SYNOPSIS [31st January,2022] Day 1: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)

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  • February 1, 2022
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TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing, Yesterday's Synopsis
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SYNOPSIS [31st January,2022] Day 1: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)


1. You and your friends decided to take a cultural trip across India. In your incredible journey, you visited three important cities – Varanasi, Ujjain, and Rameshwaram. In all these cities, temples were the main attraction for your group. Please describe the differences you would have noticed in the design and architecture of the temples belonging to these cities?  (10 Marks)


Candidates need to address the difference between temples Varanasi, Ujjain and Rameswaram. With keeping in mind geographical historical background styles and different schools of temple architecture candidates can highlight the difference between temples. 


The temples in India developed in every region of the country, often the geographical, climatic, ethnic, racial, historical and linguistic aspects of the region had a greater part to play in shaping the style of the temples in India which can be noticed in Varanasi, Ujjain and Rameswaram. 



  • Built by multiple patrons near and far rather than a singular local dynasty, Banaras’s temples present a compelling case study for exploring the mobility of objects, patrons, and artisans, and the negotiations between local and transregional forms. Whereas in Ujjain and Rameswaram mostly local dynasty has build temples. 
  • The ghats line the Ganges River as immense staircases that build from the edge of the river to the sky is totally different from Ujjain and Rameswaram. From the top, there are idyllic views of the sunrise and sunset. Cremations take place at the top of the ghat as well which is an unique in India. 
  • The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most famous religious tourist attraction of the city. In addition, the Bharat Mata Temple, Durga Temple, Tulsi Manas Temple, and the Archaeological Museum. 
  • Some patrons brought their distinctive regional styles and building methods, seen in the wood and brick “Nepali temple” (1842), sponsored by the Nepalese royal family and modeled after the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. 
  • The most important attraction of Varanasi – Ganga aarti can be witnessed on the Dashashwamedh Ghat daily at dusk. It is considered as the most spectacular ghat filled with tourists, monks, Men, Women, and children celebrating the water. This type of arti and reverence cannot be noticed in other part of India. 
  • In Varanasi most amazing aspect of this temple is that it has been destructed and re-constructed many times in history which is different from Ujjain and Rameswaram. 


  • Ujjain has been the Prime Meridian for Hindu geographers since the 4th century BC. Ujjain has been an excellent center for study and research based on River Kshipraa. 
  • Ujjain has many religious and ancient monuments. However many of these shrines are still in use and are modified since time to time. This has reduced the ancient appeal from the shrines as compared to Varanasi and Rameswaram. 
  • Built in Bhumija, Chalukya and Maratha styles of architecture, the temple is an architectural marvel. Of note are its marble walkways that were restored in the latter half of the 19th century by the Scindias.
  • Ujjain has notable monuments of the region are Sandipani Ashram, Mahakal Temple, Avanti Parshwanath, Kaal Bhairav, Nava Graha Mandir. Mostly based on nagara style of architecture. 


  • One of the four pilgrimage places, Char Dham of India, it modestly invites followers of Lord Shiva from everywhere to pay visit at least once in their lifetime. 
  • Rameshwaram Island being associated with the legendry temple built in marvelous Dravidian style of architecture.
  • Many gopurum structures can be noticed. There are two gopurams, one located in the East and one located in the West. The one in the East is 78 feet high with five tiers. The one in the West is 126 feet high and has nine tiers and is known as rajagopuram.
  • The material used for reconstruction of the temple was mainly granite. Granite stones according to historical records were shipped to this island that date far back to 1414 CE.
  • The town has been changed many hands; main amongst them were Cholas, Jaffna Kingdom, Allaudin Khilji (Malik Kafur), Pandya Dynasty, Vijayanagara Empire, followed by some other rulers who ruled the town for a very short while before British East India Company directly took over it and made it a part of Madras Presidency.
  • The bridge to Lanka named ‘Rama Set u’, also known as Adam’s Bridge is of religious as well as ecological importance. 


Temples depict the deities in human form in such a way that the divine is brought from abstraction to accessibility, and even intimacy. It takes devotee on journey towards knowledge and realisation of formless eternal. 

2. When your friend from the US visits you in India, she is mesmerized to see the Kathakali dance performed by local dancers of Kerala. She is wondering as to what do the colours of the face make up mean and what the premise of the dance is. How would you explain these to her? Discuss. (10 Marks)


Candidates need to directly address the question with giving simple introduction on the kathakali and then write features and explain the symbolism of face and dance expression and colours involved in the kathakali has.


Kathakali originated as part of the bhakti movement and is believed to have been performed by soldiers of the kingdom, as the plays were written by a prince himself. Kathakali is a blend of dance, music and acting and dramatizes stories, which are mostly adapted from the Indian epics and it is one of the eight classical dances of India. 


