Strategy, Sources and Sites for Map Section- History Optional Paper I [By Chitra Mishra, Rank 20, CSE- 2018]

Strategy, Sources and Sites for Map Section- History Optional Paper I [By Chitra Mishra, Rank 20, CSE- 2018]

Name: Chitra Mishra

Rank: 20 [CSE- 2018]

IMG-20190503-WA0049 (1) (2)

Chitra Mishra1

Detailed Strategy for Map

This section is a very grey-area in case of our Optional paper. I have had interaction with many of my peer aspirants. So, if you are an engineer by academic background – this section might seem a cake walk for you. In perplexing contrast, you may be an MPhil graduate in History background from say Delhi University or JNU chances are you still may detest this section.

Difficulty of Map-Section:

  • It begins your paper presentation of the Paper 1 of the optional paper. It justifies the epithet- “You Know you know- You don’t know-you don’t ‘know’’
  • Map Section in many ways forms the first impression upon the evaluator and your level of interest, knowledge about the historical events, sites and depth of preparation.
  • So while you marking 18 out of 20 sites accurately becomes an assumed requirement for the Part B to be evaluated with a good impression, the reverse can be a disaster; implying- if you choose to ignore/skip/underperform Map section and simply choose to go by focussing or devoting all your preparation time upon the improving standard and quality of Question and Answer section- it might not be very advisable- in case you target to score 300+ in History Optional or to see your name in the top 100 of CSE final merit list. Such is the significance.

What are the most useful sources so far?

In case of Map we must understand it doesn’t come as an isolated entity or a table of enlisted sites which needs to be info-photographed in our memory in last 100 odd days gap between Prelims and Mains.

If one were to follow carefully UPSC Ancient India syllabus and trace major sites which form crucial points of historical evolution, be it of religious progress, trade and commerce outgrowth, educational centre, a site of political expansion, etc, (as elucidated in IGNOU Map sites- attached) a lot of sites become a part of your muscle memory and organic usage of its significance can be extremely useful and scoring even while writing answers.

The following sources can be used for preparing map sites: –

  • Previous year question paper(s). (Link for 2012-18). In the below post I have analysed the sites in varied manner for simplification. To practice it on a outline map, just google them or use com website to locate/view/study the site.
  • Links to maps in NCERT Text books(attached) and few maps (attached) for general understanding of the period under study; NCERT here includes OLD NCERT by Makkhan Lal, R.S Sharma as well as New NCERT (VI to XII)

In addition, the illustrated maps of four most important books of this period as follows:

Selectively- (Spectrum Publication Atlas and a newly released GK publication. Please do not solely rely on these ready reckoner books;

How best to approach Map Section?

A note on marking the Map:

  • All places on the coast should be shown along the coast. Example sites likes Mahabalipuram, Puri, Prabhas Patan, Korkai, Tamralipti, Kaveripatnam, Muziris, Dwarka; They should not be plotted incorrectly.
  • Similarly, if we are plotting two nearby places their marking should be accurate vis-à-vis near prominent site with respect to one another e.g. We should be exactly sure while plotting Inamgaon-Daimabad-Nevasa-Jorwe; Badami-Aihole-Pattdakal; Ujjain-Vidisha-Eran as to which is to the north/south/east/west of the other.

To sum it up the idea is to have a list of historical sites- important (through reading and historical significance) and convincing (through previous year paper analysis) as far as possible. The idea then must be to locate these sites under specific headings/sub-divisions as we read the chapters as we come across during preparation. Finally, as it is often said- keep practicing and revising on sample map (attached).

Ways of Simplification:

Usually be it Spectrum Atlas History Map book and even the prominent websites such as selfstudy have already outlined very effectively alphabetically all the sites. However, as a student one may not be very interested right away to memorise in alphabetical order. Also, how much can one memorise that way? One can certainly feel secure of having a repository of all the possible sites from say Alphabet S or V  but one of the better ways is to do the following:

  • Analyse the most prominent sites across the UPSC syllabus in Ancient India
  • Analyse and co-relate it with the last 30 years of Map question asked(analysed below)
  • Finally divide the sites under the key sub-headings from the UPSC paper itself such as Fort city, Educational Sites, Buddhist Site, Neolithic Site, and note down while preparing notes as well as revising as one comes across all along the preparation;
  • In my notes- I also learnt it by dividing the sites State wise (example attached in notes).

Section II:

In this section, the aim is to divide the section of Map into specific categories and relate it with previous year UPSC paper sites; Taking note from table and analysis below, the attempt is to deconstruct the possible areas of significance and sites which remains potentially important for future CSE aspirants. As per previous five years of UPSC paper analysis, following key sub-parts can be classified for Map portion:

Part- I

  • A prehistoric site (2014)
  • Palaeolithic Site
  • Mesolithic Site
  • A Palaeolithic and Mesolithic site (2013) Eg: Sundergarh
  • Neolithic Site
  • Chalcolithic Site (2018) (2017) (2014) (2013) (2012)
  • Megalithic Site (2018) (2016) (2015) (2014)
  • Neolithic-Chalcolithic Site (2017) Eg. (Hallur)
  • Megalithic -Chalcolithic Site (2016) Eg: Adichanallur
  • A Neolithic Megalithic and Chalcolithic site (2013) Eg- Brahmagiri

Part -II

  • Pre-Harappan Site (2013)/ Early Harappan Site (2017) (2018)
  • Harappan Site
  • A late Harappan site


  • A Painted grey ware site (2015)
  • Mahajanapada
  • Buddhist centre (2015) (2016)
  • A Jaina centre
  • A site of Ashokan inscriptions/ Ashokan Rock Edicts
  • Post Mauryan
  • Gupta
  • Post Gupta

Part-IV (very important***)

