UPSC (IAS) Prelims 2020: Important Questions on Art & Culture Asked in Past 7 Years

Most important questions and solutions with explained answers on Art & Culture from UPSC (IAS) Prelims previous year papers (2013-2019). These questions can be solved to know the type of questions asked from the Art & Culture section in the UPSC exam general studies paper-1.

UPSC (IAS) Prelims 2020 is scheduled for October 4, 2020. With less than a month for the exam, aspirants must be meticulously preparing to qualify the first stage of the UPSC IAS selection process. The art and Culture section covers a significant part of the prelims paper and 4-5 questions have been repeatedly asked from this section in the past 6-7 years prelims exam. We conducted a detailed analysis of previous year UPSC Prelims GS papers with all the questions asked from the Art & Culture section in the years 2013-2019. 

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2019

Ques: In which of the following relief sculpture inscriptions is ‘Ranyo Ashoka’ (King Ashoka) mentioned along with the stone portrait of Ashoka?

(a) Kanganahalli

(b) Sanchi I

(c) Shahbazgarhi

(d) Sohgaura

Answer: a

Explanation: Kanganahalli in Karnataka is the site with an inscription in Brahmi script reading Ranyo Ashoka and a sculpture of King Ashoka.

Ques: Consider the following:

  • Deification of the Buddha
  • Treading the path of Bodhisattvas
  • Image worship and rituals

Which of the above is/are the feature/features of Mahayana Buddhism?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: d

Explanation: Mahayana Buddhism promoted devotional support, Deification of Buddha, icon worship and rituals and treading path of Bodhisattvas.

Ques: Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara

Answer: d

Explanation: In the Vittala Temple of Hampi, pavilions or mandapas that were meant to celebrate the marriages of deities were known as Kalyan Mandapa. 

Ques: Who among the following Mughal Emperors shifted emphasis from illustrated manuscripts to the album and individual portrait?

(a) Humayun

(b) Akbar

(c) Jahangir

(d) Shah Jahan

Answer: c

Explanation: During Akbar’s reign many manuscripts were illustrated, the prominent being Razmnamah, the Persian translation of Mahabharata. It was during Jahangir’s reign that manuscripts became less important and individual portraits became more prominent.

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2018

Ques: With reference to the religious practices in India, the “Sthanakvasi” sect belongs to

(a) Buddhism

(b) Jainism

(c) Vaishnavism

(d) Shaivism

Answer- b

Explanation: Sthānakavāsī is a sect of Śvētāmbara Jainism founded by a merchant named Lavaji in 1653 AD. It believes that idol worship is not essential in the path of soul purification and attainment of Nirvana/Moksha.

Ques: With reference to the cultural history of India, consider the following statements:

  1. White marble was used in making Buland Darwaza and Khankah at Fatehpur Sikri.
  2. Red sandstone and marble were used in making Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza at Lucknow.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans- a

Explanation: The architectural style of the Rumi Darwaza is completely in sync with the Nawabi architecture of Lucknow, and it’s significantly different from the Mughals. The material used for the Darwaza is bricks and it’s then coated with lime, while the Mughals often used red sandstone. This is why the detailing on the Darwaza is more intricate, which would be impossible to achieve in stone.

Ques: He wrote biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi, Shivaji and Srikrishna; stayed in America for some time, and was also elected to the Central Assembly. He was

(a) Aurobindo Ghosh

(b) Bipin Chandra Pal

(c) Lala Lajpat Rai

(d) Motilal Nehru

Answer. c

Explanation: In 1896, Lajpat Rai wrote a series of books in Urdu, which he named the ‘Great Men of the World’. The first great man he chose was his Italian guru Giuseppe Mazzini, and then Garibaldi, along with Shivaji, Dayananda, and Sri Krishna.

Ques:  With reference to educational institutes during colonial rule in India, consider the following pairs:

            Institution                             Founder

  1. Sanskrit College at Benaras –      William Jones
  2. Calcutta Madarsa    –                Warren Hastings
  3. Fort William College     –             Arthur Wellesley

Which of the pairs given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 3 only

Answer. b

Explanation:

In 1791 the efforts of Jonathan Duncan, the British Resident at Benares, bore fruit and a Sanskrit College were opened at Benares. Lord Richard Colley Wellesley (NOT ARTHUR WELLESLEY) took the first step for the training of Civil Servants when he founded the Fort William College, in Calcutta in November 1800 where the Civil Servants of the Company were to receive training in the literature, science, and languages of India.

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2017

Ques:  With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements:

  1. Sautrantika and Sammitiya were the sects of Jainism.
  2. Sarvastivadin held that the constituents of phenomena were not wholly momentary, but existed forever in a latent form.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer. b

Explanation:  Statement 1:  These are sects of Buddhism.

Ques:  With reference to the difference between the culture of Rigvedic Aryans and Indus Valley people, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. Rigvedic Aryans used the coat of mail and helmet in warfare whereas the people of Indus Valley Civilization did not leave any evidence of using them.
  2. Rigvedic Aryans knew gold, silver, and copper whereas Indus Valley people knew only copper and iron.
  3. Rigvedic Aryans had domesticated the horse whereas there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer- c

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2016

Ques: With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements:

  1. The concept of Bodhisattva is central to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
  2.  Bodhisattva is a compassionate one on his way to enlightenment.
  3. Bodhisattva delays achieving his own salvation to help all sentient beings on their path to it.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer. b

Explanation: Statement 1: It is central to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.

Ques: What is/are common to the two historical places known as Ajanta and Mahabalipuram?

