Andaman and Nicobar Islands (A&N)

Andaman and Nicobar Islands (A&N) Andaman   ‘Monkey God’ Niccolo de Conti, the early 15th century Italian merchant and explorer, sailed past the Andamans en route to Sumatra. He wrote that the name meant ‘island of gold’. Another suggestion is that it...

Andhra Pradesh (AP)

Andhra Pradesh (AP) ఆంధ్ర ప్రదేశ్  āndhra pradēsh  ‘Land of the Andhras’  From Skt: āndhra, ‘Telugu people/language’; and Hin/Skt: pradēsh, ‘province’, ‘region’, ‘territory’. The Andhras were an ancient tribe with settlements in the Godavari and Krishna valleys (Vedic...

Adilabad (Tel)

Tel: అదిలాబాదు adilābādu ‘Cattle Town’ [Eddulapuram, Edlabad] City/District, Telangana. From Tel: eddu(lu), ‘bullock(s)’, ‘ox(en)’; and Skt: puram, ‘fort’, ‘city’; Urd:  ābād, ‘city’, ‘town’. Some suggest that Adilabad is named after Yusuf Adil Shah, 15-16thC founder...

Adoni (AP)

Tel: ఆదోని  ādōni ‘Five Hills’  City, Andhra Pradesh. From Tel: aydu, ‘five’; and konda, ‘hill(ock)’, ‘mountain’, ‘rock’. Adoni is an ancient hill fort town which found a leading role for itself as part of the Vijayanagar kingdom in the 14-16thC. It was captured in...

Arunachal Pradesh (ArP)

Arunachal Pradesh (ArP) ‘Land of the Dawn(-lit) Mountains’.  From Skt: aruṇa , ‘redness’, ‘dawn’ [‘reddish glow in the morning sky’]; Skt: ac(h)ala, ‘mountain’; and Skt: pradēśḥ, ‘province’, ‘region’, ‘territory’. Surya is the Vedic sun god and Aruna is the name of...

Assam (Asm)

Assam (Asm) Asm: অসম āsāma ‘Land of the Ahom’ From Asm: syam, ‘Ahom/Shan people’. The Ahom community (who are ethically Tai/Thai) has been known here by several different but closely related names: Ahom, Asam, Aham, Shan, Syam. Spread across Asia they are known as...

Agar/Agar Malwa (MP)

Hin: आगर āgar ‘Agar’s (Town)’  Town/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP). The Bhil chief Agaria Bhil founded the town in the 10th century.  It came under the control of Jhak Rajputs in the following century. The town is situated between two lakes: Moti...

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...

Agartala (Tri)

Ben: আগরতলা āgaratalā ‘Agar Forest’  City/Capital, Tripura. Ben/Skt/Hin: aguru/agar, ‘aloe-wood’ [Aquilaria malaccensis]; and tala, ‘surface’, ‘cover’, ‘floor’ Agartala is the capital of Tripura and the second largest city in the North East after...

Chandigarh

Chandigarh Pun: ਚੰਡੀਗੜ੍ਹ chanḍīgaṛh ’Chandi’s Fort’.  From Chandi and Pun: gaṛh, ‘fort’. No actual fort ever existed. A Chandi temple protected the locals and gave the city its name. Chandika Devi is a powerful, terrifying aspect of Parvati, the Supreme Goddess....

Agra (UP)

Hin: आगरा  āgara ‘Gateway to the Forest’   [Agrabana, Akbarabad] – City/District, Uttar Pradesh. Skt: agra, ‘front’, ‘beginning’; and vana, ‘forest’, ‘wood’ According to Epic and Puranic authorities, ancient Agravana was surrounded by forest and was...

Aguada (Goa)

Kon: अग्वाद agvād ‘Water Fort’  Castle, Goa. From Por: aguada, ‘(acquisition of a) water supply’ Fort Aguada is a 17thC Portuguese 200-cannon fort built on a rocky promontory at the end of Sinquerim Beach. It was originally built to defend old Goa from Maratha and...

Aizawl (Miz)

(Hin): ऐज़ौल aizaul ‘Rootstalk Field’  City/Capital/District, Mizoram. From Miz: ai/aidu, ‘(species of) rhizome’; and zawl, ‘plain’, ‘field’. A rhizome is an underground plant with creeping rootstalks: ginger and turmeric are examples. Aizawl was originally...

Alappuzha (Ker)

Mal: ആലപ്പുഴ ālappuḻa ‘Broad River’  [Alleppey] City/District, Kerala. From Mal: ālam, ‘broad’; and  puḻa/puzha, ‘river’ The Kerala backwaters are a complex 900km network of brackish/saltwater lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals. Lord Curzon called Alleppey, which is at...

Alipurduar (WB)

Ben: আলিপুরদুয়ার ālipuraduẏāra. ‘Ali’s City in the Dooars’ City/District, West Bengal. From Ali;  Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’; and Ben: duẏāra, ‘doors’. Ali, we can assume, founded or lived in this settlement. The duar distinguishes it from Alipore/Alipur in South...

Alirajpur (MP)

Hin: अलीराजपुर  alīrājapūr. ‘Anand’s Town’ Town/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP). From Anandaoli/Ali and Rajpur [Skt/Hin: raj, ‘king’; and pur, ‘(fortified) town’, city]. Rajpur was founded in 1500. The capital of the princely...

Aluva  (Ker)

Mal: ആലുവ āluva. ‘River Mouth’  [Alwaye] City/Dictrict, Kerala. From Mal: āl, ‘water’; ālam ‘water’, ‘sea’; and  vāy/vā, ‘mouth’, ‘opening’, ‘juncture’ [Tam: aruvi, Kan/Tul: aluve/aruve, ‘river’s mouth’, ‘inlet to a backwater’]. The Periyar river becomes the...

Ambedkar Nagar/Mhow (MP)

Hin: आम्बेडकर नगर āmbēḍakara nagar, महू  mahū ‘Ambedkar Town’ [Mhow-gaon, Mow]  Cantonment Town, Madhya Pradesh From B. R. Ambedkar and Skt: nagar, ‘town’, ‘city’; Hin: mahuā, ‘mahua/mahwa tree’ and Skt/Hin: grama/gaon, ‘village’. Ambedkar Nagar is the official name...

Ambur (TN)

Tam: ஆம்பூர் āmpūr ‘Lily Town’  -City, Tamil Nadu From Tam: āmpal, ‘Water-lily’ [Nymphaea lotus]; and ur, ‘town’, ‘city’. The town sits on the mighty 348km Palar river and this may have been famous at one time for its water-lilies. The modern city is better known for...

Amritsar (Pun)

Pun: ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ amritasara ‘Pool of Immortality’ [Ramdaspur] -City/District, Punjab From Skt: amṛta ‘immortal’; and saras, ‘pool’, ‘lake’ Amritsar was founded by the 4th Sikh Guru, Ram Das, in 1577. He built a temple here surrounded...

Anchal (Ker)

Mal: അഞ്ചൽ añcal ‘Stopover’   Town,  Kerala From Mal/Tam: añcal, ‘relay’, ‘stop-over’, ‘staging post’. It is possible that Anchal was an important junction or stopover from ancient times in an area which was mostly forest paths. Anchal was also the name of...

Angamaly (Ker)

Mal: അങ്കമാലി aṅkamāli ‘Trading Port’  [Angadikadavu]  Town,  Kerala From Tam/Mal: aṅkāṭi/aṅgaḍi, ‘bazaar’, ‘market’; Mal: kaṭavu, ‘beach’, ‘landing place’, ‘wharf’; and māli/maly, ‘(sea)port’. Manjaly thodu [Mal: tōṭu, ‘water-course’] which flows through the town...

PLACE NAMES

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ A aal, n. Abhayapuri (Asm) Adam’s Peak (SL) Adilabad (Tel) Adoni (AP) Adoor (Ker) Agartala (Tri) Agar/Agar Malwa (MP) Agra (UP) Aguada (Goa) Ahmedabad (Guj) Ahmednagar (Mah) Aihole (Kar) Aizawl (Miz) Ajanta Caves (Mah) Ajmer (Raj)...

Angul (Odi)

Odi: ଅନୁଗୋଳ anugoḻa ‘Pleasant City’  [Angulaka-Pattana, Anugul] – City/District, Odisha From Skt: anukūla, ‘favourable’, ‘agreeable‘ (lit. ‘with the slope/current/grain’); and Odi: paṭṭana, ‘town’, ‘city’. Angul is referred to as the...

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Search for: Discover the Key to Indian & Sri Lankan Place Names This site gathers together research on the origins of the most common place names in India & Sri Lanka: states, cities, towns, districts and more. It attempts the impossible because India &...

Arakkonam (TN)

Tam: அரக்கோணம்  arakkōṇam ‘Six Angles’   Town, suburb (Chennai), Tamil Nadu Tam: āṟu/aṟumai, ‘six’; kōṇam, ‘angle’, ‘corner’. Arakkonam, it is said, sits on an important junction linking six key towns: Kanchipuram, Thakkolam, Manavur, Thiruvalangadu, Tiruttani, Ponnai...

Aranmula (Ker)

Mal: ആറന്മുള āṟanmuḷa ‘Six Bamboo (Boat)’  Town, Kerala From Mal: aṟu, ‘six’; and  muḷa, ‘bamboo’. The 6thC Parthasarathy temple here is named after Krishna in his role as Arjuna’s charioteer in the Bhagavad-Gita [Skt: pārtha, ‘ Pāṇḍava’, ‘Arjuna’; and sārathy(am),...

Arcot (TN)

Tam: ஆற்காடு āṟkāṭu ‘Forest Way’  [Arkkadu]  Town, Tamil Nadu Tam: āṟu, ’river’, ‘way’, ‘road’; and Tam: kāṭu ‘forest’, ‘wood’ Arcot was the HQ of the Nawab of the Carnatic (also Nawab of Arcot), a dependency of the Nizam of Hyderabad and a centre for...

Ashoknagar (MP)

Hin: अशोकनगर ashokanagar ‘Ashok Town’  [Pachhar]  Town/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From (Emperor) Ashoka; and Hin: nagar, ‘city’, ‘town’. The suggestion that the name derives from an overnight visit from the  famous Mauryan Emperor en route to capture Ujjain  is...

Asirgarh (MP)

Hin: असीरगढ़ asīragaṛh ‘Asa Ahir’s Fort’  Fort, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Aswatthama (Giri); or Asa Ahir; and Hin: gaṛh, ‘fort’, ‘citadel’ There is a legend that Ashwatthama, the son of the guru Drona in the Mahābhārata, used to come to the Shiva...