  • An Ancient Capital Site (2014-18) – every year this is asked ***
  • A cultural centre (2014)/ Political and Cultural centre (2018) (2014) – Sirpur is one of the major example; Hampi
  • An archaeological temple site (2015)/ A Rock-cut temple site/ An ancient temple site
  • A seaport/ A lost port (2014)/Ancient Sea- Port (2015)
  • Rock-cave art centre (2014)/ A Prehistoric cave-painting’s site (2017)/ A rock-cut cave site (2016)/ Cave paintings (2018)/ A site of ancient cave-paintings (2015)/ Historical Rock-cut Caves (2013)

Part -V

Miscellaneous Categories:

  • An educational centre (2016) (2015) – eg: Vikramashila;
  • Early agricultural centre (2018)- eg: Koldihwa
  • Terracotta centre (2018) / A terra-cotta art centre (2016)- eg: Chandraketugarh;
  • Brahmadeya village (2015)- Eg: Uttarmerur, Tamil Nadu
  • An ancient town (2014)- eg: Mathura
  • A historical site (2014)- eg: Maski
  • An important ancient city (2015)- eg: Vidisha
  • An early fortified city (2017)- eg: Sisupalgarh
  • Vaishnava cultural site (2018) eg: Besnagar
  • An inscriptional site (2015) eg: Junagarh
  • An important halting place (2013) Eg: Laghman
  • Site of important fossils (2013) Eg: Hathnora
  • Site related to a famous Indian Philosopher (2013) Eg: Kaladi,Kerala related to Adi Shankaracharya
  • Famous Fort (2013)- Fort St George
  • A religious centre (2012)
  • A post Mauryan town (2012)

Last 100 days between Prelims and Mains- ways to revise:

One of the best ways to revise in the last 3 months when one has to consolidate optional notes, write test series, prepare GS simultaneously, is to have a list of Map sites with clear classified basis such as following:

List of Most Important Sites

Fossil Site

  • Hathnora, M.P
  • Odai, Tamil Nadu

Palaeolithic Site

Part A

  • Lingsugur, Karnataka – First Palaeolithic site,
  • Bhimbetka, M.P, -most famous site;
  • Adamgarh, M.P – prehistoric rock shelter painting; earliest evidence of domestication,

Part B

  • Attirampakkam, Tamil Nadu -lower-middle-upper Paleolithic culture,
  • Ajmer, Rajasthan; lower-middle-upper Paleolithic culture,
  • Gudiyam Cave, Tamil Nadu- Lower-Middle-Upper Paleolithic tools,

Part C

  • Didwana, Rajasthan -Lower to middle Paleolithic age,
  • Hiran Valley, Gujarat -Lower and middle Paleolithic tools,
  • Luni Valley, Rajasthan- Lower to middle Paleolithic age,
  • Dari-Dungari, Odisha – Lower and Middle Paleolithic ,

Part D

  • Paisra, Munger, Bihar – Lower Palaeolithic,
  • Nasik, Maharashtra -Lower Palaeolithic Site,
  • Palghat, Kerala- Lower Palaeolithic Site,
  • Hunsgi, Karnataka- Lower Palaeolithic tools; factory site cum habitation site,

Part E

  • Kalpi, U.P – Middle Paleolithic age,
  • Nevasa, Maharashtra – Middle Paleolithic and factory site
  • Patne/Chalisgaon, Maharashtra -Middle and Upper Paleolithic
  • Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh- Upper Paleolithic site,
  • Renigunta, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh- upper Paleolithic site,
  • Chopani Mando– Belan Valley, U.P – Upper Paleolithic to Neolithic Age,

Mesolithic Site:

Part I:

  • Chopani MandoPaleolithic and Mesolithic – wild rice, animal bones, handmade pottery
  • Sarai Nahar Rai, U.P – Microlith, shells, animal bones
  • Mahadaha, U.P – grave goods; microlith, animal bones
  • Damdama, U.P -domesticated rice
  • Lekhakia, U.P – Burials, microlith

Part II:

  • Paisra, Bihar
  • Birbhanpur, West Bengal – factory site and habitation site; microlith made of quartz
  • Renigunta, Chittoor, A.P
  • Sebalgiril, Meghalaya
  • Sanganakallu, Karnataka- Mesolithic and Neolithic

Part III:

  • Adamgarh, M.P – prehistoric rock shelters; geometric microlith, pottery;
  • Bhimbetka, M.P -Mesolithic rock painting site;

Part IV

  • Langhnaj, Gujarat
  • Loteshwar, Gujarat
  • Ratanpura, Gujarat

Part V

  • Bagor, Rajasthan -Largest Mesolithic site in India,
  • Tilwara, Rajasthan

 Part VI

  • Kuchai, Odisha- Mesolithic and Neolithic
  • Sundargarh, Odisha- Mesolithic cave painting

Neolithic Sites

Part A:


  • Burzahom, J&K – bone industry, burial practice, cultivation of wheat, barley, lentil;
  • Gufkral, Srinagar, J&K- pit dwelling, domesticated sheep’/goat;


  • Kuchai, OdishaMesolithic and Neolithic; Reddish Brown Pottery
  • Golbai Sasan, Odisha


  • Chirand, Bihar – bone industry, apart from Burzhom;
  • Senuwar- Neolithic and Chalcolithic – Wattle and Daub houses; Pottery ; semi-precious beads; domesticated animals


  • Koldihwa, UP – Neolithic to Iron Age; Domesticated as well as wild rice; handmade pottery;
  • Mahagara, Allahabad – Post holes, Pottery, Cattle pen;
  • Sohaguara, U.P


  • Sarutaru, Assam– Handmade pottery- buff and greyware;
  • Daojali Hading, Assam


  • Sangankallu/ Kupgal, KarnatakaNeolithic and Chalcolithic– Wattle and Daub huts with ash mounds
  • Brahmagiri,Karnataka-Wattle and Daub huts, urns burial
  • Piklihal,Karnataka– Ash mound site, cattle rearing; circular as well as wattle and daub rectangular huts; carnelian beads; animal bones
  • Maski, KarnatakaNeolithic-Chalcolithic site – Carnelian beads, animal bones
  • Hallur, Karnataka– Ash mound, animal rearing, round wattle and daub hut, double urn burial, animal bones