  1. Both were built in the same period.
  2. Both belong to the same religious denomination.
  3. Both have rock-cut monuments.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) None of the statements given above is correct

Answer. c

Explanation: Mahabalipuram contains rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna’s penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari and Mahishasuramardini, the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex). So, it is more linked to the Vaishnavites. On the other hand, Ajanta is linked more to the Buddhist religious denomination. 

Ques:  With reference to the cultural history of India, the memorizing of chronicles, dynastic histories and Epictales was the profession of who of the following?

(a) Shramana

(b) Parivraajaka

(c) Agrahaarika

(d) Magadha

Answer: d

Explanation:  Excerpts from Romila Thapar, Ancient India, “The memorizing of chronicles, dynastic histories, or epic tales was the work of a group of people, the sutas and magadhas.”

Ques: Which one of the following books of ancient India has the love story of the son of the founder of Sunga dynasty?

(a) Swapnavasavadatta

(b) Malavikagnirnitra

(c) Meghadoota

(d) Ratnavali

Answer: b

Explanation:  It is a Sanskrit play by Kalidasa. It is based on some events of the reign of Pushyamitra Shunga. The play tells the story of the love of Agnimitra, the Shunga Emperor at Vidisha, for the beautiful hand-maiden of his chief queen.

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2015

Ques: With reference to the art and archaeological history of India, which one among the following was made earliest?

(a) Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneshwar

(b) Rock-cut Elephant at Dhauli

(c) Rock-cut Monuments at Mahabalipuram

(d) Varaha Image at Udayagiri

Answer. b

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2014

Ques: With reference to the famous Sattriya dance, consider the following statements:

  1. Sattriya is a combination of music, dance and drama.
  2. It is a centuries-old living tradition of Vaishnavites of Assam.
  3. It is based on classical Ragas and Talas of devotional songs composed by Tulsidas, Kabir and Mirabai.

Which of the statements given above is /are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer. B

Ques: With reference to the Indian history of art and culture, consider the following pairs:

S No.Famous work of sculptureSite
1A grand image of Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana with numerous celestial musicians above and the sorrowful figures of his followers below Ajanta
2A huge image of Varaha Avatar (boar incarnation) of Vishnu, as he rescues Goddess Earth from the deep and chaotic waters, sculpted on rockMount Abu
3“Arjuna’s Penance” /”Descent of Ganga” sculpted on the surface of huge boulders Mamallapuram

Which of the pairs given above is/ are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only,

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer. c

Ques: With reference to India’s culture and tradition, what is ‘Kalaripayattu’?

(a) It is an ancient Bhakti cult of Shaivism still prevalent in some parts of South India

(b) It is an ancient style bronze and brass work still found in southern part of Coromandel area

(c) It is an ancient form of dance-drama and a living tradition in the northern part of Malabar

(d) It is an ancient martial art and a living tradition in some parts of South India

Answer. D

Ques: Consider the following pairs:

  1. Garba : Gujarat
  2. Mohiniattam : Odisha
  3. Yakshagana : Karnataka

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer. C

Ques: With reference to Buddhist history, tradition and culture in India, considers the following pairs:

Famous shrine                                                 Location    

  1. Tabo monastery and temple complex : Spiti Valley
  2. Lhotsava Lhakhang temple, Nako      : Zanskar Valley
  3. Alchi temple complex                       : Ladakh

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer. C

Ques: Consider the following statements:

  1. ‘Bijak’ is a composition of the teachings of Saint Dadu Dayal.
  2. The Philosophy of Pushti Marg was propounded by Madhvacharya.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer. D

Ques:  Ibadat Khana at Fatehpur Sikri was:

(a) The mosque for the use of Royal Family

(b) Akbar’s private chamber prayer

(c) The hall in which Akbar held discussions with scholars of various religions.

(d) The room in which the nobles belonging to different religions gathered to discuss religious affairs

Answer. C

Ques:  Which one of the following pairs does not form part of the six systems of Indian Philosophy?

(a) Mimamsa and Vedanta

(b) Nyaya and Vaisheshika

(e) Lokayata and Kapalika

(d) Sankhya and Yoga

Answer: c

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Questions Based on Art & Culture in 2013

Ques: With reference to the history of Indian rock-cut architecture, consider the following statements:

  1. The caves at Badami are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India.
  2. The Barabar rock-cut caves were originally made for Ajivikas by Emperor Chandragupta Maurya.
  3. At Ellora, caves were made for different faiths.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: b

Ques: Some Buddhist rock-cut caves are called Chaityas, while the others are called Viharas. What is the difference between the two?

(a) Vihara is a place of worship, while Chaitya is the dwelling place of the monks

(b)Chaitya is a place of worship, while Vihara is the dwelling place of the monks

(c) Chaitya is the stupa at the far end of the cave, while Vihara is the hall axial to it

(d) There is no material difference between the two

Answer: b

Ques: Consider the following historical places:

  1. Ajanta Caves
  2. Lepakshi Temple
  3. Sanchi Stupa

Which of the above places is / are also known for mural paintings?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only    

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

Answer: b

Ques: in the context of cultural history of India, a pose in dance and dramatics called ‘Tribhanga’ has been a favourite of Indian artists from ancient times till today. Which one of the following statements best describes this pose?

(a) One leg is bent and the body is slightly but oppositely curved at waist and neck

(b) Facial expressions, hand gestures and make-up are combined to symbolize certain epic or historic characters

(c) Movements of body, face and hands are used to express oneself or to tell a story

(d) A little smile, slightly curved waist and certain hand gestures are emphasized to express the feelings of love or eroticism

Answer: a

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