Indian Culture for GS Mains

This document comprises Indian Culture related CGS articles that were properly categorized and GS Mains questions & answers. We are still categorizing the previous content so more articles would appear later on this page as well as document. For fundamentals of Indian Culture for both prelims and mains, you can check our culture modules on this page

Reference Articles

  1. Key Facts to Know about Paryushan in Jainism
  2. Basveshwara and Vachana Sahitya
  3. Satras in Assam
  4. Channapatna Toys and Handicrafts
  5. Jallikattu versus Animal Cruelty
  6. Abhinavagupta: Works and Contribution to Indian Art & Culture
  7. Contribution of Kashmir into Indian Art and Culture
  8. Basmati Rice : GI Tag Row
  9. Search of Saraswati River
  10. Kohinoor Diamond: History, Government Stand & UNESCO’s convention
  11. Vijayanagara Empire
  12. Kashmir Shaivism: Salient Features and Contribution
  13. National Mission on Cultural Mapping and Roadmap

Questions & Answers

  1. Discuss the chief features of Mughal architecture in the time of Shah jahan and give examples in support of your answer.
  2. The Diwan-i-khas and the Rang Mahal in the Red Fort at Delhi are described ‘as the most ornamented of all Shahjahan’s buildings and ‘The crowning jewel of Shah jahan’s seraglio’ respectively by modern critics. Bring out the brilliance of these two buildings by giving a brief but critical account of these two buildings.
  3. ‘The Taj Mahal is a poem in marble, a romantic conception of heavenly beauty on earth.’ Give a critical account of its architecture and picturesque setting to bring out its two aspects mentioned in the above quotation.
  4. ”The tomb of Aurangzeb’s queen Rabia-ud-Durani by Aurangabad illustrates in apathetic manner the rapid deterioration of the Mughal architecture.” Bring out the correctness of the above statement by discussing the architecture of the buildings.
  5. Describe critically those features of the city of Jaipur and of the architecture of the palace of Suraj Mal at Deeg on account of which E.B. Havell thinks that the modern Rajput architecture began in the second quarter of the eighteenth century.
  6. Discuss why the buildings constructed by the Public Works Department of the Government of India in the second half of the nineteenth century have no architecture.
  7. Discuss the architecture of the buildings in metropolitan cities of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta constructed by the English East India Company before 1857.
  8. What is the significance of the architecture of the buildings of Jantar-Mantar and Safdar’s Tomb in the history of modern Indian architecture? Discuss.
  9. Describe those features of the buildings of the Secretariat, the Rashtrapati Bhavan which show that in the construction of these buildings, there is a happy synthesis of traditional Indian and modern Western architectural styles.
  10. Mention some buildings which were architecturally good when most of the government buildings during 1950 to 1960 were built under the influence of the Modern Movement. Also state what were the drawbacks of the Modern Movement in architecture?
  11. Discuss the work of some contemporary architects who have built in a style which is distinctively Indian.
  12. Discuss the leaders who were responsible for Art Renaissance in modern times especially in the areas of painting and music.
  13. Discuss the role of government of India for the preservation, promotion and dissemination of art and culture?
  14. Elucidate the factors that contributed towards the growth of regional literature in India during the Sultanate period?
  15. Assess the influence of colonialism and subsequent freedom struggle upon evolution of Indian art forms?
  16. While keeping in focus Kautilya’s Arthashastra, examine the fort architecture of ancient India. What major changes occurred in the same after advent of Muslim conquerors? Examine.
  17. The arts nurtured in satras in Assam are part of a living cultural tradition. Elucidate their origin and evolution and their contribution to India’s art forms. ET
  18. While taking examples of “Bali Jatra” and “celebration of Ramayana”, discuss India’s historical and cultural ties with countries in Southeast and East Asia. [Context: 2017 marked 25th anniversary of establishment of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership]
  19. Mention the distinctive features of Vesara style and discuss how it developed under the Chalukyas and the Hoysals describing the architecture of one temple of each dynasty.
  20. Discuss the chief trends in medieval sculpture which distinguish it from the classical sculpture.
  21. Discuss the features of the classical tradition in Painting giving suitable examples in support of your answer.
  22. Discuss the essential characteristics of the medieval tradition in Indian painting. Give suitable examples in support of your answer.
  23. How was Islamic architecture modified by Hindu master builders?
  24. While keeping Qutub Minar in focus, discuss trails of Hindu architecture into the monuments built by the early Sultans of Delhi?