Other prominent sites:

  • Pandu Rajar Dhibi, West Bengal– grey ware painted red pottery; stone tools, microlith, bone tools
  • Barudih, Jharkhand
  • Napchik, Manipur
  • Utnur, Telangana – Cattle pen; cattle rearing; earliest Neolithic site of South India; Neolithic and Chalcolithic
  • Paiyampalli– Tamil Nadu – Neolithic and Megalithic Site – ash mound and habitation site

Part B:

  • Mehrgarh, Baluchistan – earliest evidence of agriculture based on wheat, barley, cattle, sheep and goat. Neolithic and Harappan Granary; Mud brick house; Domesticated cattle sheep; Pottery; Terracotta human figurines;
  • Kili Gul Mohammad, Baluchistan– Wattle and Daub houses; handmade pottery; Animal remains of cattle; microlith
  • Amri, Sind– Pre-Harappan Site. Mud brick house; Domestication of cattle; Pottery; Terracotta figurines;
  • Rana Gundai, Pakistan – Pottery; stone and bone tools; domestication of animals;
  • Gumla, Gomal Valley– Domestication of animal; pottery
  • Rehmandheri (Also Pre-Harappan Site) – Neolithic to Indus Civilisation; A large site with fortification; Remains of wheat, barley; Domestication of sheep, cattle; Pottery
  • Mundigak, Afghanistan– Wheel made pottery; Lapis lazuli beads; humped bull terracotta figurine; houses made of sun-baked bricks; wells inside the house.

Other Stone age Sites (in tabular mode)

Pahalgam Ahar Jogadha Singhbhum Singrauli Belan Valley
Sohan Valley T.Narsipur Tekkalkota Bori Nagarjunkonda Puskar

Chalcolithic period

Ahar, Rajasthan Gilund,Rajasthan Kayatha, M.P Eran, M.P
Jorwe, Maharashtra Inamgaon,Maharashtra Nevassa, Maharashtra Daimabad,Maharashtra
Navdatoli, M.P Nasik, Maharashtra Pandu Rajar Dhibi, W.B Mahisdal, W.B
Ganeshwar, M.P Koldihwa, U.P Mahagara Chopani–Mando
Chirand, Bihar Balathal, Rajasthan Atranjikhera, U.P Prabhas Patan, Gujarat


Narhan, U.P


Senaur – Bihar – Neolithic-Chalcolithic


Golbai Sasan, Odisha


Sohgaura, U.P



Megalithic Site:

Burzahom – J&K
Junapani–  Maharashtra
Brahmagiri – Karnataka
Maski – Karnataka
Hallur – Karnataka
Nagarjunakonda – A.P
Adichanallur – Tamil Nadu

Indus Valley Civilisation Sites:

Dholvira, Gujarat– Early, Mature and Late Harappan Alamgirpur, U.P- Eastern most limit of IVC; Harappan pottery  with beads; Balakot,Pakistan- Early Harappan Amri, Sind- Early and Mature Harappan Banawali, Haryana
Gumla,Pakistan- Early and Mature Harappan Bhiranna, Haryana- Mature Harappan Chanhudaro, Sindh- Bead making factory; Daimabad, Maharashtra- late Harappan site; Desalpur, Gujarat- Mature Harappan phase;
Kalibangan, Rajasthan– Early Harappan, Harappan and Mature Harappan Mohanjodaro, Sind- Great Bath, great granary;bronze dancing girl; Early  & Mature Harappan Kot Diji, Pakistan- Early and Mature Harappan Harappa, Pakistan- Early and Mature Harappan; H type cemetery; Lothal, Gujarat- artificial brick dockyard; cultivation of rice
Rehman Dheri, Pakistan- Early Harappan Rakhigarhi, Haryana- Early Harappan Shortugai, Afghanistan- Lapis Lazuli bead; pottery. Sutkagendor, Baluchistan- fortification wall; Ropar, Punjab- Burial system; pottery


Other prominent sites:


  • Allahadino, Rana Ghundai, Mehargarh, Killi Gul Mohammad, Nal(Balochistan), Soktakoh (Balochistan), Dabar Kot(Balochistan)– Pakistan
  • Jhukar– Sindh- (Late Harappan Site)
  • Mundigak– Afghanistan

Part II

  • Rangpur, Somnath, Rojdi, Surkotada, Bhagatrav– Gujarat
  • Badgaon, Balathal– Rajasthan
  • Akhnoor– Jammu and Kashmir
  • Bahawalpur– Punjab
  • Kunal, Bhagwanpura– Haryana


Painted Grey Ware Sites:

Adichannallur Ahar Amri Ahichhatra– U.P; Largest PGW site; Alamgirpur
Atranjikhera Gilund Bahawalpur-Pakistan Bhagwanpura (Haryana) Lal Qila
Hastinapur– U.P Jakhera Kampilya– U.P Kausambi– U.P Mathura– U.P
Ropar (Punjab) Sanghol (Punjab) Sravasti– U.P Noh (Rajasthan) Pandu–Rajar Dhibi, W.B

