Geography Books for UPSC

by Vajiram & Ravi

Geography books for UPSC cover Indian and world geography for prelims, mains, and optional levels. In the UPSC Mains exam, Geography Optional Books are crucial. It is a high-scoring optional subject, and it also helps in the GS papers if studied effectively. Many successful candidates have chosen geography as their optional subject.

To efficiently clear all three stages of the CSE, candidates should use the best Geography Books for UPSC. They should be complemented with an atlas and awareness of current events to showcase a comprehensive understanding of concepts.

Geography Books for UPSC Prelims

Geography is an important subject for the UPSC Prelims Test, as it covers the physical, social, economic and political aspects of the earth and its inhabitants. Here is a list of recommended Geography books important for candidates to prepare for the UPSC Prelims Exam:

NCERT Geography Books

Advanced UPSC Geography Books

  • Vajiram & Ravi Indian Geography Book - Buy Now
  • Vajiram & Ravi “Concepts of Geography” Book - Buy Now
  • Go Cheng Leong – Certificate Physical & Human Geography.
  • School Atlas – Orient Black Swan.
  • Oxford Student Atlas.

Geography Books for UPSC Mains

To prepare for Geography in UPSC Mains GS, candidates should focus on integrating geographical knowledge with various subjects and their interdisciplinary connections. A sound understanding of maps, regional geography, and contemporary issues is essential for effective answer writing. There are many books that can help you prepare for the geography section of the UPSC Mains exam. Some of the most recommended books are:

  • Vajiram & Ravi Indian Geography Yellow Book: This book focuses on the geographical aspects of India, covering its physical features, climate, vegetation, and various regions. Includes information on human geography, such as population, agriculture, industries, and urbanization in the Indian context and offers insights into the geographical factors affecting India's economic, social, and environmental aspects.
  • Vajiram & Ravi Concepts of Geography Yellow Book: Focuses on fundamental concepts related to the physical aspects of the Earth, including landforms, climate, and natural resources. It covers topics such as geomorphology, climatology, and environmental geography and provides an understanding of global physical processes, including weathering, erosion, and plate tectonics.
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain: This book covers almost all the sub-topics of Indian Geography, such as resources, irrigation, cropping patterns, transport, food security, etc.
  • World Geography by Majid Husain: This book covers various geographical regions of the world in eighteen chapters, with detailed text on individual nations within each region.
  • Oxford School Atlas: This book provides over 200 clear and easy-to-read maps, charts, and diagrams, supported by 94 thematic maps of India, including physical and political maps.
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong: This book gives elementary details of most topics that comprise of physical and human geography, with many photographs, illustrations, and maps for explanation.
  • Physical, Human and Economic Geography for Civil Services Examination by D R Khuller: This book comes in two parts: Part 1 covers Physical Geography while Part 2 covers Human and Economic Geography. This book is good for understanding the concepts with an explanation.

Geography Optional Books

The UPSC Geography Optional consists of two papers, each with 250 marks and 3 hours duration. The papers are divided into two sections, A and B, each with four questions. The candidates have to attempt five questions in total, including at least one question from each section. The geography optional papers require a good understanding of the concepts, theories, and models of geography, as well as the ability to apply them to the Indian context. The candidates also need to have a good command of maps, diagrams, and charts to illustrate their answers.

Geography Optional Books – Paper 1

The geography optional paper 1 covers the principles of geography, such as physical geography, human geography, and geographical thought. Some of the topics included in this paper are geomorphology, climatology, oceanography, biogeography, population geography, settlement geography, regional planning, etc. Here is a list of recommended books for Geography Optional Paper-I preparation:

  • Human Geography by Majid Husain
  • A Geography by Population by R.C. Chandna
  • Goh Cheng Leong
  • Oceanography by Sharma & Vatal
  • Physical Geography – Made Simple, Rupa Publisher
  • Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Economic and Social Geography – Made Simple by Rupa Publisher
  • Environmental Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Environmental Geography by Saxena
  • Environmental Awareness by R.C.Chandna
  • Agricultural Geography by Masjid Husain
  • Political Geography by R.D.Dixit
  • General Climatology by Critchfield
  • Physical Geography in Diagrams by Bunnett
  • Economic Geography by Hertshorn& Alexander
  • Principles of Geomorphology by W.D. Thornbury
  • Geomorphology by Savindra Singh
  • Economic and Social Geography – Made Simple, Rupa Publishers
  • Urbanization & Urban Systems in India by Ramachandran
  • Perspectives in Human Geography: Evolution of Geographic Thought by Majid Husain
  • Economic and Social Geography – Made Simple, Rupa Publisher
  • Regional Planning: Regional Planning – by Chand &Puri
  • Settlement Geography by K Siddhartha
  • Climatology by D.S.Lal
  • Physical Geography by Strahler & Strahler

UPSC Geography Books for Optional Paper II

The geography optional paper II covers the geography of India, such as physical setting, resources, agriculture, industry, transport, trade, cultural setting, regional development, etc. Some of the topics included in this paper are physiography, drainage, climate, soils, natural vegetation, mineral and energy resources, irrigation, cropping patterns, food security, etc. Here is a list of recommended books for Geography Optional Paper-II preparation:

  • Economic and Commercial Geography of India by Sharma & Coutinho
  • Economic and Commercial Geography of India by C.B. Mamoria
  • Geography of India – Majid Husain
  • Transport, Communication, and Trade
  • Regional Development and Planning
  • Agriculture Geography by Majid Husain
  • Urbanization and Urban Systems in India by Ramachandran
  • Human Geography by Majid Husain
  • Economical and Commercial Geography of India by Sharma & Coutinho
  • Economic and Commercial Geography of India by C.B. Mamoria
  • India Year Book published by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong
  • Economical and Commercial Geography by Sharma & Coutinho
  • Political Aspects: Modern Political Geography of India by B.L. Sukhwal.
  • Geography of Population by R.C.Chandna
  • A Geography of India by Gopal Singh
  • Regional Planning and Development by Chand and Puri
  • Indian Geography by D R Khullar
Related Topics
History Books for UPSCUPSC Maths Optional Books
Sociology Books for UPSCPhilosophy Books for UPSC
UPSC BooksCSAT Books


How can I complete Geography for UPSC Optional?

To complete Geography for UPSC optional, you need to follow a systematic and comprehensive strategy that covers the syllabus, the sources, the revision, and the practice.

  • Memorize the syllabus of Geography optional and divide it into two parts as per Paper I and Paper II.
  • Study any topic from a maximum of 2-3 sources, including the standard reference books and the material provided by your coaching institute, if any.
  • After you cover one topic, give tests specifically on that topic and refer to the previous year's questions to understand the focus areas and the demands of the examiner.
  • Don’t make notes on each and every topic, as it will consume your time. Rather, refer to your class notes and add on to them in your notebook.
  • Practice drawing regional and thematic maps for both Paper I and Paper II and use examples from one paper in the other while writing answers.
  • Have a special focus on one section, either Physical Geography or Human Geography, in Paper-I and know beforehand from which section you will attempt three questions.
  • Make small bullet point notes for often repeated topics in Paper-II and prepare region-wise maps of India from standard books.
  • Revise the topics multiple times and solve mock tests and previous year papers under time constraints

Which is the best geography book for UPSC preparation?

The best Geography Book for UPSC Preparation is Vajiram & Ravi Yellow Books for Indian and Physical Geography. Both books cover the whole UPSC Geography Syllabus in a concise manner with the help of point format, diagrams, flow charts, infographics etc. Each chapter consists of PYQ at its end for practice, which is updated on a yearly basis.

Is it necessary to read NCERT Geography Books for UPSC? 

Yes, it is highly necessary for one to read NCERTs for UPSC preparation. Read all the Geography NCERTs from class 6th to 12th. Every year, there is a high chance of questions coming from these books, especially in the UPSC Prelims Test.