Category Archives: Art and Culture

Varna system and Varnashrama dharma Upsc

Varna system and Varnashrama dharma

The ancient Indian Civilization evolved with the Varnashrama Dharma that started the principle of hierarchy i.e. Upper and Lower Strata. The Varna system is also called the Four Varna System. According to the Four Varna System, the people were divided into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysyas, and Shudras.

This form of division on the basis of birth is inculcated and socialized along with different phases of civilization from which inequalities surfaced in the society.

Caste is an English word. But it is borrowed from the Portuguese word ‘Casta’, which means ‘pure breed’.

Caste in the Past

The evil caste system is an institution that is unique to the Indian subcontinent, among Hindus. The form of the institution is not found elsewhere in the world, but the social arrangements with similar effects are found. Caste System is the institution that is the characteristic of Hindu Society. But this caste institution is also have spread to other religious communities such as Christians, Sikhs, and Muslims.

Caste referred to a broad institutional arrangement that starts with the ancient language ‘Sanskrit’. It is referred by two terms, one is ‘Varna’ and another one is ‘Jati’.

‘Varna’, literally means Color. Varna system, in Sanskrit, means a four-fold division of the Indian society into brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. This system excludes a large section of the population that consists of outcastes, foreigners, slaves, and others.

Outcaste, are the ones who are part of the four-fold divisions. These outcastes people are currently referred to as Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe People.


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Pallavas Society and Literature Upsc

Cultural contribution of Pallavas Upsc

Cultural contribution of Pallavas

Tamil society witnessed a great change during the Pallava period. The caste system became strong. The highest place of society is held by brahmins. Brahmin was granted lands by kings and nobles.

Also, Brahmin was given the responsibility to look after the temples.

Buddhism and Jainism declined during the Pallava period. Also, Saivism and Vaishnavism were raised.

Raise of Savisim during Pallavas By Vidaikodiselvar S. Danabala – This file was derived from: SaivismFlag.pngDepartment of Hindu Religious and Cultural affairs, Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Bhakti Movement in Tamil Nadu

Nayanmars contributed to the growth of Saivism and Alwars contributed to the rise of Vaishnavism.This growth in Saivism and Vaishnavism is called as Bhakti Movement. They composed Tamil Hymns to reveal the importance of Bakthi or devotion. These two religions spread due to the construction of temples by the Pallava Kings.

63 Nayanmars contributed to the growth of Saivism
63 Nayanmars contributed to the growth of Saivism By Ilya Mauter – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Education and Literature

Pallavas were great patrons of literature and education. Pallavas capital is Kanchi was an ancient centre of learning.

Ghatika at Kachi attracted many students and scholars from all parts of India and the world. The founder of the Kadamba dynasty, Mayurasarman learned Vedas at Kanchi. Dinganaga, a Buddhist writer studied at Kanchi.

Dinganaga, a Buddhist writer studied at Kanchi
Dinganaga, a Buddhist writer studied at Kanchi By Rartat – Own work, Public Domain,

Dharmapala, who later became the Nalanda University head which belonged to Kanchi. Bharavi a great Sanskrit scholar lived in the time of Simhavishnu. Dandin adorned the court of Narasimhavarman-II.

Mattavilasaprahasanam, a Sanskrit play was written by Mahendravaraman-I. Tamil Literature also developed. Nayanmars and the Nalayradivyaprabandam composed Tamil religious hymns.

The Devaram is composed of Nayanmars and the Nalayradivyaprabandam is composed of Alwars.

 Devaram is composed of Nayanmars
Devaram is composed of Nayanmars By Ms Sarah Welch – Own work, CC0,

Perundevanar was patronized by Nandivarman-II and he translated the Mahabharata in Tamil and named it Bharathavenba. Nandikkalambagam was important to work in this period but the sad Author of this work is still unknown. Music and Dance also developed during this period.


The contribution of the Pallavas to the cultural development of Tamil Nadu is significant. They had encouraged the growth of Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

Chalukya Art and Architecture Upsc

Chalukya Art and Architecture Upsc

The Chalukyas were great patrons of art. They developed the vesara style within the building of structural temples. However, the vesara style reached its culmination only under the Rashtrakutas and therefore the Hoysalas.