Northern Black Polished Ware Sites

Taxila,Pakistan- capital of Gandhara kingdom; major trade centre and part of Uttarapatha; Sravasti, U.P (NBPW & PGW)- capital of North Kosala; fortification; copper and iron objects; Kaushambi, U.P (also important halting place) Pataliputra, Bihar(capital of Mauryas, Shungas and Guptas); Trade and commerce centre; Vaishali, Bihar- Capital of Lichchhavis and Vajji confederacy) in 6th century BCE; Ashokan Pillar with single lion
Rajgir, Bihar- first capital of Magadha Mahajanapada; first Buddist council; important centre for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus- NBPW; Amravati, A.P- NBPW, BRW Chandraketugarh, W.B- NBPW, terracotta beads and punched marked coins and it is terracotta manufacturing site. Tamralipti, W.B- most important sea port and emporium of trade in Eastern India; Roulette ware and Red Polished Ware; Ropar, Punjab(PGW and NBPW site); punch marked coins and cast copper coins; houses made of burnt bricks;
Hastinapur, U.P- BRW, PGW and NBPW- Capital of Kuru; elaborate drainage; punch marked coins; terracotta figurines Prabhas-Patan, Gujarat & Noh, Rajasthan Sisupalgarh, Odisha – fortified centre; NBPW, Rouletted ware, BRW; Terracotta and stone beads; Ahichchhatra (BRW, PGW and NBPW site); discovery of coins Atranjikhera (BRW, PGW and BPW site); use of burnt bricks;


Buddhist Sites:

Lumbini Bodhgaya Sarnath Kushinagar Sravasti
Rajgir Sankissa Amravati Nagarjunakonda Bharhut
Lalitgiri(Orrisa) Sanchi Vikramshila Sanghol Kanganahalli (Karnataka)
Ajanta Ellora  


Jaina Sites

Shravan Belagola(Karnataka) Dilwara Temple(Rajasthan) Palitana (Gujarat) Shikarji Temple(Parasnath)
Kumbharia(Gujarat) Sitanavassal(Tamil Nadu)  



Ahhichhatra Anga Avanti Ayodhaya
Banaras Asmaka Champa Chedi
Girivraja Indraprastha Kamboja Gandhara
Kashi Kausambi Kosala Kampilya
Kushinagar Magadha Mahismati Kuru
Matsya Panchala Pavapuri Malla
Sarnath Sravasti Rajgir Pratishthana(modern Paithan)
Purushapura(Peshawar) Sahet-Mahet Ujjain Vaishali
Viratanagara(modern Bairat) Vajji Surasena Taxila
Alexandria Vatsa  


Ashoka Sites

Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka

Mansehra and Shahbazgarhi (Pakistan)- written in Prakrit language and Kharosthi script,- Northern extent of Mauryan empire.
Kandahar/Shar-i-kuna (Afghanistan)- Only Rock edict XII and XIII,
Kalsi (Uttarakhand)- Presence of Royal Elephant; All 14 rock edict;Major trading centre,
Girnar (Gujarat)- Mentions principles of Dhamma; Also Rudradaman and Skandagupta,
Sopara (Maharashtra) -also seaport and town; Only Rock edict VIII and IX,
Dhauli (Odisha)- Seprate Rock edict I and II replace major rock edicts 11-13,
Jaugada(Odisha)- also a trade centre,
Yerraguddi (Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh)- Both Major and Minor edicts of Ashoka,
Sannati(Karnataka) – It also has special rock edicts I and II- like Dhauli,

Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka

Bairat -Rajasthan(along with Bhabru edict)
Sasaram– Bihar
Rupnath– M.P
Gavimath– Karnataka
Brahmagiri– Karnataka
Nittur -Karnataka
Udegolam– Karnataka
Laghman– Afghanistan

Pillar Edicts of Ashoka

Allahabad-Kaushambi (Pillar Edict I-VI)
Delhi-Topra (Pillar Edict I-VII)
Lauriya Nandangarh, West Champaran, Bihar – Monolithic
Lauriya Araraj, East Champaran, Bihar
Rampurva (Pillar Edict I-VII)
Kandahar, Afghanistan (Edict XII and XIII)
Nigali-Sagar, Nepal

Other important Ashoka inscriptions for famine relief

  • Sohguara- Gorakhpur – Uttar Pradesh
  • Mahasthan – Bangladesh
Ujjain Jatinga Rameshwar(Karnataka) Palkigundu – Mysore (Karnataka) Chandraketugarh
Patliputra/Kumrahar Sankisa Sanchi(UP) Taxila
Sarnath(UP) Siddapura(Karnataka)  

Post Mauryan Site:

Mathura, U.P Sialkot (Sakala), Pakistan

Gupta Period Site:

Deogarh Tigwa Udaigiri Sarnath
Bhittari Nalanda Bhitargaon  

Ancient Capitals

Agra Ahmadnagar Ajmer- Chauhans Berar Bidar
Bijapur Bundelkhand Delhi Devagiri Golkunda
Gulbarga Bidar Khandesh Malwa Jaunpur
Uraiyur– Early Cholas Vallabhi– Maitraka Halebid/Dwarsamudra-Hoyasala Kannauj– Harshvardhan(Pushyabhuti dynasty) Thanesar-Pushyabhuti
ManyakhetaRashtrakutas Kapilvastu– Sakya Pataliputra-Magadha Rajgir/Girivraj– Magadha Hampi-Vijayanagara


Champa– Anga Paithan– Satavahana Ujjain– Avanti Vatapi/Badami– Chalukyas Vengi– Eastern Chalukyas
Thanjavur/ Tanjore– Cholas Vijayanti– Kadambas Kanchipuram-Pallavas Sialkot/Sakala – Bactrian-Indo-Greek Varanasi– Kashi Mahajanpada
Shravasti– North Kosala Peshawar/Purushpura– Kushans Vaishali– Shishunaga Kushinagar– Malla Kaushambi– Vatsa
Indraprastha– Kuru Ahichchhatra– North Panchala Kampilya – Dakshin Panchala Viratnagara– Matsya Mathura– Shurasenas
Mahismati– Avanti Taxila– Gandhara Amravati/Dharnikota– Satavahanas Korkai– Pandyas Madurai– Pandyas


Inscription Sites:

