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Uttarakhand Art

The Uttarakhand region of India boasts its own distinctive art forms. These art forms comprise painting, architecture, sculpture and other such aesthetic endeavours. Both the Kumaon and the Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand have contributed largely to the art tradition of the state.

Art in Uttarakhand goes back to the pre-historic times. Kumaon has a particular form of architecture usually called the 'Himadri' style of architecture. Numerous rock paintings from the proto-historic period have been unearthed in Kumaon. Among them, Lakhu Udhiyar and Lwethaap merit attention. ples at Jageshwar, Almora and Katarmal Thal, Baijnath, Someshwar, Dwarahat, Gangolihat, Patal Bhuvaneshwar, Marsoli are classic specimens of the regional style, corresponding to post Gupta architecture. Besides architecture, the art of Kumaon also displays a characteristic style of sculpture.

The Pahari Kalam form of painting also developed in Kumaon, observed in the Himalayan areas. The Mughal school of Miniature Painting metamorphosed into the Garhwal School of Painting.The best examples of Garhwal painting are found at the University Museum in Srinagar, Garhwal, besides sculptures and archaeological finds.

Uttarkhand also has a great tradition of folk arts and crafts. While Aipens and peeths are the major folk painting forms, the wall paintings also form a distinct tradition within the art of Uttarakhand. Clay idols, woolen works, metal works and wood carving all have their distinct places within the milieu of Uttarakhand's art scene.

Other traditional art forms of uttarakhand includes clay idols (dikaras) and wooden casks. Uttarakhand art includes gold,silver,copper and brass ornaments using ancient designs and patterns which are thousands of years old.

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Paintings of Uttarakhand range from the folk arts of the women of Kumaon to the most exquisite miniature arts of Garhwal. The natural beauty of the state, considered in the ancient times as the abode of the gods, has inspired throughout history. Uttarakhand's paintings can be divided into two broad parts, the folk arts of wall paintings and ritualistic paintings and the refined art of the miniaturists. The wonderful wall paintings of the Gurdwara Guru Ram Dai and the royal houses of Karnal and Saharanpur stand as independent memorials of excellence in the tradition of painting in Uttarakhand.

Miniature painting

Miniature painting of Uttarakhand is one of he major schools of miniature painting in India. Although derived from the style of Mughal miniature paintings, Uttarakhand's miniature paintings developed its individual styles in the subsequent years. Given the wonderful natural beauty of the land, it was natural that artists and poets would be attracted to the state. It was also often a haven for runaways because of its location, hidden from the world in the lap of the mighty Himalayas. The Mughal prince Sulaiman Sukoh came here in exile and brought with him painters and the school of the Mughal miniature painting.

Wall Paintings

Wall paintings of Uttarakhand has emerged from years of anonymity and has become widely appreciated because of its aesthetic value an decorative splendor. These wall paintings are widely practiced in the Garwhal and Kumaun regions of the state. Wall paintings in Uttarakhand has a rich tradition behind them and were not known to the world. It was only recently that the art connoisseurs of the world took note of the exquisite finesse of these wonderful paintings. Uttarakhand's wall paintings mainly served decorative and ritualistic purposes but their aesthetic values are also high.

Mughal painting

Mughal paintings of Uttarakhand is one of the most influential schools of Mughal miniature painting, alongside the Punjab and the Kangra schools. The Mughal paintings in Uttarakhand exhibit a combination of various influences. At the same time, it manages to hold its own as a separate and ingeniousness art form. Mughal miniature painting is one of the most illustrious traditions of miniature paintings in the world. It has its origin in the exile of Humayun, who brought back wonderful artists from Hirat and Persia to illustrate the splendor of the Mughal courts. By the time of Akbar, who was great patron of arts, the greatness of the Mughal miniature was well established. Mughal paintings at Uttarakhand is a comparatively late development.


Crafts in Uttarakhand remain centered around the religious beliefs and practices of the state. At the time of Harela, there is a tradition of making clay idols, known as 'Dikaras', in Uttarakhand. Moreover, the crafts of Uttarakhand include woodcrafts, stone carvings, jewelry, and inlaying. These crafts of Uttarakhand largely reflect the customs and traditions of Uttarakhand. Moreover, in Uttarakhand crafts, we can find the influences of the Kumaoni and Tibetan styles.


It is not a completely independent art form and can be better categorized as a sub-genre of Uttarakhand's Aipen, which is a form of decorative and ritualistic arts in the state. The womenfolk of Kumaon and Garwhal are the main artists of Peeth. The techniques and the ingredients used in drawing the Peeth in Uttarakhand are extremely traditional, as are the motifs used in the drawings. It is a part of the widely popular tradition of drawing 'Alpana' at various parts of India to celebrate religious and important social occasions.