The structural temples of the Chalukyas exist at Aihole, Badami, and Pattadakal. Cave temple architecture was also famous for the Chalukyas.

Their cave temples are found in Ajanta, Ellora, and Nasik. the simplest specimens of Chalukya paintings are often seen within the Badami cave temple and the Ajanta caves.

The reception given to a Persian embassy by Pulakesin II is depicted in a painting at Ajantha. The Chalukya temples could also be divided into two stages. The primary stage is represented by the temples at Aihole and Badami.

Among the seventy temples found at Aihole, four are important.

1. Ladh Khan temple is a low, flat-roofed structure consisting of a pillared hall.
2. Durga temple resembles a Buddha Chaitya.
3. Huchimalligudi temple.
4. The Jain temple at Meguti.

Among the temples at Badami, the Muktheeswara temple, and therefore the Melagutti Sivalaya are notable for their architectural beauty. a gaggle of 4 rock-cut temples at Badami is marked by high workmanship. The walls and pillared halls are adorned by beautiful images of gods and citizenry.

The second stage is represented by the temples at Pattadakal. There are ten temples here, four within the northern style and the remaining six within the Dravidian style.

The Papanatha temple is the most notable within the northern style. The Sangamesvara temple and the Virupaksha temple are famous for their Dravidian style.

The Virupaksha temple is built on the model of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. it had been built by one among the queens of Vikramaditya II. Sculptors brought from Kanchi were employed in its construction.

Badami Temple Architecture

Badami Chaluka architecture was a temple building style that evolved during the 5th – 8th century AD in the Malaprabha river basin. Virupaksha temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva was created by Chalukyas of Badami initially in the 8th century. This is located in the present-day, Bagalkot district in Karnataka.

Rashtrakutas Art and Architecture

Art and architecture of Rashtrakutas Upsc

Art and architecture of Rashtrakutas

The finest Rashtrakutas art and architecture were found at Ellora and Elephanta. Kailasa temple is a great temple at Ellora and has been excavated during ruling under Krishna-I. Kailasa temple was carved out from a huge rock of size 200 x 100 feet.

The temple, the shrine has four parts that are the doorway, a shrine for Nandi, and mandapa that surrounds the courtyard. The height of plinth (heavy base supporting base) over which the temple stands of height 25 feet.

The central face of the plinth has an elephant and lion figure, it is made in such a way that the whole temple is placed over the back of the elephant and lion . The three-tiered sikhara resembles the Mamallapuram rathas.

The interior of the temple has sixteen square pillared halls. The Kailasa temple has a sculpture of Durga killing the Buffalo Demon. Another sculpture has Ravana lifting the mount Kailasa.

The wall was depicted with the scenes of Ramayana. The architectural style of the Kailasa temples the more of Dravidian style. Another example of Rashtrakutas architecture is at an island near Bombay called Elephanta.

Island Elephanta is formerly called Sripuri. The Portuguese after seeing the elephant figure in Sripuri named the island Elephanta. The Rashtrakutas art and architecture reached their zenith in Elephanta.

There is a similarity between the sculptures of Ellora and Elephanta, there might same craftsmen who worked in Ellora and Elephanta. There are big figures of Dwarka-palakas at the doorway to the sanctum

There are pictures of Shiva in different forms such as Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareesvara, and Somaskanda in the wall of Prakara around the sanctum.

The main deity of the temple is Trimurthi. Shiva as creator, preserver, and destroyer is represented in three aspects by six-meter-high sculpture.

Temples built by Rashtrakutas

  • Kailasa Temple at Ellora, Maharashtra
  • Jain Narayan Temple at Pattadakal , Karnataka
  • Elephanta Caves, near Bombay

Cultural Contributions

The Rashtrakutas widely patronized Sanskrit literature.

There have been many scholars within the Rashtrakuta court. Trivikrama wrote Nalachampu and therefore the Kavirahasya was composed by Halayudha during the reign of Krishna III. The Jain literature flourished under the patronage of the Rashtrakutas.

Amogavarsha I, who was a Jain patronized many Jain scholars. His teacher Jinasena composed Parsvabhudaya, a biography of Parsva in verses. Another scholar Gunabhadra wrote the Adipurana, the life stories of various Jain saints.