Junagarh(Gujarat)- Rudradaman and Skandagupta Mehrauli Inscription/Garuda Pillar- Chandragupta Vikramaditya
Allahabad Pillar /Prayag Prasasti – Samudragupta/Harisena Nasik Inscription- Gautamiputra Satakarni
Nanaghat Inscription -Pune(Maharashtra) Aihole(Karnataka) – Pulakeshin II/Ravikirti
Hathigumpha Inscription- Udayagiri(Orrisa)- Kharavela Mandsaur(M.P) inscription-Kumargupta
Lumbini Pillar Inscription Eran(M.P) Pillar Inscription- Sati evidence-Gupta period.
Uttaramerur Inscription, Tamil Nadu- Cholas


Besnagar(M.P) Pillar Inscription- Heliodorus(Greek ambassador) -Sunga period


Rock Cut Cave/Cave Paintings

Lakhudiyar, Uttarakhand
Piklihal, Karnataka
Tekkalakota, Karnataka
Bhimbetka, M.P

Bagh Caves, M.P

Barabar Caves, Bihar
Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
Kondane Caves, Maharashtra
Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Nasik/Pandavleni Caves, Maharashtra
Kanheri Caves, Maharashtra
Karle Caves, Maharashtra
Sittanavasal, Tamil Nadu
Armamalai Caves, Tamil Nadu
Edakkal caves, Kerala


Ancient Ports

Part I

  • Dwarka, Gujarat
  • Broach, Gujarat
  • Lothal, Gujarat

Part II

  • Sopara, Maharastra
  • Muziris, Kerala
  • Tamralipti – West Bengal
  • Arikamedu- Puducherry

Part III

  • Puhar (Kaveripattinam)- Tamil Nadu
  • Korkai, Tamil Nadu,


Ancient Cities and Trade Sites:


  • Taxila– Capital of Gandhara; Capital of northern province under Mauryas; Major trade centre and part of Uttarapatha
  • Mahastangarh, Bangladesh

Part II

  • Vaishali- Capital of both Lichchavis and Vajji Confederacy in 6thC ; Republic; Second Buddhist council; Buddha’s last sermon; Capital of Shishunaga dynasty;
  • Sambhar, Rajasthan– capital of Chahamanas; coins from Kushans and Indo-Greeks; Beads and terracotta figurines from Shunga and Gupta period have been found;
  • Muziris, Kerala- ancient seaport, urban centre on Malabar coast; Finds mention in Sangam Literature; trade relation with Persia, Egypt, Greeks, Roman empire; Important site under Cheras.

Part III

  • Vidisha, Besnagar, M.P- Western capital of Shungas – important trade centre connecting North India with Deccan and Western ports; pillar inscription
  • Tripuri, M.P- Capital of Kalchuri – 7th and 8th century AD; Mahajanapadas

Part IV

  • Tamluk, West Bengal- trade contacts with Rome.
  • Chandraketugarh, West Bengal – NBPW, punch marked coins, terracotta beads, coins, trade;

Part V

  • Atranjikhera, U.P
  • Shravasti– U.P – Capital of North Kosala; Buddhist site; also called Sahet-Mahet; Uttarapatha Network;
  • Mathura, U.P- Capital of Shurasenas; centre of Buddhism and Vaishnavism; Second capital of Kushanas; Mathura School of Art; Part of Uttarapatha

Part VI

  • Shishupalgarh– Bhubhaneshwar, Odisha- NBPW, Rouletted ware, BRW
  • Jaugada– Odisha – Ashoka rock edict and Kalinga edict; town centre from Mauryan age and bead making centre

Part VII

  • Nagarjunakonda, A.P: Capital of Ikshvaku dynasty in 3rd and 4th century AD; centre of Buddhism ; also an important economic centre
  • Amaravati, A.P – second capital of Satavahanas- was a major Buddhist centre and Mahachaitya Stupa; Sri Amaralingeswara Swamy temple;


  • Tagara/Ter, Maharashtra: Trade centre during Saka-Satavahana period and lay on route connecting eastern Deccan to Broach; Both commercial and Religious centre;
  • Kalyan, Maharashtra- important trading centre;

Part IX

  • Madurai, Tamil Nadu- capital of Pandyas from 3rd century BCE. ; First and third Sangam held here; Mentioned by Kautilya and Megasthenes; Meenakshi Amman temple located here; Seat of Tamil Literature and learning;
  • Korkai, Tamil Nadu- Port under Pandyas; Pearls in Sangam and Greek accounts; centre of pearl fishing;
  • Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu- Capital of Pallavas; Religious centre; Vaikuntha Perumal temple; Silk industrial centre;
  • Puhar, Tamil Nadu- Chief port of early Cholas, mentioned in Sangam literature; Trade links with Romans in 1st century AD; Buddhist centre and a temple from Chola period;
  • Uraiyur, Tamil Nadu- Capital of early Cholas- mentioned in Ashokan inscription and Satavahana inscriptions;

Temple Sites:

Part -I

  • Martand, Kashmir – Karakota dynasty- dedicated to Martand, the Sun -God;
  • Rock Cut temple, Masrur- Himachal Pradesh– Monolithic; dedicated to Shiva
  • Khajuraho Temple Complex- M.P – Chandella dynasty; Hinduism and Jainism; Chausath Yogini temple is dedicated to Tantric Worship- Nagara Style of Temple
  • Laxman Temple, Sirpur, Chattisgarh
  • Pushkar, Ajmer, Rajasthan- Also mentioned in Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas
  • Kamakhya temple – Assam
  • Dashavtara Temple, Deogarh, Lalitpur, U.P- pachatantra style of temple- Vishnu temple;



  • Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat- Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki -1026 AD
  • Somnath/Prabhas patan – Gujarat- Shore temple- Bhimdev of Solanki

Part -III

  • Sun temple, Konark, Odisha- Narsimhadeva-I, Ganga dynasty
  • Bhubhaneshwar, Odhisha- Kalinga period- Parasuramesvar temple; Lingaraj temple;


  • Pattadakal, Karnataka- Chalukya; blending of Rekha, Nagara, Prasada, Dravida Vimana style of temple architecture; Sangamesvara, virupaksha and Mallikarjuna temples;
  • Badami, Karnataka– Brahmanical and Jaina centre


