Pichwai paintings from Nathdwara

Canvas of Tradition: Best Places to Witness Nathdwara’s Pichwai Paintings in India (2024)

I’ve developed a deep fascination for Indian folk art and the rich stories and histories woven into each unique art form. The more I delve into the realm of Indian art, the more I discover the diverse array of expressions it encompasses. In my explorations, I stumbled upon the captivating world of Pichwai paintings during one of my research sessions. What sets these paintings apart is their narrative of the folk tales surrounding Lord Krishna – stories that my father once told me as bedtime tales.

Amidst the lockdown, my curiosity led me to delve further into various other forms of Indian paintings. I immersed myself in understanding their origins and identified regions where these remarkable artworks could be acquired in India. This journey not only broadened my knowledge of Indian art but also deepened my appreciation for the cultural tapestry that these diverse paintings contribute to.

PIN for later reference – Best Places to Witness Nathdwara’s Pichwai Paintings in India

PIN for later reference - Best Places to Witness Nathdwara's Pichwai Paintings in India
PIN for later reference – Best Places to Witness Nathdwara’s Pichwai Paintings in India

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What is Pichwai Painting?

Pichwai paintings, an exquisite art form, serve as visual narratives depicting the enchanting stories of Lord Srinathji and Lord Krishna. Originating in the historic town of Nathdwara in Rajasthan, this art form has a remarkable history spanning 400 years. The very name “Pichwai” carries a significant meaning, translating to “hanging at the back” in English. In Sanskrit, “Pichh” denotes “back,” and “wais” refers to “hanging,” encapsulating the essence of these distinctive artworks.

Pichwai paintings from Nathdwara
The Pichwai Cow

Creating Pichwai paintings is a collaborative effort, often undertaken by a group of skilled artisans. These craftsmen meticulously sketch the intricate details of the narrative onto a cloth canvas, infusing life into the compositions with a palette of organic and natural colours. Gold, silver, saffron, coal, and other pigments bring vibrancy and depth to the artwork. Traditionally, Pichwai paintings adorn the sacred interiors of temples, adding a layer of divine aesthetics to the worship spaces.

The choice of colours in Pichwai paintings is not arbitrary; each hue holds symbolic significance, contributing to the storytelling. For instance, the artists use peacock motifs to represent the rainy season, capturing the essence of nature’s renewal. The vibrant pink hues in the paintings symbolize the warmth of the summer season, creating a visual tapestry that mirrors the changing seasons.

Central to many Pichwai compositions is the portrayal of Lord Krishna as a cowherd. The legend woven into the artwork narrates the captivating tale of Lord Krishna’s flute playing. According to the lore, the melodious tunes of Krishna’s flute held a magical sway over the cows, compelling them to dance in delight. The intoxicating music became a testament to the divine connection between Lord Krishna and the creatures of the pastoral landscape.

As Pichwai paintings unfold, they not only showcase artistic finesse but also serve as windows into the cultural and religious heritage of the region. The narratives painted with devotion on fabric capture the mythology and essence of a way of life deeply intertwined with spirituality.

Today, Pichwai paintings are revered as cultural treasures, transcending time and geographical boundaries. The meticulous craftsmanship and the spiritual depth embedded in each stroke make these artworks more than just visual representations; they are conduits to a world where mythology, art, and devotion converge seamlessly. The legacy of Pichwai paintings endures as a testament to the enduring power of art to transcend temporal boundaries and connect generations through the threads of cultural heritage.

History of Pichwai Painting

In the 16th century, local artists crafted Pichwai paintings to narrate Lord Srinathji’s tales, specifically designed to adorn the walls of the Nathdwara temple. These intricate artworks, etched onto cloth canvases, were visual chronicles of the divine stories associated with Lord Srinathji and Lord Krishna. The act of embellishing temple walls with Pichwai paintings became a sacred ritual deeply ingrained in the cultural practices of the region.

Believed to have originated in response to a spiritual need, Pichwai paintings were not merely artistic expressions but revered tools for storytelling within the religious context. The artists, driven by devotion, meticulously translated the narratives onto fabric, encapsulating the essence of Lord Srinathji’s tales.

With their vibrant colours and symbolic motifs, these paintings transformed the temple spaces into sacred galleries, each stroke contributing to the spiritual ambience.