Sakatayana wrote the grammar work called Amogavritti. The great mathematician of this era, Viracharya was the author of Ganitasaram.

The Kannada literature saw its beginning during the amount of the Rashtrakutas. Amogavarsha’s Kavirajamarga was the primary poetic add Kannada language. Pampa was the best of the Kannada poets. His famous work was Vikramasenavijaya. Ponna was another famous Kannada poet and he wrote Santipurana.

lost wax technique upsc

Lost wax technique upsc

Lost wax technique for Metal Works

The lost-wax technique or process is used for making objects of metals. This process is mostly used in Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal.

The technique differs slightly in each region. The low wax process involves different steps.

First, the wax model of the image is made by the hand of pure beeswax the has been made liquid by melting over an open fire and then strained through a fine cloth into the basin of cold water.

Then the wax resolidifies immediately and is pressed through a pick or pharni that squeezes the wax into a noodle-like shape. These wax noodles then wound around to the shape of the image.

Next, the image is covered with a thick coating of paste that is made of equal parts of clay, sand, and cow dung. Into an opening on one side, a clay pot is fixed and in this molten metal is poured.

The weight of the metal to be used is ten times that of wax. Here used in the entire process is measured. The metal used here is the scraps of broken pots, pans, etc.

The molten metal is poured into the clay pot. Now the clay plastered model is exposed to firing. As the wax inside melts, the metal flows down the channel, and then it takes on the shape of the wax image.

This process is carried out like a religious ritual and all the steps take place in dead silence.

The image is later chiseled with files to smoothen and to give a smooth finish.

Sometimes an alloy of five metals such as gold, silver, copper, brass, and lead is used to cast bronze images.

Some famous bronze statues are Devi Chola Bronze, Ganesh Kashmir 7th Century, Nataraja Chola Period 12th century AD.

Thangka Painting Upsc

Thangka Painting Upsc

Thangka Painting

Thangka paintings are commonly practiced in the states of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Thangka painting plays a significant role in showcasing the artistic traditions of the region. Thangka paintings in Arunachal Pradesh often depict various aspects of Buddhist iconography, including representations of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and other deities.

These intricate paintings are created using a combination of vibrant colors, intricate details, and precise brushwork. The process of creating a Thangka painting in Arunachal Pradesh follows a traditional method that has been passed down through generations.

The artists start by preparing the canvas, which is typically made of cotton or silk. They carefully sketch the design using charcoal or pencil, ensuring accuracy and proportionality.

Once the sketch is complete, the artists outline the design using black ink, creating a clear and defined composition. They then fill in the colors using mineral pigments, which are mixed with water and applied with great precision. Gold leaf and other embellishments may also be added to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the painting.

Thangka painting in Arunachal Pradesh is not just a form of artistic expression but also holds deep religious and spiritual significance. These paintings are often used as visual aids during meditation and serve as a means of transmitting Buddhist teachings and philosophies.

Types of Thangka Paintings

Padmasambhava Thangka

This thangka depicts Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. Padmasambhava is also called Guru Rinpoche, meaning “Precious Guru” in Tibetan language. He is shown sitting in a lotus position, surrounded by his eight manifestations.

This eight manifestion signifies, eight different forms he took to teach the dharma in Tibet. The thangka is typically painted on cotton or silk and is adorned with elaborate borders.

This Thangka paintings are mostly used as aids in meditation and also believed that these paintings have protective and sacred powers.

Guru Rinpoche Thangka: This thangka depicts Guru Rinpoche, another important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. He is shown seated on a lotus throne, surrounded by his disciples. The thangka is typically painted in bright colors and features intricate details.

Mandala Thangka: This thangka depicts a mandala, a geometric figure with symbolic meaning. Mandalas are often used as aids in meditation and are believed to represent the universe. The thangka is typically painted in vibrant colors and features complex patterns.

Buddha Thangka: This thangka depicts the Buddha, the central figure of Buddhism. He is shown seated in a lotus position, surrounded by his disciples. The thangka is typically painted in serene colors and features simple lines.

What is the purpose of Thangka Paintings?