It typically involves patterns and motifs which include repetitive geometric patterns. There is no strict rule of composition and the artists largely follow their instincts in freely creating and blending the different styles. Use of figures and motifs that have come down through the ages are also popular.
architecture of Uttarakhand is the main site of its stone carvings. Most of these temples have big and heavy stone carvings. The powerful and rich kings of Katuyaris, Paun, Chanda and Pawars dynasties of this region patronized the Uttarakhand stone carvings. The stones in the temples exhibit very ornamental and intricate carvings. Baleshwar, Kedarnath, Jageshwar, Bageshwar, Panch Kedar, and Almora showcase some extraordinary stone carvings of Uttarakhand.

The Baleshwar Temple follows the South Indian school of sculpture and architecture. The temple was built by the first Chand Dynasty king, Raja Somchand. In early 17th century, the Mughals captured Champawat and destroyed the Baleshwar temple. The temple facade is carved out of stone and has arched windows. The architecture is similar to that of Buddhist temple or vihara. The painted facade is typical of the Buddhist temples. The shrine area has an idol of Lord Badrinarayan, carved out of black stone. This idol shows Lord Badrinarayan sitting under a Badri Tree, guarded by a gold canopy.

Puja Folk Songs Uttarakhand

Puja folk songs of Uttarakhand are widely popular across the whole Himalayan foothill. These are basically religious songs which are sung during any holy ritual or when any particular God or Goddess is worshiped.

There are many puja folk songs in Uttarakhand as the tribes there worship various Gods and Goddesses. Every family has a special deity of a God which they worship, so while worshiping them, they sing these puja folk songs.

The puja folk songs of Uttarakhand vary from God to God and from occasion to occasion. There are puja folk songs at Uttarakhand which include 'Tantra' and 'Mantra' to throw out the evil spirit from a human body. Moreover, there are puja folk songs for calling up the spirits. One of such song is Jaggar.


Uttarakhand is studded with numerous pilgrimage sites centered around temples featuring distinctive patterns of architecture. The temples of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Tungnath, Madmaheshwar are some of the better known temples of Uttarakhand with specific traits marking their architecture.

Kedarnath Temple
The temple is imposing in its style and architecture. It is constructed on a ridge, jutting out perpendicularly from the snowy hills. The current temple, built in 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, stands near the site of an older temple built by the Pandavas. The inner precincts of the assembly hall are adorned with idols of diverse deities and mythological scenes. Beyond the temple door looms an impressive statue of the Nandi Bull which seems to keep guard. Built of large, heavy and evenly cut gray rock slabs, it arouses wonder regarding the manner in which these heavy slabs might have been handled formerly. The temple contains a Garbha Griha for the deity and a Mandap to contain gatherings of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is shown obeisance as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva avatar.

Tungnath Temple
The temple boasts a grand architectural design. It is also built on a ridge projecting from the mountains. The dome distinguishing this temple includes 16 doors containing an idol of Adi Guru Shankaracharya besides the lingam.

Madmaheshwar Temple
Shiva is shown devotion here in the shape of a navel-shaped lingam. Situated at the foothills of Chaukhamba peak at a height of 3289 meters, the classic temple architecture conforms to the North-Indian tradition.

Badrinath Temple
Consecrated to Lord Vishnu, the temple of Shri Badrinathji is 15 meters in height. It is conical in structure having a small cupola of a filt bull and spire. Legend locates the temple historically older than the Vedic Period.

Each temple of Uttarakhnad flaunts its own characteristic attributes in terms of architecture.

Miniature painting

It is one of he major schools of miniature painting in India. Although derived from the style of Mughal miniature paintings, Uttarakhand's miniature paintings developed its individual styles in the subsequent years. Given the wonderful natural beauty of the land, it was natural that artists and poets would be attracted to the state. It was also often a haven for runaways because of its location, hidden from the world in the lap of the mighty Himalayas. The Mughal prince Sulaiman Sukoh came here in exile and brought with him painters and the school of the Mughal miniature painting.


Aipen in Uttarakhand is an extremely popular folk art practiced by the women of Kumaon in Uttarakhand. Mainly of a ritualistic nature, Aipen involves patterns and motifs of extremely traditional kinds. The name itself is believed to be a local variant of the word 'Arpan'. Aipen are decorative patterns drawn on floors, doors and walls to grace an auspicious event. Practiced largely by women, Aipen of Uttarakhand uses themes and techniques that have come down for ages.

Bajuband Bajuband of Uttarakhand is mellifluous folk song and has a deep meaning. Bajuband is a romantic song of shepherds community and depicts their love and sacrifice for their beloved. Bajuband of Uttarakhand is widely known across the whole state. Bajuband of Uttarakhand is more like a dialogue of love between a man and a woman or a boy and a girl. The music of this folk song is very sweet and soothing. Bajuband is sung during festivals or on any general occasion. People sing bajuband at Uttarakhand even at the time of proposing their beloved.


