The development of the Garhwal school of painting as a branch of the Pahari school of art is believed to have started in the 17th century and reached its zenith in the latter half of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. The chief pioneer behind this growth was the eminent Garhwali painter, poet and historian Mola Ram.
In the 17th century, the Mughal Prince Suleman Shikoh had taken refuge in Garhwal. He was accompanied by a few artists well versed in the Mughal style of miniature paintings. When he returned he left behind Shamdas and Haridas, who had already mastered the new painting techniques. These two were the ancestors of Mola Ram.
The Pahari Painting is inspired by the battles between good and evil. It has covered vast subjects like Indian life; its history, culture and traditions, with a touch of divinity. There is a lot of subtle spiritual content in the art, literature and mythology that has survived for generations in the Indian sub-continent. The Pahari Kalam style of painting was developed in the Kumaon area and was practiced in some of the Himalayan regions.
Aipan or Alpana is a popular Kumaoni art form done on walls, paper and pieces of cloth. This decorative art includes drawings of various geometric and other figures representing gods, goddesses and objects of nature. The pichhauras or dupattas are also decorated in this way. These ritual designs and patterns are an expression of a women’s artistic taste.
Barboond, Patta, Rangwali etc. are some more forms of local ritual paintings to be done on specific occasions.
Besides these some spots like Lakhudiyar, Falseema, Kasardevi in Kumaon and Dungri in garhwal have traces of ancient rock paintings and engravings.