Indian Art and Culture – HPAS Mains

Indian Art and Culture – HPAS Mains

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  1. Consider the following statements with regard to India’s Culture Heritage :
    1.Migrants of different countries have not influenced India’s culture heritage
    2.Krishna and Radha are one of the favourites of Indian artist and can be found in all forms of art.
    Which of the statements given above is/are correct :
    A) Only1
    B) Only2
    C) Both 1 and 2
    D) Neither 1 nor 2
    Answer-:B) Only2


Culture is a way of life. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the language we speak and the God we worship, all are aspects of culture. In very simple terms, we can say that culture is the embodiment of the way in which we think and do something. It is also the things that we have inherited as members of society. All the achievement of human being as members of social group can be called culture. Art, music, literature, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, religion and Science all can be seen as aspects of our culture. However, Culture also includes customs, traditions, festivals, ways of living and one’s outlook on various issues of life.

Intermingling of people from different countries have brought changes in cultural heritage of India. India has witnessed many invasions from different countries since time immemorial and people of different racial stock, ethnic backgrounds, and religious beliefs have settled down here, thus they have influenced Indian culture as well.
Some of the chief elements and Salient features of Indian culture are:-
1.India’s culture is said to have unity in diversity
2.Krishna and Radha are one of the favourites of Indian artist and can be found in all forms of arts such as paintings, literature, drama, dance forms and music etc.
3.India’s culture has been enriched greatly by several waves of migration which took place over centuries.
4.Indian art forms have curious combination of mythology and reality.
5.Indian society has had frequent wave of socio cultural reforms.
6.Though, over many centuries, India has witnessed many changes in its cultural heritage but it has not lost its enduring character. e.g. The worshiping of female deities and the Shiva Lingam in Harappa Civilization is still practice in India. The ancient practices of curing diseases through yoga and Ayurveda is also in practice today.

  1. Which of the following statements is/are correct about Indian temple architecture?
    1.Temples in south India belong to Nagra type of archietecture.
    2.The shape of the main temple tower known as vimana is popular in North India.
    3.A hybrid style of both Nagara and Dravida temple architecture known as Vesara was developed in Deccan area of India.
    4.The grand Brahadeeshwarar temple at Thanjavur was constructed during Chola Kingdom.
    Select the correct answer from the codes given below:
    A) Only1 and 2
    B) Only 3 & 4
    C) Only 2 & 3
    D) Only 4
    Answer:-B) Only 3 & 4


The temples in South India belong to the dravida style of temple architecture and the temple in North India belong to Nagara style of temple architecture.

The shape of the main temple tower known as Vimana is popular in south India. In North India it is known as shikhra.

The hybrid style of both Nagara and Dravida temple architecture known as Vesara was developed initially in Deccan area of India and gradually it spread over other parts of the country as well.

The grand Brahadeeshwarar temple at Thanjavur is dedicated to lord Shiva. It was constructed during Chola King Raja Raja-1 around 1009 AD. It is known for its tallest temple tower(Vimana) in India.

Nagara / North Indian style :

1.The basic feature of Nagara style is that the entire temple is built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it with the garbhagriha always located directly under the tallest tower. There are many subdivisions of Nagara temples depending on the shape of the Shikhara.
2.At the entrance to the North Indian temple’s garbhagriha, images such as mithunas and the river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna are found.
3.The North Indian temples have muitiple shikharas rising together unlike the Dravida style.