Attingal (Ker)

Mal: ആറ്റിങ്ങൽ ā(tt)ṟṟiṅ(g)al ‘Attingal Queens’  Town, Kerala Marumakkathayam is a royal and high caste system of matrilineal descent where title and inheritance follows the female bloodline, although the eldest son is still head of the family. Princess...

Aymanam (Ker)

Mal: അയ്മനം aymanaṁ ‘Five Forests’  Village,  Kerala From Mal: ai(y)m ‘five’ (in word compounds)’; and vanam ‘forest’, ‘jungle’ Aymanam  is like a small village with classic backwater scenery: coconut trees, paddy...

Badami/Vatapi (Kar)

Kan: ಬಾದಾಮಿ bādāmi ‘Vatapi’  [Vatapi,Vatapipura]  Town, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt/Hin: vadāma(m)/bādāmi  ‘almond (tree’)/’almond-coloured’; or Vatapi, the asura or demon. Badami was the regional capital of the Chalukya kingdom in the 6-8thC and...

Bagalkot/Bagalkote (Kar)

Kan: ಬಾಗಲಕೋಟ bāgalakōṭa ‘Fort Gateway’  [Bagadige] City/District, Karnataka (Kar) Kan: bāgil/bāgal/bākal, ‘doorway’, ‘entrance’, ‘gate’; and  kōṭe, ‘fort’, ‘rampart’. Stories tell of this town being offered as a present by Ravana, (demon) king of Lanka, to his...

Bagh Caves (MP)

Hin: बाघ गुफा bāgh gupha ‘Tiger Caves’  Town/Caves, Madhya Pradesh (MP) Madhya Pradesh has traditionally been a tiger region and the caves, town and local stream all bear the name. The Bagh Caves are nine monuments cut into sandstone rock located 60km west...

Baghmara (Meg)

Ben: বাঘমারা bāghamārā ‘Tiger Killed’  [Barokar]  Town/HQ (South Garo Hills District), Meghalaya In 1886 Bong Lasker was heroically involved in a fight with a wild tiger that had been terrorising the village and its cattle in which the tiger [Ben: bāgh, ‘tiger’]...

Baharampur/Berhampore (WB)

Ben: বহরমপুর baharamapura  ‘Brahmin City’ [Berhampore, Berhampur, Brahmapur, Burhanpore]  City, West Bengal  From Brahmin; and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’.  Baharampur/Berhampore is the capital of Murshidabad district. Following the 1757 Battle of Plassey, it was...

Balaghat (MP)

Hin: बालाघाट bālāghāṭ ‘Above the Ghat’  [Burha] Town/District Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Hin: bālā, ‘high’, ‘above’;  and ghāṭ, ‘path or stairway to the river’; ‘ford or landing-place’. The Wainganga river...

Ballari/Bellary (Kar)

Kan: ಬಳ್ಳಾರಿ baḷḷāri ‘Bush Town’  [Bellary, Vallari,Vallaripuram] City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Tam/Kan: vallai/balle ‘thicket’, ‘bush’, ‘forest’; or Skt/Tam/Kan: vaḷḷi/baḷḷi/vallari, ‘creeper’, ‘vine’; and Skt: puri, ‘fort’, ‘city’ or Kan: ūr, ‘village’,...

Balurghat (WB)

Ben: বালুরঘাট bāluraghāṭa  ‘Sandy Ghat’   City, West Bengal From Ben: bālu, bālukā, sandy, full of sand; and  ghāṭa, ‘landing-stage (on riverbank)’, ‘quay’.  Balurgahat is the Dakshin Dinajpur District HQ. The River Atrai or Atreyee flows through Balurghat, with most...

Bandhogarh/Bandhavgarh National Park (MP)

Hin: बांधवगढ़ bāndhavagaṛh ‘Brother Fort’   Fort, National Park  Madhya Pradesh (MP) From: Hin: bāndhava, ‘brother’, ‘kinsman’; and gaṛh, ‘fort’ Sitting on a hill 800m above the National Park is Bandhavagarh Fort. Its...

Bangaon/Bongaon (WB)

Ben: বনগাঁ banagām̐ ‘Forest Village’  [Bongaon] City, West Bengal  From Ben/Skt: bana/vana, ‘forest’; and Ben: grāma→ gaon, ‘village’, ‘(small) town’. The Bangladesh-India border checkpoint at Petrapole is 6km away. It is the largest inland customs station in Asia,...

Bankura (WB)

Ben: বাঁকুড়া bām̐kuṛā ‘Bir Bankura’s (City)’  City/District, West Bengal Raja Bir Hambir was a 16-17thC  ruler (Malla dynasty). He offered assistance to the Mughal emperor Akbar and recognised the hegemony of the Muslim viceroys of Bengal. He divided his kingdom...

Bardhaman/Burdwan (WB)

Ben: বর্ধমান bardhamāna ‘(City of) Vardhaman’ [Burdwan, Vardhaman] City/District, West Bengal Burdwan is the British corruption of Bardhaman [Skt: Vardhamana]. The origin possibly dates back to Mahavira or Vardhaman, the 6thC BC  Jain Tirthankar who was a contemporary...

Barrackpore/Barrackpur (WB)

Ben: ব্যারাকপুর byārākapura From Eng: barrack and Skt: pur(a), ‘town’, ‘city’, ‘fort’ ‘Barrack Town’  [Charnak, Chanak, Achanok] City, West Bengal The British East India Company built their first Bengal cantonment here...

Barwani/Badwani (MP)

Hin: बडवानी  baḍavānī ‘Banyan Forest’ [Badnagar] Town/District  Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Hin: baṛa, ‘banyan tree’; and vana ‘wood’, ‘forest’, ‘jungle’ Barwani is an ancient town and former princely state. Nearby lies Chulgiri Hill, a sacred Jain pilgrimage site. On...

Belagavi/Belgaum (Kar)

Kan: ಬೆಳಗಾವಿ beḷagāvi  ‘Bamboo Village’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) Belgaum, Venugrama. From Skt/Kan: veṇu, ‘bamboo’; and  grāma/gāv(i/e/a), ‘village’. The city’s original name was Venugrama (Belgaum and Belagavi are variations on this). It was founded in the...

Belur (Kar)

Kan: ಬೇಲೂರು bēlūru ‘Radiant Town’ [Velur, Velapuri, Beluhur] Town, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: beḷ/veḷ, ‘bright’, shining’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. Belur is famous for its 12thC Chennakesava temple [from Kan: canna/cenna, ‘handsome’, ‘elegant’; and Skt: keśava,...

Bengaluru/Bangalore (Kar)

Kan: ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು beṅgaḷūru ‘Venga Tree Town’  City/Capital/District, Karnataka (Kar) Kan: bēṅga, ‘Malabar/Indian kino tree’ [Pterocarpus marsupium, Tam: vēṅkai]; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. For as long as I can remember I have been told that Bangalore means ‘City of...

Betul/Betul Bazaar (MP)

Hin: बैतूल  baitūla ‘No Cotton (Land)’  [Badnur] City/District,  Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Hin: bē, ‘without’, ‘devoid of’; and tūlam, ‘cotton’; and bāzāra, ‘market-place’  The assumption here is that Betul and Betul Bazaar were beyond the main cotton-growing areas of...

Beypore (Ker)

Mal: ബേപ്പൂർ   bēppūr ‘Estuary Town’   [Vaypura, Vadaparappanad, Sultan Pattanam]  Town, Kerala From Mal: vāy, ‘mouth’, ‘inlet’, ‘opening’; and Skt: pur, ‘town’, ‘city’. Beypore, at the mouth of the 169km Chaliya river,  is one of the oldest ports in Kerala. It has...

Bhadravati (Kar)

Kan: ಭದ್ರಾವತಿ bhadrāvati  ‘Bhadra Village’  City, Karnataka (Kar) From Bhadra river and Kan: vāḍī/vāṭī, ‘settlement’, ‘village’. The 171km Bhadra river [Skt: bhadra, ‘blessed’, ‘auspicious’] flows through southern Karnataka starting out from the Western Ghats (in...

Bhind (MP)

Hin: भिण्ड bhiṇḍ ‘Bhindi (Rishi)’  Town/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Hin: bhiṇḍa ’embanked ground (round a tank)’. The town is built around the banks of the ancient Gori Sarowar (Gori/Gauri Lake). The district is named, others say, after...

Bhojpur (MP)

Hin: भोजपुर bhōjapur ‘Bhoja’s Town’  Town/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From (Raja) Bhoj; and Skt: pur, ‘(fortified) town’, ‘city’. King/Raja Bhoja of the Paramara Malwa dynasty built a temple and fort here in the 11thC and two large stone dams to block...

Bhopal (MP)

Hin: भोपाल bhopāl ‘Bhoj’s Dam’  [Bhojapala] – Capital/City/District, Madhya Pradesh   From (King) Bhoj and Hin: pāla ’embankment (to confine water for irrigation)’, ‘dam’, ‘dike’ Bhojpal or Bhoj’s dam...

Bidar (Kar)

Kan: ಬೀದರ್ bīdar ‘Halting Place’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From  Kan: bīḍāra,  ‘halting or dwelling place’, ‘camp’. Bidri metal working started here in 14-15thC. It uses a blackened alloy of copper, lead, tin, and zinc as a base for gold and silver inlay. It is...

Bijapur/Vijayapura (Kar)

Kan: ವಿಜಯಪುರ vijayapura ‘Victory City’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt: vijaya, ‘victory’, ‘triumph’; and pur(a), ‘(fortified) city’ After the fall of the Bahmani Sultanate in the late 15thC the Adil Shai...

Birbhum District (WB)

Ben: বীরভূম bīrabhūma ‘Land of the Brave’  District, West Bengal  From Ben: bīra: ‘brave’, ‘heroic’; and Ben: bhūmi: ‘land’,  ‘place’. ‘Forest Land’ could work too [if we accept the mixed San: bir, ‘forest; and Ben: bhūmi: ‘land’,  ‘place’]. Birbhum is nicknamed the...

Bishnupur (WB)

Ben: বিষ্ণুপুর biṣṇupura ‘City of Vishnu’  City/District, West Bengal  From Vishnu and Skt: pur, ‘city’ The Vaishnavite Malla rulers built a series of elaborate terracotta temples here between the 17th and 19th centuries and spread out over a complex...