It was originally used as a medium of reverence which evoked the highest ideals of Buddism. These paintings are divided into three types based on their deception and meaning. The first type shows the life of Buddha from birth to the attainment of enlightenment.

The second type shows the “Wheel of life”, which represents the Buddist beliefs of life and death.

The third one is paintings which are used for offerings to gods/deities or meditations.

Thangka Painting Making
Thangka Painting Making By Ramesh Lalwani –, CC BY 2.0,

What do thangka paintings depict?

Artist working on Thangka painting
Lhasa, Lama beim Bemalen eines Gebetsteppichs (Tangka), Potala By Bundesarchiv, Bild 135-KA-07-095 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,

Thangka painting is art depicting the life of Buddha and other deities. It also influences the mythological event relating and concerning to Lamas.

How is thangka painting made?

Thangkas are painted on canvas. The canvas is strung on a bamboo frame, which is then stretched onto a frame made of wood.

Folk paintings of India Upsc

Folk paintings of India Upsc


It is traditional paintings of Odisha, where no pencil or charcoal is used but rather a brush is used to draw the outlines.

These paintings have themes that are inspired by the Jagannath and the Vaishnava cult.

Pattachitra Upsc
Pattachitra By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Extrait de Ramayana de Hazra Chitrakar (Naya / Bengale), CC BY 2.0,

Warli Painting

These paintings are by the indigenous people who live in Gujarat and Maharashtra knowns as Warli.

Warli painting has a resemblance to the Bhimbetkas Mural paintings.

The painting is ritualistic, which features a central motif of Chaukat or Chauk, which is an open place in the middle of the house.

Warli Painting By [ Jean-Pierre Dalb�ra] from Paris, France – [ Jivya Soma Mashe (Mus�e du Quai Branly)], CC BY 2.0,

Saura Paintings

Saura Paintings are also from Odissa and are made by Tribes called Saura of Odissa/Orissa.

It is traditionally made on the red or brown clay walls of homes. The dyes are made of rice, white stones, etc. The only colors used by Sauras are Geru(Red Earth) and White (Rice Paste).

These are which are visually much the same as the Warli Painting.

It is a style of wall mural painting that is done by the Saura tribes of Odisha. These paintings are also called Ikons or Ekons. These paintings are meant to appease the deity, Edital.

By tradition is this artwork is done only by the priest and they would explain its meanings to the village folk and pass their customs in oral tradition.

As per local folks, Savari who is a women devotee of Lord Rama, and Jara, who is a hunter who wounded Lord Krishna belong to these tribes.

Manjusha Paintings

Manjusha means box, these paintings were executed on the boxes made of Jute and paper.It originates in Bihar, Bhagalpur region and this painting is also known as Angika Art.

It is also called Snake paintings since the snake motifs are present in it.

Pithora Paintings

Pithora paintings are done by tribes who live in communities in the states of Gujarat and Madya Pradesh. In these paintings the common features in the depiction of animals and especially the horses.

These paintings are folk art culture of Gujarat done on the walls. Pithora paintings are more ritual than art, that are performed by tribes like Rathwas, Bhilalas, etc.

This painting is historically derived from the cave, wall, and rock paintings and has spiritual and mythological relevance.

major religions in the world and their beliefs

Major religions in the world and their beliefs Upsc


Religion is a relation of all the members of a community to a power that has the good of the community at heart and protects its law and moral order.

Religion is not vague fear or unknown fear, nor it is an unknown power not the child of terror.

Religion produces a distinct attitude towards life which affects the further development of society.

Classification of Religion

Religion is classified based on a belief in god.


Belief in Single God. Ex: Christianity, Islam, etc.


Belief in multiple Gods. Ex: Hinduism.

There is another classification on the basis of areas of origin such as Eastern religion, western religion, far east religion, African religion, Indian religion, etc.

The Universal religions classified by the Geographers are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism. Ethnic Religions such as Hinduism, Shintoism in Japan, Chinese Faiths, Judaism.

Tribal or Traditional religions such as Animism, Shamanism, and secular that is Non-religious and Atheists.

Major Religions In the World


Christianity is a universal religion that has the largest number of followers in the world.

