UPSC IAS Prelims 2021: Important Questions on Art & Culture – Topic 5 (Caves, Pillars, Sculptures & Stupas)

UPSC IAS Prelims 2021: Important Questions on Art & Culture – Topic 5 (Caves, Pillars, Sculptures & Stupas): Ancient India witnessed a diverse architectural change where kings of various dynasties throughout India constructed caves, pillars, sculptures, stupas with respect to their own beliefs and traditions. Each had a unique structure and features. The topic is important to be studied while preparing for UPSC IAS Prelims 2021 exam. Aspirants can check their preparation level on these topics by solving the below-given questions, These questions have been created by the subject expert as per the latest UPSC Prelims exam pattern.

most important questions on the various forms of Caves, Pillars, Sculptures & Stupas in Ancient India included in the Indian Art and Culture syllabus of Indian History. These questions can be revised as a part of the UPSC Prelims 2021 exam preparation.


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Ques 1: Consider the following statements regarding the Mauryan Caves:

  1. The caves during the Mauryan period were marked by a highly polished finish of the interior walls.
  2. They were inscribed by the Buddhist monks, under the patronage of the Vakataka kings

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 & 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: a

Explanation:The Mauryan caves during the Mauryan period were marked by a highly polished finish of the interior walls and decorative gateways.The Ajanta caves were inscribed by the Buddhist monks, under the patronage of the Vakataka kings – Harishena being a prominent one.

Ques 2: __________ is a rectangular prayer hall with a stupa placed in the center, for the purpose of prayer.

(a) Vihara

(b) Chaitya

(c) Toran

(d) Yaksha

Ans: b

Explanation:Chaitya was a rectangular prayer hall with a stupa placed in the center, for the purpose of prayer and Viharas were used as the residences of the monks.

Ques 3: Recently, archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest known cave art. Consider the following statements with reference to this cave art:

  1. The cave art is a life-sized picture of a wild pig.
  2. It has been discovered in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 & 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: a

Explanation:Recently, archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest known cave art which is a life-sized picture of a wild pig that was painted at least 44000 years ago in Indonesia. The picture was found in the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Read more…

Ques 4: Consider the following statements with reference to Stupas in Post Mauryan Period:

  1. Post Mauryan period stupas were constructed with wood and brickwork.
  2. The Shunga dynasty introduced the idea of torans which were beautifully decorated gateways to the stupas.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 & 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: b

Explanation:Post Mauryan period stupas became larger and more decorative and wood and brickwork were replaced by stone.

Also Check:  Important Topics for Preparation of Art & Culture

Ques 5: Consider the following statements regarding the Ellora Caves:

  1. It is a group of 34 caves which includes 5 Buddhist caves.
  2. The Ellora complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 & 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: d

Explanation:It is a group of 34 caves – 17 Brahmanical, 12 Buddhist and 5 Jain. The Ellora complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.

Ques 6: Match the following Mudras Related To Buddha of Gandhara School with their meanings:

MudrasMeaning
(A) Abahayamudra(I) teaching
(B) Anjali Mudra(II) fearlessness
(C) Vitarka Mudra(III) Compassion
(D) Varada Mudra(IV) greetings

Select the correct code:
(a) A-II, B-IV, C-III, D-I

(b) A-I, B-II, C-III, D-IV

(c) A-II, B-IV, C-I, D-III

(d) A-I, B-IV, C-III, D-II

Ans: c

Explanation:Abahayamudra: Indicates fearlessnessAnjali Mudra: Indicates greetings, devotion, and adoration.Vitarka Mudra: It indicates teaching and discussion or intellectual debate.Varada Mudra: It indicates charity, compassion or granting wishes.

Ques 7: Consider the following statements regarding sculptures of the Mathura school:

  1. The sculptures were influenced by all three religions Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
  2. This school was patronized by Kushan rulers.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 & 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: c

Explanation:The sculptures of the Mathura school were influenced by all three religions Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Mathura, Sonkh and Kankalitila were the major centers. This school was patronized by Kushan rulers.

Ques 8: Consider the following statements with reference to the differences between Mathura and Amravati school:

  1. Mathura school focused on single images while Amaravati school laid more emphasis on the use of dynamic images.
  2. Mathura school used red sandstone while Amravati used Gray Sandstone.

Which of the given statements is/are not correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 & 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: b

Explanation:Mathura school used red sandstone while Amravati used white marble. 

Ques 9: Consider the following statements with reference to Ashoka Pillars:

  1. Ashoka pillars were usually made of chunar sandstone.
  2. Most Ashoka pillar edicts were in Devanagari Script.
  3. The pillars usually had Capitol on top of the shaft lay the capital, which was either lotus-shaped or bell-shaped.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 2 and 3 only

Ans: c

Explanation: While most Ashoka pillar edicts were in Pali and Prakrit language, few were written in Greek or Aramaic language also.

Ques 10: Match the following architectural features of Stupa with their correct meaning:

Architectural featuresMeaning
(A) Anda(I) Square railing on top of the mound
(B) Harmika(II) Central pillar supporting a triple umbrella form.
(C) Chhatra(III) Hemispherical mound 

Select the correct code:

(a) A-I, B-II, C-III

(b) A-III, B-I, C-II

(c) A-II, B-III, C-I

(d) A-III, B-II, C-I

Ans: b

Explanation:Stupas consist of a cylindrical drum with a circular anda and a harmika and a chhatra on the top.Anda: Hemispherical mound symbolic of the mound of dirt used to cover Buddha’s remains (in many stupas actual relics were used).Harmika: Square railing on top of the mound.Chhatra: Central pillar supporting a triple umbrella form.

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