Ancient History is the first part of the UPSC History syllabus and it is crucial for the Prelims and the Mains. History is a factual subject and it is thus important that one pays attention to the subject and its syllabus. With the right preparation and ample time for note-making and revision, history can prove to be one of the most scoring subjects. It is important that you cover the important topics for Ancient History as it accounts for at least 4-5 questions in the UPSC Prelims and Mains every year.

In this article, you can find out where one can find the notes for ancient history, the ancient history books that can prove to be helpful for the exam, and the syllabus for ancient history. You can also find out the ways you can cover the ancient history syllabus for UPSC.

Ancient History Notes and Books

The History Syllabus for the UPSC Civil Services exam roughly consists of ancient history, medieval history and modern history of India and the world. The major topics in Ancient History to be covered are as follows-

# Archaeological and Literary Sources including Foreign Accounts

# Pre-history and Proto-history

# Indus Valley Civilisation

# Megalithic Cultures

# Aryans and the Vedic Period

# Period of Mahajanapadas

# Mauryan Empire

# Post-Mauryan Period (Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas)

# Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan, and South India

# Guptas, Vakatakas, and Vardhanas

# The regional states during the Gupta Era

# Themes in Early Indian Cultural History

Important Books for Ancient History


List of History Books Category
A Brief History of Modern India Modern History
NCERT Class XI Modern India by Bipan Chandra Modern History
NCERT Class XI Medieval India by Satish Chandra Medieval History
NCERT Class XI Ancient India Ancient History
NCERT Class XII Theme in Indian History  I Ancient Indian History
NCERT Class XII Theme in Indian History  II Medieval Indian History
NCERT Class XII Theme in Indian History  III Medieval & Modern Indian History
NCERT Class XI An Introduction to Indian Art Ancient Indian History
NCERT Class XI Living Crafts Traditions of India Indian History
NCERT Class XI Crafts Tradition of India Indian History

Other Ancient History of India Books

List of Ancient History of India Books Author Category
History of Modern World  Jain and Mathur Modern History
Mastering Modern World History Norman Lowe Modern World History
India After Gandhi  Ramchandra Guha Modern Indian History
India’s Struggle for Independence  Bipan Chandra Modern Indian History
History Of Modern India  Bipan Chandra Modern Indian History
Indian Art and Culture  Nitin Singhania Modern Indian History
India’s Ancient Past RS Sharma Ancient Indian History
The Wonder That Was India   A.L. Basham Ancient Indian History
From Plassey to Partition Modern Indian History

Ancient History Notes for UPSC Topics

While every part of the UPSC syllabus is important, you can pay more attention to the following topics that have been recurring in the exam in recent years.

# Stone Age

# Chalcolithic Period

# Sources and Historical Constructions

# Harappan Culture- Indus Valley Civilisation

# The Aryans

# Vedas and the later Vedic Period

# Jainism and Buddhism

# Magadha Empire (Mauryas, Guptas, etc.)

# Mauryans

# Literary accounts of foreign travellers

# Satavahanas

# Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras

# Gupta Age

# The Tripartite Struggle- Palas, Pratiharas, and Rashtrakutas

# Rajputs

# Turkish Conquest of India

# The Delhi Sultanate (Khilji, Tughlaq, Lodhi, Sayyid Dynasties)

# Bahmani Dynasty

# Vijayanagara Empire

# The Mughal Rule (Early rule, the famous/ great Mughals, later Mughals)

# The Marathas (Chatrapati Shivaji)

Also Read: Previous Years’ Questions on Ancient History from UPSC Prelims 2017-2020

How to Cover the Syllabus for the Exam?

One of the most important things to keep in mind while studying for History or taking the exam is that you need to keep an eye on the details. The dates for particular eras are important and often referred to in the Prelims exam.

There are several questions that are based on religion, and architecture as well. Art & culture are some foundational topics and questions can be asked based on the cultures of different regions. The basis of these topics, the foundations, the dates and the principals are mostly covered in the exams.

The ancient and medieval kingdoms in the history of India are vast and it is important that you learn chronology and its salient features. The history of colonialism in India is one of the most sought after concepts; everything starting from the invasion, to early rule, change in-laws, to the freedom struggle and independence should be studied.

Things to Keep in Mind

# The paper is purely factual, you don’t have to refer to current affairs for the topic

# Make flowcharts and mind maps to structure different topics and concepts

# Connect and correlate topics as much as possible so that it’s easy to remember topics

# You can start your preparation by studying the syllabus, taking a look at the previous papers, and shortlisting the books you would like to follow

# Instead of studying everything in detail, you need to take a smart approach towards the preparation and focus on important topics

Also Read: How to Start IAS Preparation at Home Without Any Coaching? Learning Strategy for UPSC

How to Study for UPSC History?

If you can memorise effectively, history may be a highly high-scoring topic in the IAS(UPSC CSE) prelims. It is among the most popular UPSC optional subjects. The history syllabus for UPSC prelims is divided into three sections: ancient, mediaeval, and contemporary Indian history. The entire curriculum is extensive, however, there are a considerable number of questions from the history portion of the IAS prelims. You can effectively answer all of the history topics if your preparation for this topic is on track.

Ancient Indian History

Depending on the pattern and number of inquiries asked about these portions in recent years, the following are the most important themes from ancient Indian history.

# Concentrate on various periods such as the Stone Age, Mesolithic, Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic.

# The Harappan civilization and Indus Valley’s socio-economic and cultural aspects.

# The importance of several Harappan locations.

# Excavated artefacts from these locations that depict the art, culture, and writing utilised at the time.

# Basic understanding of Vedic culture, society, marriage, customs, and so on – with an emphasis on religious, social, and cultural elements.

Medieval Indian History

From the mid-eighth century until the early eighth century AD, India was a part of the mediaeval world. The amount of questions in this area is fairly restricted, with most people receiving 1-4 questions. As a result, proper preparation is required.

# Dates and information about the Mughals, the Vijayanagar Empire, and the kings of the Sultanates. Concentrate only on the political, economic, and social conditions of these times.

# During this time, religious groups like the Sufi and Bhakti movements arose, which have a major weighting in the UPSC Prelims. Concentrate on prominent saints, their timelines, ideas, and societal effect.

# This period’s art and culture are extremely important.

Modern Indian History

The time period is extensive, as are the historical events that occurred during it. The advent of a foreign power and the battle for freedom is the main themes of the time. This is the time when most inquiries are asked.

To completely cover the entire syllabus, split the time period according to the timespan and event, and fully cover each component. This time period can be divided in the following way:

# India’s rise as a global power

# The rise to power of the East India Company, as well as the reaction of Indians to the British occupation of Indian provinces.

# The British have a variety of economic policies.

# The British Empire interfered with the East India Company’s progress, adopting laws and policies to limit the company’s expansion and conquer India further.

# The repercussions of the liberation fight on society and culture


Now that you are familiar with the important materials and strategies for making notes for Ancient Indian History, you should remember that you need not give a lot of time for the preparation. Ancient History is just a part of the History syllabus and you need to focus on other papers as well. For more such study help, you can bookmark this page and get regular updates on UPSC topics.

Also Read: How to Start Studying for UPSC History Optional? Find the Preparation Strategy and Study Tips Here.

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Ancient History Notes for UPSC: How Do You Cover Ancient History for UPSC Exam?
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Ancient History Notes for UPSC: How Do You Cover Ancient History for UPSC Exam?
Ancient History is the first part of the UPSC History syllabus and it is crucial for the Prelims and the Mains. History is a factual subject and it is thus important that one pays attention to the subject and its syllabus.
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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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