Basanti is one of the most popular folk songs in Uttarakhand which is sung for the arrival of the spring season when the flowers would bloom and would add glare to the beauty of the hill state. Basanti of Uttarakhand is very special song for all the citizens of the state. When the spring is about to take over the Himalayan foothill, people all across the state in various regions start singing Basanti in Uttarakhand.


Chhopati of Uttarakhand is one of the finest romantic folk songs sung by men and women in the form of question and answers. More often Chhopati in Uttarakhand seems to be dialogue than a song. But the best part of it is that the whole folk song is quite interesting to listen to. Chhopati in Uttarakhand is widely popular as it is one of the best means of expressing one's feeling about their beloved. Chhopati is widely in use at Rawain-Jaunpur in Tehri Garhwal. You can listen to Chhopati from the Jaunpuri tribes there who perform these songs during several occasions. The song is extremely pleasing to the ear and has various instruments playing along with it to make it more melodious and rhythmic.


Chhura of Uttarakhand is a beautifully written and widely popular folk song for shepherds. For decades, chhura is being sung by the old shepherds for their next generations as a piece of suggestion from their own experience about grazing goats and sheep. The lyrics of chhura in Uttarakhand bears deep meaning and has an emotional aspect as the old men share their feelings with the youth. Every time a young man is about to step into the shoes of a shepherd, he is warned of the do's and dont's that a shepherd must follow by his elders, who have been in this livelihood since a long time, through chhura.


Chounphula of Uttarakhand is one of the very special folk song of this Himalayan region as it is written to treasure the nature during various occasions and seasons. Chounphula at Uttarakhand is accompanied by Chounphula dance forms which are generally seasonal dance forms and add more color to the Chounphula song which describes nature's beauty. Chounphula in Uttarakhand is mainly performed by women as they revalue the classic beauty of the Himalayan foothills through their melodious voice. They perform Chounphula at Uttarakhand during various seasons and festivals such as Basant Panchmi to sankranti to Baisakhi.


Jaggar of Uttarakhand can be counted amongst one of the multi purpose folk songs as it is used for spirit and ghost worship and it is also used as religious hymns while offering prayers to various gods and goddesses. At times jaggar of Uttarakhand is also accompanied by folk dances. But mostly jaggar at Uttarakhand is performed to call spirits and ghosts of the people so that their family members could meet them and speak to them. Around 50 jaggars in Uttarakhand have been written down for various Gods and Goddesses, spirits and ghosts. The most renowned jaggars of Uttarakhand are Ganganath, Gorilla and Bholanath.


Jhumeila is a type of folk song sung in Uttarakhand. Jhumeila in Uttarakhand is sung to praise the bounty nature for spreading so much of natural wonder all across the Himalayan foothill. Many a times, Jhumeila at Uttarakhand is accompanied by dance which is also known as Jhumeila dance. The Jhumeila song and dance is mainly held for women. Jhumeila of Uttarakhand is performed by women, though at times men also join them, from all the communities during all the major fairs and festivals - be it Baisakhi, Guru Poornima, Makar Sakranti or any other festival related to the nature. Children in their colorful garments also come and enjoy the fervor of Jhumeila in Uttarakhand.


Khuded is one of the most famous folk songs of Uttarakhand which describes the misery and pain of a lady who has been living apart from her husband. Khuded of Uttarakhand is very painful and emotional song. It echoes the suffering of the woman who is left alone after her husband leaves her and goes to another place in search of a job. Khuded of Uttarakhand depicts the life of a low income family where the husband has to move out in search of a better job so that he can run his family, the one which he has to leave behind. Each and every word of the folk song has deep pathos attached to it.


Mangal of Uttarakhand is the folk song of the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. These are the traditional songs that are sung when the wedding rituals are on. These songs are considered to be sacred and sung along with the shlokas chanted by the priests. Mangal means "good luck" and this is why in Uttarakhand it is being sung during the wedding so that the new life of the couple starts auspiciously. And this is why it is to be sung when the holy priests are performing the holy rituals along with chanting holy scripts from the holy writings written millions of years ago.


Literature is a reflection of a society; the literature of Uttarakhand, in keeping with the prevalent tradition, also reflects the cultural pattern and customs prevalent in the society of Uttarakhand. Although there have been references of Uttarakhand in the mainstream and canonical literature over the ages, yet it is in the folk literature of Uttarakhand that the spirit of the state truly resides. All regional dialects have a great wealth of folk literature. The influences of oral tradition is strongly felt within the literature of Uttarakhand.

Last Updated on 4 March 2013