They have over 2 billion followers and their faith centers on beliefs regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christianity originated with the ministry of Jesus, who is a Jewish teacher and healer who proclaimed the imminent kingdom of God and was crucified between c. AD 30–33 in Jerusalem in the Roman province of Judea.

Followers of the Christian religion base their beliefs on the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.

Christians believe in one God that created heaven, earth, and the universe. The belief in one God originated with the Jewish religion. Christians believe Jesus is the “Messiah” or savior of the world.

Its book is the Bible – New Testament, Old Testament, etc


Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. The large Islam population is in South West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, and South-East Asia, North Africa.

Shia and Sunni are two of its main section.

Its sacred book is Kuran.


Hinduism is the oldest ethnic religion in the world which was founded about 3000 BC in India. This Polytheistic religion has 8 million followers in the world.

But this religion is concentrated mostly in India and Nepal. But it has sizable numbers in Northern America and Western European countries.

99% of the Hindu population is concentrated in South Asia.

Its sacred book is Vedas, Upanishads. Also, it has Epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita.


Buddhism is one of the oldest Religions in India founded by Gautama Buddha, a Kshatriya prince from the Shakya clan around 525 BC.

This religion spread in several Asian countries such as China, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Mongolia, Korea, and South-East Asian Countries.

It is spread due to its liberal policy and its two main sections are Hinayana and Mahayana.


Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic faith considered as a parent of Christianity. It is originated around 4000 years ago in the Middle East.

There are 14 Million followers living in the USA, Europe, and Asia.

Chinese Religion

Chinese Religions include two sections, namely Confucianism and Taoism. Confucianism was established by Confucious from around 551 to 479 BC.

Taoism was established by Lao Tse around 604 to 517 BCE.


Jainism is also born in India as a reaction to orthodox Hinduism.

It is founded by Lord Mahavir who was a contemporary of Lord Buddha. Its followers mostly concentrated in India.


Sikhism is an offshoot of Hinduism and Islam. It is established in the 15 century by Guru Nanak. It is confined to the Punjab state. It has accepted Gurumukhi as its language.

Tribal Religion

It is a special form of ethnic religion. The tribal people are generally in the Neolithic stage of social development.

Each tribal religion has different cultures, social and economic life. Also, they maintain a close relationship between land and the natural environment.

Tribals are engaged in food gathering, hunting, fishing, primitive agriculture, etc. It is estimated that there are about 300 million indigenous people worldwide.

These numbers constitute 4% of the total population in the world and live in over 60 countries.

Over 90% of the population of Greenland is tribal people. The tribal population is 66% in Bolivia and 40% in Peru.

In India, the tribal population is 8.2%. They are categorized as ST ( Scheduled Tribes) in India. They follow their own tribal deities.

Classical dances of India Upsc

Classical dances of India Upsc

Classical dances of India

Classical dances of India are recognized by Sangeet Natak Akademi. It includes Bharatanatyam, Katak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri and Mohiniyattam. These mentioned dances are major classical dances of India.

Also, the culture ministry of the Government of India includes Chhau in its classical list.

These dances represent a unity of core ideas in different styles, costumes, and diversified expressions. Indian classical dance, which is Shastriya Nritya, is a term that covers the various performance arts which are rooted in the Hindu religious, musical theatre styles.

The practice of these arts can be traced to the Sanskrit text, Natya Shastra. Natya Shastra, is the rule or foundation for classical dances in India, and this text is attributed to the ancient scholar “Bharata Muni“.

8 Classical dances of India are:

Bharatanatyam dance upsc

Bharatanatyam is a clasical dance of Tamil Nadu
Bharatanatyam By Arian Zwegers – Thanjavur, Brihadishwara Temple, dance, CC BY 2.0,

It is the oldest classical dance form. It gets its name from the ancient scholar “Bharata Muni” and the word “Natyam”, which means Dance in the Tamil Language. Bharatanatyam’s origins can be traced to the solo dance performance of Devadasi, which means temple dancer in the Tamil Language.

Today, the modern stage production of Bharatnatyam has incorporated, technical performance with pure dance that is based on non-religious ideas and fusion themes. Bharatanatyam, dance was revived as mainstream dance by Bhatanatyam artists Rukmini Devi Arundale, Bala Saraswati, and Yamini Krishnamurthi.