Burhanpur (MP)

Hin: बुरहानपुर burahānapur ‘Burhan’s Town’  City/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Burhan-ud-Din; and Skt: pur, ‘(fortified) town’. Burhanpur is on the banks of the Tapti river. Nasir Khan Faruqi, Sultan of Khandesh,  founded Burhanpur...

Chakdaha (WB)

Ben: চাকদহ cākadaha ‘Meandering River’  Town, West Bengal  From Ben/Skt: cāka/cakra, ‘wheel’; and Ben: daha, ‘deep or whirling part of a river’. Chakdaha (Chakradaha) is situated on a ever-changing series of twists and turns of the Hooghly river which has created and...

Chalakudy (Ker)

Mal: ചാലക്കുടി c(h)ālakkuṭi ‘Prosperous Settlement’   Town,  Kerala From Tam/Mal: c(h)āla/c(h)āl ‘abundant’, ‘noble’; and kuṭi  ‘settlement’, ‘colony’. Chalakudy was the site of the Nedumkotta defence fortification to resist the military advances of Hyder Ali Khan...

Chandannagar/Chandernagore (WB)

Ben: চন্দননগর c(h)andananagara ‘Sandalwood City’  City, West Bengal  From Ben: c(h)andana, ‘sandalwood’; Ben/Skt: nagara, ‘city’. The French acquired land here in 1673 and Chandannagar was founded soon after. Its heyday came following the...

Changanassery (Ker)

Mal: ചങ്ങനാശ്ശേരി c(h)aṅ(g)anāśśēri ‘Sengan’s  Town’   Town, Kerala From Senguttavan Cheran and Mal/Tam: c(h)ēri ‘town, village, settlement’. Changanassery’s history dates back to the early period of the Chera dynasty (c. 1st-3rdC) in the Sangam period when Kuttunad...

Chavakkad (Ker)

Mal: ചാവക്കാട്  c(h)āvakkāṭ ‘Dead Forest’  [Chowghat]  Town,  Kerala  From Tam/Mal: c(h)āva, ‘dead’, ‘blighted’; kāṭu, ‘forest’, ‘jungle’. Some suggest a forest ‘curse’ but, being on a coastal land,  it is more likely to be a barren or infertile stretch of land. St...

Chenab River (Him, J&K)

 (Confluence of the) Chandra and Bhaga Rivers’ [Asikni, Chandrabhaga] Himachal Pradesh (Him), Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) The Chenab River flows through Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and into Punjab, Pakistan. Asiniki, its original name, probably...

Chennai (TN)

Tam: சென்னை c(h)eṉṉai ‘Chennappa’s Village’ [Madras] City/ Capital/ District, Tamil Nadu From Tel:  Chennappa Nayaka; and Tam: paṭṭiṉam, ‘coastal town’, ‘fishing village/hamlet’ The English East India Company acquired land (actually, a small...

Cherrapunji/Sohra (Meg)

Ben: চেরাপুঞ্জি  c(h)ērāpuñji ‘Sohra Cluster’/’Scanty Fruit’  Town/Sub-division, Meghalaya From Sohra and Ben: puñja, ‘group’, cluster’; and Kha: sohra, ‘bearing small or scanty fruits’. Sohra is Cherrapunji’s local name and its official name.  Cherrapunji is a...

Cherthala (Ker)

Mal: ചേര്‍ത്തല c(h)ērttala ‘Joined Land’  Town, Kerala From Tam/Mal: c(h)ēr/c(h)ērtt, ‘join’, ‘attach’, ‘add’; Mal: aḷam, coastal area.  It is possible that the name refers to ancient land reclamation: extensive parts of the backwaters have been reclaimed from...

Chhatarpur (MP)

Hin: छतरपुर chhatarapur ‘Chhatrasal’s Town’  City/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From (Maharaja) Chhatrasal; and Skt: pur, ‘(fortified) town’, ‘city’. The town takes its name from Maharaja Chhatrasal of Panna (1671-1731).he...

Chhindwara (MP)

Hin: छिंदवाड़ा chhindavāṛā ‘Date Place’   City/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) Hin: chhind, ‘Date palm tree’ [Phoenix sylvestris]; and vāṛā, ‘abode/place with’, ‘settlement’. This tree is known by many names:  wild date palm, toddy date palm,...

Chidambaram (TN)

Tam: சிதம்பரம் c(h)itamparam ‘Dwelling of Consciousness’  [Thillai]  Temple town, Tamil Nadu From Skt: c(h)it, ‘consciousness’, ‘soul’; and Skt: ambaram, ‘dwelling’, garment’, ‘atmosphere’. Chidambaram has at its centre the remarkable 9thC Sri Nataraj temple, mythical...

Chikhaldara (Mah)

चिखलदरा cikhaladarā ‘Mud Canyon’ Hill Station, Maharashtra (Mah) Mar: cikhala, ‘mud’; and darā ‘gorge’, ‘canyon’ This 1,200m hill station is famous for its tigers and coffee plantations. The 407m Chikhaldara Skywalk...

Chikkamagaluru/Chikmagalur (Kar)

Kan: ಚಿಕ್ಕಮಗಳೂರು cikkamagaḷūru ‘Youngest Daughter’s Town’  City/District/Hill Station, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: cikka, ‘smallest/youngest’; magaḷa, ‘daughter’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. This town, or village as it probably was then, was given as a dowry by...

Chitradurga (Kar)

Kan: ಚಿತ್ರದುರ್ಗ citradurga ‘Bright Fort’  [Chitaldoorg]  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt: citra, ‘bright’, ‘wonderful’, ‘picturesque’; and Kan: durga ‘fort’, ‘stronghold’. Chitradurga is a seven-layered fort which sits astride a row of rugged hills peppered...

Coimbatore/Kovai (TN)

Tam: கோயம்புத்தூர் kōyamputtūr ‘Kovan’s New City’ [Kovai]  City/District, Tamil Nadu From Kovan; Tam: putu, ‘new’; and ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’. In this derivation Kovan puthur (named after the 9thC Irula tribal chieftain Kovan or Koyan) became Koyambatoor and was then...

Cooch Behar/ Koch Bihar (WB)

Ben: কোচবিহার kōcabihāra ‘Land of the Koch’ [Cooch-Bihar, Coss-Beyhar, Kuch Behar, Kutch-Behar, Cooch-Behaar, Cooch-Behar, Kooch-Behar, Koch-Bihar, Koch Vihar, Koosh-Beyhar]  City/District, West Bengal  From Ben: kōca, ‘(a member of) aboriginal tribe’; and Skt/Pali:...

Coonoor (TN)

Tam: குன்னூர kuṉṉūr ‘Mountain Slope’  Town/Taluk, Tamil Nadu From Bad/Tam: kunnu/kuṉṟu, ‘mountain’/ ‘escarpment’; Bad/Kan: ōra, ōre, ‘slope’. Coonoor is situated on the edge of a plateau, so the name fits.  The town is surrounded by tea and coffee plantations and...

Coromandel (TN, AP)

‘Land of the Cholas’   Coastline, Tamil Nadu  Andhra Pradesh From Chola (dynasty) and Tam: maṇṭalam, ‘district’, ‘region’, ‘country’ Coromandel refers to the eastern coast of (northern) Tamil Nadu from Kodiakkarai, a.k.a. Point Calimere, to the mouth of the Krishna...

Cuddalore (TN)

Tam: கடலூர் kaṭalūr ‘Junction Town’  City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: kūṭal, ‘junction’, ‘confluence’; and ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’. This is the place where the Indian Ocean and the Pennaiyar, Kedilam, Paravanar and Uppanaar rivers meet.  This is the most likely...

Darasuram (TN)

Tam: தாராசுரம் darasuram ‘Lord of Raja Raja’  Town, Temple, Tamil Nadu                                                                                                      From Raja Raja and  Skt: īśvara, ‘lord’                                                         ...

Darjeeling (WB)

Nep: दार्जीलिङ dārjīliṅa ‘Thunderbolt Land’    Hill Station/Town, West Bengal  From Lep: dor-je, ‘thunderbolt; and lyan(g), ‘abode’. The do-rje [Skt: vajra, ‘thunderbolt] is a bronze ritual object with lotus-tipped spokes symbolising rapid enlightenment in a single...

Dehradun (Utt)

Hin: देहरादून deharāḍūn ‘Valley Camp’  [Dehra Doon] -City/Capital/District, Uttarakhand From Hin: ḍērā, ‘encampment’, ‘temporary settlement’; and dūn(a), ‘valley’ The Doon Valley lies in a valley 4-700m up in the Himalayan foothills. The city itself is surrounded by...

Dergaon (Asm)

Asm: দেৰগাঁও dēragāon ‘God’s Village’  [Devagram] Town,  Assam From Asm: deor, ‘god’; and Asm: gāon, ‘village’  Its old name Devagram [From Skt:  deva, ‘god’; and grama, ‘village’] is simply a translation. The god in question is Shiva who has a temple here. It was...

Davanagere (Kan)

Kan: ದಾವಣಗೆರೆ dāvaṇagere ‘Wormwood Tank’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: davana, ‘Indian Wormwood’ [Artemisia indica]; and keṟe, ‘tank’. Davanagere is Karnataka’s seventh largest city and the glasshouse in its Botanical Gardens is the second largest in Asia....

Dharmapuri (TN)

Tam: தர்மபுரி darmapuri ‘City of Dharma’  [Tagadur]    City/District, Tamil Nadu From Skt: dharma, ‘religion’, ‘virtue’, ‘duty’; and pura, ‘town’, ‘(fortified) city’. In the earliest times the name was Tagadur [Tam: takaṭu/takaram, ‘metal plate’, ‘tin’; and ūr,...

Dibrugarh (Asm)

Asm: ডিব্ৰুগড় ḍibrugaṛa ‘Fort on the River Dibru’   [Dibrumukh]  City/District, Assam From Bod: dibru, ‘River Dibru’ [Bod:  di, ‘water’, ‘river’; and dib(a)ru, ‘blister’] and Asm/Hin:  mukh, ‘mouth’; garh, ‘fort’, ‘rampart’. The mukh in...

Dikhowmukh (Asm)

‘Mouth of the River Dikhow’  Village, Assam From River Dikhow [Bod: di, ‘water’, ‘river’; khau/khow, ‘deep’, ‘steep’; and Asm/Hin: mukh, ‘mouth’]. The Dikhow river flows northwards from Nagaland and joins the Brahmaputra at Dikhowmukh. Dikhowmukh was an important Ahom...

