Haryana was always a rendezvous for various tribes, invaders, races, cultures and faiths, going right back to BC 2500, and it witnessed the merging of numerous styles of painting. Discoveries of earthenware and designs painted on them in black and white found Siswal site, are the first impressions of art in this state. Mitathal and Banawali sites have also revealed that art did exist here, but definitely on a much smaller scale than that of the Deccan and southern India. The drawings are mainly in horizontal and vertical lines, with a little more creativity allotted to floral art. During Harshvardhana’s reign art and painting received special attention for some time as the king himself was a painter of sorts.

    The Origin Of Painting In Haryana

    Art and painting received special attention for some time during King Harsha’s reign, as the King himself was a painter and a connoisseur of arts. After Harsha’s death, painting flourished for a while under the Rajputs, but the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate put an end to this. The Sultans had no love for art and were busy fighting wars and battles and never patronised art.

    Art reached its epitome during the reign of Mughal Empire. Jehangir was a patron of art, and during his rule the influence of the Persian painting style was happily married to the Indian style.

    The Art On Display

    The walls of the palace of Maharaja Tej Singh in Mirpur in Gurgaon are adorned with paintings done in Rajput style. The patterns on the walls depict scenes from the Ramayana. The ‘Matru Mad ki Piao’ in Gurgaon features mythological paintings, but these are slowly fading away. The ‘Asthal Bohar’ paintings are also in the Rajput style, and their influence can be seen even in the Shiva temples in Panchkula and Pinjore, Venumadhava temple in Kaul, the temples in Kaithal and Pabnama, the Kapil temple in Kilayat and the Sarsainth temple in Sirsa.

    The Rang Mahal in Pinjore is also decorated with wall paintings, an originality straight from the hands of Mughalpainters. The ‘samadhis’ of Lala Balak Ram and Lala Jamuna Das in Jagadhari in Ambala are famous for their wall paintings from Hindu mythology. The entrances to both are flanked by heavily painted ‘dwarapalas’. TheRajiwala temple near the ‘samadhis’ also boasts of religious themes in its paintings. Its walls, cells and verandah have been subjected to the Jain style, while the Qila Mubarak, a two-storeyed Mughal structure is embellished with images of birds and flowers.

    Kurukshetra’s Bhadra Kali temple has religious themes and frescoes running throughout its structure, with a broad frieze bordering the lower end. The second storey is covered with murals, as is the haveli (house) of Rani Chand Kaur and the temple of Shri Ram Radha in Pehowa and the temple of Baba Shrawan Nath. There are similar paintings in temples and holy Hindu places throughout Haryana.

    The Elaborate Use of Calligraphy

    The Persian style infused with script also gained prominence, especially with murals in which the Persian script is freely used. Elaborate details form the central theme within which verses from the Quran are written in various flowing styles, following the calligraphy method.

    Mughal paintings also seeped into Hindu temples, especially in Kaithal, Kalayat and Rohtak. Here too, the subject matter has been heavily inspired by mythology and carries moral and spiritual messages. In Rohtak, paintings have been found, which are now in possession of the Manuscripts Department of Kurukshetra University. Liberal use of blue, pink, green, orange and red enhance the beauty of these paintings, which basically depict Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.