Art and Culture is specified under the syllabus of Prelims and General Studies I for UPSC Civil Services Mains. The UPSC syllabus mentions the Indian art and culture syllabus in just one line “Salient features of Literature, Art Forms, and Architecture from ancient to modern times”.

However, after carefully analyzing the UPSC past year papers, we have listed down important micro-topics that should be studied for Art and Culture syllabus for UPSC preparation.


History of India and Indian National Movement.


Indian Heritage and Culture

  • “Salient features of Literature, Art Forms, and Architecture from ancient to modern times”.

Art and Culture Syllabus (Micro Topics)

  • Culture and Heritage of India
    • Aims and objectives of performing arts and their development through various stages.
    • The utility of performing arts during the ancient and the medieval period.
    • Appreciate the contribution of classical dances, folk music as well as folk dances in Indian culture and Challenges faced by performing arts.
    • Development of drama through various phases in India and recognize the contribution of folk theatre.
    • Examine the importance of the three art forms in the development of human personality.
    • Religious and secular Art in India.
  • Music
    • Evolution of Indian Music
    • Contribution of Some personalities: Amir Khusro, Mohammad Shah
    • Hindustani Music evolution, features, and impact.
    • Carnatic Music evolution, features, and impact
    • Hindustani and Carnatic music differences and similarities
    • Regional music and its impact
    • Modern Music
  • Dance
    • Tracing Evolution of Dance (Rig Veda, Harappa, Nataraja)
    • Classical Dances of India, their evolution and Theme
    • Well known classical dancers of India.
    • Themes in Indian folk dances
  • Drama
    • Introduction ( Natyashastra)
    • Evolution of Drama in India
    • Various texts relating to Drama period wise (ex Mahabhasya, mrichhakatika)
    • Famous Modern Dramas and Dramatists.
  • Languages & Literature
    • Vedic Literature
    • Tamil language and Sangam Literature
    • Classical languages: Evolution & impact on society
    • Trends in Medieval Literature
    • Modern Indian Literature
  • Architecture in India
    • Architectural Style of Harappan Civilisation
    • Influence of Buddhism and Jainism on Indian architecture
    • Impact of Persian and Greek invasion on Indian culture
    • Mauryan Architecture (322-182 BC)
    • Post Mauryan Architecture
    • Gandhara and Mathura school of Art
    • Cultural development during the Gupta Age
    • Temple Architecture and Sculptures
    • Pallavas as great temple builders
    • The emergence of Nalanda as a center of learning
    • Medieval Period architecture
      • Delhi Sultanate
      • Regional Kingdoms ( Mandu, Jaunpuretc)
      • Vijaynagara Architecture
      • Mughal Architecture
    • Indo Islamic Architecture
    • Colonial Architecture
    • The utility of Architectural structures today and in Past
    • Conservation and Preservation of Architectural Structures
    • Spread of Indian Culture to Southeast Asia
  • Bronze Sculptures in India
    • Harappan “Dancing Girl”
    • Jain Tirthankaras Bronze Images
    • Buddha bronze Images (ex Guptas and Vakatakas)
    • Pala school of Art (Bronze images, Manuscripts)
    • Pallava Bronze Images
    • Chola Bronzes
    • Nataraja
  • Paintings in India
    • Prehistoric Rock Paintings
    • Ancient Period
      • Murals Paintings
      • Bagh Caves
      • Sittanavasal Paintings
      • Armamalai caves
    • Medieval Period
      • Pala school of miniature paintings
      • Mughal miniature paintings (synthesis of Indian and Persian style)
      • Role of Akbar and his successors
      • Development of Pahari, Rajput and Deccan Paintings
      • The theme of paintings in the Medieval period
    • Modern Period
      • Bengal school of Art
      • Renaissance or revivalist painting
      • Madras School of Art
    • Decorative Art
      • Madhubani
      • Kalamkari
      • Kalighat
      • Warli
      • Pattachitra
      • The theme of decorative paintings in India
    • Theatre Forms of India
      • Significance of Traditional folk theatre in India
      • Different forms of traditional folk theatre in India
      • Sanskrit theatre in India
      • Challenges faced by the theatre in India
    • Puppet forms in India
      • Themes of puppetry in India
      • Forms of Puppetry
    • Religious Philosophies
      • Buddhism and its impact
      • Jainism and its impact
      • Sufism and its impact
      • Vedanta Philosophy
    • Bhakti Traditions

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