Masterclass Chronicles: Exploring Nathdwara's Art, History, and Resilience
As narrated to us by our field lead Vishakha Agrahari.


The Pichwai masterclass for MeMeraki held a special significance, as it marked one of our team's inaugural recorded masterclasses. Taking place shortly after the initial COVID lockdowns, we embarked on a journey to the captivating city of Nathdwara, Rajasthan. Our decision to travel to Rajasthan ourselves stemmed from our realization that the key to the masterclass's success lay in showcasing the artist as the hero. To bring this vision to life, we took the initiative to handle the recording ourselves instead of outsourcing it.


To reach Nathdwara, we first arrived in Udaipur, a renowned tourist destination celebrated for its enchanting lakes and majestic palaces. From the airport, we embarked on a scenic 3-4 hour road journey by bus. Along the way, the route treated us to a breathtaking panorama, with small rocky hills gracing the backdrop, providing a glimpse of the region's rugged terrain. Rajasthan's landscape, renowned for its untamed beauty, lived up to its reputation, leaving us thoroughly impressed by the picturesque scenery throughout our expedition.



The town of Nathdwara, nestled in the captivating state of Rajasthan, holds a rich tapestry of history and mythology. We unveil the fascinating tale behind the town's name, rooted in legends that date back to the 17th century. According to the lore, Nathdwara owes its origins to the revered Hindu deity Lord Shrinathji, an embodiment of Lord Krishna.

During that era, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb held sway, and his reign was marked by the persecution of Hindus. Faced with the need to safeguard the sacred idol of Lord Shrinathji, the temple priests in the town of Mathura made a momentous decision. We undertook a perilous journey, carrying the idol on a chariot in search of a secure abode.

As our pilgrimage progressed, we arrived in the city of Udaipur, which was then bound by a treaty with the Mughals. Regrettably, the people of Udaipur were unable to provide the desired sanctuary for the idol. Determined to find a new haven, the chariot continued its voyage through the countryside. However, fate intervened when the chariot became mired in the mud, defying all efforts to dislodge it.

Interpreting this impasse as a divine message from Lord Shrinathji, the pilgrims recognized that this spot was destined to be His sacred dwelling. Thus, the town that grew around the location where the chariot found its immovable stance came to be known as Nathdwara. The name itself bears the significance of being the "Gateway to Shrinathji," a testament to the eternal presence of the deity and the devout reverence bestowed upon Him. 



Upon our arrival in the town, we immediately noticed a striking aspect of Nathdwara—the prevalence of shops adorned with names like Krishna or Shrinathji. These establishments predominantly offered accessories and souvenirs centered around the revered deity. The town exuded a distinct ambiance, underscoring the profound importance of Lord Krishna to the people of Nathdwara.

We chose accommodation within close proximity to the Shri Nathdwara temple, ensuring the ease of accessing this sacred site. A short stroll from our lodging led us to the temple's doorstep. During our visit, we had the privilege of accompanying a local woman who had befriended us, affording us the opportunity to witness the temple through the sincere eyes of a devout devotee.

As we stepped into the Shri Nathdwara temple, the town's prime attraction, we were instantly overwhelmed with awe. The temple's architecture boasted intricate designs, adorned with vibrant motifs and delicate carvings. Nestled within the inner sanctum rested the idol of Shrinathji, the temple's principal deity. The idol donned resplendent garments, embellished with exquisite jewels and ornaments.

Within the temple's hallowed halls, dim lighting prevailed, while the air hung heavy with the fragrances of flowers, incense, and camphor. We marveled at the presence of numerous smaller shrines within the temple complex, paying homage to various deities and saints. The temple itself was divided into distinct sections, each possessing its unique characteristics and significance, creating a spiritual haven of profound serenity.


We found ourselves mesmerized by the captivating artwork displayed on the walls of the temple. These were Pichwai paintings, which formed the central focus of the masterclass we were conducting. Pichwai painting is a traditional art form that originated in Nathdwara, Rajasthan. The paintings depict various narratives from the life of Lord Krishna.

The Pichwai paintings showcased in the temple were a sight to behold. They exhibited intricate detailing and were typically created on large cloth canvases. The artists employed natural pigments derived from flowers, minerals, and other organic sources, resulting in vibrant and organic colors. The process involved a range of techniques, including delicate brushwork and intricate embroidery, to achieve stunningly detailed images that captured the divine grace of Lord Krishna.

Our masterclass primarily focused on teaching the art of creating Pichwai paintings and delving into the rich history behind them. We carefully filmed the videos in one of the town's main gardens, which served as a backdrop showcasing the offerings of flowers, neem leaves, and other elements used in the paintings. This setting provided the perfect atmosphere to capture the essence and beauty of Pichwai painting in our instructional videos.



The Pichwai masterclass in Nathdwara was one of our team's initial recorded sessions following the COVID lockdowns. As outsiders with cameras during the pandemic, we were pleasantly surprised by the remarkable support and accommodation from the locals. This experience provided us with valuable insights into the diverse responses to the ongoing pandemic. Moreover, the masterclass itself offered us a remarkable opportunity to witness the translation of art into an online medium for the first time. This novel experience left an indelible mark on us. As we contemplate our extensive journeys and the multitude of masterclasses we have covered, the Pichwai masterclass in Nathdwara stands out as a truly unforgettable and exceptional encounter for us.



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