Dakshin Dinajpur/Uttar Dinajpur (WB)

Ben: দক্ষিণ/উত্ত দিনাজপুর dakṣiṇa/uttara dinājapura ‘Dinaj’s City’  Districts, West Bengal  From Dinaj; Ben: dakṣiṇa, ‘south’; and uttarāśā, ‘north’. Dinajpur District, at Independence, was split up into West Dinajpur district and East Dinajpur. East Dinajpur,...

Dindigul (TN)

Tam: திண்டுக்கல் tiṇṭukkal ‘Pillow Rock’  [Tintukkal] City/District, Tamil Nadu From: Tam: tiṇṭu ‘pillow’, ‘semicircular cushion’; and kal, ‘rock’. Dindigul Fort (270m high and 2.75km round) was built on a wedge-shaped rock in 1605.  It was under Nayak rule for more...

Dum Dum/Dumdum (WB)

Ben: দমদম damadama ‘Bang Bang’, ‘Battery’   City, West Bengal  From Ben: dum, ‘banging, booming or thudding noise’; Per: damdama, ‘disturbance’, ‘clamour’, ’drum’, ‘mound’, ’raised battery’. There are two fascinating possibilities for this place name with...

Durgapur (WB)

Ben: দুর্গাপুর durgāpura ‘Durgacharan’s City’  City, West Bengal From Durgacharan and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’.  Durgapur is a planned city, and West Bengal’s fourth largest. It was designed by two American architects in 1955 under the instructions of  Dr. Bidhan...

Ernakulam (Ker)

Mal: എറണാകുളം eṟaṇākuḷaṁ ‘Shiva’s Tank’   City/District,  Kerala From Iraiyanar, the Lord (Shiva);  and Tam/Mal: kuḷam, ‘tank’, ‘reservoir’ Shiva is the patron deity of Ernakulam and the 4,000 sq km Ernakulathappan Shiva...

Erode (TN)

Tam: ஈரோடு īrōṭu ‘Two Streams’   City/District,  Tamil Nadu From Tam: ir(u)/īr, ‘two’; and Tam: ōṭai, ‘stream’, ’water-course’, ‘dyke’, ’moat’. The 90km Kaingarayan canal connects the Bhavani and Noyyal rivers, tributaries of the Kaveri river. It was originally built...

Ezhikkara (Ker)

Mal: ഏഴിക്കര ēḻikkara ‘Riverside’   Village, Kerala From Mal: aḻi, ‘river (mouth)’, ‘harbour’; and kara, ‘shore’, ‘bank’. Ezhikkara is a small village surounded by coconut trees, rivers and lagoons with an...

Gadag-Betageri (Kar)

Kan: ಗದಗ-ಬೆಟಿಗೇರಿ gadaga-beṭigēri ‘Rocky Road-Hill Tank’  [Kaldugu] -City/District, Karnataka From  Kan: kal, ‘stone’, ‘boulder, ‘pebble’; Skt: durga, (difficult, uneven) road; ‘(inaccessible) place’; Kan: beṭṭa, ‘hill’; and kere/gere, ‘tank’, ‘reservoir’. The Kalyani...

Gajendragad (Kar)

Kan: ಗಜೇಂದ್ರಗಡ gajēndragaḍa ‘Elephant Fort’ [Gajendragarh] -Fort/Town, Karnataka (Kar) .From Sin: gajendra, ‘elephant’; Hin: gaṛh, ‘fort’ The fort was built by Shivaji, the Maratha chieftain, in the 17thC. Its film appearances (it has plenty of flat surfaces for...

Gangaikonda Cholapuram (TN)

Tam: கங்கைகொண்ட சோழபுரம் kaṅkaikoṇṭa cōḻapuram ‘The Chola who took the Ganges’   Village/Temple Site/former Capital, Tamil Nadu (TN) From Chola (dynasty); Ganga/Ganges (river); Tam: koṇṭa, ‘take’, ‘obtain’; and Skt: puram, ‘town’,...

Gangavathi (Kar)

Kan: ಗಂಗಾವತಿ gaṅgāvati ‘(Holy) River Village’  -City, Karnataka  From Ganga or Ganges, ‘goddess’ or ‘holy river’; and Dra: vāti, ‘village’, ‘settlement’. The Ganges is 1,500km away, as the crow flies. The Tungabhadra is a bit closer. The city is nicknamed...

Gangtok (Sik)

Nep: गान्तोक gāntōka ‘Snow Temple’  -City/District/Capital, Sikkim From Tib: gangs, ‘snow’; Sik: tok, ‘temple’. Sikkim was annexed by India in 1976. Gangtok (at an altitude of 1,650 m) is a Buddhist pilgrimage site and a centre for organised treks through the...

Garhgaon (Asm)

Asm: গড়গাঁও gaṛhgāon ‘Fort Village’  Town,  Assam From Asm: gaṛh, fort’, ‘ramparts’; and gāon, ‘village’ [Skt: grama]. The town was built in 1540 and was the Ahom capital from the 16-18thC. In 1747 a 5km fortified wall was built  around the city with gates and...

Gobichettipalayam (TN)

Tam: கோபிச்செட்டிப்பாளையம் gōpicceṭṭippāḷaiyam ‘Gobi Chetti’s Camp’  Town/Taluk,   Tamil Nadu From Gobi Chetty and Tam: pāḷaiyam , ‘camp’, ‘territory’. Gobi Chetti was a Polygar under the Vijayanagars. The Polygars were 16th–18thC governors  and chieftains who...

Gudalur (TN)

Tam: கூடலூர் gūṭalūr ‘Valley Town’  Town/Taluk, Tamil Nadu From Bad:  goḍalu, ‘dale between two hills’, ‘basin’, ‘valley’; and Bad/Tam: ūru village, town. The location matches the derivation perfectly. Gudalur is a tea plantation region sitting at the foot...

Gudiyattam (TN)

Tam: குடியாத்தம் guṭiyāttam ‘Village Way’   Town,  Tamil Nadu From Tam: kudi, ‘village’, ‘settlement (of family, tribe or people related to one another)’; and  Tam: attam, ‘way’, ‘road’, ‘(rough) path’.  Gudiyattam/Gudiyatham is nicknamed ‘Little Sivakasi’...

Guwahati (Asm)

Asm: গুৱাহাটী guwāhāṭi  ‘Betel-nut Market’  [Pragjyotishpura] City/ Capital, Assam From Asm: guwā, ‘areca nut’, ‘betel-nut’; and Ben: hāṭa  [Skt: haṭṭa], ‘market’. Guwahati’s history stretches back to ancient times and it is mentioned in the...

Hajo (Asm)

Asm: হাজো hājō ‘Hill’   Town, Assam From Bod:  hajo/hajw, ‘hill’.  Hajo is a pilgrimage site for three religions. The celebrated Hayagriva Madhava Hindu temple is dedicated to Narasimha, the part-man, part-lion incarnation of Vishnu Some Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists...

Haldia (WB)

Ben:  হলদিয়া haladiẏā ‘Yellow (City)’  City, West Bengal  From Hin/Ben: haldi/haladi, ‘turmeric’, ‘yellow’ Haldia is surrounded by the Haldi River on the west and the Hooghly on the other sides. The name suggests something yellow: the soil, perhaps, or the river. It...

Halebidu/Halebeedu (Kar)

Kan: ಹಳೇಬೀಡು haḷēbīḍu ‘Old City’ [Halebid]  Town/Monument, Karnataka From Kan: haḷē, ‘old’; and bīḍu, ‘camp’, ‘settlement’. Halebid was capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12thC. It is home to some superb Hindu and Jain temples, fine examples of ornate Hoysala...

Hampi (Kar)

Kan: ಹಂಪಿ hampi ‘Pampa’  Monument, Karnataka From Pampa river. In the epic Ramayana, the 531 km Tungabhadra River is called the Pampa. This name metamorphosed, in Kannada [p→h], to Hampa and was then anglicized to Hampi or Hampe. Hampi was the 14thC capital of the...

Haripad (Ker)

Mal: ഹരിപ്പാട് harippāṭ ‘Green Ricefields’   Town, Kerala.  From Mal: hari ‘green’; and  pāṭam/pāḍam/pāṭu ‘(range of) ricefields’, ‘rice-land’. Haripad is nicknamed ‘Town of Temples’. The two most famous ones are the  Subrahmanya Swamy temple and Mannarasala Temple...

Hatigar (Asm)

Asm: হাত্তিগড় hāttigaṛa ‘Elephant Fort’ [Gajpur] Village,  Assam From Asm/Hin: hāthī, ‘elephant’; and gaṛh, ‘fort’. Hatigarh literally means a fort or a rampart (garh) for confining elephants (hati). The  Ahom king, Suklingphaa (1795–1811 CE), used this site (close...

Hooghly/Hugli (WB)

Ben: হুগলি hugali ‘Elephant Grass’  City/River/District, West Bengal  From Ben: hogla, ‘elephant grass’ [Lesser Indian Reed Mace, Southern Cattail Typha Elephantine/Typha domingensis]. The district of Hooghly derived its name from the town of Hooghly on the west bank...

Hosapete/Hospet (Kar)

Kan:  ಹೊಸಪೇಟೆ hosapēṭe ‘New City’  [Nagalapura, Hospet]  City/District, Karnataka  From Kan: hosa, ‘new’; pete, ‘town’, ‘suburb’, ‘market’ [Tam: pēṭṭai]. Krishnadevaraya, a 16thC Vijayanagara emperor, built Hosapete and named it after his mother, Naagalaambika (the...

Hosur (TN)

Tam: ஓசூர் ōsūr ‘New City’  City, Tamil Nadu From Kan: posa/hosa, ‘new’; and ūr, village, town Hoysalas (a 10th-14thC empire centred on Halebid and Belur in modern Karnataka) ruled Hosur after the decline of Chola Empire. It then became part of the Vijayanagara empire...

Howrah (WB)

Ben: হাওড়া hāōṛā  ‘Swampy Lake’   City/District, West Bengal  From Ben: haōṛa,  ‘lake’, ‘fen’, ‘swamp’, ‘marsh’. A haora is a freshwater wetland, floodplain, lake or swamp. Howrah City and District sit opposite Kolkata are on the western bank...

