Bihar (Bih)

Bihar (Bih) Hin: बिहार bihār ‘Monastery’ From Skt/Pali: vihāra, ‘abode’, ‘(Buddhist) monastery’. Bihar has a rich Buddhist heritage. It boasts the site of the Buddha’s Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya and has many other historic Buddist centres and vihāras dating back to...

Arrah/Ara (Bih)

Hin: आरा āra ‘Forest Town’  City, Bihar From Skt: aranya, ‘forest’; and Skt: nagaram, ‘town’, ‘city’. A Jain inscription refers to a town called Aramnagar which suggests a corruption of an original Aranya. It is highly likely that the area around here was...

Aurangabad (Bih)

Hin: औरंगाबाद  auraṅgābād ‘Aurangzeb’s City’   City/District, Bihar From Aurangzeb and Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. Aurangabad is sometimes called the “Chittorgarh of Bihar” because of its large Suryavanshi Rajput population. In ancient times,...

Bagaha (Bih)

Hin: बगह bagha ‘Garden’  City, Bihar From Hin/Bih: बग(हा) baga(ha), ‘garden’, ‘park’. Bagaha is situated on the edge of the Valmiki Tiger Reserve with the Uttar Pradesh border in the west of the opposite shore of the  Gandak river.  The 814km Gandak River flows from...

Begusarai (Bih)

Hin: बेगूसराय begusrāy ‘Ladies’ Inn’  City/District, Bihar (Bih) From Hin/Urd: वेगम beg’am, begum, ‘title for Muslim lady/wife’; सराय sarāi, ‘inn’, ‘resting place’. This would orginally have been a stopover or staging post. Begusarai, for many decades from the...

Bettiah (Bih)

Hin: बेतिया betiya  ‘Cane Town’  City, Bihar From Hin: बेंत bē(n)t, ‘cane’ Bettiah was the third-largest princely estate in the Bihar region under the British. It is named after the cane trees found in the area. Bettiah is the capital of West Champaran District which...

Bhagalpur (Bih)

Hin:भागलपुर bhāglapur ‘City of Fortune’ [Bhagatpur] City, Bihar From Hin/Urd: भाग्य bhāg, ‘good fortune’, ‘luck’, ‘prosperity’;  and Skt: पुर  pur(a) ‘town’, ‘city’ Bhagalpur is also known as the ‘City of Silk’. It producess Bhagalpuri or Tussar silk made from the...

Bihar Sharif (Bih)

Hin: बिहार शरीफ bihār shariph ‘Exalted Saint’  City/District HQ, Bihar  From Hin/Urd शरीफ़ sharīf,  ‘noble’, ‘exalted’, ‘virtuous’ Bihar Sharif is the final resting place of Sheikh Sharfuddin Ahmed or Makhdoom-ul-Mulk Bihari, a 12-13thC Sufi mystic. He settled here to...

Buxar (Bih)

Hin: बक्सर baksar ‘Tiger Pool’   City/District, Bihar  From Skt/Hin: व्याघ्र vyāghra/बाघ bāgh, ‘tiger’; and सर sar,  ‘pond’, ‘pool’. There are three main suggestions for the etymology of Buxar’s name: (1) A tank or lake in the centre of the city, some say,  was...

Champaran (Bih)

Hin: पश्चिम/पूर्वी चंपारण pashchim/purwi champāran ‘Magnolia Forest’ Region/E+W Districts, Bihar  From Skt:  चम्पक kampa-ka ‘magnolia champak tree’ (Michelia champaca); and अरण्य aranya, ‘forest’, ‘wood’. The magnolia champak (a.k.a. joy perfume tree, yellow jade...

Chhapra/Chapra (Bih)

Hin: छपरा chhapra ‘Thatch’ [Chupra, Chapra, Chopper] City/District HQ,  Bihar From Hin: छप्पर chhappar, ‘thatch’, ‘thatched roof’. Hobson-Jobson provides the alternative colonial spellings and suggests ‘a collection of straw huts’. Chhapra is the HQ City...

Danapur/Dinapore (Bih)

Hin: दानापुर dānāpur  ‘Poor Town’  [Dinapur, Nizamat, Dinapore] Town, Bihar  From Skt: दीन dīna, ‘poor’, ‘indigent’, ‘miserable’, ‘wretched’; Skt:: पुर् pur(a) ‘town’, ‘city’; and Urd: نظامت, nizāmat, ‘administration’, ‘directorate’. Dinapore was a British garrison...