Colours of face make up:

  • Kathakali dancer emphasizes on their facial expressions instead to depict various emotions. Here body movements are specifically controlled.
  • While most other dance forms like Bharatnatyam and Odissi focus on hand gestures and body postures. 
  • Some characters have a green face representing heroic or excellence as a warrior with red dots or lines on their cheeks or red-coloured moustache or red-streaked beard representing evil inner nature, while others have a full face and beard coloured red, the latter implying excessively evil characters.
  • The characters in Kathakali fall into certain broad categories distinguished by their typical make-up. 
  • The face of the artist is painted over to appear as though a mask is worn. The lips, the eyelashes and the eyebrows are made to look prominent. A mixture of rice paste and lime is applied to make the chutti on the face which highlights the facial make-up.

Premise of dance:

  • Kathakali is typically structured around ‘Attakatha’ meaning the story of attam or dance. 
  • ‘Attakatha’ are plays that were historically derived from Hindu epics like ‘Bhagavata Purans’, ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’ which were written in certain format that allows one to determine the dialogue portions that is the Pada part and the action portions that is the Shloka part of the performance. 
  • The make-up code followed in ‘Kathakali’ conventionally typifies the characters of the acts categorising them as gods, goddesses, saints, animals, demons, and demonesses among others. 
  • The most popular stories are Nala Charitam, Duryodhana Vadham, Kalyanasowgandhikam, Keechaka Vadham, Kiratham, Karna and Shapadham. 
  • However recently, stories from other cultures, such as the story of Mary Magdalene from the Bible, and Shakespeare’s King Lear have also been adapted into Kathakali scripts to popularise the art.


Based on geographical locations, traditions, rituals many forms of dance have originated over time each having its uniqueness. Even though all might have different forms and emotions they show similar theme of devotion to Almighty, Culture, Heritage etc. Kathakali is one such cultural dance mostly adapted from the Indian epics.

Q 3. Have you ever thought about the lifestyle of the people belonging to the Harappa civilisation? If you were to describe their customs, values and daily life, what would be the most important elements of your description? Comment. 


Introduce the lifestyle of the people belonging to the Harappa civilisation and then give your views on what should be the most important elements when describing the customs, values and daily life of the Harappa civilisation. 


The Harappan Civilisation lifestyle was urban in nature with exceptional skill in building and town-planning in their civic life. Major excavations undertaken at the Indus sites have given us a fair idea about other aspects of civilization including society, customs, values and daily life, technology, economy, religion, etc.


Customs, Values and Daily Life of Harrappan Civilization: The Most Important Elements

The social and economic life of the people of Harappan Civilization was systematic and organized.


  • Their dress habits were simple. One statue shows the use of two pieces of cloth—one for the upper portion and the other for the lower portion of the body. 
  • The upper garment was like a modern shawl that was drawn over the left shoulder and under the right so as to leave the right arm free and in the sitting posture it came down up to the feet. The lower garment was like a modern dhoti. 
  • There was very little difference in the garments worn by males and females. 
  • Both men and women of the Harappan society were fond of wearing ornaments. There were some common ornaments that were used by both. They included necklaces, fillets, armlets, rings and bangles. 
  • Ladies used some specific ornaments like girdles, nose-studs, ear-rings and anklets. There was a great variety in the shape and design of these ornaments. 
  • The wealthy people used ornaments made of gold, silver, ivory and other semi-precious stones whereas ornaments of the poor were made of copper, bronze, shell and terracotta. 
  • Beads of various designs and metals were also used in large numbers. 


  • The Harappan culture was a religious one. The people of Harappan civilization worshipped many gods and goddesses. 
  • Foremost among them was the Divine Mother whose clay, images have been found at Mohenjo-Daro. There also the figure of a good engraved on a seal has been found. It was a three- headed horned deity seated cross legged. Around this figure are grouped various animals. 
  • Scholars have identified this as “Pashupati” Siva. Harappans were frolic worshippers.
  • The last aspect of Harappan religion attached much importance to the practice of Yoga. A large number of terracotta figurines show individuals in various yogic postures or asanas.

Daily Life

  • The civilization itself was a glorious conglomeration of people of various origins. 
  • As the civilization centred around city culture the social life of the people bore touches of an urban influence. 
  • Their civic life was highly disciplined and quite scientific. 
  • The inhabitants preferred to live in a proper hygienic atmosphere, as is proved by their town-planning systems. 
  • Since the people of Harappan culture were city-dwellers, they had various pastimes for useful recreation of their leisure. 
  • They entertained themselves by playing indoor games like dicing, dancing and singing. 
  • Further hunting, fishing, arranging animal and bird fights formed other sources of amusement. 


To conclude with the words of Sir John Marshall, “The Indus Valley Civilisation has been mainly an independent and indigenous growth, a product of the Indian soil marked by certain specifically Indian features not present in any other early civilization. Indeed, the Indus Valley civilisation is no less individual and national than other great river valley civilizations of antiquity.”


TLP Synopsis Day 1 PDF

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