Bharatanatyam features and styles Upsc

Like all major classical Indian dance forms, there are three performance categories in the Natya Shastra. They are Nritta(Nirutham), Nritya(Niruthiyam), and Natya (Natyam).

Styles of Bharatanatyam

Pandanallur, Vazhavoor, Melathoor and Kalakshetra style.

Kerala kathakali dance upsc

Classical dance Kathakali dance from Kerala (India)
Kathakali dance from Kerala By AdvaithNair – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

This is a Hindu performance art in Kerala. Katha means story and Kali means Drama. The themes of Kathakali include folk mythologies, religious heroes, legends, and religious, spiritual ideas from Hindu Puranas/epics.

In most of its presentations, Kathakali depicts the conflicts between good and evil. It is performed in Sanskritised Malayalam and performed in open-air theatre or temple premises.

A brass lamp is used for lighting. The most remarkable feature of Kathakali is a representation of Rasa through the movement of eyes and eyebrows.

Kuchipudi dance form upsc

Kutchipudi is classical dance of india from the state of Andra Pradesh
Kuchipudi By Yunji23asdfg – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

It originated from a village named Kuchipudi, in the state of Andra Pradesh. It is developed as a Hindu God, Krishna oriented to Vaishnavism tradition. Its recital is based on Bhagavata Purana, but it has a secular theme.

The traditional Kuchipudi was performed by all-male troupes.Lasya and Tandava are important in Kuchipudi dance.

Carnatic music instruments and vocal in the Telugu language accompanies the performance. The musical instruments used as Mridangam, Cymbals, veena, flute, and the tambura. Lakshmi Narayan Shastri bought renown to this dance form.

Kathak dance upsc

kathak classical dance is from state of uttar pradesh
Kathak By –, CC BY 2.0,

The origin of Kathak is from traveling bards of ancient northern Indian known as Kathakars or Story tellers. Kathak is a traditional dance form of Uttar Pradesh state. During the Mughal Empire, it was influenced by Islamic features, especially in its costumes and dancing style.

Kathak is commonly identified with the court tradition in North India. It is found in three distinct forms called Gharanas. It is named after the cities Jaipur, Banaras, and Lucknow, where the Kathak dance traditions evolved.

One of the main features of the Kathak recital is Jugulbandi, where it shows a competitive play between dancer and tabla player. This dance form is based on Hindustani music also accompanied by Dhrupad music.

The main proponents of Kathak are Lachha Maharaj, Shambu Maharaj, and Birju Maharaj.


Odissi classical dance from Odissa state in India
Odissi Nritya By Amiwins – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

It derives its name from Odra Nirtya, which is mentioned in Natya Shastra. Mudras and Postures express emotions similar to Bharatnatyam. The three-bent form of dance is called Tribanga posture is an important feature in Odissi.

This dance expresses religious stories and ideas of spirituality, most commonly Vaishnavism, where Vishnu is Jagannath. Odissi dance accompanied by Hindustani music.

Elements of Odissi include Mangalcharan, Batunirtya, Pallavi, Tarijham.

  • Mangalcharan – Beginning of the dance.
  • Batu Nirtya – It comprises dancing.
  • Pallavi – It includes the facial expression and representation of the song.
  • Tarijhan – It is pure dance before the conclusion.


Sattriya dance is from state of Assam
Sattriya dancer – अपना काम, CC BY-SA 3.0, द्वारा

Sattriya or Sattriya Nritya originated in the eastern state of Assam. It is a dance-drama performance. The art with origins in the Krishn-centered Vaishnavism monasteries in Assam.

It attributes to the 15th-century, Bhakti movement. Its scholar and Saint Mahapurush Srimata Sankardev. It focuses more on the devotional aspects of dance. Also, it narrates the mythological stories of Vishnu.

This dance is performed by a group of Male monks known as Bhokots. It is part of their daily rituals. The main musical instruments used are Khol and Flute.