Hubballi/Hubli-Dharwad (Kar)

Kan: ಹುಬ್ಬಳ್ಳಿ hubbaḷḷi ‘Flowering Creeper’, ‘Gateway’ [Hubballi, Pubballi] City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: pu→hū(v)u, ‘flower’; v→baḷḷi, ‘creeper’, ‘vine’; and Skt: dvāratā, ‘gateway’, ‘stopover’. It has been suggested that Dharwad was a stopover for...

Idukki (Ker)

Mal: ഇടുക്കി iṭukki ‘Gorge’  District, Kerala From Mal: iṭukku/iḍukkụ, ‘narrow passage’, ‘gorge’ Idukki  is a mountainous and densely forested region set in the Cardamom Hills. It spreads over an area of 4,358 km2 , making it the  second largest district in Kerala. It...

Imphal (Man)

(Asm): ইম্ফল imphala ‘Cluster of Houses’  -City/Capital/District, Manipur From Mei: yum, ‘house’; and Mei: phal, ‘together’. This implies a collection of houses or villages surrounding a royal enclosure at a time when most of them would be buried in a jungle of bamboo...

Jalpaiguri (WB)

 ‘(Place with) Olives’  City/District, West Bengal From Ben:  jalapāi, ‘olive’; (Ben)/Dra: guri, ‘place’. Guri is a place-name element found in the northern region of West Bengal [Siliguri, Mallaguri, Maynaguri] which many think has a Dravidian origin – it...

Jamnagar (Guj)

Guj: જામનગર jāmanagara ‘City of the Jam Dynasty’   – City/District,  Gujarat Nawanagar. From Jam (dynasty) and Skt: nagar, ‘city’. Jamnagar was founded as Nawanagar [Skt: nawa, ‘new’; and Skt: nagar, ‘city’] by Jam Rawal in 1540 as the capital of the...

Jangipur (WB)

Ben:জঙ্গিপুর jaṅgipura ‘Military City’  City, West Bengal From Ben: jaṅgi, ‘military’; and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. Jangipur is on a strategic ‘island’ between the Padma and Hooghly rivers. It has an interesting military history: (1) Jahanagir (1569–1627), the...

Jhargram (WB)

‘Forest Village’  City/District,  West Bengal From Hin/Ben: jhā/ jhāḍ, ‘bush’, ‘thicket’, ‘dense forest’; Ben: grāma, ‘village’, ‘(small) town’. The region around here was used to be called Jangalakhand [Ben:jaṅgala ‘bush’, ‘thicket’, ‘jungle’]. Even today Jhargram is...

Jorhat (Asm)

Asm: যোৰহাট jōrhāṭ ‘Twin Markets’  City/District, Assam From Asm: jor, ‘pair’; and Ben: hāṭa, ‘market’ [Skt: haṭṭa]. The ‘pair’ of markets existed in the 18thC on opposite banks of the Bhogdoi river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, which flows past the town. Jorhat...

Kadakkarappally (Mal)

Mal: കടക്കരപ്പള്ളി kaṭakkarappaḷḷi ‘Seashore Church’ From Mal: kaṭal‍/kaḍal, ‘sea’;  kara, ‘shore’; and paḷḷi, ‘hut’, ‘church’, ‘shrine’ This small coastal village is part of Alappuzha district. Its church, St...

Kaduthuruthy (Ker)

Mal: കടുത്തുരുത്തി kaṭutturutti ‘Sea Island’    Town, Kerala From Mal:  kaṭal‍/kaḍal, ‘sea’; and turutti, island Kaduthuruthy used to be on the coast (i.e. the complex pattern of seawater lagoons and backwaters that make up the coastline here): a 14thC...

Kalaburagi/Gulbarga (Kar)

Kan: ಕಲಬುರಗಿ kalaburagi ’Stone Garden’/’Rose Garden’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Hin/Urd: gulāb, ‘flower’, ‘rose’; or Kan: kal, ‘stone’, ‘boulder’; Hin/Urd: bāg, ‘garden’, ‘park’. Gulbarga was renamed Kalaburagi in 2014, a decision which did not meet...

Kalamassery (Ker)

Mal:കളമശ്ശേരി kaḷamaśśēri ‘Rice Settlement’      Suburb/Region (Kochi), Kerala From Mal: kaḷama, ‘(a kind of) rice growing in deep water’; and Tam/Mal: c(h)ēri/ś(h)ēri, ‘town’, ‘village’, ‘settlement’. This implies a rice growing region,...

Kalimpong (WB)

Ben: কালিম্পং kālimpaṁ  ‘Assembly Hill’  Town/District, West Bengal  From Lep: kalen/kaalen ‘assembly’; pung, ‘hillock’, ‘mound’.  Kalimpong has been controlled by kingdoms in both Sikkim and Bhutan and used to be a trading centre and ‘gateway’ to Tibet before the...

Kalpetta (Ker)

Mal: കൽപറ്റ kalpaṟṟa  ‘Rocky Place’ [Kalpaṟṟa]  Town, Kerala From Mal: kal, kallu ‘stone’, ‘rock’; and Tam: paṟṟam, ‘collection’, ‘mass’. Kalpetta is circled by mountains, rocks, waterfalls and terraces of spice, coffee and tea. It is in an ideal setting...

Kanchipuram (TN)

Tam: காஞ்சிபுரம் kāñcipuram ‘Kanchi City’  City/District, Tamil Nadu. From Tam: kāñc(h)i/kanji, ‘(river) Portia tree’ [Thespesia populnea]; or Skt: kāñcana, ‘gold’; ‘money’; and Skt: puram, ‘town’, ‘fort’, ‘city’. The sacred tree had many names: kalpa vriksha (tree of...

Kanhangad (Ker)

Mal: കാഞ്ഞങ്ങാട്  kāññaṅṅāṭ ‘Strychnine Forest’  Town,  Kerala. From Mal:  kāñjiram, ‘strychnine tree’, ‘snake wood tree’, ‘poison nut’ [Strychnos nux vomica]; and Tam/Mal: aṅkāṭi/aṅgaḍi/aṅṅāṭi, ‘bazaar/market’, ‘town/village’; or Mal:   kāṭu, ‘wilderness’, ‘wood’. ...

Kanjirangad (Ker)

Mal:കാഞ്ഞിരങ്ങാട് kāññiraṅṅāṭ ‘Strychnine Village’   Village, Kerala From Mal: kāñjiram, ‘strychnine tree’, ‘snake wood tree’, ‘poison nut’ [Strychnos nux vomica]; and Tam/Mal: aṅkāṭi/aṅgaḍi/aṅṅāṭi, ‘bazaar/market’, ‘town/village’; or Mal: kāṭu, ‘wilderness’, ‘wood’. ...

Kannur (Ker)

Mal: കണ്ണൂര്‍ kaṇṇūr ‘Bamboo Town’  [Cannanore] City/District,  Kerala From Mal: kaṇ(a)/ka(ṇ)ṇu, ‘bamboo (cane)’; and ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’, ‘city’. Kannur was an important trading centre (especially for spices) in the 12thC with important trading partnerships in...

Kanyakumari (TN)

Tam:கன்னியாகுமரி kaṉṉiyākumari ‘Virgin Goddess’  Town/District, Tamil Nadu Kanyakumari sits on the very tip of India, where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet. It is the ‘Land’s End’ of India. Its name comes from the Kanya...

Karaikudi (TN)

Tam: காரைக்குடி kāraikkuṭi ‘Karai Village’   City, Tamil Nadu Tam: kārai, ‘shrub’ [Canthium coromandelicum, Webera tetrandra]; and kudi, ‘village’, ‘settlement (of family, tribe or people related to one another)’. The Coromandel Boxwood is a very common coastal shrub:...

Karunagappalli (Ker)

Mal: കരുനാഗപ്പള്ളി karunāgappaḷḷi. ‘Cobra Village’  Town, Kerala. From Mal: karu, ‘black’;  nāgam/nāġam,  ‘snake’, ‘cobra’; and paḷḷi, ‘village’, ‘hamlet’. Karunagappalli/Karunagappally, a riverside town, is famous for its backwaters, houseboats, its boat club and...

Karur (TN)

Tam: கரூர் karūr ‘Black Town’  [Vanji]   City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: karu, ‘black’; ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’; and vañci, ‘creeper’. Karur’s predominant soil type is black, accounting for over one-third of the soil in the region and this place name....

Kasaragod (Ker)

Mal: കാസർഗോഡ് kāsargōḍ ‘Backwater Lake’  [Kanhirakode] Town/District,  Kerala From Mal: kāñjiram, ‘strychnine tree’, ‘snake wood tree’, ‘poison nut’ [Strychnos nux vomica]; and kāṭu, ‘wilderness’, ‘wood’ This derivation assumes that Kasaragoda is a simple corruption...

Kattapana (Ker)

Mal: കട്ടപ്പന kaṭṭappana ‘Palm Trees’    Town,  Kerala From Mal: kaṭṭa, ‘lump’, ‘mass’, ‘block’; and pana, ‘palm/palmyra tree’. Kattapana is located in the mountain ranges of Idukki District at an altitude of 1,000+m – an ideal location for growing the cardamom,...

Kayamkulam (Ker)

Mal: കായംകുളം kāyaṅkuḷaṁ ‘Backwater Lake’   Town, Kerala From Mal: kāyal‍, ‘backwater’, ‘lagoon’; and kuḷam, ‘tank’, ‘pool’, ‘lake’. Kayamkulam is located at the end of a saltwater lagoon. It is home to the 18thC Krishnapuram Palace built by King Marthanda Varma of ...

Kaziranga (Asm)

Asm: কাজিৰঙা kājirāṅgā  ‘Kazi’s Village’  National Park, Assam From Kbi: kaji/kazi,  female personal name; and rang/rong, ‘village’. Archaeological evidence suggests the Karbi people once ruled here. There are a number of derivations which are based on personal names...

Kharagpur (WB)

Ben: খড়্গপুর khaṛgapura ‘Kharga’s City’  City,  West Bengal  From Kharga Malla and Skt: pur, ‘city’ Kharga Malla, a 9thC king of the Mallabhum dynasty of Bishnupur,  conquered this city/region and named it after himself. Kharagpur is...

Kishangarh (Raj)

Hin: किशनगढ़ kiśanagaṛh  ‘Kishan’s Fort’  City, Rajasthan From Kishan and Hin: gaṛh, ‘(hill) fort’. The fort city was built by Kishan Singh in 1611. It later became the capital of the princely state of Kishangarh under British rule after 1818. Kishangarh is a centre...