  25. What was the effect of the reaction against Hindu elements in Indo-Islamic architecture under Alaud-din- Khilji? Mention the building which reflects this reaction and describe the style of its architecture.
  26. Discuss the factors on account of which the architecture of the Tughlaq period was massive and simple.
  27. Discuss the chief features of the sculptures of Vijaynagar of the buildings constructed in the fourteenth-fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by giving concrete examples.
  28. What was the indirect influence of the personalities and experience of Babar and Humayun on the subsequent art of India?
  29. Show how the buildings constructed by Sher Shah clearly exemplify his ideals of the attitude towards building art. Discuss their chief features and their importance in the history of development of Indo-Muslim architecture.
  30. Discuss the various factors which led to the formation of Akbar’s Indo-Islamic architectural style.
  31. Describe the chief features of the architecture and sculptures of the Agra fort. Also give examples of some buildings in the fort in support of your answer.
  32. Explain how the buildings constructed by Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri show that he achieved a fusion of native traditions with those of Iran in the sphere of art.
  33. Discuss how Akbar’s mausoleum at Sikandra and the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula show that jahangir’s contribution to the building art was rather insignificant when compared to the vast and ambitious perfects of his father, on the one hand, and those of his son, on the other.
  34. How do the rock paintings of North Karnataka and Andhra differ from those of Western Central India? Discuss.
  35. Excavations at various Indus Valley Sites have yielded a rich collection of objects in terracotta, stone and bronze. Explain while making a comparative account of these. Which of them was more popular and why?
  36. “The seals discussed in Harappan excavations form an impressive part of the surviving examples of Harappan arts.” Justify by giving suitable examples.
  37. Compare the image of the Buddha in the Gandhara art with that in the Mathura art.
  38. Discuss the changes in the Indian architecture and sculpture after demise of the Maurya rule. How this art was different from the Maurya art?
  39. What changes were brought in by the Sungas in the Maurya sculpture? Discuss.
  40. How Mathura art was a formative art that gave impetus to other forms of art styles?
  41. Critically discuss the importance of terracotta as the material for artistic expression of the humble people.
  42. Discuss critically the Painting of cave X at Ajanta.
  43. What is the importance of the Bhagavata movement in the history of Indian art?
  44. Discuss the importance of the Gupta temple in the development of Indian architecture.
  45. Describe critically the architecture and sculpture of the Dasavatara temple at Deogarh.
  46. Critically examine the importance of the Dhamekh Stupa at Sarnath as a representative of the Buddhist Stupas?
  47. Critically discuss why Buddha image from Sarnath is considered the highest triumph of Indian art.
  48. Describe the terracotta figures of the Gupta period to show that the terracotta work of this period was imbued with the spirit of true art prevailing at the time.
  49. Justify by giving illustrations from the paintings in the caves at Ajanta that the master painters who produced these paintings were in love with nature.
  50. Discuss critically the three-fold subjects decorative designs, portraiture and narration, of the Ajanta paintings by giving appropriate examples.
  51. Discuss the distinctive features of the Nagara style of Indian architecture and also state the important varieties of this style and their chief features.
  52. Describe critically the architecture and sculpture of the Muktesvara temple at Bhuvanesvara showing why it is regarded as a gem of Orissan architecture.
  53. “The Rajasthan and Gujarat style reached its climax in the two jain temples at Mount Abu.” Justify.
  54. Mention the distinctive features of Dravida style and discuss how it developed under the Pallavas and Cholas describing the architecture of one temple of each dynasty.
  55. Examine the contribution of Premchand in the proliferation of Hindi Literature.
  56. Examine the contribution of Bhartendu in the proliferation of Hindi Literature.
  57. Discuss the various literary sources which inspired Mahatma Gandhi to adopt the idea of Satyagraha.
  58. Discuss the contribution of Baba Farid and Bulleshah in the development of Vernacular literature in India.
  59. Examine the Kissa tradition in Punjabi liteature.
  60. Which were the four events in the life of the Buddha which have been depicted in different forms of Buddhist art? What did these events symbolise?
  61. What do you understand by Jatakas? How do the Jatakas relate to Buddhism?
  62. Critically examine the main features of Badami cave paintings?
  63. Write a Critical note on Vijayanagara paintings.
  64. The Chola bronze sculptures considered as the most refined. Why?
  65. What was the significance of a fort in medieval India? What were the strategic devices adopted in the construction of forts to confuse or defeat the enemy?
  66. Which forms of secular architecture evolved during medieval times? What significance did these buildings have in the sociocultural lives of contemporary people?
