History syllabus for UPSC – Prelims and Mains

As we all know, History is the most important part of UPSC preparation. It is an integral part of both the Prelims and Mains General Studies paper. It tells us about our culture, civilization, who we really are, and how we got here. Many UPSC aspirants have an interest in reading the subject, whereas, for some candidates, it is difficult to remember. But, if we read it in chronological order, we can easily understand and remember.

A question may have arisen into your mind, How to read history? How to approach history? How to cover the history syllabus? The answer to all these questions here in this article. In this post, we’ll take a detailed look at the history syllabus in chronological order. Let’s divide Indian history into three parts to make it easy to understand.

  1. Ancient History.
  2. Medieval History.
  3. Modern History.

The Art and Culture section is also part of the history syllabus. The topics that come under this section are Architecture, Artforms, Salient features of Literature, etc. You can cover these topics in the same chronological order that makes it easy to learn.

1. Ancient History

1. Sources of History

Archeological sources, Literary sources (Primary and Secondary), Epigraphy, Exploration, Excavation, numismatics, Literature, Foreign writers.

2. Pre-history and Proto-history

1. Pre-history:

  • Stone Age Culture (Lithic age):
    1. Paleolithic age:
      • The stage of hunting and gathering.
      • Important features and sites of the Palaeolithic age.
    2. Mesolithic age:
      • Microlithic age
      • features of Mesolithic age.
      • Important sites during the Mesolithic age.
    3. Neolithic age:
      • Beginning of Agriculture.
      • Important features of the Neolithic period.
      • Important geographical sites of the Neolithic age.

2. Proto-history:

  • Metallic age:
    1. Chalcolithic age (Copper age):
      • Salient features of chalcolithic age.
      • Important sites during the chalcolithic period.
      • Different Types of Chalcolithic culture.
    2. Iron age:
      • Important features, evidence of Iron age.
      • Geographical sites of this age.

3. Indus Valley Civilization (IVC)

  • Origin theory of IVC (Harappan Civilization).
  • Salient features of Harappan Civilization.
  • Cultural Convergence concept.
  • Extend, Society, Economy, Polity, Culture, and Religion of IVC.
  • Important geographical sites during IVC.
  • Megalithic Culture.
  • Development of agriculture, the farming culture outside the IVC, Pottery, and Iron industry.
  • Decline of Harappan civilization.
  • Cause of decline of IVC.

4. Vedic Period

  • Expansion and Migration of Aryans in India.
  • Geographical settlement and Vedic rivers.
  • Early Vedic age (Rig Vedic period):
    • Economy, Polity, Administration, and Society of Early Vedic period.
    • Evolution of Varna system.
  • Later Vedic Age (LVP):
    • Polity, Administration, Society, and Economical life during LVP.
    • Chatur Varna system, Varna Sharma system, Gotra system, Dwija system.
    • Features of the caste system.
  • Vedic gods.
  • Religious and philosophic Vedic literature.
  • Evolution of Monarchy.

5. Sixth Century BCE

  • Formation of Mahajanapadas.
  • The emergence of Non-Vedic cult.
  • Buddhism:
    • Philosophy of Buddhism.
    • Buddhist Council.
    • Buddhist structure.
    • Other aspects related to Buddism.
  • Jainism:
    • Philosophy of Jainism.
    • Principles of Jainism.
    • Jain Councils.
    • Jain architecture.
    • Other aspects related to Jainism.
  • Spread of Buddhism and Jainism.
  • Ajivika Sect, Charvaka Sect.
  • Period of Mahajanapadas:
    • Rise of Magadh.
    • Dynasties ruled over Magadh:
      • Haryanka Dynasty.
      • Sisunaga Dynasty.
      • Nanda Dynasty.
    • Macedonian (Alexander) Invasion and its impact.

6. Mauryan Empire

  • Foundation of Mauryan Empire.
  • The political history of the Mauryan.
  • Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara.
  • Archaeological sources: Epigraphs, Numismatics, Artifacts.
  • Literary Sources: Kautilya’s Arthashastra and other sources.
  • Ashoka the Great
    • Concept of Ashoka’s Dhamma.
    • Major Rock Edicts, Pillars.
  • Administration of Mauryan Empire.
  • The economy of the Mauryan empire.
  • Culture and Religious History of Mauryas.
  • Art and Architecture of Mauryas.
  • The decline of the Mauryan empire.

