Art and Culture Notes for UPSC

By Ritesh|Updated : September 14th, 2022

Art and Culture Notes for UPSC is an important part of the UPSC Exam. Covering Art, Culture, Literature, and Architecture is a tough task for most aspirants. The IAS Exam mainly focuses on Indian Art and Culture for the exam, and students must cover the topic well in detail from both the NCERTs and the reference sources.

Art and Culture is not directly mentioned in the UPSC Syllabus, but questions are asked both in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. Through this article, we will be covering all the major topics that are essential for the exam. For the convenience of the students, we have divided the topics into detailed sub-topics as well.

Art and Culture UPSC

The UPSC Syllabus does not explicitly mention the Art & Culture segment, but questions are asked in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. The Art and Culture part correlates with the syllabus's History part.

The following are the key aspects that should be covered while preparing the Art and Culture Notes for UPSC:

  • Examine the importance of the three art forms in developing human personality.
  • Aims and objectives of performing arts and their development through various stages.
  • Development of drama through various phases in India and recognize the contribution of folk theatre.
  • Utility of performing arts during the ancient and medieval period.
  • Religious and secular Art in India
  • Appreciate the contribution of classical dances, folk music, and folk dances to Indian culture and the Challenges faced by performing Arts.

Indian Art and Culture Notes for UPSC

The NCERT Books for UPSC are an important source to start the preparation of Art and Culture NCERT Notes. Following this, one can refer to the UPSC Books, CCRT, and NIOS material.

The topics that are essential and should be covered for the UPSC Exam are:

Language and Literature

  • Trends in Medieval Literature
  • Modern Indian Literature
  • Classical languages: Evolution & impact on society
  • Tamil language and Sangam Literature
  • Vedic Literature

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 styles)
    • Development of Pahari, Rajput and Deccan Paintings
  • 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
  • Religious Philosophies
    • Buddhism and its impact
    • Jainism and its impact
    • Sufism and its impact
    • Vedanta Philosophy
  • Bhakti Traditions


  • Hindustani Music evolution, features and impact
  • Carnatic Music evolution, features and impact
  • Regional music and its impact
  • Contribution of Some personalities: Amir Khusro, Mohammad Shah
  • Modern Music
  • Evolution of Indian Music
  • Hindustani and Carnatic music differences and similarities


  • Well-known Classical dancers of India.
  • Classical Dances of India
  • Themes in Indian folk dances
  • Tracing Evolution of Dance (Rig Veda, Harappa, Nataraja)


  • Introduction ( Natyashastra)
  • Famous Modern Dramas and Dramatists.
  • Various texts relating to the Drama period wise (ex Mahabhasya, mrichhakatika)
  • Evolution of Drama in India

Bronze Sculptures in India

  • Harappan “Dancing Girl”
  • Nataraja
  • Pala school of Art (Bronze images, Manuscripts)
  • Chola Bronzes
  • Jain Tirthankaras Bronze Images
  • Pallava Bronze Images
  • Buddha bronze Images (ex Guptas and Vakatakas)

Visual Arts

  • Buddhist Sculpture
  • NayakaTemples
  • Temples of Assam
  • Temples of Khajuraho
  • Temples of Gujarat
  • Sculptures of Harappan Civilisation
  • Sculptures of the Mauryan Age
  • Vijaynagar Period Temples
  • Indo-Islamic Architecture
  • Architecture
  • Post-Mauryan Period
  • Jain Sculptures
  • Temples of Odisha
  • Coinage
  • Temples of Bengal
  • Regional Paintings
  • Medieval School of Sculpture
  • Pahari School of Painting
  • Modern Paintings
  • Mauryan Architecture
  • Rashtrakuta Period Temples
  • Gupta Sculpture
  • Temples of Kerala
  • Contemporary Paintings
  • Temples of Himachal Pradesh
  • Gupta Period
  • Post-Mauryan Period
  • Temples of Gwalior
  • Chola Period Temples
  • Temples of Rajasthan
  • Modern Architecture
  • Cave Paintings
  • Modern Indian Sculpture
  • Paintings in the Deccan
  • Miniature Painting in South India
  • Temples of Jammu and Kashmir
  • Pallava Period Temples
  • Pandya Temples
  • Tradition of Mural Paintings in India
  • Temple Architecture
  • Tradition of Miniature Paintings in India
  • Harappan Period
  • Rajput School of Painting
  • Pottery Tradition
    • Ochre: Coloured Pottery(OCP)
    • Black and Red Ware (BRW)
    • Painted Grey Ware (PGW)
    • Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW)
    • Glazed and Unglazed Pottery