Kochi/Cochin (Ker)

Mal: കൊച്ചി kōccī ‘Short Estuary’  [Kochchi, Cochym, Cochin]  City/District,  Kerala. From Mal: koccu, ‘short’, ‘small’; Mal/Tam: aḻi ‘rivermouth’, ‘place where the lagoon joins the sea’, ‘inlet to backwater’. Kochi is a port city with traditional links to trade with...

Kodaikanal (TN)

Tam: கொடைக்கானல் koṭaikkāṉal  ‘Forest of Creepers’ Hill Station,  Tamil Nadu From Tam: koṭi , ‘creeper’, ‘vine’; and kāṉal a forest on a hill-slope.  Kodaikanal was founded by American missionaries in the 19thC as an escape from the hot, dusty Tamil climate. It was...

Kodungallur (Ker)

Mal: കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍ koṭuṅṅallūr ‘Corner Town’  [Cranganore, Muziris]  Town, Kerala.  From Mal: kōḍu/i, ‘ end’, ‘corner’, ‘promontory’; nalla, ‘ good’, ‘fine’, ‘excellent’; and uru/uuru, ‘town’, ‘city’. Muziris was an important port with origins dating...

Kohima (Nag)

(Hin): कोहिमा kohima ‘Kewhi Flower’  [Kewhimia, Kewhi-ra] – City/Capital/District, Nagaland Kohima was founded in 1878  and became the HQ of the Naga Hills region. When the state of Nagaland was created in 1963 it became the capital. Kohima is a  British...

Kolara/Kolar (Kar)

Kan: ಕೋಲಾರ  kōlāra ‘Waterlily City’ [Kuvalapura Kolahalapura] City/District, Karnataka From Skt: kuvaḷa(ya), ‘(blue) waterlily’ [Kan: kōvaḷ, kōhaḷ, kōḷe]. Kolaramma has been the resident goddess of Kolara for a thousand years with her own Chola-style temple decked...

Kolkata/Calcutta (WB)

Ben: কলকাতা kalakātā ‘Kali Area/Ghat’ [Calcutta,Kalikata, Kalkata] City/Capital, West Bengal  Kolkata, one of the four original Indian ‘metros’, is now only the seventh largest city in India. It is the capital West Bengal and was the capital of British India...

Kollam – Quilon (Ker)

Mal: കൊല്ലം kollam ‘Palace’  [Quilon, Covlaõ]  City/District, Kerala From Mal: kollam, ‘residence of king’, ‘palace’ [kō, ‘king’; and  illam, ‘house’ cf. kōyil/kōvil/kōyilakam, ‘palace’, ‘temple’]  Kollam is an ancient port city which had...

Kottarakara (Ker)

Mal: കൊട്ടാരക്കര koṭṭārakkarā ‘Palace Shore’   Town, Kerala From Mal:: koṭṭāram, ‘royal residence/palace’, ‘place where temple-affairs are managed’, ‘storehouse/granary’; and: kara, ‘shore’, ‘riverside’. The Pulamon Thodu (river) flows through the town and we assume...

Kottayam (Ker)

Mal: കോട്ടയം kōṭṭayam ‘Interior of the Fort’  City/District,  Kerala From Mal: koṭṭā, ‘fort’, ‘residence’;  and  akam, ‘interior’, ‘inside’; or Mal/Tam: ayam, ‘pool’, ‘tank’.   The royal palace of the Thekkumkur ruler was protected by a fort called Thaliyilkotta. The...

Kovalam (Ker)

Mal: കോവളം kōvaḷam ‘King’s Coast’   Town/Resort,  Kerala From Mal: kō, ‘king’; or kōyam/kōva, ‘temple’, ‘palace’; and aḷam, ‘coastal area’, ‘sea’, ‘saltpan’. There are two ‘twin’ Kovalams in Tamil Nadu (one near Kanyakumari, the other...

Koyilandy (Ker)

Mal: കൊയിലാണ്ടി kōyilāṇṭi ‘Temple Passage’ [Pandalayani Kollam, Fandaraina, Quilandi]  Town, Kerala From Mal: kōyil, kōvil, ‘temple’, ‘palace’; and kaṇti, ‘gap’, ‘breach’, ‘passage’, ‘lane’. Koyilandy is close to the medieval port of Pandalayani Kollam. This may...

Kozhikode/Calicut (Ker)

Mal:  കോഴിക്കോട്  kōḻikkōṭu ‘Palace Fort’  [Qalicut, Calicut] City/District,  Kerala From Mal: kōyil, kōvil, ‘palace’; or  kōḻi/kōzhi, ‘fowl’, ‘cock’; and kōṭ(ṭ)a, ‘fort’. The idea that this was originally a ‘fortified palace’ wins on points but ‘Cock Fort’ is...

Krishnagiri (TN)

Tam: கிருஷ்ணகிரி kiruṣṇakiri ‘Krishna Hill’   City/District, Tamil Nadu From Krishnadevarayar and Skt: giri, ‘mountain’, ‘hill’, ‘rock’ Krishnagiri Fort was built by Krishnadevarayar, a 16thC Vijayanagara Emperor. He reigned from 1509 to 1529 when the Empire was at...

Krishnanagar (WB)

Ben: কৃষ্ণনগর kr̥ṣṇanagara ‘Krishnachandra’s City’  City, West Bengal  Raja Krishnachandra/Krishnachandra Roy was an 18thC raja and zamindar. He led a sustained resistance to Muslim rule and Maratha raids. He is remembered as a visionary leader and patron of poetry,...

Kuduremukha/Kudremukh (Kar)

Kan: ಕುದುರೆಮುಖ kuduremukha  ‘Horse Face’  Mountain Range/Peak, Karnataka From Kan: kudure, ‘horse’, ‘knight (in chess)’; and Skt: mukha, ‘mouth’. Kuduremukha is a 1,894 m peak (Karnataka’s second highest), mountain range, national park, hill station and mining...

Kumbakonam (TN)

Tam: கும்பகோணம் kumpakōṇam  ‘Cosmic Pot Corner’   City, Tamil Nadu From Tam: kumpam, ‘small water-jar’, ‘sacrificial pot’, ‘pinnacle (of a temple’; and  kōṇam, ‘angle’, ‘corner’. Every twelve years hundreds of thousands of devotees flock to the holy town of Kumbakonam...

Kunnamkulam (Ker)

Mal: കുന്നംകുളം kunnamkulam ‘Hill Ponds’   Town,  Kerala Mal:  kunnu/kunnam, ‘hill’, ‘mountain’; and kuḷam, ‘tank’, ‘pool’, ‘lake’. There are a range of small hills which border the town [Adupputty, Cherukunnu, Kizhoor and Kakkad] and small ponds dotted between...

Kurseong (WB)

Nep: खरसाङ kharasāṅa ‘Little Orchid’   Town, West Bengal From Lep: kurson-rip, ‘little orchid’ [Coelogyne cristata] These little white orchids can be found in the valleys around the town. The town is a tea centre with dozens of plantations. It...

Madurai (TN)

Tam: மதுரை madurai ‘Walled City’ [Matirai]   City/District,  Tamil Nadu From Tam: matiḷ, ‘wall (round a fort)’, ‘walled city or fortification’ Records of the name Matirai date back to 2ndC Tamil-Brahmi cave inscriptions. Madurai was once a double-walled fortified...

Majuli (Asm)

Asm: মাজুলী mājulī ‘Middle of the Water’   Island/District, Assam From Skt/Asm/Ben: madhya/mājha, ‘middle’; and  jala, ‘water’, ‘stream’. Majuli is in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest river island in the world. It can be accessed via ferry from Jorhat. It...

Malappuram (Ker)

Mal: മലപ്പുറം malappuram ‘City in the Hills’  City/District,  Kerala From Mal: mala, ‘mountain’, ‘raised land’, ‘hill-land’; and Skt: pur(am), ‘fort’, ‘town’, ‘city’. The area features hills and  mountains carpeted in green with freshwater streams flowing down into...

Malda/English Bazar (WB)

Ben: মালদা māladā ‘Wealthy (city)’  [Maldah, Maldaha, English Bazar, Angrezabad] City/District, West Bengal  From Urd: māl-dār, ‘wealthy’. Malda is a port on the Mahananda and Kalindi rivers and has been a trading centre for mango, mulberry, jute, silk, wheat, rice,...

Mamallapuram/Mahabalipuram (TN)

Tam: மாமல்லபுரம் mamallapuram ‘Great Wrestler’s City’  [Mahabalipuram]   Town,  Tamil Nadu From Skt: maha, ‘great’; Skt/Tam: malla, ‘wrestler’, ‘athlete’; and Skt: pura, ‘town’, ‘city’. Narasimhavarman I was a 7thC Pallava king. He completed the group of rock cut...

Mananthavady (Ker)

Mal: മാനന്തവാടി mānanthavādi ‘Great Bliss Village’      Town, Kerala From Skt: maha, ‘great’, ‘abundant’; ānanda, ‘joy’, ‘bliss’; and  Dra: paṭṭī/vāṭī, ‘settlement’, ‘town/village’; or Mal:  mān‍, ‘deer’; eyyuka, ytu, ‘shoot an arrow’; and Dra: paṭṭī/vāṭī,...

Mandya (Kar)

Kan: ಮಂಡ್ಯ maṇḍya ‘Settlement’  City/District, Karnataka Skt: mandira, ‘dwelling’, ‘resting place’, ‘house’, ’palace’, ‘camp‘, ‘temple’.  Like Mandvi (Gujarat) the most popular derivation is the unlikely one that the town was named after the ancient sage, Mandavya,...

Mangaluru/Mangalore (Kar)

Kan:ಮಂಗಳೂರು maṅgaḷūru ‘Mangaladevi’s City’  [Mangalore, Mangalapuram] City/District, Karnataka From Mangaladevi and Kan: ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. Mangalore is named after its  9thC temple dedicated to the goddess Mangaladevi who clearly brings the city great fortune...

Manjeri (Ker)

Mal: മഞ്ചേരി manjeri ‘Walled Settlement’  Town, Kerala From Mal: maṇ‍, ‘mud-wall’, ‘wall’, ‘stone-wall’; and  c(h)ēri ‘colony’, ‘settlement’. Manjeri is famous for its Stone Age sites including rock-cut caves, menhirs and dolmens. At one point it was the military HQ...

