Basohali 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 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.


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 School

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.


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 schoo

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.

Chamba 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.

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