Manipuri dance upsc

Manipuri dance is from state of Manipur
Manipuri dance By –, CC BY 2.0,

It is also known as Jagoi. It is one of the major classical dance forms and it is named after the region Manipur. This dance is known for its Hindu Vaishnavism Themes. It exquisite performance of a love-inspired dance drama of Radha-Krishna called Raslila.

Mohiniyattam dance upsc

Classical dance Mohiniattam is from state of kerala (India)
By Shagil Kannur – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

It is a traditional dance form of Kerala. The Mohiniattam comes from the word Mohini which means beautiful and Attam which means dance.

Mohiniattam is essentially a solo dance performance that incorporates Lasya and Tandava style. It generally narrates the story of the feminine dance of Vishnu.


Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania

Art and architecture of Mughal empire Upsc

Art and architecture of Mughal empire Upsc

Art and architecture of Mughal empire

The Mughal empire’s rule is a landmark in World art and Architecture. Their buildings were known for their huge structures that are decorated with bulbous domes, minarets, cupolas at the four corners, elaborate designs, and also for pictorial mosaic work which is called Pietra Dura.

Pietra Dura Art and architecture of Mughal empire Upsc
Pietra Dura at Tomb of Jahangir, Lahore By Gajus Scheltema – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The mosques which were during the time of Babur and Humayun were not of much architectural significance. But the Sur dynasty has left spectacular architecture in the form of Purana Qila at Delhi, tombs of Sher Shah, and Islam Shah at Sasaram in Bihar.

Where Purana Qila has raised Citadel and tombs on the terraced platform surrounded by large tanks were artistic features.

Akbar Architecture

It was during Akbar’s rule, that Humayun’s tomb was enclosed with gardens and placed on a raised platform. Built by Indian artisans and designed by Persian architects it set a pattern to be followed in the future.

The Agra fort built with red sandstone is an example where Rajput architectural styles were also used.

The new capital city of Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri enclosed within its walls several inspiring buildings.

gateway to Fatehpur Sikri Buland Darwaza built by Akbar
Buland Darwaza – Image By Marcin Białek – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The magnificent gateway to Fatehpur Sikri, the Buland Darwaza, built by Akbar with red sandstone and marble is considered to be a perfect architectural achievement.

Jahangir Architecture

The mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra near Agra started by Akbar and completed by Jahangir includes some Buddhist architectural elements.

The tomb of Itimad-ud-daula, father of Nurjahan, built by Jahangir was the first Mughal building built completely with white marble.

 Jahangir Architecture
Tomb of Itimad-ud-daula By Muhammad Mahdi Karim – Own work, GFDL 1.2,

Shah Jahan Architecture

Mughal architecture reached its apex during the reign of Shah Jahan.

The Taj Mahal is a marble structure on an elevated platform, the bulbous dome in the center rising on a recessed gateway with four cupolas around the dome and with four free-standing minarets at each of its corners is a monument of universal fame.

The Red Fort in Delhi, encompassed by magnificent buildings like Diwan-i Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Moti Mahal, and Hira Mahal reflect the architectural skills of the times of Shah Jahan.

The Moti Masjid inside the Agra Fort is made exclusively of marble, and the Jama Masjid in Delhi, with its lofty gateway, series of domes, and tall and slender minarets are the two significant mosques built by Shah Jahan.

He also established a new township, Shah Jahanabad (present-day Old Delhi) where Red Fort and Jama Masjid are located.

Aurangzeb’s Architecture

Aurangzeb’s reign witnessed the construction of Badshahi mosque in Lahore and the marble tomb of Rabia-ud-daurani, known as Bibi-ka-maqbara (Tomb of the Lady) at Aurangabad.

Other Mughal Architecture

The Shalimar Gardens of Jahangir and Shah Jahan are showpieces of Indian horticulture.

The Mughals contributed to many civil works for the public works, of which the greatest is the bridge over the Gomati river at Jaunpur, West Yamuna Canal which provides water to Delhi.

Mughal architecture influenced even temple construction in different parts of the Indian subcontinent.

The temple of Govind Dev at Vrindavan near Mathura and Bir Singh’s temple of Chaturbhujat Orchchaa (Madhya Pradesh) display Mughal influence.


Mughals was known for their paintings worldwide, and their miniature is kept at museums worldwide.