Darbhanga (Bih)

Hin/Bih: दरभंगा darbhanga ‘Gateway to Bengal’    City/District, Bihar  From Darbhangi Khan; or Hin: दर dar, ‘door’, ‘gateway’; and भंग, bhāṅg, ‘breach’, ‘split’ or ‘hemp’ [Cannabis sativa]. None of the derivations seem particularly satisfactory. Darbhanga is probably...

Daudnagar (Bih)

Hin/Bih: दाउद नगर dāud nagar ‘Daud Khan’s City’    Town, Bihar Daud Khan, one of Aurangzeb’s Subedars and Governor of Bihar, built a fort here in 1664 to commemorate a victory against the Raja of Palamu. For related place names see Indian Place names and Bihar place...

Dehri/Dehri-on-Sone (Bih)

Bih/Hin: डेहरी आन सोन dehri ān son ‘Threshold’   Town, Bihar From Hin: देहरी dēharī, ‘threshold’ The 784km Sone river is one of India’s longest. Here at Dehri it yields a bonanza of sand making Dehri the Sand Capital of India. There are concerns that sand mining is...

Gaya/Bodhgaya (Bih)

गया/बोध गया gaya/bodh gaya ‘Gayasur’s Town’  [Bodhgaya] City/District, Bihar  Gaya is named after the demon Gayasur [Skt: असुर asura ‘(evil) spirit’, ‘demon’]. It is said that Vishnu bestowed powers on him, following his thousand year long penance, to absolve sinners....

Hajipur (Bih)

हाजीपुर hājipur ‘Haji’s City’  [Ukkacala] City, Bihar (Bih) From Urd: حاجی haji, ‘pilgrim’; Skt: पुर् pur(a), ‘town’, ‘city. Haji Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah founded the city in the 14thC to indicate he had made the haj or ‘pilgrimage’ to Mecca [URD: حج hajj/haj]. He was...

Jamalpur (Bih)

जमालपुर jamālpur  ‘Jamal’s City’  City/District, Bihar (Bih) Jamalpur was named after the 16thC Sufi saint Hazrat Shah Jamal who has a shrine here and a hospital named after him. The British built the first rail locomotive workshop here in 1862 which soon become its...

Jehanabad (Bih)

जहानाबाद jahānābād  ‘Jahanara’s City’ [Jahanarabad] City/District, Bihar (Bih) Jehanabad is named after Jahanara Begum Sahib. She was daughter of fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan [Per: shāh, ‘king’, ‘emperor’; and jahān, ‘world’]; and Mumtaz Mahal [Per: mumtāz, ‘chosen...

Katihar (Bih)

कटिहार katihār ‘Mound’  [Saifganj] City/District, Bihar (Bih) The first faujdar (a Moghul military commander with legal and fiscal powers) of Purnea/Purnia was Saif Khan who was appointed in the early 18thC. He established a market town here which was called Saifganj...

Kishanganj (Bih)

किशनगंज kishnaganj ‘Krishna Grove’ [Krishanakunj] City/District, Bihar (Bih) From Krishna and Skt/Hin: kuñja/kuṇj, ‘copse’, ‘thicket’, ‘grove’. The name has changed over time to Kishanganj which implies Kishan’s (Market) Town [Hin/Urd: ganj, ‘marketplace’, ‘bazaar’,...

Madhubani (Bih)

मधुबनी madhubanī ‘Honey Forest’ City/District, Bihar (Bih) From Hin: madhu, ‘honey’; and bana, ‘forest’, ‘jungle’ Bihar, with Madhubani as a key centre, accounts for more than 10% of India’s honey production with more than 900 beekeepers directly linked to honey...

Motihari (Bih)

मोतिहारी mōtihārī  ‘Pearl Garland’ City, Bihar (Bih) From Hin: mōtī, ‘pearl’;  hāra ‘garland’, ‘necklace’ The town was named after the Moti Jheel  [Hin: jhīla, ‘lake’], a horsehoe-shaped lake which divides the town into two. and looks like a necklace. George Orwell,...

Munger (Bih)

मुंगेर muṅgēr ‘Hammer Hill’ [Mudgagiri, Monghyr] City/District, Bihar (Bih) Munger has more proposed derivations than you can shake a stick at. The suggestions are based on: the twin -edged hammer shape of the two rocky hillocks on which the fort was later built [Skt:...

