Art and Culture Books for UPSC

by Vajiram & Ravi

The UPSC Art and Culture Books cover a wide range of topics like Indian Architecture, Indian Sculpture - the Gandhara, Mathura and Amaravati School of Art, Indian Classical Dances, Indian Classical Music, Indian Theatre, Scripts and Inscriptions, Indian Literature, Ancient Coins etc.

While Art and Culture has a vast syllabus in itself, it is not mentioned separately as a subject in the Official UPSC Syllabus. It finds a mention under UPSC Mains GS-I Syllabus under the sub-head- Salient Aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

UPSC Art and Culture Books for Prelims and Mains

The Best UPSC Art and Culture Books for Prelims and Mains are,

  • NIOS Art & Culture Book
  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania: This is a comprehensive and widely recommended book specifically tailored for UPSC aspirants. It covers a wide range of topics from ancient to modern art and culture, including dance, music, architecture, and more.
  • Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum: This book offers a concise yet comprehensive overview of India's cultural heritage, making it useful for quick revisions and grasping essential concepts.
  • An Introduction to Indian Art by Vidya Dehejia: This book provides an in-depth exploration of Indian art from ancient to contemporary times, covering various forms of art, their historical contexts, and cultural significance.
  • History of Indian Art by Basham, A. L., and S. Settar: This book provides an academic approach to Indian art history, delving into its cultural, religious, and regional dimensions.

NCERT Art and Culture Book for UPSC

For UPSC exam preparation, you can refer to the NCERT books related to Art and Culture. These books provide a foundational understanding of Indian art and culture, which is essential for the General Studies Paper 1 and can also be beneficial for the optional subject.

How to Prepare Art and Culture for UPSC?

To prepare Art and Culture for the UPSC exam, start by reviewing the previous year's question papers to understand the types of questions typically asked in the exam. Go through the Prelims Previous year and Mains GS-I previous year question papers for a thorough understanding of the subject.

Break down the History topic into these subtopics:

  • Literature: Indian literature from ancient to modern times, including Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Bengali literature.
  • Art Forms: Indian art forms, such as painting, sculpture, architecture, and music.
  • Architecture: Indian architectural styles, such as the Indus Valley Civilization, the Mauryan Empire, the Gupta Empire, and the Mughal Empire.
  • Culture: Indian culture, including festivals, customs, and traditions.
  • When studying any history topic from your books, take note of any facts related to the subtopics mentioned above and add them to your art and culture notes.

Pay special attention to subjects like:

  • Dance Forms – Understand their background and details.
  • Puppetry
  • Indian Philosophy Schools
  • All Types of Architecture
  • Martial Arts and more


Which Art and Culture book is important for UPSC?

The most important Art and Culture book for UPSC is Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania. It is a comprehensive and well-written book that covers all the important topics in the syllabus. The language is easy to understand, and the book is full of useful information and insights.

What to read in Nitin Singhania's Art and Culture Book?

Nitin Singhania gives a very in-depth, comprehensive coverage of the Art & Culture syllabus. Important chapters like Indian Architecture, Indian Art Forms, Indian Classical Dance, Indian Classical Music, Coins, Literature, Religion etc should be covered.

In which paper Art and Culture is included in the UPSC Mains exam?

Art and Culture is a part of Mains General Studies Paper 1 for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. It is a compulsory paper for all candidates appearing for the exam.