Lichens survive harsh weather of Antarctica as well as of other hostile environments worldwide. Therefore, this investigation is important to understand the evolution of life on Earth in relation to their stress tolerance strategy. We have used chlorophyll a fluorescence (ChlF) and Raman spectroscopy, respectively, to monitor the activation/deactivation of photosynthesis and carotenoids in three diverse Antarctic lichens, Dermatocarpon polyphyllizum (DP), Umbilicaria antarctica (UA), and Leptogium puberulum (LP). These lichens, post 4 h or 24 h of hydration, showed differences in their ChlF transients and values of major ChlF parameters, e.g., in the maximum quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry (Fv/Fm), and yields of fluorescence and heat dissipation (Phi f,d), of effective quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry (Phi PSII) and of non-photochemical quenching (Phi npq), which may be due to quantitative and/or qualitative differences in the composition of their photobionts. For understanding the kinetics of hydration-induced activation of photosynthesis, we screened Phi PSII of these lichens and reported its non-linear stimulation on a minute time scale; half of the activation time (t1/2) was fastest ~4.05 ± 0.29 min for DP, which was followed by 5.46 ± 0.18 min for UA, and 13.95 ± 1.24 min for LP. Upon drying of fully activated lichen thallus, there was a slow decay, in hours, of relative water content (RWC) as well as of Fv/Fm. Raman spectral signatures were different for lichens having algal (in DP and UA) and cyanobacteria (in LP) photobionts, and there was a significant shift in Nu1(C=C) Raman band of carotenoids post 24 h hydration as compared to their value at a dry state or post 4 h of hydration; this shift was decreased, when drying, in DP and LP but not in UA. We conclude that hydration nonlinearly activated photosynthetic apparatus/reactions of these lichens in minute time range but there was a de-novo synthesis of chlorophylls as well as of carotenoids post 24 h. Their dehydration-induced deactivation, however, was comparatively slow, in hours range, and there seemed a degradation of synthesized chlorophylls and carotenoids post dryness. We conclude that in extremophilic lichens, their photosynthetic partners, in particular, possess a complex survival and photoprotective strategy to be successful in the extreme terrestrial environments in Antarctica.