Muzaffarpur (Bih)

मुजफ्फरपुर mujaphpharapura ‘Muzaffar’s City’ From Muzaffar Khan and Skt:  pur(a) ‘town’, ‘city’. Muzaffar Khan was Subahdar of Bihar in the late 16thC under Emperor Akbar. He gained this position in recognition of his success in conquering the Rohtas and suppressing...

Nawada (Bih)

नवादा navādā ‘New Town’ [Eliot Bazaar] From Skt: nava, ‘new’; vāṭa, ‘district’, ‘town’; or Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’ Eliot Bazaar was named after John Eliot, Collector of Gaya, in the late 19th century. Nawada dates back to the Magadha Empire and has had...

Patna (Bih)

पटना paṭanā ‘Port’ [Pataligram, Pataliputra, Patalipatnam] City,/Capital/District, Bihar (Bih) From Dra/Skt: paṭṭanam, ‘city’, ‘port’ Patna lies at the confluence of four rivers (the Ghaghara, Ganges, Sone, and Gandak) which has made it an important trading post for...

Purnia/Purnea (Bih)

पूर्णियाँ pūrṇiyām̐ ‘Thick Forest’ [Purnea] City/District, Bihar From Skt: pūrṇa, ‘full’, ‘complete’; aranya, ‘forest’. Another suggestion is that the District gets its name from the goddess Puran Devi, a manifestation of the goddess Kali who has a temple nearby....

Rajgir (Bih)

राजगीर rājagīr ‘King’s Mansion’  [Rājagṛha, Rājagaha] City/District, Bihar From Skt: rāja, ‘prince’, ‘king’;  gṛha, ‘house’, ‘mansion’. Rajgir has an ancient history dating back to the Magadha and Mauryan Empires. It was the capital  of the Magadha dynasty until the...

Saharsa (Bih)

सहरसा saharasā ‘Thousand Streams’  City/District, Bihar From Skt: sahasra, ‘thousand’ and dhārā,  torrent, stream; or Skt: saharṣam ‘joy’, ‘rejoicing’; This region consists of fertile floodplains irrigated by the Kosi river and its tributaries. Saharsa is...

Saran District (Bih)

सारण sāraṇa ‘Deer Forest’  District, Bihar From Skt: sāraṅga, ‘deer’, ‘spotted deer’; and aranya, ‘forest’. This is the most popular derivation but Alexander Cunningham, Army Officer and archaeologist, suggested it has Buddhist connotations and was named Saran [Skt:...

Sasaram (Bih)

सासाराम sāsārāma ‘Thousand Groves’ From Skt: sāhasra , ‘thousand’; and  āmra/ārāma, ‘garden’, ‘grove;’. Sasaram was the birthplace of Sher Shah Suri, conqueror of the Moghul Emperor Hamayun, and the capital of his Suri dynasty. His red sandstone tomb, built in an...

Shergarh (Bih)

शेरगढ़ śēragaṛha ‘Sher Shah Suri’s Fort’ Fort, Bihar From Urd/Hin: gaḍh, gaṛh, ‘fort’. Sher [Urd/Hin: sher, ‘tiger’, ‘lion’] Shah Suri, founder of the Suri dynasty who defeated Humayun in 1539 and forced him into exile for 15 years, has often been accused of building...

Sitamarhi (Bihar)

सीतामढ़ी sītāmaṛhī ‘Sita’s Cottage’ City/District, Bihar From Sita, wife of Rama, and Pkt/Bih: maḍha/maṛhī, ‘hut’, ‘cottage’. According to Hindu mythology this was the birthplace of Sita who, it is said, was born in an earthenware pot while her father was ploughing the...

Siwan (Bih)

सिवान sivāna ‘Bier’  City/District, Bihar There are two suggestions for the derivation of Siwan, neither of which are convincing. From SKT:  śavayāna ‘bier’ or  śīvan ‘lying’, ‘resting’ because, according to legend, the Buddha’s body was lay here on the way to be...

Shahabad (Bih)

शाहाबाद śāhābāda ‘King’s City’   From Urd: shah, ‘king’; and ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. Shahabad or Arrah Distric is a former district of Bihar which was divided into Bhojpur, Rohtas, Kaimur and Buxar Districts. It is named after the first Mughal Emperor,...

Tirhut Division (Bih)

तिरहुत डिवीजन tirahuta ḍivījan ‘(On the) River Bank(s)’  Division, Bihar Skt:  tīra ‘shore’, ‘bank’;  and bhukta, ‘occupy’, ‘own’. Tirhut Division is an administrative unit/geographical region of Bihar in India with Muzaffarpur as its HQ. The Division is mage up of...