  67. How does Mandu showcase the fact that humans adapt to their environment?
  68. Why is the word ‘perfection’ associated with the Taj Mahal?
  69. What factors led to the amalgamation of the foreign and indigenous styles of architectures in medieval India. Critically examine the outcome of this amalgamation.
  70. Critically discuss the developments in art and architecture in India in the past which show that India’s culture is a composite one.
  71. While elucidating their evolution in the Indian moral thinking, critically discuss the concepts of Rta and Dharma.
  72. “The panorama of Indian painting is enriched with a large number Rock-paintings found in Central India.” Discuss what information do we get about the art of the Late Stone Age people from the rock paintings of that area?
  73. There is no adherence to rules so strictly in Folk music as compared to classical music. Elucidate
  74. Write short note on musical stone pillars in temples.
  75. Discuss the modern trends in Indian classical music.
  76. What do you understand by Abhinaya? What are different kinds of Abhinaya?
  77. With reference to ancient Indian art forms, throw light on the concept of Navarasa.
  78. Elucidate the Karna and Angahgara components in context with classical Indian dances.
  79. “Kathakali is a distinct combination of Natya, Nritta and Nritya.” Discuss.
  80. “Of all the Vishnu incarnations Krishna is one of the most popular and is portrayed prominently in all dance forms.” Discuss.
  81. The Vedic literature is broadly divided into two categories viz. Shruti and Smriti. Examine the key differences between the two.
  82. Aranyakas don’t lay much emphasis on rites, ritual and sacrifices but have philosophy and mysticism. Examine the statement focussing on key content of the Aranyakas.
  83. Upanishadas are often called Vedanta. Why?
  84. Examine the various kinds of Sutras as a part of Kalpa tradition of ancient Indian literature.
  85. “With reference to women, despite being one of the earliest and most authoritative law texts, there are several contradicting verses in manusmriti.” Discuss the stand of Manu giving your arguments.
  86. Differentiate between the Purva and Agama texts of Jainism.
  87. Elaborate the works of Kalidasa in Sanskrit Drama and poetry.
  88. Examine the contribution of Aryabhatta in the field of science and technology in medieval India.
  89. Write a short note on the Rasarnava and Dakarnava tradition of ancient India.
  90. Elaborate the Charyapadas tradition and Mangal-Kāvya tradition in Indian vernacular literature.
  91. Discuss the evolution of the Hindi Literature.
  92. Elaborate the four phases of the Adhunik kal or the Modern Period in Hindi literature.
  93. What do you understand by “Indian functionalism”. Discuss with examples.
  94. What was the role of mason’s guilds in the development of provincial architecture in Gujarat. Discuss.
  95. While keeping monuments at Mandu in foci, throw light on the rainwater harvesting system. Can Mandu’s antique water system be restored and revived? Can it help to solve the drinking water problem in the surrounding areas? Discuss.
  96. Discuss the salient features of the Mughal Architecture. How it was different from the earlier architecture of Delhi Sultanate?
  97. One of the greatest early deeds of Mughals is that they brought the Persian Charbagh style to India. Discuss with giving examples of monuments in India which were built in Charbagh style.
  98. Akbar’s Tomb at Sikandara is the best example of Akbar’s style. Elucidate.
  99. Discuss the Importance of Chhatri in Mughal Architecture.
  100. What are the main features of Palladian Style and Victorian Gothic Style? Give some examples of monuments built in these styles in India.
  101. Critically comment on the architecture of Le Corbusier with emphasis on the so called “International Style” in architecture.
  102. Why Laurie Baker is known as the “conscience keeper of Indian architecture” and “Gandhi of Indian architecture”? Evaluate his architectural style.
  103. Differentiate between the Marga Sangeet and Pathya Sangeet of ancient India.
  104. Discuss the contribution of Amir Khusro to Indian Music.
  105. The Bhakti cult directly contributed to the theory and practice of music which deeplyimpacted the Hindustani Classical Music. Discuss.
  106. Five classical dances of India are considered to be the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical elements of nature. Elaborate.
  107. Differentiate between Natya Dharmi and Lok Dharmi traditions as mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures.
  108. Elaborate about various types of Puppetry Art in India.
  109. Give a detailed account of the evolution of Veena through different stages, from ancienttimes to modern times.
  110. Write a note on the Utsava Murtis tradition and Tamalana System with reference to ancient metal sculpture in India.
  111. Discuss the Tandava dance as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions.
  112. Discuss the salient features of the town planning in Indus Valley Civilization.
  113. To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization?
  114. The topography of the Western Ghats along with the political patronage suited to the development of Buddhist Caves in many of the hills, ravines and cliffs of the Sahayadris.” Discuss giving salient examples.
