Kullu and Mandi rulers and miniature on other themes are available in this style.

A miniature form the series of the Bhagvata in the collection of the national museum was painted by Shri Bhagwan in 1794 A.D. Illustrations show Krishna Lifting Goverdhan mountain on his little finger to save the people of Gokul from the worth of India who had let loose heavy rains. The dark clouds and rain in the form of white dotted lines are shown in the back ground. the drawing of figure is bold tough rather stiff. Thae painting has a yellow floral border.

Another example of the Kullu painting is of two girls flying kites. The miniature is in the folk style of late 18th century and is marked by bold drawing and dark and dull colour scheme. The back ground is dull blue. the girls wearing the typical costumes and ornaments, which were worn, in the Kullu region at the period. Two flying parrots indicate sky in symbolic manner. The miniature belongs to the national museum, New Delhi.

Chabma School

Basohali style of Pahari paintings took roots in Chamba with artist migrating here in 18th century after the declain of Kangra school. Raja Uday Singh, Raja raj Singh, and Raja Umed Singh patronized this school of paintings where portraits and hindu legends took priority. During the reign of raja Charhut Singh, art reached the masses and folk-art influence increased. The painting of Chamba cover in its miniatures the effect of folk art, mural and the Mughal influence. Chamba school apparently lasted the longest till the 19th century. The painting was generally painted with the Hindu religious themes. particularly the legends of Hindu mythology such as Radha Krishna, Shiva Parvati, Yashoda and Krishna Gopi’s, Krishna Sudama, Durga Saptshati love scenes and bird and animal s main painters of the school are Nikku From Basohli, Durga and Lehru.

Garhwal School

Garhwal style has very closed similarity to the Kangra style which itself is an offshoot of Guler. or it can be said then they both drew inspersion from a common source – Guler. In 1658 a nephew of Aurangzeb had escaped to this region and along with him came a few artists, maula ram one of their descendants     improved on the kangra style and excelled in the field. but historions do not consider him to be a Garhwal style completely because he was an immigrant from foreign.

A distinctive style of Garhwal evolved as a result of strong Guler influence after a few martial alliances between the rulers of both of regions. the painting depicts the scenic beauty of local river and hills. The peaceful setting in the backdrop of beautiful figure in the romantic compositions bring the nostalgia of peace and simplicity that prevailed in India before all external invasions. another prominent artist of this school is Chaitu, a further descendent of Manku from Guler. Nayak Nayika Bheda is widely painted. Varsha vihar a painting of Radha Krishna in rain is also worth mentioning other subjects are Geet Govind, Krishna Sudama story, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Painting Descriptions


Subject matter – This horizontal painting is an illustration from the “Geet Govind” series by “jaidev”. It deals with the legends and the plays of Radha and Krishna Symbolising soul’s devotion to god.

Artist, Title and medium – This paintin belongs to Basohali Sub School of Pahari school by Manku. In 1730 A.D..

 Description – The Pahari Painting Krishna with Gopis belongs Basohli Sub school of art. It was painted during 1730A.D.by the artist Manku. It was painted in tempera (water colour) on paper.

The painting’s theme has been selected from Geet Govinda series. five Gopi’s have been shown around Krishna who is in the centre of the painting. They are adoring Krishna .one Gopi has been shown folding her hand a bottle and glass on the right side of Krishna, Amongst the two Gopi’s on the left side, one Gopi is playing Krishna and other Gopi has been shown with folded hands.
A scene from Vrindavan has been depicted. Yamuna river has been shown in the foreground. The back ground has been depicted in orange colour. We can find some trees with deferent shapes of leaves but they are having the same level of height. One each side a big tree is there in the back ground. Orange yellow sky blue and red colours have been used. Krishna’s crown is very attractive and ornaments of Gopi’s are very decorative.
The painter is successful in depicting the subject matter in of the painting because the theme “adoration of Krishna by Gopi’s” can be understood easily while watching the painting, so, the subject matter is justified.

Human Values –

@ Love faith devotion and surrender for the supreme power.

@ Equal love for all followers (Krishna loves all).

Description in 30 words –

This Pahari school tempera painting from Basohali sub school made by “Manku”. Here all eight gopies express their regards to Krishna. Facial expressions of all members are divine and spiritual in a forest of Vrindavan at the bank of Yamuna. 



Subject matter –

This painting is based on the story of Bhagavat purana showing Nanda, Yashoda and Krishna with Kinsmen in a scene from their journey while migrating from Gokul to Vrindavan. Nanda is a chieftain of his township was advising by his people to shift to Vrindavan close to Govardhan hill. Kansa’s court was near Gokul and he was making repeated attempts to harm Krishna. But people wanted to save their future saviour (Krishna) and knew that he was no ordinary human.

Artist, title and medium –  

This horizontal painted by Nainsukh from Kangra Sub School of Pahari school of miniature painting in 1785 – 90 A.D. on size of 35.5 X27.5 Cm.

Description –

The Miniature Painting is NAND YASHODA AND KRISHNA WITH KINSMEN GOING TO VIRINDAVAN painted by artist Nainsukh from Kangra during 1785-90 A.D. was done in water colour (tempera)on paper. I like this painting very much. The subject matter is very appealing It has been taken from Bhagavat Purana. Here Krishna’s father Nanda his mother Yashoda along with kinsmen are going to Vrindavan. The painter has been successful in depicting the subject matter of the painting. the painting’s subject matter is justified on the basis of the aesthetic parameters as the way Krishna has been shown in the centre rising the right hand upward towards Vrindavan is very appealing. Balram is also shown rising his left hand towards Vrindavan in a beautiful manner. The lines and colours are beautiful, rhythmic and harmonious. two trees on the left and one tree on the right side of the painting have been depicted beautifully. Two birds have been shown sitting on the tree. A beautiful pond has also been shown in this painting. so, this painting has all the qualities for being appreciated and like by all the aspects justified the subject matter of the painting.

Human Values –

@ To be faithful of the master (people follow the master keep him safe).

@ To be a good member of the group /team for common interest.

Description in 30 words –

This tempera painting is made by “Nainsukh” from Kangra of Pahari school. A journey of Nand family has been depicted in realistic in traditional dress. Humans animals and nature and other things are depicted divine and natural.