Their painting traditions were kept alive in Malwa and Gujarat provinces along with central Asian influences.

During the Humayun period, the master of miniature painting, Abdu’s Samad and Mir Sayyid Ali came to India from central Asia and they inspired many Indian painters.

The primary idea of these paintings is to illustrate literary works. Examples are Persian translations of Mahabharata and Akbar Namah were illustrated through painting by different paintings.

In the Mughals court, European paintings were introduced by Portuguese priests.

Animal painting and time portraits were developed during Jahangir’s period. Mansur was great in time portrait painting and animal painting.

The Mughal miniatures also influenced the great Dutch painter Rembrandt. These painting traditions were continued this Shah Jahan.

But Aurangzeb had a difference in opinion towards painting, which led to the dispersal of the painters to different parts of the country. This has led to the promotion of painting in the provinces.

Music and Dance

According to Ain-i-Akbari, Tansen of Gwalior was credited with composing many ragas, and these were patronized by Akbar along with 35 other musicians.

Jahangir and Shah Jahan were great patrons of music. There was a misconception that Aurangzeb was against music but a large number of books on Indian classical music were written during his rule.

The later Mughal, Muhammad Shah was instrumental in inspiring important developments in the field of music.

Paintings in Babur Namah and Padshah Namah show a woman dancing with musical instruments.


Persian, Sanskrit, and other regional languages grew during the Mughals. The language of administration of Mughal and Deccan states was Persian.

The Persian language also influenced Rajput state administration. Abul Fazal wrote Akbar’s history in Akbar Nama, Mughal administration in Ain-i-Akbari. Ain-i-Akbari also had science, statistics, culture, and geography.

Abdul Hamid Lahori and Muhammad Waris wrote together Padshah Nama, which is a biography of Shah Jahan. Muhammad Kazim wrote Alamgir Nama, describing the first decade of the ruling of Aurangzeb. 

Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan translated Babur’s Autobiography which was written in Chaghatai Turkish into Persian. Dabistan is an impartial work on religious belief.

Several Sanskrit works were translated into Persian. Abul Faizi, a court poet of Akbar and brother of Abul Fazal, translated Mahabharata into Persian.

Dara Shukoh translated Upanishads titled Sirr-I-Akbar (the great secret). The Masnawis of Abul Faizi, Utbi, and Naziri enriched Persian Poetry in India.

There are also several Sanskrit produced during the Mughals. A kavya, named Rajavalipataka was written by Prajna and concluded that the entire history of Kashmir belonged to Akbar.

Several Graeco-Arabic were brought to India via Persian works through Sanskrit translations. Tajika Neelakanthi, is an astrological work written by Akbar’s astronomer Nilakantha.

Rasagangadhara was written by Shah Jahan’s court poet Jaganath Panditha. The greatest achievement of the Mughals is their contribution to literature and making Urdu a common language for various people speaking different dialects.

Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan composed bhakti poetry with a Persian blend, in Brij form of Hindi.

Tulsidas wrote in Awadi, the Hindi dialect spoken in the eastern UP, which was famous for his devotional ideals. Marathi literature was raised during Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas, and Mukteshwar.

Eknath questioned the superiority of Sanskrit over other languages. Tukaram preached Monotheism. Mukteshwar translated Ramayana and Mahabharata into Marathi.

In the Assamese language, Bhakti poetry was popularised by Shankara Deva. Assamese works were produced in the fields of astronomy, arithmetic, and the treatment of elephants and horses.

Ramayana and Mahabharata are also translated into Assamese. Chaitanya cult also portrayed the love of Krishna and Radha in Bengali literature. The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs written by Guru Arjun and Shaikh Farid and other monotheists contributed to Punjabi literature.

During the Mughal period, Tamil literature was dominated by Saivite and Vaishnavite. Kumaraguruparar, A Saiva poet composed Meenakshiammai Pillai Tamil and Neethineri Vilakkam.

Thayumanavar wrote devotional poems to brides in various Saivite Sections. Christian missionaries like Roberto de Nobili and Constantine Joseph Beschi also contributed to the Tamil language.


This is an article upsc exam for the topic ‘Art and Architecture of Mughal Emperor’. This note is taken from Ncert’s books.