  • Post Mauryan Architecture
  • Colonial Architecture
  • Architectural Style of Harappan Civilisation
  • Medieval Period architecture
  • Impact of Persian and Greek invasion on Indian culture
  • Monolithic Temples
  • Emergence of Nalanda as centre of learning
  • Rock Cut temples
  • Early Temples
  • Influence of Buddhism and Jainism on Indian architecture
  • Spread of Indian Culture to Southeast Asia
  • Free Standing Temples
  • Indo Islamic Architecture
  • Pallavas as great temple builders
  • Gandhara and Mathura school of Art
  • Conservation and Preservation of Architectural Structures
  • Mauryan Architecture (322-182 BC)
  • Nagara and Dravida Styles
  • Cultural development during Gupta Age


  • Sufism
  • Saints of Bhakti Movement
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Jainism
  • Hinduism
  • Sikhism
  • Bhakti Movement
  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Pre-Vedic Religion
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Philosophy in India

Performing Arts

  • Music in India
  • Classical Indian Music
    • Main Pillars of Indian Music
    • Forms of Indian Music
    • Musical Instruments
    • Institutions Related to Music in India
    • Folk Music
  • Dances in India
    • Concept of Dance in India
    • Concept of Ashta Nayika
    • Rasa and Bhava
    • Eight Classical Dance Forms in India
    • Folk Dances
    • Modern Dances
  • Sports in India
    • Various Types of Sports
    • Genesis of Martial Arts
    • Forms of Traditional Martial Arts
    • Animal Sports
  • Indian Theatre
    • History of Theatre in India
    • Traditional Theatre
    • Regional Theatre
    • Modern Theatre in India
    • Renaissance of Indian Theatre
    • Cinema in India
  • Indian Puppetry
    • String Puppets
    • Shadow Puppets
    • Rod Puppets
    • Glove puppets
    • Modern Puppetry
    • Tribal Puppetry


  • Government Cultural Institutions in India
  • UNESCO’s List of Cultural Heritage in India
  • Protection and Promotion of Indian Culture and Heritage: Legal Provisions
  • Schemes and Awards
    • Awards and Honours Associated with Culture
    • International Yoga Day
    • Indian Handicrafts
  • Schemes for Cleanliness of Tourist Places
  • Bathu Kamma
  • Muziris Heritage Site
  • Mahapushkaram
  • Chapchar Kut Festival
  • Swadesh Darshan
  • Project Mausam
  • Bharat Parv
  • Ganga sagarmela
  • Losar festival
  • Prasad Scheme
  • The Calendar & the Eras
  • Rashtriya Ekta Diwas
  • International Buddhist Conclave
  • Schemes for Serious Literature and Litterateurs
  • Cultural Mapping of India
  • Schemes for Development of Cultural Heritage
  • National Mission on Manuscripts
  • Orange Festival Nagpur
  • Important Festivals
  • Swachh Bharat Swachh Smarak
  • Wangala Festival
  • ‘Swachh Bharat Swachh Paryatan’
  • Personalities Related to Culture
  • Jallikattu
  • Gandhi Heritage Sites Mission
  • National Virtual Library of India
  • Manipur Sangai Festival
  • Sanskriti App
  • Incredible India 2.0 Campaign
  • Schemes for Monument Development
  • Hornbill Festival
  • UNESCO inscribes Yoga in the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • World’s Heritage
  • Nabakalebar Rath Yatra
  • International Initiatives for Cultural Development and Recognition
  • Paryatan Parv
  • Sankalp Parva-Sankalp se Siddhi’
  • National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities
  • Kheer Bhawani festival
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´Kumbh Mela’
  • Protest against Sunburn fest
  • GI Tag
  • Kambala
  • 2017 Teesta Rangit Tourism Festival
  • Places of Cultural Interest
  • UNESCO Creative Cities Network
  • Schemes for promotion of Culture
  • Adarsh Smarak Yojana
  • Cultural Scheme Monitoring System
  • UNESCO Global Geopark
  • Science and Technology in Ancient India

How to Prepare Art and Culture Notes for UPSC

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

  • Refer to NCERT: To have a firm grasp, 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. One can also refer to some of the Art and Culture Books to make notes.

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

Art and Culture Notes for UPSC PDF

To prepare for the Art and Culture Notes, one can download the PDF from the below link.


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FAQs on Art and Culture Notes for UPSC

  • In the Art and Culture syllabus for UPSC, one needs to study the paintings, including mural paintings, miniatures of the Delhi-Sultanate/Mughal era, folk paintings, etc. It also includes dance, architecture, performing arts, etc.

  • To prepare the best notes for Art and Culture UPSC, one can refer to the following materials:

    • CCRT website.
    • NCERT Class 11th fine arts book
    • Current Affairs on Culture
    • Selective reading from IGNOU history notes.
    • Doordarshan documentary on paintings, forts
  • The NCERT books are the backbone of topics like cultural influence, architecture, etc. however, for the UPSC exam, candidates need to have additional books apart from the NCERTs.

  • To prepare UPSC's art and culture notes, candidates must first analyze the topic and sub-topics. After that, they must make short hand-written notes for the revision period.

  • Click here to download the Art and Culture Notes for UPSC Notes PDF.

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