Ancient History Notes for UPSC – PDF Download, Ancient History of India UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF is available here for different topics covered in this section. It is considered lengthy and requires an in-depth understanding of the topics, along with correlation. Ancient History Notes are an essential part of the preparation of Indian History for the UPSC exam. The History section under the Civil Services exam syllabus comprises three parts, Ancient History, Medieval History and Modern History. The Ancient History UPSC notes also correlate with the Art and Culture part of the syllabus.

Some of the important topics covered in this subject are Rigveda, the Gupta dynasty, the Mauryan empire, the Ashoka period, Mahajanapadas, etc. The ancient history of India notes contains all major events in Indian history from prehistoric times to 700 AD, after which the Medieval period starts. This article on Ancient History Notes deals with all the major micro-topics that should be included during the preparation for the UPSC Exam.

Ancient History Notes for UPSC

The Ancient History of India is often asked in both UPSC Prelims and Mains exams. 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 researching and studying the previous year’s question papers.

Ancient History Notes for UPSC PDF

Mahajanapadas Buddhism
Mauryan Administration Indus Valley Civilization
Jainism Mauryan Empire
Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka Dholavira
Types of Vedas Dance of India
Slave Dynasty Chera Dynasty
Kushan Empire Magadha Empire
Decline of Gupta Empire Pallava Art and Architecture
Sakas Dynasty Indo-Greek

Ancient History of India UPSC – Important Topics

The Ancient History UPSC notes of GS 1 Mains Syllabus include the following important topics for sound preparation:

  • 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 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, Palaeolithic 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, which 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
  • The decline of Harappan Culture

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
  • Organization and Sects of Buddhism
  • Literature of Buddhism
  • Councils and Royal Patronage

Mahajanpadas: 16 Mahajanapadas, Magadha, Haryanka 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: Satavahanas, Sungas and Kanvas, Sakas, Kushan Empire, Kanishka

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

Ancient History Notes for UPSC Prelims

For UPSC Prelims, Ancient History notes are important as they include the syllabus of Art and Culture as well. Candidates are advised to prepare for both subjects simultaneously, as a few topics might be overlapped. Prelims contain objective-type questions, therefore, candidates should make handwritten notes about all important dates, names, and events in the Ancient History of India and should not confuse between them while answering questions.

They should read about each topic deeply and learn the answers of what, when, how, and why of all crucial events.

Ancient History UPSC Notes for 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 UPSC Notes in depth to attempt the questions regarding the same in both 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 information at the time of the examination.

How to Prepare Ancient History UPSC Notes?

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

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

Aspirants should also check UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to learn the difficulty level and the types of questions asked. Other than this, the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) website can also prove helpful for the preparation of Ancient History Notes.

Modern History UPSC Notes Indian History Notes for UPSC
UPSC History Optional Question Paper Important History Topics for UPSC

Ancient History of India Handwritten Notes for UPSC

Follow these simple steps to create handwritten Ancient History notes for UPSC which will be helpful while doing revision before the exam:

  • Go through the latest syllabus and paper pattern of the UPSC Civil Services exam.
  • Make a list of all the topics included in the Ancient History section.
  • Go through the notes of each topic using the direct links shared in this article. Referring to these UPSC ancient history notes will help you to understand the facts and information about each topic well.
  • While preparing these notes, sit with a notebook and a pen. Make bullet points of all facts about each sub-topic to create handwritten notes on Ancient History UPSC.
  • Refer to your handwritten notes during the revision time.

Why Ancient History of India is Important for UPSC Exam?

Every year, there are questions on the Ancient History of India in both the Prelims and Mains examinations which makes it an important topic in the UPSC exam. Approx 4 to 5 questions can be asked from Ancient History UPSC Notes in the Prelims exam.

Additionally, in the Mains exam, a significant number of History questions are asked in the GS Paper 1, out of which 2 to 3 questions can be asked from the Ancient History topics.

Important Articles:
Modern History Previous Year Questions of UPSC Mains History Previous Year Questions UPSC Mains
NCERT Notes for UPSC Sociology Notes for UPSC
Economics Notes for UPSC Medieval History Questions UPSC Prelims
UPSC History Syllabus Modern History Previous Year Questions UPSC Prelims
Difference between History and Prehistory UPSC History Syllabus in Hindi
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