Origin: Uttarakhand is famous for its lush natural hilly beauty, which has inspired artists for generations to capture the magic of the mountains in their paintings. Uttarakhand’s traditional art work is deeply influenced by its sacred religious customs, indeed it is customary to find in each Pahadi household some form of painting coupled with pious meaning. People of Uttarakhand have always been artistically inclined, which comes as no surprise that painting schools or Gharanas of this state are famous all over India. Pahadi paintings are almost synonymous to miniature paintings that encompass several schools such as Pahadi Kalam/ Kangra Kalam and Garhwal Paintings. Pahadi paintings has come out of Mughal miniature art form but flourished due to the patronage of Rajputs kings during the 17th to 19th century.
Garhwal school of Painting traces its origins to mid 17th century when Mughal Prince Suleiman Shikoh fleeing his uncle Mughal King Aurangzeb, took refuge in Garhwal along with his son and numerous Mughal style miniature painting artists. Around 19 months later when the Mughal prince left, the artistic impact was left on both sides.
Present Day: One of the most visible traditional and folk art forms are Aipan and Peeth. Aipan as it is called in the mountains or Rangoli and Alpana elsewhere in India, is made of mostly geometrical and linear designs, it is a household tradition passed on from generation to generation, however these age old customs are dying as they are replaced with practicality and modernity. Garhwal paintings can be seen in Uttarakhand as well as The University Museum in Srinagar, Garhwal.
Procedure: Aipans have a specific design based on when and where they are placed in the house: place of worship, entrance, temple, near holy basil (Tulsi), diwali, religious ceremony time. Aipans are made by hand with colours made of vegetable and mineral extracts such as soaked rice powder and filtered red colour soil. Dots are mandatory in Aipans, the lines of Aipan have to be finished with dots.
Garhwal paintings are miniature paintings that are drawn using natural colours and inspired by their natural environs. These paintings depict natural scenery, hills and greenery. Musical rhythms was expressed with lines and include women with thin waists, full breasts, soft faces and beautiful ornaments. All forms of romance were treated in an innocent manner, such as the romance of Radha Krishna, which was a popular theme. Garhwal paintings make use of birds and animals to add life in the paintings. In Garhwal paintings one of the recognizable characteristics Sandal mark on the foreheads of the people depicted, usually found in the paintings of Maula Ram. The most famous work of Garhwal Paintings are Illustrations of Ramayana (1780 A.D), Celebrations of Balarama birthday (1780 A.D), Series of Raginis, Utkal Nayika, Abhisarika Nayika, Krishna painting the feet of Radha, Radha looking into a mirror, Varhsa Vihar, Kaliya Daman, and Illustrations of Gita Govinda.
The demand for these beautiful paintings has increased a lot in India as well as overseas. These paintings are exported in various countries across the globe like USA, U.K, UAE (Oman, Dubai), China, France etc. This handicraft contributes immensely to the Indian economic growth.
Bring Home Paintings of Garhwal: The Garhwal region is piped with shops selling these stunning paintings.