How to prepare Art and Culture for UPSC | Art and Culture Syllabus For UPSC & Preparation Strategy

Specified under the syllabus of General Studies I for UPSC Civil Sevices Mains, Art & Culture is one of the important topics in the Civil Services preparation. The UPSC syllabus mentions the 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.

Art and Culture Syllabus For UPSC

The syllabus for Art & Culture has been specified under the GS Paper 1 of UPSC Mains Exams. Following is the list of micro topics that have been covered in Art & Culture

Indian Art Forms

Indian Paintings

Classical Dance Forms

Folk Dance Forms

Classical Music




Martial Arts


Ancient Indian Literature

Classical Sanskrit Literature

Literature in Pali and Prakrit

Early Dravidian Literature

Medieval Literature

Women Poets of Bhakti

Trends in Medieval Literature

Modern Indian Literature


Harappan Architecture

Temple Architecture

Cave Architecture

Indo-Islamic Architecture

Medieval Architecture

Modern Architecture

Contribution of Buddhism & Jainism to the Development of Indian Architecture

Rock Cut Architecture

Colonial Architecture & the Modern Period

Preparation Strategy for Art and Culture For UPSC Prelims & Mains

Art & Culture is a very wide topic and hence it is important that you stick to the syllabus and study only the relevant portions. Here’re some of the main components of art and culture preparation for UPSC:

#1 Basic Concepts of Art and Culture Syllabus for UPSC

History textbooks of Class VI and VII and XI and XII (NCERTs) cover ancient and medieval history that should be studied for building a strong foundation. Apart from that fine arts textbook of Class XI should be studied in detail for the art-forms specifically.

#2 Read Standard Book for covering Art and Culture Syllabus For UPSC

Next, read Indian Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania and revise it multiple times to have the names at your fingertips. Rote learning is an important part of the preparation strategy for Art & Culture.

#3 Leverage Online resources For Preparing Art and Culture For UPSC

Follow the official website of CCRT(Centre for Cultural Resources & Training) for all the important updates, pib website for information on GI tags, and other important information on recent cultural festivals and programs.

Weightage of Art & Culture

First, let us begin with the weightage of Art & Culture in the previous year:


Marks (Prelims)

















Booklist for preparing Art and Culture Syllabus For UPSC

  1. NCERT History- Class VI and VII and Class XI and Class XII

  2. NCERT Fine Arts - Class XI

  3. Indian Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania

  4. Newspapers (The Hindu), Monthly Current Affairs, India Year Book

  5. Website -

Previous Year Questions From Art and Culture in UPSC Exam

Let's have a look at what kind of questions are asked from Art and Culture topic in the UPSC exam.

Q1: Consider the following:

  • Deification of the Buddha
  • Treading the path of Bodhisattvas
  • Image worship and rituals

Which of the above is/are the feature/features of Mahayana Buddhism?

  • (a) 1 only
  • (b) 1 and 2 only
  • (c) 2 and 3 only
  • (d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

Q2. Who among the following Mughal Emperors shifted emphasis from illustrated manuscripts to the album and individual portrait?

  • (a) Humayun
  • (b) Akbar
  • (c) Jahangir
  • (d) Shah Jahan

Answer: C

Q.3 With reference to the religious practices in India, the "Sthanakvasi" sect belongs to

  • (a) Buddhism
  • (b) Jainism
  • (c) Vaishnavism
  • (d) Shaivism

Answer- B

Q 4: With reference to the cultural history of India, consider the following statements :

White marble was used in making Buland Darwaza and Khankah at Fatehpur Sikri. Red sandstone and marble were used in making Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza at Lucknow. Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • (a) 1 only
  • (b) 2 only
  • (c) Both 1 and 2
  • (d) Neither 1 nor 2
  • Answer- A

    Q.5: He wrote biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi, Shivaji and Shrikrishna; stayed in America for some time, and was also elected to the Central Assembly. He was

    • (a) Aurobindo Ghosh
    • (b) Bipin Chandra Pal
    • (c) Lala Lajpat Rai
    • (d) Motilal Nehru

    Answer. C

    This was a detailed preparation strategy for Art and Culture for UPSC. Check out the weightage of all the subjects in Prelims here.

    A pioneer in test-prep, Career Launcher has launched several online courses for UPSC CSE preparation keeping the current situation in mind. You can check our entire course range for UPSC CSE preparation here. Get in touch with our course counselors for additional information about the course deliverables.