  • Madurai, Tamil Nadu- Meenakshi temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, important cultural and commercial centre and capital of Pandya kings;
  • Thanjavur, TamilNadu – Brihadeshwara temple, Cholas; Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva; also cultural site for paintings;
  • Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu- Pallavas Ratha monuments, mandapas, giant open reliefs such as famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’; also Shore temples; also trading site with South- East Asia
  • Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu – Centre of learning for Tamil, during Sangam age and then Pallavas; Also religious centre for Buddhism and Jainism; Educational Centre; important commercial centre during Satavahanas
  • Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam– Tamil Nadu- Vaishnav temple; Dravidian architecture

Education Centres:

Part- I

  • Taxila, Pakistan– Capital of Gandhara in 600 B.C; Major trade centre and part of Uttarapatha; Part of Silk road; University site and learning centre; Chanakya, Panini, Charaka, Jivaka were graduates; Fahien and Hieun tsang visited it;
  • Somapura University, Bangladesh– Established by Dharampala during 8th century AD; major Buddhist learning centre; also, Jainism and Sanatana Dharma;

Part- II

  • Nalanda, Bihar– University was established by Kumaragupta during 5th century AD; destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji; had residential quarters;
  • Vikramshila, Bihar– established by Dharampala of Pala dynasty in 8th century AD; training in Tantra; also famous for teaching in Grammar, Logic and Philosophy;

Part- III

  • Vallabhi, Gujarat– 600 AD. Under reign of Maitraka dynasty; centre of Buddhist learning; Taught secular subjects like politics, administration and agriculture;
  • Pushpagiri University, Odisha– established in Kalinga in 3rd century AD; prominent centres of higher education in Ancient India. Hsien Tsang visited in 639 AD.
  • Ujjain, M.P– Major centre of linguistics, astronomy, astrology, arithmetic and classical arts; Kalidas and Ashoka learnt from this centre;
  • Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu– Centre of learning for Tamil and Sanskrit; Sangam Age; Also religious centre of advanced education for Jainism and Buddhism between 1st and 5th century AD; Capital of Pallavas (6th-8th century AD); Very important cultural centre during Satavahanas.

Fort Cities:


  • Chittor, Rajasthan- Capital of Mewar (till it was shifted to Udaipur)
  • Kumabalgarh, Rajasthan
  • Ranthambore, Rajasthan


  • Penukonda, A.P – also Jain pilgrimage site
  • Golconda, Telangana Fort St George, Chennai
  • Fort St William, Kolkatta
  • Mandu, M.P, capital of Malwa
  • Agra, P

Early Medieval Sites

Konark Martand(Kashmir) Mandasor Aihole(Ladhkhan temple)
Modhera(Gujarat) Multan  


Medieval Sites

Ucch Chandawar Chausa Ghagra Gadakatang Sirhind Samugarh
Khanwa Kannauj Karnal Anhilwara Ahmadnagar Asirgarh  

Section III: Previous Year Paper Analysis

In this section the intent is to analyse the papers along two dimensions:

  • Previous 5 years pattern after it has begun asking thematic sites under categories aforementioned earlier; The papers can be downloaded here – (attached)
  • Last 29 years of Site analysis where UPSC gave directly names of different historical sites through which we can understand the significance and prominent areas of questions and rationale of asking those sites repeatedly (Eg: Fatehpur Sikri, Sirpur, Kanchipuram)

Let us have a look at the exact areas which UPSC has asked questions in the last five years:

2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
Megalithic burial site A Prehistoric cave-painting’s site  A Mesolithic site A Neolithic site


An ancient capital


Chalcolithic site A Neolithic-Chalcolithic site  A Neolithic site A Neolithic site


A Palaeolithic site


Cave paintings An Early Harappan site  A Megalithic Chalcolithic site A Harappan site


A cultural centre


Paleolithic site A Harappan site A Neolithic site A Megalithic site


An Ancient capital.


Political and Cultural centre An ancient capital site  A Neolithic site A Harappan site


A Palaeolithic site


Terracotta centre A Painted grey ware site A Megalithic site A painted-Grey-ware site A historical site


Harappan site A Neolithic site A site known for Buddhist remains An inscriptional site A Harappan site


Vaishnava cultural site A site of Ashokan inscriptions A Harappan site An important ancient city An ancient capital


Painted Grey Ware site  An ancient port and trade centre A Harappan site An ancient port


A political and cultural centre


Chalcolithic site A Harappan Site A Harappan site A site of ancient cave-paintings Megalithic site


 Early agricultural centre A Chalcolithic site A Neolithic site A Buddhist site


A Mesolithic site


Early Harappan site An ancient capital city A Harappan site An educational centre A Chalcolithic site


An ancient temple A Rock-cut cave site A capital city Brahmadeya village A prehistoric site


Political and Cultural centre  An early fortified city A rock-cut cave site An ancient capital A political and cultural centre


 An ancient sea port A Rock-cut temple site A late Harappan site An ancient capital An ancient capital
Buddhist centre  An ancient temple site  An educational centre A temple site


A lost port


 Inscriptional site An ancient capital city  A terra-cotta art centre An ancient capital Rock-cave art centre
 An ancient capital An ancient temple site A seaport An ancient sea-port An ancient capital
A Jaina centre A Palaeolithic site A capital city An archaeological temple site A political and cultural centre
An ancient capital  An ancient capital city A capital city. Harappan site


An ancient town

2013 2012
A Palaeolithic and Mesolithic site A prehistoric site
 A Mesolithic site A Chalcolithic site
An important halting place A religious centre
A Pre-Harappan site A prehistoric site
An important Harappan site An art centre
Site of important fossils A prehistoric site
A Sea-port An art centre
A Palaeolithic site A port
 A Neolithic Megalithic and Chalcolithic site A capital town
A Harappan site A prehistoric site
 A Palaeolithic site A post Mauryan town
 A Neolithic site An art centre
A Chalcolithic site A prehistoric site
A Chalcolithic site A Chalcolithic site
A site of Buddhist Monastery A Chalcolithic site
 Painted Grey Ware site A Chalcolithic site
Site related to a famous Indian Philosopher A prehistoric site
 Historical Rock-cut Caves An art centre
Famous Fort A Chalcolithic site
Capital of famous Kingdom A Chalcolithic site

