Indian Art and Culture for UPSC exam

The art and culture section has got more importance to the changes made by UPSC in 2011. Every year roughly 5 to 8 questions are asked from this section. In Mains GS Paper 1, 10 to 25 marks are asked from the Art and Culture section.

Here in this article, we will provide an overview of the subject and also provide some inputs and materials for UPSC art and culture preparation.

UPSC Art and Culture - An Overview

UPSC Civil Services syllabus covers a wide range of subjects and topics that every aspirant is expected to know. That is very important as the selected civil services aspirants will go on to become IAS and other civil services officers who take important decisions affecting the country. So a wide knowledge of the Indian heritage, art and culture are required as well.

Art and culture play a significant role in the overall development of a country. It is surely important in a culture rich country like India, with the world s largest collections of songs, music, dance, theatre, folk traditions, performing arts, rites and rituals, paintings and writings. So UPSC expects Civil Services aspirants to have a broad understanding of Indian art and cultural heritage.

Art and Culture Syllabus

The syllabus of Indian art and culture is undoubtedly vast but with an intelligent approach, you can easily cover it comprehensively.

Indian art and culture are included in the syllabus of civil services prelims (Paper 1) as well as mains (GS Paper 1). The syllabus for both of these papers can be consolidated so that you can approach it in a planned manner.

Topics to be covered in Art and Culture Section for UPSC

1. Indian Architecture and Sculpture

Indian Architecture

India has rich architecture and sculpture across different parts of the country and changes from time to time. Rock-cut architecture, Pottery, Sculpture and Architecture of different civilizations and time periods,  Indo-Islamic architecture, etc. all need to be studied. Refer to our detailed material on Indian Architecture and Sculpture for UPSC Preparation.

2. Indian Painting

Indian Painting

The tradition of paintings in India dates back to pre-historic times. There are different types of painting which represents the diverse social and cultural facet of the country. Some of the famous paintings are Madhubani Painting, Pahari Painting, Tanjore Painting, etc. All this can be studied from our article on Indian Painting for UPSC.



3. Indian Dance forms and Theatre

Indian dance

Classical and folk dances of India are an important part of India s cultural heritage. Indian Theatre is an indispensable part of Indian culture.

Refer to our detailed material on Indian Dance and Theatre for UPSC Preparation.

4. Indian Music

Indian Music

Music of India includes various types of classical music, folk music, spiritual and bhakti music, etc. Different types of music are associated with different musical instruments.
You can refer our detailed material on Indian Music to prepare for UPSC.

5. Indian Literature

Indian Literature

India has a rich history of literary materials with different types of literature like Vedic literature, Jain and Buddhist literature, Sangam literature, Upanishads, Puranas, nationalist literature, etc. Refer to our detailed material on Indian Literature for UPSC preparation.

6. Miscellaneous

Indian Art and culture

Different cultural institutions in India, schools of philosophy, Indian handicrafts, UNESCO lists of heritage (Tangible and Intangible), etc. can be referred from our detailed material on Miscellaneous topics of Indian Art and Culture.


Importance of Art & Culture in Civil Services

The importance of art and culture has increased considerably in recent years, which can be analyzed from the number of art and culture questions appearing in prelims and mains.

By analyzing the trend, you can expect around 5 to 7 questions of Art & Culture in the Civil Services Exam 2018. That s 10-14 marks, so it cannot be ignored.

By analyzing the trend of questions asked in UPSC Mains, you can notice that the average marks share of Art & Culture in Mains is around 25 marks. Therefore Art & Culture is of high importance in Mains as well.

Art and Culture Ebook Download

Sources to study Art & Culture


  • Class 11th NCERTs - An introduction to India Art, Living crafts traditions of India
  • Class 12th NCERT - Craft Tradition of India
  • Old NCERTs of Ancient & Medieval India (culture related chapters)

Reference Materials

  • NIOS Study Material
  • CCRT website (
  • Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • The Hindu - Friday Review

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