Manjeshwar (Ker)

Mal: മഞ്ചേശ്വരം manjeshvaram ‘Srimad Anantheswar’  Town, Kerala The most common explanation is that the town is named after its local deity, Srimath Anantheshwar. Over time this metamorphosed into Manjeshwar. The Anantheswar temple dates back to the 8thC and is...

Mannarsala Temple (Ker)

Mal: മണ്ണാറശ്ശാല mannaraśśāla ‘Coral Tree Hall’  Temple, Kerala From Mal: mandāram, ‘Indian coral tree [Erythrina Indica]; Mal/Skt: śāla, ‘hall’. Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple in Haripad is dedicated to Agaraja, the snake god. Thousands of snake images...

Maradu (Ker)

Mal: മരട് marat ‘Indian Laurel’   Suburb (Kochi), Kerala From Mal/Tam: marutu/maradu, ‘Indian Laurel [Terminalia tomentosa]’. The Indian laurel tree is famous for storing water during the dry season; this water can be tapped. Maradu is now a fast growing suburb of...

Mattanur/Mattannur (Ker)

Mal: മട്ടന്നൂര്‍ maṭṭaṉūr ‘River Bank’  Town, Kerala From Mal: māṭṭam, ‘entrenchment’, ‘ river bank’; and  ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’, ‘city’. Mattanur is famous for its percussion: the chenda, a loud two-sided cylindrical drum which features in temple ceremonies,...

Mavelikara (Ker)

Mal: മാവേലിക്കര māvēlikkara ‘Mahabali Bank’  Town,  Kerala From Mahābali/Māveli and  Mal: kara, ‘bank’, shore’, ‘riverside’ This mythological derivation relates the story of Maveli or Mahabali, the mythical king of Kerala and devotee of Vishnu. King Mahabali, despite...

Medinipur/Midnapore (WB)

Ben: মেদিনীপুর mēdinīpura ‘Madani’s City’ [Madanipur, Midnapore] City/District, West Bengal Thre most popular derivation is from Moulana Mustafa Madani, a Muslim scholar who was granted lands here by Aurangzeb, the 17thC Moghul emperor. There are...

Munnar (Ker)

Mal: മൂന്നാര്‍ mūṇṇāṟ ‘Three Rivers’  Town/Hill Station, Kerala From Mal: mūnnu, ‘three’; and āṟu, river. The three mountain streams are: Mudrapuzha, Kundala and Nallathanni. Munnar is famous for its tea plantations, waterfalls, hiking trails and spectacular views....

Murshidabad (WB)

Ben: মুর্শিদাবাদ murśidābāda ‘Murshid’s Town’  [Mukshudabad]  City/District, West Bengal  From Per: murshid, ‘(spiritual) guide’; and abad, ‘settlement’. Murshid Quli Khan (a.k.a. Mohammad Hadi and Surya Narayan Mishra) was the first Nawab of Bengal (1717-1727). He...

Muvattupuzha (Ker)

Mal: മുവാറ്റുപുഴ mūvāṭṭupuḻā  ‘Three River Confluence’  Town, Kerala From Mal: mūnnu, ‘three’; āṟu/āṟṟu, ‘river’; and  puḻa/puzha, ‘river’. The Muvattupuzha river flows through the town. It is the sacred Triveni Sangam (3-way confluence) of three rivers:...

Nabadwip/Nadia District (WB)

Ben: নবদ্বীপ nabadvīpa ‘New Island’ [Navadwip, Nadia, Nudiya] City/District, West Bengal. From Ben/Hin: naba, ‘new’; and dbīpa/dvipa, ‘island’ Nababadwip was formed by deposits left by the Hooghly (a distributary of the Ganges) creating a ‘new island’ as it swept from...

Nagaon (Asm)

Asm: নগাঁও nagām̐ō ‘New Village’  [Nowgong] Town/District,  Assam From Asm: na, ‘new’; and gāon, ‘village’ [Skt: grama].  Nowgong was a feeble British attempt at writing Nagaon. It is neither new (it dates back to at least the 17thC) nor a village (it has a population...

Nagapattinam (TN)

Tam: நாகப்பட்டினம் nākappaṭṭiṉam ‘Naga City’   Town/District,  Tamil Nadu From Nagas and Tam: paṭṭiṉam, ‘coastal city’, ‘sea-shore town’. The Nagas [from Skt/Tam: naga/nākam, ‘snake’, ‘cobra’] were an aboriginal, serpent-worshipping tribe associated with Sri Lanka and...

Nalbari (Asm)

Asm: নলবাৰী nalabāṛi ‘Reed Garden’  Town/District, Assam From Asm: nal, ‘(a kind of) reed’; and bari, ‘garden’, ‘compound’. At one time the Nalbari region was famous for its silks and the Tailaparnika perfume which, according to Kautilya’s Arthasastra, had the:...

Nazira (Asm)

Asm: নাজিৰা nājirā ‘Harbour’  Town,  Assam From Asm: nāo, ‘boat’;  and jira, ‘resting (place)’. One could imagine this as an inlet used as  a stopover on the River Dikhow. Other sources suggest: ‘Steep Field’. [from Aho: nā, field;  ji, ‘slant’;  and rā, ‘much’,...

Nedumangad (Ker)

Mal: നെടുമങ്ങാട് neṭumaṅkāṭ ‘Long Bazaar’  Town, Kerala From Mal: neṭu, ‘long’ ; and  aṅkāṭi/aṅgaḍi, ‘bazaar’, ‘market’. The modern Nedumangad market is the largest in southern Kerala. Nedumangad is also an important marketplace for agricultural commodities,...

Neyveli (TN)

Tam:நெய்வேலி neyvēli ‘Paddy Fields’      Town, Tamil Nadu From Tam: nel , ‘paddy’; vēli,  ‘field’, ‘enclosure’, ‘land’ At one time rice dominated the local economy, but since the 1960s lignite and thermal power stations have taken over: Neyveli...

Neyyattinkara (Ker)

Mal: നെയ്യാറ്റിൻകര neyyāṭiṉkara  ‘Shore of Neyyar River’  Town, Kerala From Neyyar;  Mal:  āṟu/āṟṟu, ‘river’; and kara, ‘bank’, shore’, ‘riverside’ The Neyyar river flows from Agasthya mountain, the highest peak in the Western Ghats (1868m), on the border with Tamil...

Nileshwaram/Nileshwar/Neeleswaram (Ker)

Mal: നിലേശ്വർ nīlēṣvar ‘Nilakanta Shiva’   Town, Kerala Neeleswaram is the abbreviated form of Neelakanta Ishwaran, formerly the seat of the Neeleswaram Rajahs. The name Nileshwar is derived from the name of the  temple, Thaliyil Neelakandeshwar, which is dedicated to...

Nilgiris/Nilgiri Hills (TN)

Tam: நீலகிரி nīlakiri ‘Blue Mountains’   District, Tamil Nadu From Skt/Tam: nīla(m) ‘blue’, ‘indigo’; and  Skt/Tam: giri, ‘mountain’, ‘hill’, ‘rock’ Some suggest that the name comes from the purple-blue flowers of the kurinji [Strobilanthes kunthiana], but since it...

Ongole (AP)

Tel: ఒంగోలు oṅgōlu ‘Crooked Town’ [Gundigapuri, Vangalaprolu, Vangavolu, Vangolu] City, Andhra Pradesh From Tel: vanka/vaṅgu/vangi, ‘crooked’, ‘bent’; or Vanga(la); and Tel: prolu→v(r)olu →olu, ‘(tax) district’, ‘town’, ‘city’....

Ottappalam (Ker)

Mal: ഒറ്റപ്പാലം oṟṟappālaṁ ‘Single Bridge’   Town, Kerala From Mal: oṟṟa, ott(r)a, ‘single’, ‘one’; and pālam, ‘bridge (over a river)’. The Ottappalam-Mayannur bridges stretches 0.71km across the Bharathapuzha river. For related place names see Indian Place...

Palakkad (Ker)

Mal: പാലക്കാട് pālakkāṭ ‘Blackboard Tree Wood’  [Palghat, Palakkattussery]  City/District, Kerala, From Mal: pāla, ‘blackboard tree’ [Echites/Alstonia  scholaris]; and  kāṭu, ‘wilderness’, ‘wood’.  This is sometimes called the ‘seven-leaved milk-tree’ because of its...

Palani (TN)

Tam:பழனி paḻaṉi ‘Paddy Fields’   Town, Tamil Nadu From Tam: paḻaṉam/pazhaṉam, ‘agricultural land’, ‘rice-fields’. Palani, one of the Arupadai Veedu (six battle camps) of Lord Murugan, is a pilgrimage destination for seven million devotees of Murugan every year. In...

Pandalam (Ker)

Mal: പന്തളം pantaḷaṁ ‘Pandalam (Dynasty)’    Town,  Kerala The Pandalam dynasty was a branch of the Pandya kingdom which fled here in the 10thC. Their territory covered nearly 3,000 sq. km: Konni, Achankovil, Tenkasi and the forest regions of Sabarimala, the...

Paravur (Ker)

Mal: പരവൂർ paravūr ‘Paravar Village’    Town, Kerala From Paravar and Mal: ūr, ‘town’, ‘village’. Some suggest that the name comers from the seafaring Paravar tribe/community who have lived on the coast here (and in Tamil Nadu) since ancient times. Paravur...

Parganas 24 North/South

Ben: সাউথ/নার্থ 24 পরগনা  nārtha/sāutha 24 paraganā ’24 Divisions’  – Districts, West Bengal  From Ben: paraganā, ‘administrative division’. The District name is derived from the number of parganas granted by Nawab Mir Jafar to the East India Company...

Pathanamthitta (Ker)

Mal: പത്തനംതിട്ട pattanantiṭṭa  ‘Riverside Dwelling’ Town/District, Kerala From Mal: paṭṭaṇam, ‘abode’, ‘dwelling’; and tiṭṭa, ‘bank’, ‘shoal’.  The river here is the 128km Achankovil. The Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is in Pathanamthitta District and because it is the...

Pattadakal (Kar)

Kan: ಪಟ್ಟದ್ಕಲ್ಲು  paṭṭadkallu  ‘Coronation Stone’ [Raktapura] From Skt: paṭṭa ‘crown’, ‘band’, ‘ribbon’; Kan: kal/kallu, ‘stone’. Pattadakal is a complex of exquisitely crafted 7-8thC Hindu and Jain temples. It is the artistic and spiritual legacy, with neighboring...