Part-II: 2011-1979

Some of the important sites asked by UPSC between 2011-1979


Chirand Basohli Lalitgiri Mandu


Samugarh Vikramasila
Halebid Sanghol Sirpur Kibbanhalli Jorwe Badaun


Korkai Eran Rakhigarhi Birbhanpur Sannati Tripuri
Dhanyakataka Junnar Edakkal Paithan Pandu Rajar Dhibi  
Karle Vatapi Multan Bairat Chanhudaro  


Koldihwa Kuchai Utnar Patne
Semthan Bagasra Balatha Hallur
Kandahar Ter Uchh Gyaraspur
Uttaramerur Lalkot Sittanavasal Mansura
Jaunpur Daojali Hading Machilipatnam Mahisadal


Burzahom Banawali Ahar Girnar Chandraketugarh Brahmagiri Bayana Muziris
Tamralipti Modhera Devnimori Bundi Gingee(jinjee) Sasaram Mahasthamgarh  


Kot diji Kalibangan Ahicchatra Bhimbaitka Kanauj Siddapura Udayagiri
Sisupalgarh Anuradhapura Hampi Haldighati Golconda Chittagong Kaveripoompattinam


Taxila Talikota Somnath Nalanda Tanjore Amber Chanderi Arikmedu
Nagarjunakonda Kaibangan Eran Pattadakal Halebid Konark Mandu  
Murshidabad Dvasamudra  


Mohenjodaro Burzahom Inamgaon Sannathi Kaveripattinam Sisupalgarh
Anuradhapura Chittagong Chittoor Pratishthana Vidisa Hampi
Warangal Bijapur Seringapatam Debal Fatehpur Sikri Sasaram


Achichhatra Amaravati Bhimbetka Champa Kalibangan Kanauj
Kapilvastu Karle Mahabalipuram Mathura Mehrgarh Paithan
Pataliputra Sarnath Siddapura Somnath Tamralipti Taxila
Tripuri Udaigiri  


Kot Diji Banavali Mathura Tiruclirapalli Tamralipti Vaisali
Kundagrama Puri Ujjain Badami Sarnath Amaravati
Somnath Kolhapur Nagarjunkonda Golconda Haldighati  


Ajanta Bodh Gaya Varanasi Dholavira Dwarka Girnar
Hastinapur Kanchipuram Kosambi Madurai Thaneswar Mohanjodaro
Nalanda Purushpur Ropar Sanchi Sravanbelgola Sravasti


Ajmer Ahmednagar Allahabad Badami Bhubaneshwar Chittor
Lothal Elephanta Ellora Harappa Indraprastha Jagannathpuri
Kalyan Kaveripattanam  


Amritsar Arikamedu Bharukachha Bhaja Gangotri Jaugada
Jhansi Kalsi Kanchivaram Kanheri Kumrahar Konark
Mathura Madurai Nalanda Nasik Palitana Rajagriha
Udayagiri-Khandagiri Uchh Ujjain Valabhi Vidisha Vaishali


Amber Kanyakubj Bijapur Kundalvan Khajuraho Dwarka
Badrinath Chidamberum Bairat Jaisalmer Takshila Burhanpur
Bhitargaon Nalanda Sripur Pataliputra Fatehpur Sikri Warangal


Aihole Amaravati Besnagar Bhagawanpura Bhrigukachchha Dholavira
Valabhi Daimabad Inamgaon Kalinganagar Kanheri Karle
Kausambi Kayatha Kili-Ghul Mohammad Uraiyur Kot Diji Ujjayini
Kushinagar Mamallapuram Maski Mehargarh Prayag Pushkalava
Sarnath Tekkalakotta Topra  


Amarkot Asirgarh Aurangabad Belur Burhanpur
Chanderi Chandernagore Golkunda Jhansi Janjira
Jaunpur Junagarh Kanchi Kandahar Kannauj
Vatapi Kaveripattinam Konark Multan Mursidabad
Nagpur Nasik Puri Vengi Ratnagiri
Satara Talikota Tiruchirapalli  


Ajmer Attock Benares Uttaramerur Champaner Cutch
Daulatabad Delhi Devagiri Diu Thatta Ellora
Ghazni Ghor Gwalior Hampi Hissar Jodhpur
Kabul Thaneswar Khyber Pass Warangal Lahore Peshawar
Rameswaram Ranthambore Sialkot  


Ahmadnagar Anhilwara Daman Balasore Bayana Bidar
Chinsura Chittor Gaur Raichur Kishangarh Gangaikondacholapuram
Madurai Mandu Patan Orchha Pandharpur Panipat
Sirohi Somnath Tirhut  


Akhnur Arikamedu Barabar Bagh Bhumra Bodh
Gaya Bhagatav Chandraketugrah Harappa Elephanta Eran
Sutkagendor Martand Maski Mehendragiri Karle Mohenjodaro
Piprahwa Tigwa Sanghol Sisupalgarh Sirpur Sonkh


Chunar Gingee Golconda Janjira Kalpi Khajuraho
Konark Mandasor Modhera Pandua Pulicat Puri
Raigarh Sringeri Talikota      


Aihole Alamgirpur Amaravati Anuradhapura Badami Bhagwanpura
Girnar Jaugada Kausambi Khandgiri Udayagiri Kusinagara Kot Diji
Vidisa Lumbini Mahabalipuram Nalanda Pratisthana Purushapura
Rajagriha Ratnagiri Sanathi Sittannavasal Sravasti Sravanbelgola
Sultanganj Surkotda Takshasila Valabhi  