Dravida style :

1.In the typical Dravida style, there is an elaborate boundary wall or gateway and is enclosed within a compound wall.
2.It consists of the front wall with an entrance called gopuram.
3.Main temple tower known as Vimana rises up geometrically.
4.There is a concept of dvarapalas or the door-keepers guarding the temple in south.
5.It is common to find a large water reservoir, or a temple tank, enclosed within the complex. Subsidiary shrines are either incorporated within the main temple tower, or located as distinct, separate small shrines beside the main temple.
6.Basic divisions of Dravida temples are square, rectangular or shala or ayatasra; elliptical, called gaja prishta, or also called vrittayata, circular or vntta‘

The key elements of basic forms of Hindu temples are:-

Garbhagriha : A cave like sanctum housing the main deity at the center of the temple with a single entrance.
Mandapa : The entrance to the temple that incorporates space for a large number of worshippers.
Shikhar and Vimana : From 5‘” century onwards, free standing temples tend to have a mountain-Iike spire, which can take the shape of a curving Shikhar in North India and a pyramidal tower, called a Vimana, in South India.
Vahan : The mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or dhvaj is placed axially before the sanctum.
Antarala (vestibule) : it is a transntion area between the Garbhagriha and the tempie’s main hall (mandapa).

  1. Consider the following
    1.The Ajanta Caves
    2.The Kailashanath temple
    3.The Ratha temples of Mahabalipuram
    4.The Khajuraho Temple of Chhatarpur
    5.The Shore Temple of Mamallapuram
    Which of the above is/are not a rock cut architectural structure found in India.
    A) Only1, 2 and 3
    B) Only 2, 4 & 5
    C) Only 4 and 5
    D) Only 4
    Answer-:C) Only 4 and 5


The Khajuraho Temple of Chhatarpur and the Shore Temple of Mamallapuram are the examples of structural temples in India. Hindu temple architecture evolved over the centuries from simple rock-cut cave shrines to massive and ornate temples which spread across the Indian sub-continent.

India has been birthplace of Hinduism Jainism and Buddhism. The most of the ancient architectural structures found in India are religious in nature. India has a long history of major structural and rock cut temples. The earliest temple found in India, were rock cut, and the structural temples found in India, were of later periods. The Rock cut temples were carved directly out of solid rocks whereas structural temples were built by using solid stone as raw materials. The earliest surviving Rock cut temples were found at Baja Caves and Karle caves in Maharashtra. Other magnificent cave architecture were found at Barabar, Badami, Kanheri, Ajanta and Ellora. The caves found at Bagh in Vindhya range are also examples of rock cut structures in India. They are famous for mural paintings.

The Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are a group of around 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves in the shape of a horseshoe in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. They were constructed some time in the 2nd century BCE and include cave paintings and rock-cut sculptures which are considered as some of India’s best surviving specimens of art and sculpting. The cave paintings and sculptures that one can see in the Ajanta Caves inspired a lot of the later art that was prevalent in India.

Many caves depict the stories of the past lives and rebirths of the Buddha. Some of the highlights of the caves are the Reclining Buddha in cave number 26 and the numerous vivid ceiling paintings.

They are under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Ellora Caves

Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes(34) in the world, featuring Hindu(17), Buddhist(12) and Jain(5) monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600–1000 CE period. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also features sculptures depicting the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. As per the historical records, it was built by the 8th century Rashtrakuta King Krishna I.

The Kailash Temple is a standalone, multi-storeyed temple complex, made to look like Mount Kailash – the puranic home of Lord Shiva. Mughal ruler Aurangzeb had made a strong attempt to vandalise the Kailash Temple, but he was unable to get much success in his plans. All he could do was a minor damage here and there but not to the main structure.

The Ratha temples of Mahabalipuram

The 7th century Pancha Rathas (also known as Five Rathas or Pandava Rathas) is a monument complex at Mahabalipuram/Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu. Pancha Rathas is an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture. The complex is a free-standing stone construction in the living rock. The rathas were carved during the reign the Pallav King Narasimhavarman I . The temples were named after him as he was nick named Mamalla. The complex is under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Khajuraho Temple

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu temples and Jain temples in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. They were built during the rule of the Chandela dynasty of Bhundelkhand. The largest and currently most famous surviving temple is Kandariya Mahadeva built in the reign of King Vidyadhara.