7. Post-Mauryan Period

  • Foreign Dynasty:
    • Indo-Greeks.
    • Sakas/Scythians.
    • Parthians.
    • Kushanas.
    • Kshatrapas.
  • Native Dynasty:
    • Sungas Dynasty.
    • Kanvas Dynasty.
    • Chedi Dynasty.
  • Satavahana Dynasty:
    • The Polity of Sathavahana Dynasty.
    • Capital cities of Sathavahana.
    • Other aspects of Sathavahana.
  • Coinage, economy, development of religions in the post-Mauryan period.
  • Literature, art, architecture, and culture aspect.
  • Early state & society in Eastern India, Deccan, and South India.

8. Sangam Age

  • The Tamil States: Cheras, Cholas, and Pandya’s Kingdom.
  • The economy, administration, coinage, and other aspects of these Kingdoms.
  • Sangam Literature and culture.

9. Age of Guptas

  • Sources of Gupta History.
  • Polity and administration of Guptas.
  • Economic, Land grants, Coinage of the Guptas.
  • The golden age of Guptas.
  • Indian feudalism and Position of women.
  • The decline of Guptas.

10. Post Gupta Period

  • Vakatakas, Pushyabhutis, Pallavas, Chalukyas.
  • Their polity, administration, trade guilds, Literature, and other aspects.
  • Bhakti movements.

11. Art, Architecture, and sculptures of Ancient India

  • Themes, languages, texts in early Indian cultural history.
  • Major stages in the evolution of art & architecture.
  • Major philosophical thinkers and schools.

2. Medieval India

1. Early Medieval India

  • Political history and Major developments in Northern India and Peninsula.
  • Pratiharas, Paramaras, Chahmanas, Solankis, Tomar, Chandela, Palas, Senas, Rashtrakutas.
  • Their polity, administration, and other aspects.
  • Rise of Rajputs.
  • The Cholas.
    • Cholas Administration.
    • Village, economy, and society.
    • Architecture and other constructions of Cholas.
  • Indian Feudalism and condition of women.
  • Agrarian economy, trade and commerce, and Urban settlement.
  • Society and new social orders.
  • Forms and features of religion.
  • Growth of Bhakti.
  • Temple architecture, sculpture, and painting.
  • Islam and its arrival in India.
  • Sufism.
  • Literature in newly developing language.

2. Invasions in India

  • Rise of Islam.
  • Arab Conquest of Sindh.
  • Turkish Invasions
  • Invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni.
  • Invasions of Mahammad Ghori.

3. Delhi Sultanate

  • Establishment of Delhi Sultanate.
  • Dynasties of Delhi Sultanate:
    • Turkish (Slave) Dynasty.
    • Khalji Dynasty.
    • Tughlaq Dynasty.
    • Sayyid Dynasty.
    • Lodi Dynasty.
  • Conquests and territorial expansion.
  • Polity and administration under Delhi sultanate.
  • Society, culture, and Economy of Delhi sultanate.
  • Delhi Sultanate architecture.
  • The decline of Delhi Sultanate.

4. South Indian Kingdoms

  • Devgiri Yadavas, Hoysala, Pandya, Kakatiaya.
  • Temple and Architecture of these kingdoms.
  • Religion, culture, and other aspects of these kingdoms.

5. Age of Vijayanagar empire

  • Origin of Vijayanagar empire.
  • Sources, Coinage, and foreign accounts.
  • Dynasties of Vijayanagar empire:
    • Sangam dynasty.
    • Saluva dynasty.
    • Tuluva dynasty.
    • Aravidus dynasty.
  • Capital cities of Vijayanagar.
  • Polity and administration.
  • Economy, society, and religion of Vijayanagar empire.
  • Literature and arts.
  • Architecture, temples, and other aspects.
  • Rise of Provincial Dynasties: Malwa, Kashmir, Gujarat, Bengal,
  • Bahamas Kingdom: Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Bidar, and Golconda.

6. Mughal Empire in India

  • India on the eve of the Mughal (Babur) Invasion.
  • Babur, Hamayun.
  • Akbar.
    • Conquests and consolidation of Empire.
    • Jagir and Mansab system, Rajput policy.
    • Deccan Policy of Akbar.
    • Theory of Sulh-i-kul and religious policy.
  • Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb.
  • Aurangzeb policies related to Marathas, Rajputs, and Sikhs.
  • Polity, administration, and economy of Mughals.
  • Literature, paintings, Music during this period.
  • Art, Architecture, and culture of Mughals.
  • Battles fought by Mughals.
  • The decline of the Mughal Empire.
  • Bhakti and Sufi Movement.
  • Sikhism.

7. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century

  • Maratha Kingdom:
    • Shivaji, Shambhaji, RajaRam.
    • The fiscal and financial system of Marathas.
    • Administration, taxes, and other aspects during Maratha kingdom.
  • Later Mughals:
    • Muazzam Bahadur Shah-I.
    • Jahander Shah.
    • Farrukhsiyar.
    • Muhammed Shah.
    • Ahmed Shah.
    • Alamgir-II.
    • Shah Alam-II.
    • Akbar-II.
    • Bahadur Shah-II.

3. Modern History

1. European Invasion in India

  • The advent of the European Invasion in India.
  • Early European settlements: Portuguese, Dutch, Danes.
  • French, French East India Company.
  • British, East India Company.
  • Battles fought between them, Carnatic wars.

2. Expansion of Britishers in India

  • Britishers and Nawabs of Bengal.
  • Battle of Plassey and its significance.
  • Battle of Buxar and British ascendancy.
  • Autonomous state: Awadh, Mysore.
  • Anglo-Mysore Wars.

3. Growth of British Paramount in India

  • Robert Clive to Warren Hasting, Lord Cornwallis, and their administrative structure.
  • John Shore, Battle of Kharda.
  • Lord Wellesley to Lord Hastings, their policies.
  • Anglo-Maratha war, Establishment of British Paramountcy.
  • Lord John Adans, Amhrest to Lord Hardinge.
  • Anglo-Afghan war, Anglo-Sikh war.
  • Expansion of British Dominion in North-west and North-East.
  • Lord Dalhousie and its policies and administration.
  • Revolt of 1857, its cause, nature, and effects.
  • Lord Canning, Queen Victoria proclamation.
  • Lord Elgin-I, John Lawrence, Mayo, North Brook.
  • Lord Lytton, Lord Ripon, and their legislations, Illbert bill, controversy.
  • Lord Dufferin, Popular measures.
  • Political Awakening in India, Origin of Indian National Congress (INC).
  • Lord Lansdowne, Elgin-II.
  • Lord Curzon and its policies, legislations.
  • Partition of Bengal, its cause and effect.
  • Rise of Extremism, INC (1907-1915).
  • Lord Minto-II, Hardinge-II, and their legislations.
  • Lord Chelmsford to Lord Mount Batten.
  • Important Charter Acts, Government India Acts.

4. Impact of British Colonial rule

  • Land Revenue settlement, Permanent settlement.
  • Ryotwari settlement, Mahalwari settlement.
  • Economic Impact during colonial rule.
  • Agriculture commercialization, Rise of landless Laborers.
  • Dislocation of traditional trade, Decline of traditional craft, and De-industrialization.
  • Drain of wealth and economic transformation of India.
  • Famine and Poverty during British rule.

5. Developments in India during British rule

  • Development of Education in India.
  • Social and Cultural developments.
  • Rise of Local self-government.
  • Growth of Public services.
  • Growth of Judiciary.
  • Rise of Press and Public opinion.
  • Growth of Literature, modern vernacular literature.
  • Christian missionary activities.

6. Movements in Indian during Britishers

  • Social and Religious reform movement.
  • Young Bengal movement, Brahmo Samaj movements, Arya samaj movements.
  • Islamic Movements, Parsi movements, Theosophical movement.
  • Movements response to British rule.
  • Peasant movements, Tribal movements, Lower caste movements.
  • Kol Rebellion, Mopla rebellion, Indigo Rebillion.
  • Trade Union (labor) movements, revolutionary movements.
  • Anti-princely state movements, Deccan uprising.
  • Great Revolt of 1857.

7. Indian Nationalism

  • Foundation of Indian National Congress.
  • The Safety-valve thesis relating to INC.
  • The objective of INC and its programs.
  • Partition of Bengal.
  • Swadeshi Movement and its political & economic aspects.
  • Beginning of revolutionary extremism.
  • Growth of Communalism.
  • Politics of separatism and partition.
  • The Muslim league.

8. Gandhian Era

  • The character of Gandhian nationalism.
  • Champaran Satyagraha, Ahmedabad mill strike, Kheda Satyagraha.
  • Rowlatt Satyagraha, Khilafat Movement.
  • Non-Cooperation movement.
  • Simon commission, Nehru report.
  • Civil-disobedience movement.
  • Round Table conferences.
  • Inauguration of Provincial autonomy.
  • Election of 1937, formation of ministries.
  • August offer, Individual satyagraha.
  • Indian’s National freedom struggle.
  • Cripps Mission, Quit India movement, Cabinet Mission, Mount Batten Plan.
  • Indian Independence act of 1947.

9. Post-colonial India

  • Economical development and Political change.
  • Constitutional development, Constitution of India.
  • The politics of planning.
  • Land reforms, the progress of science.
  • Other aspects after Indian independence.

Leave a Comment