Amber Anhilwara Asirgarh Bayana Bijapur Burhanpur
Cambay Champaner Chanderi Daulatabad Fathehpur Sikri Tarain
Gaur Gulbarga Halebid Hampi Jalor Kabul
Kanauj Surat Multan Murshidabad Tanjore Sirhind


Ahmadnagar Badaun Bidar Chunar Gangaikonda- cholapuram
Jaunpur Junagadh kalyani Kanhwa Warangal Mandu
Masulipatam Thatta Sasaram Trichinopoly Srirangapatnam Talakad


Ahichhatra Atranjikhera Ayodhya Brahmagiri Burzahom Dhauli
Dwarka Hastinapur Kalibangan Kanchipuram Kapilavastu Khajuraho
Lothal Madurai Nagaijunikonda Paithan Pragyotishpur Puskalavati
Sanchi Sarnath Vengi Tamralipti Tanjore Thaneswar
Vaisali Vatapi  


Amarkot Attock Bijapur Cambay Calicut Chanderi
Tanjore Rameshwaram Tarain Dvarasamudra Fatehpur Sikri Talikota
Goa Golkunda Gulbarga Hampi Jodhpur Kalpi
Kanauj Kangra Masulipatnam Multan Pondicherry Raichur


Aihole Amaravati Arikmedu Bairat Banawali Bodh-Gaya
Burzahom Deogarh Daimabad Elephanta Ellora Eran
Hastinapur Kausambi Konarak Lauriya- Nandangarh Vikramasila Mahabalipuram
Maski Mathura Nalanda Nasik Navdatoli Piprahwa
Rajagriha Ropar Sankisa Sopara Tamralipti Vidisha


Agra Ahmadnagar Anhilwara Attock Bidar Cambay
Champaner Chittor Chunar Daultabad Dvarasamudra Gaur
Gwalior Jaunpur Kalinjar Warangal Madura Mandu
Panipat Rameshwaram Ranthambhor Sarhind Sasaram Sailkot
Surat Tanjore Thatta Ujjain Vijayanagara  


Ajanta Atranjikhera Ayodhya Bharhut Dhauli Ganjam
Gaya Gwalior Harappa Junagadh Kalibangan Kapilavastu
Kanyakubja Khajuraho Lothal Manyakheta Mathura Multan
Nagarjunikonda Prayaga Rameshwaram Sakala Sravana Belgola Vengi
Vikramsila Tanjore Taxila Ujjain Vaisali  


Ahmedabad Ajmer Aurangabad Bikaner Baroda Calicut
Cutch Deogiri Fatehpur Sikri Bassein Gulbarga Halebid
Hospet Tirupati Jaisalmer Jodhpur Kalyan Udaipur
Warangal Somnath Murshidabad Nasik Panjim Raichur
Rameshwaram Shravan Belgola  


Amaravati Arikamedu Avanti Bedsa Belur Bhrigukachha
Dwarka Elephanta Halebid Kanchipuram Kaushambi Kurukshetra
Lothal Madurai Mahabalipuram Maski Nagarjunkonda Nalanda
Nasik Pataliputra Pratishthana Rajagriha Rupar Sanchi
Sarnath Shravasti Sopar Tamralipti Varanasi Vatapi


Agra Ahmednagar Ajmer Attock Bidar
Bijapur Ujjain Surat Chittor Talikota
Tanjavur Dabhol Daulatabad Fatehpur Sikri Raigarh
Gingee Golconda Gwalior Hampi Janjiar
Jaunpur Mandu Multan Panipat Pune


Ahichchatra Aihole Bamiyan Bharukachcha Bodhgaya Chanhudaro
Ellora Girnar Hastinapura Kalibangan Kausambi Madurai
Mahishmati Muziris Nagarjunakonda Poompuhar Purushapura Rajgir
Shabazgarhi Sopara Sravanabelgola Sravasti Tamralipti Thanesar
Tosali Ujjain Vaisali Vatapi Vidisa  


Amber Ahmadnagar Badami Bassein Bidar
Chanderi Chittor Arikamedu Devagiri Gaur
Halebid Jinji Burzahom Dvarasamudra Nalanda
Nagarjunakonda Nasik Pattadakal Eran Purandar Fort
Gulbarga Sasaram Sikandara Tanjore Kausambi
Mamallapuram Kalibangan  


Avanti Asirgarh Amaravati Aihole Brahmagiri
Fatehpur Sikri Warangal Golkonda Gangaikondacholapuram Hampi
Kapilavastu Kanauj Kanchipuram Takshashila Daulatabad
Paithan Panipat Ranthambhor Ropar Samugarh
Tamralipti Jaunpur Lothal Murshidabad Salsette
Talikota Somnath Kalinjar Mandu  

One of the most effective ways to use the above listed sites is to understand the rationale and the pattern as to why has been a particular site asked, the historical significance of the site, the period associated with it, and the basis of being in the 20 prominent sites.

This brings me to end my analysis of Map section with stratified/simplified insights, analysis and information – all at one place for the readers to not digress and be lost/confused about sources, approach or content;

End Note:

I hope, with this post, many of the History optional beginners will now not have to unnecessarily worry about a section which otherwise do not make us – (a group of history optional takers) happy about preparation as a whole.

I also want to emphasise that even if this post helps you prepare 17 to 18 sites with lot of confidence, assertion and clarity and helps concentrate only on focussing on practising /plotting/ marking on the provided outline map instead of worrying about classification, sources, arrangement and map section as a whole.

Finally, if all our energies can be then directed towards reading and handling the remaining syllabus which requires

  • Content enrichment (ancient India and early medieval India)
  • Effective answer writing and presentation
  • Reading the best sources and ensuring 300+ is an interesting journey;

In my next post, the attempt is to analyse the remaining part of Paper-1, which involves

  • Subjective syllabus of Ancient and Early Medieval Indian History
  • Medieval India (12th century to mid-18th century)

Until, next time.

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