  1. Consider the following about sculptural art:-
    1.It includes Idol making only
    2.In modern day any three dimensional structure can be part of sculpture art.
    Which of the above statements is/are correct.
    A) Only1
    B) Only 2
    C) Both 1 and 2
    D) Neither 1 nor 2
    Answer-:B) Only 2


Sculpture art is a form of visual art which includes all three dimensional objects made by human. It has been evolved through centuries. Earlier only life size human figures, animal figures, utensils and clay models were considered as part of sculpture art but modern-day even furniture items are also included in its definition.

  1. Match the following:-
    Sculptural Art – Place
    1.Dancing Girl – Mohenjodaro
    2.Lion Capital – Sarnath
    3.Bodhisattva Head – Taxila
    4.Trimurti – Ellora Caves
    Which of the above pairs is/are matched correctly.
    A) Only1
    B) Only 1& 2
    C) Only 1, 2 and 3
    D) All
    Answer-:C) Only 1, 2 and 3


Trimurti sculpture is found at Elephanta Caves of Maharashtra not in Ellora.
Dancing girl, a bronze sculpture found from Mohenjodaro by Archaeological Survey of India is a beautiful example of early bronze sculpting in India. The figure seems that she is waiting for her turn to dance and standing position is somehow very typical. This work of Indus valley people is considered as one of their magnificent achievements in the field of sculpture art.

The Lion Capital is one of the fabulous sculptures of Mauryan period. It is found in the Sarnath pillar which has four lions fitted back to back at the top of the pillar. The extraordinary beauty associated with the efficiency of the Mauryan artist of that period influenced Indian lawmakers to adopt its as National Emblem in 26January 1950. Rock cut elephant Edict of Dhauli, near Bhubaneswar is another beautiful example of mauryan sculptural art.

Bodhisattva Head is a collection of Gandhara art. It was found from Taxila present day Pakistan. Buddha is having moustaches as well as ornamented with crown and jewellery. The Gandhara school of art was developed in Afghanistan region before the commen era and was continue for next thousand years. It produced many beautiful sculptures and artifacts in Indian subcontinent. The art of school was mostly influenced by Buddhism but it was also influenced by Roman-Greek, China- Iran and earlier Indain art forms.

Trimurti is one of the masterpieces of 8th century A.D. It represents lord Shiva in its cosmic aspects of CREATION, PRESERVATION and DESTRUCTION.

This sculpture was formed from Elephanta Caves of Maharashtra. Due to Monolithic big rock cut elephant, it is known as elephant cave. It is a group of Rock cut caves which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site located on an island near Mumbai.

The Ellora caves in Maharashtra are famous for many Monolithic sculpture art but Ravana shaking Mount Kailash is the most beautiful sculpture found in Ellora Caves.

  1. Consider the following:-
    1.These belong to pre historic period
    2.Found in Vindhya range of Madhya Pradesh with hunting, animal fighting and dancing human figures as major themes
    3.White and red were the favourite colours of the artists.
    The above statements are associated with.
    A) Bhimbetka cave paintings
    B) Ajanta cave paintings
    C) Bhag cave paintings
    D) Elephanta cave paintings
    Answer-:A) Bhimbetka cave paintings


Bhimbetka cave paintings are the earliest human paintings found in Vindhya ranges of Madhya Pradesh. They belong to Prehistoric period. Hunting, animal fighting and dancing human figures are the major themes of these paintings.

Another remnants of rock paintings have been found on the walls of the caves situated in several districts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar. Some paintings have been reported from the Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand also. The rock shelters on banks of the River Suyal at Lakhudiyar, about twenty kilometres on the Almora–Barechina road, bear these pre historic paintings. Lakhudiyar literally means one lakh caves.The paintings here can be divided into three categories: man, animal and geometric patterns in white, black and red ochre.

The artists of Bhimbetka used many colours, including various shades of white, yellow, orange, red ochre, purple,brown, green and black. But white and red were their favourite colours. The paints were made by grinding various rocks and minerals. They got red from haematite (known as geru in India). The green came from a green variety of a stone called chalcedony. White might have been made out of limestone. The rock of mineral was first ground into a powder. This may then have been mixed with water and also with some thick or sticky substance such as animal fat or gum or resin from trees. Brushes were made of plant fibre.

