Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF - Download Prelims & Mains Ancient Indian History Notes 

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : September 26th, 2022

Ancient History Notes are an essential part of the preparation of History for the UPSC Exam. The History section under the UPSC Syllabus comprises three parts, Ancient History, Medieval History and Modern History. The Ancient History part also correlates with the Art and Culture part of the syllabus. The Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF are majorly lengthy and require an in-depth understanding of the topics, along with correlation.

This article on Ancient History Notes deals with all the major micro-topics that should be included during the preparation for the UPSC Exam. Covering these topics will make a firm base for future readings. The Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF will help in quick revision before the UPSC Prelims and Mains. 

Table of Content

Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF

The Ancient History of India is often asked in both UPSC prelims and Mains exam. It is crucial to cover all Ancient History Notes in a comprehensive manner as it elevates your chances of clearing the cutoff. The topic-wise Ancient Indian History Notes PDF mentioned below is curated after research and studying the previous year's question papers. 

Download Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF


Mauryan AdministrationIndus Valley Civilization
JainismMauryan Empire
Major Rock Edicts of AshokaDholavira
Types of VedasDance of India
Slave DynastyChera Dynasty

Ancient History Notes for UPSC Prelims

Ancient History Notes are always lengthy because they include the Art and Culture part of the UPSC Syllabus as well. But the topics of Ancient History become very clear once the candidate keeps revising the topics at regular intervals without fail. The approach to covering Ancient History Notes is simple. One should give the first reading of the topics as one is reading a novel. The following reading should proceed with note-taking and revision. If any topic is in the news, that value addition should be through the Current Affairs section.

For UPSC Prelims, one needs to understand that it is the trickiest stage of the UPSC Exam. In the UPSC Prelims Question Paper, most of the questions that arise from the Ancient History Notes are related to either Art and Culture or related to Mauryan or Gupta Empire.

Ancient History Notes for IAS Mains

The approach to covering Ancient History Notes lies in simultaneously covering the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus for History. One should study the Ancient History Notes in depth to attempt the questions regarding the same in both UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains.

For Mains, one needs to go in-depth about the topic. A critical analysis of each topic is needed. Mains is all about how much a candidate retains and presents at the time of the examination

Ancient History Topics for UPSC 

The Ancient History section of GS 1 Mains Syllabus includes the following important topics for UPSC

  • Prehistoric India
  • Historic India
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Vedic India
  • Mahajanapadas
  • Buddhism and Related Topics
  • Mauryan Administration Structure, Rulers and Legacy
  • Gupta Empire, Rulers and Legacy
  • Invasions from Central Asia
  • Kingdoms, States and Dynasties of South India, Their Rulers and Legacy

The topics that are included in the Ancient History Notes for UPSC and should be studied for the upcoming UPSC Exam. The micro-topics related to these topics are as follows:

Pre-historic Times

  • Periodization of Indian Pre History
  • Sources of Pre History
  • Paleolithic Or Old Stone
  • Mesolithic Or Middle Stone Age
  • Neolithic Age Or New Stone Age
  • Chalcolithic Age
  • Major Chalcolithic Cultures
  • Early Iron Age

Ancient History Notes on Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) 

  • IVC Geography and Archaeological Findings, that includes Major cities and Town Planning
  • IVC Society and Culture, including Script and Language, Crafts, Religions, Seals and Images
  • IVC Economy, which includes Harappan Trade, Agriculture, Domestication of animals, Weights and Measures
  • Decline of Harappan Culture

Rig Vedic and Later Vedic Period

Ancient History Notes on Jainism

  • Life of Mahavira (540- 468 B.C.)
  • Teachings of Mahavira
  • Organisation and Sects of Jainism
  • Literature of Jainism
  • Councils and Royal Patrons


  • Life of Buddha (563-483 BC)
  • Teachings of Buddha
  • Organisation and Sects of Buddhism
  • Literature of Buddhism
  • Councils and Royal Patronage


  • 16 Mahajanapadas
  • Magadha
  • Haryana dynasty
  • Shishunaga Dynasty
  • Nanda Dynasty
  • Alexander's Invasion
  • Economy of Mahajanapadas
  • System of Administration in Mahajanapadas

Ancient History Notes on Mauryan Empire

  • Sources, Inscriptions and Sites
    Literary Sources, such as The Arthasastra, and Indica
  • Rulers of the Mauryas, such as Chandragupta and Bindusara, Ashoka and His Successors
  • Ashoka's Inscriptions and Sites
  • Ashokan Reign
  • Asoka and Buddhism
  • Ashoka Policy of Dhamma
  • Mauryan Administration
  • Foreign Relations
  • The decline of the Mauryas

Post Mauryan India

Gupta Period

  • Sources of Gupta Rule
  • Rulers and Political History of Guptas Chronology
  • Foreign Travellers Visit - Fahien's Visit
  • Gupta Administration
  • Other Important Dynasties
  • Society Religion and Culture
  • Urban centers in the Gupta period
  • Economy
  • Science and Technology
  • Literature
  • Later Guptas

Ancient History Notes on Sangam Period

  • Sangam Literature
  • Cholas
  • Cheras
  • Pandyas
  • Sangam Polity, Society and Culture
  • The economy of the Sangam Period
  • Foreign Dynasties and Commercial Contacts with the Outside World
  • Schools of Art

How to Prepare Ancient History Notes for UPSC?

Ancient History Notes are an essential part of the UPSC Exam. Covering the UPSC Notes is an integral part of the UPSC Preparation Strategy. To cover Ancient History, one can refer to the following books:

  • Refer to NCERT: To have a firm grasp of the Ancient History Notes, one should refer to the NCERT Books to make a solid foundation.
  • Follow Preferred Books: After completing the NCERTs, one can refer to the UPSC Books on History to cover all the relevant micro-topics of Ancient History. One can also refer to some of the History Books for UPSC to make Ancient History Notes.

Below we have listed three of the highly recommended Ancient History Books for UPSC:

  • India's Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma
  • The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Basham
  • Ancient and Medieval India: Poonam Dalal Dahiya.

One should also practice UPSC Previous Year Questions to understand the UPSC Exam Pattern. Other than this, the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) website can also prove helpful for the preparation of Ancient History Notes.

Ancient History UPSC

As per the UPSC Prelims Exam Analysis 2022, approximately 7 questions were asked from Ancient History Topics for UPSC which include art and culture. In UPSC 2020, aprox. 20 questions were asked from ancient India. Keeping up with the trend, it is important to prepare the section in a comprehensive manner. 


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FAQs on Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF

  • Download Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF for all the important topics of ancient history and art & culture as per the updated UPSC Syllabus. Topics such as Mahajanapadas, Buddhism, Jainism,Mauryan are included in the notes PDF.

  • To cover ancient history UPSC, one can refer to India's Ancient Past- Ram Sharan Sharma and to NCERT Class XI Ancient India. The NCERT Class XI- An Introduction to Indian Art can also be referred for some topics.

  • Usually, NCERT Books on History are enough to cover ancient Indian history, and are sufficient for making Ancient History Notes. Aspirants should refer to Old NCERTs for UPSC as well to ensure that all important sub-topics are covered.

  • The old NCERT- India's Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma is best for Ancient History Notes, therefore while curating Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF, all important topics from R S Sharma were included.

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