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Pahari Painting

By Narender Singh Sandhu

Himachal Pradesh is internationally known for its painting. The origin of the ‘Pahari School of Painting’ has been subject to a great debate and discussion among art historians. But, whatever it is, the excellence achieved by Pahari can be attributed to the secluded hills, comparatively undisturbed conditions there in peace, natural environment, and religious mould of life and security and patronage provided to them by the hill chieftains. There are 35 old styles, which flourished in Himachal such as-the Mandi Kalam, the Kangra Kalam the Kullu Kalam, the Bilaspur Kalam, and the Arki Kalam. There is clear evidence of local school of painting existing in the hills, before the instruction of Mughal style. In the initial stages. ‘Raja Kripal Pal of Basholi’ (Situated in adjoining to Jammu & Kashmir) (1678-94), Raja Chattar Singh of Chamba (1664-90) and rulers of Kahlur and Baghal, who were descendants of the Chandelles of Bundellas, played a great role in patronizing the art of painting. Himachali painting can be broadly classified as; first, miniature painting-drawn on stiff handmade paper; second, wall painting-practiced in the temples and the places of nobles. Wall paintings from Rang Mahal, Chamba and Sultanpur palace, Kullu have a great name and have found place in the national Museum, Delhi. Third, manuscript painting-during 18th &19th centuries, various manuscripts were written. The most popular were ‘The Ramayana’, ‘The Mahabharta’ and ‘The Bhagvata Purana’.