  1. Which of the following statements is/are correct about Indian Schools of paintings?
    1.Rajput school of paintings is mixture style of Persian and Rajasthani
    2.Mughal paintings are of the masses for everybody’s need
    3.The focus of Rajput School of paintings was on miniature paintings.
    4.Religion was the major theme of Mughal paintings
    Select the correct answer from the codes given below:
    A) Only1 and 2
    B) Only 3 & 4
    C) Only 4
    D) None
    Answer:-D) None


Rajput School of painting was based on pure Indian themes whereas Mughal school of paintings is mixture style of Persian and Rajasthani, it even includes some modern European style of paintings.

The Mughal patronised the painters in their court and hence Mughal paintings were limited to the courts only. Painters were confined to the desire and pleasure of emperor only. They depicted portraits of emperor, aesthetic and love scenes. The focus of Rajput School of paintings was on wall paintings whereas focus of Mughal School of paintings was on miniature paintings.

Religion was the major theme of Rajput paintings whereas mythological and worldly themes were part of Mughal paintings. Battles, legendary stories hunting scenes, wildlife and royal life were some of the other themes of Mughal paintings.

  1. Consider the following:-
    1.Guler is the place of origin of this school of paintings.
    2.Most of the painting scenes are based on Jaidev’s Geet Govinda depicting love scenes of Radha and Krishna.
    3.Light colour scheme, short height figures, with colourful dresses are the aesthetic grandeur of these paintings.
    The above statements are associated with.
    A) Pahari Miniature Paintings
    B) Rajasthani Paintings
    C) Mughal Miniature Paintings
    D) Bengal School of paintings
    Answer-:A) Pahari Miniature Paintings


Himachal, Punjab, Garhwal and Kashmir came under the Pahari school of miniature paintings. Guler is the place of origin of Pahari miniature painting.

1.By 1780 Guler school of paintings was at its peak. From this school some artists went to Kangra and started working there. Raja Sansar Chand patronised painters in his court and thus Kangra school of paintings came into play and flourished during his reign. Manku was the master artist of this school of paintings.
2.Another School of paintings known as Basohli was developed in Jammu and Kashmir and Raja Kripal Singh patronised the painters of this school of paintings.
3.Some artists came to Chamba and started their work there. Later on it was known as Chamba school of paintings. It flourished during the region of Raj Singh. Nikka was the master artist in his Court.
4.Slowly paintings that spread to other parts of the hill area was finally known as Pahari School of paintings. Mandi, Kullu and Garhwal also developed simultaneously and they identified themselves with Pahari style of paintings.
Bengal School of paintings

The Bengal School of Art commonly referred as Bengal School, was an art movement and a style of Indian painting that originated in Bengal, primarily Kolkata and Shantiniketan, and flourished throughout the Indian subcontinent, during the British Raj in the early 20th century. Also known as ‘Indian style of painting’ in its early days, it was associated with swadeshi movement in Bengal and led by Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951), but was also promoted and supported by British arts administrators like E. B. Havell, the principal of the Government College of Art, Kolkata from 1896; eventually it led to the development of the modern Indian painting.

Some important characteristics of the school are:-
Effects of Ajanta: some artist started to follow the Ajanta style of paintings in a new direction
Simple and clear paintings: almost all character were simplified and with normal background.
Colour scheme: Very attractive colour schemes was given to these paintings.
Stylization: The impact of old Rajasthani and Mughal style also found in a developed way.
Light and shade: Instead of light shading heavy and prominent light and shade also gave charming look to the paintings.
Indianization: These styles of paintings had a level of completely Indian style of paintings.

In spite of characteristics of Indian paintings influenced by European art movement.

Indian Art and Culture – HPAS Mains

Also Read : Art and Culture of Himachal Pradesh

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