Raja Ravi Varma, the painter who helped Indians bring their gods home

News: 29th April is the birth anniversary of the famed Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma(1848-1906).


  • Raja Ravi Varma was born in Travancore (Kerala).He was patronised by Ayilyam Thirunal, the then ruler of Travancore.


  • He is remembered for giving Indians their western, classical representations of Hindu gods and goddesses.
  • He gave birth to affordable sacred images that can be found in puja rooms, public spaces and homes.
  • He was one of the first Indian artists to use oil paints and to master the art of lithographic reproduction of his work. 
  • Famous works: Damayanti Talking to a Swan, Shakuntala Looking for Dushyanta, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, Shantanu and Matsyagandha.


  • In 1873, the painting of Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair won the Governor’s Gold Medal when it was presented in the Madras Presidency.
  • In 1904, the British colonial government awarded Varma with the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal.
  • In 2013, a crater on the planet Mercury was named in his honour.