By far the most important pratimadhyama raga, Kalyani is one of the six ragas that arise out of graha bheda cycle that also includes Shankarabharanam, Todi, Natabhairavi, Kharaharapriya and Harikamboji. The pratimadhyama note itself gives a certain delicateness to a raga, and contributes to Kalyani's grace and lyricism. Kalyani is a raga that shows different shades when different notes are used as the central point of raga exploration. Along with Todi, Kalyani is a raga that acquires a special beauty in phrases that drop the panchama. Again, along with Todi, It is also one of the few sampoorna ragas that can take extensive elaboration without the panchama.
Kalyani being one of the most performed ragas, there are plenty of popular compositions in it. A few samples: Bhajare Re Chitta, Kamalaambaam Bhajare (both Dikshitar), Nidhi Chaala Sukhama, Ethaavunnara, Vasudevayani (all Tyagaraja) Himadri Sutey (Syama Sastri), Pankaja Lochana (Swati Tirunal) and Unnai Allaal (Papanasam Sivan). The adi tala varnam, Vanajakshiro, is one of the most popular, and the ata tala varnam, Vanajakshi, though not exactly popular, is a beautiful composition that explores Kalyani elaborately.
With its easy tunefulness and intimate feel, it is not surprising that it also features prominently in film and devotional music, too.