The ritualistic adornment of temples with Pichwai paintings preserved the stories for future generations and fostered a profound connection between the community and their religious beliefs. These artworks, born out of a desire to narrate the divine tales visually, continue to resonate as cultural treasures, embodying the intertwining of art and spirituality in the rich Nathdwara’s heritage.

Story of Lord Srinathji

According to ancient legend, Lord Srinathji, a divine manifestation in the youthful form of Lord Krishna, is believed to have self-manifested from a stone on the Govardhan Hills. Initially worshipped in the sacred environs of Govardhan Hills in Mathura, the image of Lord Srinathji underwent a journey that intertwined spirituality with historical events.

Pichwai paintings from Nathdwara
Lord Srinathji

After its origin, the image was first venerated in Mathura before being carefully relocated to Agra, where it remained for six months. Faced with the threat posed by the Mughal Ruler Aurangazeb, the sacred image was then transported further south to safeguard it from potential harm. However, a significant event unfolded during the journey at Sihad village in Mewar: the chariot carrying the image became stuck in the mud. Seizing the opportunity, the priests, with the consent of the reigning King of Mewar, erected a temple at that very spot.

The journey of Lord Srinathji, marked by sacred transitions and interventions, culminated in establishing a temple that has since been a revered site for devotees. An intriguing feature of Lord Srinathji’s depiction is the prominent diamond adorning the deity’s chin. This distinctive element adds a touch of brilliance to the spiritual narrative encapsulated in the divine form.

Best Places to Witness Nathdwara’s Pichwai Paintings in India

While Pichwai paintings are not widely distributed across India, the traditional art form is exclusively preserved in only two locations within Rajasthan.


Situated along the banks of the River Banas, Nathdwara earns its name, which translates to the Gateway to Srinathji. This town is renowned for its 17th-century temple devoted to Lord Srinathji, which serves as a repository for numerous Pichwai paintings. Local artisans craft and offer unique artworks within the temple precincts, available on fabric or canvases.

Nathdwara is the optimal destination for those seeking to acquire Pichwai paintings. Here, in this historic town, the art of Pichwai originated. Passed down through generations, the intricate techniques and spiritual narratives embedded in these paintings are meticulously preserved and practised by the current generation of skilled artisans. Purchasing Pichwai paintings in Nathdwara ensures an authentic connection to the art’s origins and contributes to the continuity of a cultural legacy that has withstood the test of time.

How to Get to Nathdwara?

Situated approximately 45 kilometres from Udaipur, Nathdwara is easily accessible through regular bus services connecting the two locations. Conveniently, bus tickets for this route can be reserved through the Redbus website.


Known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur is a vibrant city in Rajasthan. Established by Maharana Udai Singh II, it served as the capital of the Mewar Kingdom in its earlier history. Besides its historical significance, Udaipur is also a noteworthy hub for acquiring Pichwai paintings. The city boasts numerous stores and art galleries that prominently display and offer a variety of Pichwai artworks.

How to Get to Udaipur?

  • By Air – Udaipur is equipped with Maharana Pratap International Airport, offering connectivity to major cities across India. The airport is situated approximately 22 kilometres from the city. Optimal budget-friendly airline choices include Indigo and SpiceJet.
  • By Train – Udaipur enjoys railway connections to Ahmedabad and Ajmer. Train tickets for these routes can be conveniently booked through the IRCTC website.
  • By Bus – There are frequent bus services to Udaipur for those preferring road travel. Bus tickets are easily accessible and can be booked via the RedBus website.

Closing Notes

Pichwai paintings undeniably stand out as treasures, capable of elevating any home’s decor. These artworks’ intricate and sophisticated nature means that crafting a high-quality Pichwai can take 3 to 6 months, with a price tag exceeding $1000. Discovering this remarkable painting style has been a source of joy for me, especially knowing that artists across India are preserving our traditional art forms and showcasing them on a global platform.

Are you passionate about Pichwai paintings or perhaps skilled in creating this art style? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out to me at Solopassport@gmail.com. Your artistry could be featured on my social media page, celebrating and sharing the beauty of Pichwai paintings with a broader audience. Let’s connect and showcase the richness of this traditional art form together!

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Canvas of Tradition: Best Places to Witness Nathdwara's Pichwai Paintings in India (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Best Places to Witness Nathdwara’s Pichwai Paintings in India

    PIN for later reference - Nathdwara's Pichwai paintings
    PIN for later reference – Best Places to Witness Nathdwara’s Pichwai Paintings in India