Art and Culture Notes for UPSC – Important Topics, Art and Culture UPSC Notes PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Art and Culture UPSC Notes are an integral part and lead the way toward comprehensive preparation. 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 specifically mentioned in the syllabus, but questions are asked both in UPSC prelims and 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. The aspirants preparing for the upcoming exam must delve deeper into the crucial topics in order to grasp the core concepts and fundamentals of the topic “Art and Culture”.

Art and Culture for UPSC

The UPSC syllabus does not explicitly mention the Art and Culture segment, but questions are asked in prelims and mains. The art and culture part correlates with the History syllabus part. The following are the key aspects that ought to be covered while preparing the art and culture notes for UPSC:

  • Examine the importance of the three art forms in developing human personality.
  • The objectives and aims of performing arts and their growth through numerous stages.
  • Development and growth of drama through numerous phases in India and recognize the contribution of folk theatre.
  • Use of performing arts during the medieval and ancient periods.
  • Secular and Religious Art in India.
  • Appreciation of the contribution of classical dances, folk music, and folk dances to Indian culture and the obstacles faced by performing Arts.

Art and Culture Notes for UPSC

The NCERT Books for UPSC are an important source to start the preparation of Art and Culture notes. Following this, one can refer to the Books, CCRT, and NIOS material. The NCERT books cater to the foundations and core concepts and get in touch with the pivotal topics of the syllabus. This will aid the candidates in performing exceptionally and extraordinarily in the exam. The topics that are essential and should be covered for the UPSC Exam are:

Language and Literature

Paintings in India

  • Prehistoric Rock Paintings
  • 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 themes 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

The main topics of the Visual Arts have been highlighted in the table below. Check the table to gain complete details of the subject-

Visual Arts [Indian Art and Culture]
Buddhist Sculpture Gupta Sculpture
NayakaTemples Temples of Kerala
Temples of Assam Contemporary Paintings
Temples of Khajuraho Temples of Himachal Pradesh
Temples of Gujarat Gupta Period
Sculptures of Harappan Civilisation Post-Mauryan Period
Sculptures of the Mauryan Age Temples of Gwalior
Vijaynagar Period Temples Chola Period Temples
Indo-Islamic Architecture Temples of Rajasthan
Architecture Modern Architecture
Post-Mauryan Period Cave Paintings
Jain Sculptures Modern Indian Sculpture
Temples of Odisha Paintings in the Deccan
Coinage Miniature Painting in South India
Temples of Bengal Temples of Jammu and Kashmir
Regional Paintings Pallava Period Temples
Medieval School of Sculpture Pandya Temples
Pahari School of Painting Tradition of Mural Paintings in India
Modern Paintings Temple Architecture
Mauryan Architecture Tradition of Miniature Paintings in India
Rashtrakuta Period Temples Harappan Period
Pottery Tradition

[Ochre: Coloured Pottery(OCP), Black and Red Ware (BRW), Painted Grey Ware (PGW), Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW), Glazed and Unglazed Pottery]

Rajput School of Painting


  • Post Mauryan Architecture
  • Colonial Architecture
  • Architectural Style of Harappan Civilisation
  • Medieval Period Architecture
  • Impact of Persian and Greek Invasion on Indian Culture
  • Monolithic Temples
  • The emergence of Nalanda as a 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 of 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.


The other miscellaneous topics that are important for the exam have been listed here. The candidates must cover these topics efficiently in order to gain complete details of the important topics of the exam.

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

How to Prepare Art and Culture UPSC Notes?

Art and culture notes are a pivotal and crucial segment of the UPSC exam. To formulate an effective and efficient UPSC Preparation Strategy the candidates can get in-depth detail and knowledge of the topics that behold importance. The aspirants can refer to the following books to cover the core concepts and fundamentals.

  • Refer to NCERT: To get a grasp of the core concepts and fundamentals, one should refer to the NCERT books to make a solid foundation.
  • Follow Recommended Books: After covering the essential segments of NCERTs, one can refer to the books for the UPSC exam. One can also get in touch with the essential segments of the Art and Culture Books to make notes.

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

Indian Art and Culture UPSC PDF

An in-depth knowledge of the subjects and the essential topics will lead the candidates in accomplishing the cognizance and knowledge of the core concepts. Well-curated notes formulated by the experts have been presented here. The aspirants can click on the link and get ideation of the topic and bring forth a methodical strategy for the same.

Art and Culture Notes PDF

Accurate knowledge of the syllabus and exam pattern will lead the candidates on the right way. The enhanced and upgraded strategy for preparing for the exam will aid the candidates in performing extraordinarily well in the exam.

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