If you were to trace the origin of the greatest and most sublime Indian paintings, you will have to visit the caves of Ajanta, the place which witnessed the origin of ancient Indian art painting. It was from Ajanta that the art of creating paintings spread to other parts of the nation. Traces have been found that the walls of the Ajanta caves were painted by painters from as early as the 2nd century BC to as late as the 6th century AD. During this time period, artists were commissioned by Hindu Kings to paint the walls of the caves in the tones of Buddhists lessons and learnings. Only those artists were asked to undertake this task whose sole aim was to create mesmerizing creations regardless of whether they were working on Buddhist caves, Hindu temples or palaces of mighty Kings. The artists in the guilds had a sole duty to depict the beauty of the lord and his creation. The artists looked around their surroundings to find inspiration and created such creations that reflected the beauty of the world.

Many art historians and art critics are of the opinion that there is no such thing as Hindu art, Buddhist art, Jain art or Muslim art. They believe what we have is a unique blend of traditional Indian art which hovers over the country and its people and binds them together.

Chitrasutra of the Vishnudharamottara, the oldest known literature on paintings in the world, lists various art and techniques of painting. Sages of ancient India carefully studied, formulated and listed different aspects that dealt with the creation of art. Topics like an effective depiction of different themes, a proportion of human figures, intricate details of movement and postures of a human body in different situations and moods, use of colors in such way that helped in the communication of thoughts and ideas were carefully jotted down and passed on from fathers to sons. This documentation of techniques of painting was done to preserve the legacy of ancient Indian art.

Fragments of ancient Indian artworks, especially paintings that are scattered all over the Indian subcontinent belong to almost every century of the last 1400 years or more. These bits and pieces are the testaments of the great tradition of ancient Indian paintings. From the quiet charm of Ajanta, the inspiration of ancient Indian artists traversed across the length and breadth of the subcontinent. In the first millennium, there was an abundance of detailed fine art in all corners of India. Some fragments of the art belonging to the period of Ajanta have survived at sites like Pitalkhora in Maharashtra. These fragments of art are the living testimony of the ultimate amalgamation of the heart, soul and the continuous tradition of noble themes that were painted by hands. It was during the reign of the Guptas between the 4th and 6th Centuries A.D. that nine caves were unearthed on the slopes of Vindhya Hills above the Bagh River; unfortunately, the traces of these precious Indian arts were not able to stand the test of time. Inspired by the ancient art of the subcontinent, artists like Asit Haldar took the responsibility to produce a reproduction of these paintings so that modern-day men can witness the glory and glamour of traditional Indian paintings. As at Ajanta, the paintings of Bagh convey a sense of tranquillity. They are ideal representations of the active life and yet there is something about the painted faces that lend these paintings a sense of peace.

Like Ajanta and Bagh, the 6th-century cave of Badami in Karnataka tells the tale of ancient Indian art of painting. Though not many paintings have been left, what the fragments that are there at Badami evoke a magical world of painted brilliance where all the walls and ceilings are covered with magnificent murals. Like the paintings at Ajanta, the murals and paintings of Badami are amongst the earliest remaining paintings in Hindu temples.

It goes without saying that in the ancient period in India, the art of painting cut across all religious and political considerations, and it was because of this fact only that traditional Indian art appealed to most and that artists who practiced this art form were able to retain the essence of traditional Indian art.