Indian History Notes Which You Shouldn’t Miss!

Indian History, as almost all aspirants know, is an important area from which a major share of questions come in UPSC prelims and mains. Indian History is a very vast subject, and it is important to prioritize certain areas for UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains. This article is written with a view of providing an overall guidance/study plan for Indian History for IAS exam. We have also listed some important sub-topics inside Ancient India, Medieval India and Modern India. Also, don’t forget to check out the recommended books for Indian History for Preliminary and Mains Exam.

Useful Articles: – History Section Site Map

Ancient India

Medieval India

Modern India


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How to Study Indian History?

Be it for Prelims or Mains, it is important to identify the topics of priority for IAS Exam. Analyzing previous years questions papers, one can reach a conclusion that UPSC ask a major chunk of questions from Modern India, followed by Ancient India. Questions from Medieval India are limited. Even if they come, they mostly touch areas of culture like Mughal art/architecture.

No, we are not advising to leave any particular section from Indian History. Never leave any topic completely. But you just need to prioritize things. That’s all. And it that priority list, Modern India should rank first.

Back to the study plan: Indian History being very vast, the first thing every serious aspirant should try to build is a basic understanding about the chronology of events related with Indian History. We suggest our previous post, “Indian History: Ancient India to Modern India Chronology“, as a starting point for your preparation. Once you build a foundation, the next strategy should be identifying the main topics of importance; for this you can use good text books in the market. And there is no dearth of materials for Indian History today 🙂

Recommended Books for Indian History for IAS Exam

  1. History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra. (History)
  2. India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra. (History)
  3. Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum. (Culture)
  4. A brief History of Modern India – Spectrum (History)
  5. India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma (For Ancient India reference, if you have time)
  6. History of Medieval India – Satish Chandra (For Medieval India reference, if you have time)
  7. India After Gandhi – Ramchandra Guha (For History in IAS Mains – GS1 Paper)
  8. India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra (For History in IAS Mains – GS1 Paper)
  9. History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur OR Norman Lowe (For World History in IAS Mains– GS1)
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NB : World History is a topic only for IAS Mains. For Mains topics like Ancient India and Medieval India are not explicitly mentioned in syllabus, but culture is included (which covers many aspects of ancient and medieval periods).

Indian History in brief : Topics to Cover

How to study Indian history?

History and Culture are very related topics, particularly with respect to ancient and medieval India. Asoka and Buddhism are deeply bonded, the same way we cannot study Shah Jahan without commenting on Taj Mahal. So our approach to study Indian History should never be limited to Political History where we study the names and wars of Kings, but should be very broad to cover other aspects like Social and Economic History too.

Listing out some important topics to study from Ancient, Medieval and Modern India. Priority areas from culture are also identified.

Ancient India

  • Prehistoric India, Historic India, Indus Valley Civilization, Vedic India, Mahajanapadas, Mauryan Period, Gupta Period.

Medieval India

  • The Classical Age, Pala Empire, Rashtrakuta Empire, Islam in India, Delhi Sultanate, Vijayanagara Empire, Guru Nanak, Mughals, Arrival of Europeans.

Modern India

  • First War of Independence, Formation of Indian National Congress, Moderates and Extremists, Muslim League, Gandhian Phase, Non-Co-operation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement, Quit India Movement, Cripps Mission, Cabinet Mission, Mount Batten Plan, Partition of India and Indian Constitution.
  • PS: Also never miss topics like Peasants movements, Tribal movements, Trade-unions, militant movements etc. related to Indian History which are often side-lined by Nationalist Historians.


Visual Arts (Paintings, Architecture, Sculpture), Performing Arts (Music, Dance, Drama etc), Religions (Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism), Society etc.

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