Pahari school of Painting is an umbrella term used to denote form of Indian paintings originating in the Himalayan Hill kingdoms of North India.
Pahari School of painting developed and flourished during 17th-19th centuries. It stretched from Jammu to Almora in the sub-Himalayan region Himachal Pradesh. Notable places where this school of painting flourished include Basohli, Mankot, Nurpur, Chamba, Kangra, Guler, Mandi, and Garhwal.
The paintings were done mostly in miniature forms. It had a distinct genre which ranged from bold and intense Basohli paintings of the Jammu region to the soft lyrical Kangra paintings. This school of painting reached its pinnacle with the depiction of Radha-Krishna inspired by Jayadev’s “Gita-Govinda” .
Pahari School of paintings was patronized by the Rajput Kings and was distinct from the Mughal Style of painting.
Based on the style, Pahari School of painting can be distinguished in 5 sub-types:
- Guler School
- Kangra School
- Basohli School
- Chamba School
- Garhwal School
Kangra paintings belong to the school of Pahari paintings that were patronized by the Rajput rulers between the 17th and 19th centuries. This style reached its zenith during the reign of Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch. It developed as the Basohli School of painting started fading in the mid-18th century. The main centre of Kangra paintings were Guler, Basohli, Chamba, Nurpur, Bilaspur and Kangra.
Kangra School of painting produced art in such magnitude that soon the Pahari Shoool of Painting became famous as the Kangra School of painting.
The focal theme of Kangra School of painting was often “Shringar”. Bhakti cult was the driving force and the love story of Radha and Krishna was the main source of spiritual experience. Bhagavata Purana and the love poems Gita Govinda by Jayadeva were the most popular subjects. Love was the main theme of the paintings.
The style is naturalistic and attention was given to the details. The Kangra paintings feature plants, flowers rivulets meadows. Lush greenery was one of the sticking features of the Kangra School. The female figures were depicted with grace and beauty. They used colors made of vegetable and mineral extracts.