Best Ancient History Books for UPSC: Here’s What You need to Study for Ancient History Syllabus

Best Ancient History Books for UPSC

History is a crucial subject for your UPSC’s IAS examination. Studying history is a fun process as well as a great learning experience for you to know about our past, and culture of the days gone by.

While studying history, as with every other subject, you must try to align yourself well with the concepts that underlie the major happenings you’re reading about.

In this article, we will explore the ancient history syllabus and top ancient history books for UPSC which you must refer to.

Books as per Ancient History Prelims Syllabus

The majority of questions asked in your prelims will fall under the following topics: –

  • Indian Culture
  • Indian Art
  • Ancient Indian History
  • Medieval Indian History
  • Modern Indian History

Now that we’ve seen the ancient Indian history syllabus, let us explore the best history books for UPSC that will help you in your preparation.

Ancient History Books for UPSC

The NCERT textbook will suffice to prepare for your prelims. These textbooks are a great source for gaining a foundational knowledge regarding the questions asked in the exams.

NCERT Textbooks

  • Modern India By Bipan Chandra
  • Medieval India By Satish Chandra
  • Ancient India By Rs Sharma
  • An Introduction To Indian Art
  • Crafts Traditions Of India
  • Theme In Indian History- I, III and III

Best History Books for UPSC for Mains

In the mains examination, you will be required to give answers in the essay format. To write a good essay, it is essential to have broad knowledge of your subject.

Ancient History Syllabus

  • Indian culture : salient features of literature, architecture and art forms (from ancient to modern era)
  • Modern Indian history : important people, crucial events, and issues from the mid 18th century till date
  • The freedom struggle : stages, major personalities and their contributions
  • Post independence era : consolidation and reorganization of India
  • World history : colonization, world wars, industrial revolution, rebuilding national boundaries, political philosophies and decolonization.

Also Read: Want to Uplift Your History Marks? Check These Best Modern History Books for UPSC

Recommended Ancient History Books for UPSC Mains

Book Name Author
History Of Modern World Mathur And Jain
India After Gandhi Ramchandra Guha
History Of Modern India (Popular choice for modern history) Bipan Chandra
India’s Struggle For Independence (Popular choice for modern history) Bipan Chandra
India’s Ancient Past (Crucial for ancient history) R S Sharma
Indian Art And Culture Nitin Singhania
The Wonder That Was India A L Bhasham
Mastering Modern World History Norman Lowe

Recommended Books for Ancient History Notes for UPSC from Optional Perspective

When choosing your optional, always go for a subject that you would enjoy studying. These topics will require you to remember the crucial events and dates; you do not have to go through long theories, concepts and principles.

A major portion of the history optional syllabus will be covered in the general studies section for mains as well.

The history optional is categorized into paper I and paper II. Each category carries 250 marks.

Ancient History Optional Syllabus

Paper I

  1. Indus Valley Civilization
  2. Archaeological Sources
  3. Pre-history & Proto-history
  4. Megalithic Cultures
  5. Vedic Period And Aryan Period
  6. The Mahajanapadas Period
  7. The Spread Of Buddhism And Jainism
  8. The Mauryan Empire
  9. The Indo-greeks, The Sakas, The Kushanas, The Western Kshatrapas From The Post Mauryan Period
  10. Early Society In South India And Eastern India
  11. The Vardhanas, The Guptas And The Vakatakas
  12. The Gupta Era- Regional States
  13. The Early Indian Cultural History
  14. The Early Medieval India (750-1200)
  15. The Cultural Traditions Of India – Art, Literature, Architecture, Temple Architecture, Painting And Sculpture
  16. The Delhi Sultanate And Turkish Sultans
  17. The 13tha And 14th Century – Society, Economy And Culture
  18. The 15th And 16th Century – Society, Economy And Culture
  19. The 17th Century- Mughal Empire And Its Culture
  20. Akbar
  21. The 18th Century – Society, Economy And Culture

Paper II

  1. The European Diffusion Into India
  2. The British Extension In India
  3. The Early Composition Of The Raj
  4. The British Colonial Rule And Its Impact
  5. The Social And Cultural Developments
  6. The Social And Religious Reforms And Movements In Bengal
  7. India’s Reaction To British Rule
  8. The Birth Of Indian Nationalism
  9. The Constitutional Developments In Colonial India
  10. The Gandhian Nationalism
  11. Consolidation Of India
  12. The Politics Of Separatism
  13. The Economic Development And Political Changes
  14. The Modern Ideas And Enlightenment
  15. Industrialization
  16. The Origins Of Modern Politics
  17. Colonialism And Imperialism
  18. The Nation-state System
  19. The Revolution And Counter-revolution

Best Reference Books for UPSC History Mains Optional Preparation

Book Name Author
Mastering Modern World History (Popular choice for world history) Norman Lowe
The Penguin History Of Early India: From The Origins To Ad 1300 Romila Thapar
A New Look At Modern Indian History : From 1707 To The Modern Times B L Grover And Alka Mehta
History Of Medieval India Satish Chandra
Age Of Revolution (1789-1848) Eric Hobsbawm
History of Modern India Bipan Chandra
Age Of Capital : 1848-1875 Eric Hobsbawm
India’s Ancient Past Ram Sharan Sharma


We hope all your doubts regarding the History syllabus as well as the right ancient history books for UPSC have been settled.

Once again, remember, history is a vast yet interesting subject to study. You must read your chapters to understand the underlying concepts, and make short notes of crucial dates, events and people.

Good luck.

Also Read: Check-out The Best Medieval History Books for UPSC IAS Exam

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