  115. “The sculpture at Ajanta Caves despite being among the finest ever created in India, has often not given the attention it deserves.” Evaluate.
  116. In what way, the sculptures at Sanchi Stupa were different from Bharhut?
  117. Sanchi stupa represents a testimony to the Maurya, Sunga as well as Saatavahana art in India. Examine.
  118. Differentiate between the Sandhara, Nirandhara and Sarvatobhadra Temples.
  119. Discuss the Basic Structure of a Hindu Temple outlining the key differences between Nagara, Dravida, Vesra, Gadag and Kalinga style of temple architecture.
  120. Discuss the salient Features of Gupta Architecture.
  121. Discuss the salient Features of the Temple Architecture of Badami Chalukyas and Western Chalukyas.
  122. Mention the distinctive features of Dravida style and discuss how it developed under the Pallavas and Cholas describing the architecture of one temple of each dynasty.
  123. Mention the distinctive features of Vesara style and discuss how it developed under the Chalukyas and the Hoysalas describing the architecture of one temple of each dynasty.
  124. Discuss critically the development of rock-cut architecture under the Pallavas.
  125. Discuss the salient features of the Chola Architecture.
  126. Discuss the salient features of the Kalinga School of Architecture. How it is different from the Nagara style?
  127. What could be the possible reasons of sculpting the erotic images at Khajauraho?
  128. Discuss the salient Features of Indo-Islamic Architecture. What new elements were added to the Indian architecture by the Muslims?
  129. Discuss the reasons and advantages of introducing the Double Dome feature in Indo-Islamic architecture.
  130. Differentiate between Mysore Paintings and Tanjore Paintings.
  131. To what extent revival of vaishnavism and Bhakti movement led to development of various painting schools in India. Examine.
  132. Evaluate the key differences between Mughal style and Rajput style of paintings.
  133. Discuss the circumstances in which Company School of Paintings developed in India. Enumerate its salient features and subjects.
  134. Do you think that the Company School of Painting had a Pan-India Presence? Substantiate your answer.
  135. Critically examine the efforts of Raja Ravi Varma to re-establish Indian art.
  136. Why the Bengal School of paintings is called the “Renaissance School “? Discuss the salient features of the Bengal School paintings.
  137. Discuss the historical context in which Abanindranath Tagore painted “Bharatmata”. Analyze the impact of this painting on Swadeshi Movement.
  138. Kalighat School is a unique and delightful Blend of the Oriental and the Occidental styles of painting. Critically examine the key features of this school.
  139. Discuss the distinct features of Cheriyal Scroll Paintings which make it worthy of protection by Geographical Indications Registry.
  140. The “lost wax technique” seems to be an ancient technique still prevalent in many parts of India. Discuss the key features of this technique.
  141. “The terracotta figurines had a universal popularity in the ancient world and Harappan culture was no exception to this”. Discuss.
  142. With reference to the Mauryan era art, what do you understand by the Court art and the Popular Art? Discuss with examples.
  143. Point out the differences between the Asokan Pillar and the Achaemenian Pillar to show that the former is not an imitation of the latter.
  144. Mauryan court-art, with all its dignified bearing, monumental appearance and civilized quality, forms but a short and isolated chapter of the history of Indian art. Discuss.
  145. “Spiritually and formally the Sunga-Kanva art was opposed to Maurya art and stood for different motive and direction.” Explain.
  146. Kusana period is known for rise of a new art movement with abundant dimensions and creativity. Examine.
  147. “Mathura art represents an important formative stage in the history of Indian art that gave impetus to other arts.” Examine.
  148. The Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.
  149. Examine the Shadanga and Chitrasutra traditions of ancient India in connection with ancient Indian Paintings.
  150. Differentiate between Murals, Miniatures and Frescoes with suitable examples.
  151. “The Ajanta caves show two clear-cut phases of paintings with depiction of Buddha”. Discuss.
  152. “The sophisticated style of art that is seen in the paintings of Ajanta is also found in surviving wall paintings and in fragments of murals in many parts of India.” Elaborate.
  153. Pala School represents the earliest examples of miniature painting in India. Discuss the key features of this school of painting.
  154. Mughal style of paintings presents beautiful synthesis of indigenous Indian style of painting and the Safavid school of Persian painting. Examine the key features of this school of paintings.
  155. Examine the factors that led to development of two genres of Imperial Mughal art and Provincial Mughal art during the medieval India.
  156. Discuss the evolution, key features and notable contribution of the Deccani School of paintings.

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