Perinthalmanna (Ker)

Mal: പെരിന്തല്‍മണ്ണ  perintalmaṇṇa  ‘Great Wrestling Ground’   Town,  Kerala From Mal:  peru, ‘great’, ‘large’; tallu, ‘beating’, ‘fighting’ (boxing/wrestling); and maṇ(ṇa), ‘soil’, ‘earth’, ‘ground’. Perintalmanna was famous for its Mamankam post-harvest festivals...

Pollachi (TN)

Tam: பொள்ளாச்சி poḷḷācci ‘Sesban Forest’  Town/Taluk,  Tamil Nadu From Tam: poḻil, ‘grove’, ‘forest’; and akatti/accam/acci, ‘sesban’ or ‘West Indian pea tree’ [Sesbania grandiflora] a.k.a. ‘corkwood’, ‘swamp pea’,...

Ponnani (Ker)

Mal: പൊന്നാനി ponnāni ‘Gold Coin’  Town/Taluk, Kerala From Mal: pon, ‘gold’; and nāṇayaṁ, ‘coin’. Gold coins were introduced by Arab and Persian traders. Ponnani has been an important port since ancient times. It was the principal principle trade route between Malabar...

Pudukottai (TN)

Tam: புதுக்கோட்டை putukkōṭṭai ‘New Fort’  City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: putu, ‘new’; and Tam: kōṭṭai, ‘fort’, ‘fortified town’. Pudukottai was a kingdom founded in the late 17thC by the Raja of Ramnad, Raghunatha Setupati, The nearby Thirumayam Fort is a 16...

Puhar/Poompuhar (TN)

Tam: பூம்புகார் pūmpukār ‘Seaport’  [Poompuhar, Kaveripoompattinam]  Town/Ancient Seaport, Tamil Nadu From Tam: pukār, ‘mouth of a river’; ‘seaport’ Puhar was an ancient seaport on the east coast. At one time it served as both...

Punalur (Ker)

Mal: പുനലൂർ punalūr ‘Riverbridge’  Town, Kerala From Mal: puṇal, ‘water’, ‘river’; and ūr, ‘town’, ‘city’. Punalur is situated on the banks of the 121km Kallada river. Its 120m suspension bridge, built in 1877,  is nicknamed the ‘London Bridge of Kerala’...

Raichur (Kar)

Kan: ರಾಯಚೂರು rāyac(h)ūru ‘Royal City’  City/District, Karnataka From Kan: rāya(ca), ‘royal’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. There has been a fort here since the 7-8thC under the Chalukyas of Badami – it was rebuilt in the 13thC. Raichur was a part of the...

Raiganj (WB)

Ben: রায়গঞ্জ rāẏagañja ‘Mustard Market’  City, West Bengal Ben: rāi, ‘mustard’; and Hin/Ben/Urd: gañja, ‘central market’, ‘bazaar’, ‘storehouse’ [orig. Per: gāṅj, ‘treasure’]. Raiganj was founded as a river port trading in rice, jute, jaggery and mustard. In its...

Rajapalayam (TN)

Tam: இராசபாளையம் irācapāḷaiyam ‘Raju Cantonment’    City/Taluk, Tamil Nadu From Tam: pāḷaiyam, ‘fort’, ‘camp’, ‘cantonment’. The Rajus, a Telugu speaking community, migrated here from Andhra Pradesh following the collapse of the Vijayanagara Empire  in the 17thC. They...

Ramanathapuram (TN)

Tam: இராமநாதபுரம் irāmanātapuram  ‘Lord Rama’s Town’  [Ramnad]   Town, Tamil Nadu From Rama; Skt: nātha, ‘lord’, ‘master’; and puram, ‘town’, ‘city’. Ramnad has traditionally  included the Hindu holy island city of Rameswaram with its ornate multi-pillared...

Ramanattukara (Ker)

Mal: രാമനാട്ടുകര rāmanāṭṭukara ‘Rama’s Riverbank’  Town, Kerala From Rama, the hero of the Ramayana epic and Mal: āṟu/āṟṟu, ‘river’; and kara, ‘shore’, ‘riverside’. Ramanattukara sits on the southern bank of 169km Chaliyar river which flows into the sea at Beypore....

Ranaghat (WB)

Ben: রাণাঘাট  rāṇāghāṭa ‘Red Ghat’   City, West Bengal  From Ben: rāṅā, ‘red’, ‘scarlet’; and ghāṭa, ‘landing-stage (on riverbank)’, ‘quay’. Ranaghat is famous for flowers, flower gradens, flower markets, floriculture and handloom. Possibly this lent the city it a bit...

Ranebennuru (Kar)

Kan: ರಾಣೇಬೆನ್ನೂರು rāṇēbennūru ‘Queen’s Town’   City, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt/Pkt: rājṇī/rāṇī, ‘queen’; Kan: rāṇē(ben), ‘queen’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. The ‘ben(n)’ insert appears in two other towns: Santhebennur,  Motebennur and there are three more Bennurs;...

Rangpur (Asm)

‘City of Joy’  Monument/Palace, Assam From Asm: ranga, ‘joy’, ‘pleasure’; and  Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. Rangpur, founded in 1707, was the fourth capital of the Ahom kingdom and its military base. It fell into rebel hands towards the end of the century but by the...

Ranipet (TN)

Tam: இராணிப்பேட்டை irāṇippēṭṭai  ‘Queen’s Suburb’    Town/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: irāṇi , ‘queen’; and pēṭṭai, ‘suburb (of fort)’, ‘village near a market town’. Local songs and plays commemorate the valour of Desingh Raj. In 1771 the young prince (he was only...

Robertsonpete (Kar)

Kan: ರಾಬರ್ಟಸನ್‌ಪೇಟ್ rābarṭasan‌pēṭ ‘Robertson Suburb’   Town, Karnataka From Robertson and Kan: pete, ‘town’, ‘suburb’, ‘market’ [Tam: pēṭṭai]. Robertsonpete was built and designed in 1902 to accommodate the population overspill from the Kolar Gold Fields....

Sadiya (Asm)

Asm: শদিয়া śadiẏā ‘City of Sathyakanarayana’  [Sadhayapuri]  Town,  Assam This is an abbreviation of Sadhyaka-narayana -pur, the city of 14thC King Sathyakanarayana. Sadiya was the Chutia Kingdom’s third capital. It was founded in the 13thC and lasted through until...

Salem (TN)

Tam: சேலம் sēlam ‘Mountain (City)’   City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: cayilam/śailam, ‘mountain’. Salem is situated at the foot of the Shevaroy Hills and his surrounded by mountains in all directions: Nagaramalai,  Jarugumalai Kanjamalai and Godumalai. Salem dates...

Seven Sisters – North East Region (NER)

The ‘Seven Sisters’ are a family of seven states on the North Eastern Region (NER) of India: Arunachal Pradesh (ArP), Assam (Asm), Manipur (Man), Meghalaya (Meg), Mizoram (Miz), Nagaland (Nag), Tripura (Tri). Sikkim is usually included as a brother state....

Shivamogga/Shimoga (Kar)

Kan: ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗ śivamogga ‘Shiva Lane’  [Shimoga] City/District, Karnataka From Kan: mukku/mogge, ‘lane’ [Tam: mukku, ‘lane’,  ‘corner’, ‘junction’]. There are no shortage of alternatives, many of which have myths to accompany them: Shiva-Mukha [Skt/Kan: mukha/moga,...

Shravanabelagola/Sravanabelagola (Kar)

Kan: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ śravaṇabeḷagoḷa ‘Monk’s White Pond’  Town, Karnataka From Skt: śramaṇa, ‘ascetic’, ‘mendicant’, ‘(Buddhist or Jain) monk’; Kan: beḷ/veḷ, ‘bright’, shining’, ‘white’; and koḷa/koḷahe, ‘pond’. This is the site of the 18m, 10thC Gommateshwara...

Silchar (Asm)

Asm: শিলচর śilac(h)ara ‘Stone Bank’  City, Assam From Asm: śilā, ‘stone’; char, ‘(river) bank’. Silchar is the second largest city in Assam, famous for tea cultivation. Indira Gandhi called it the ‘Island of Peace’ during a time when it was a beacon of stability in a...

Siliguri (WB)

Ben: শিলিগুড়ি  śiliguṛi  ‘Rocky Place’  City, West Bengal. Ben: śilā, ‘stone’, ‘rock’; (Ben)/Dra: guri, ‘place’. Siliguri is the third largest city in West Bengal, only 35km from its twin Jalpaiguri. Historically it has been at the crossroads between Nepal, Sikkim,...

Sivakasi (TN)

Tam: சிவகாசி sivakāci ‘Shiva’s City of Light’   City, Tamil Nadu From S(h)iva; and Kas(h)i, ‘Varanasi, (City of) Light [Skt: kāśī, ‘light’, ‘splendour’]. Harikesari Parakkirama, a 16thC Pandya king, went to Kasi (Varanasi) to fetch a lingam for a new...

Shillong (Meg)

‘Shyllong’  City/Capital, Meghalaya From Lei Shyllong, a Khasi god. Shillong Peak (U Lum Shyllong) is the highest mountain in Meghalaya. Its name comes from the Khasi god, Lei Shyllong who is said to live on the mountain. Khasis still perform rituals and ceremonies...

Sivasagar (Asm)

Asm: শিৱসাগৰ śivasāgara ‘Shiva’s Ocean’  [Sibsagar] City/District,  Assam From Shiva; and Skt: sāgar, ‘ocean, ‘sea’. The city gets its name from the big tank/lake in the city centre built in the 1730s by the Ahom queen Phuleswari. The three temples along its banks...

Srirangapatnam/Srirangapatna (Kar)

Kan: ಶ್ರೀರಂಗಪಟ್ಟಣ śrīraṅgapaṭṭaṇa ‘Sri Ranga City’  [Seringapatnam] Temple Town, Karnataka  From Sri Ranga, ‘(name for) Vishnu’; and Kan: paṭṭaṇam, ‘(port/coastal) town’, ‘city’.  The city is named after the 10thC Sri Ranganthaswamy temple. Sri Ranga(natha) is the the...

Sultan Bathery (Ker)

Mal: സുൽത്താൻ ബത്തേരി sulttān battēri ‘Tipu Sultan’s Battery’ [Ganapathivattam]  Town, Kerala Tipu Sultan, ‘Tiger of Mysore’ and ruler of the Mysore Kingdom, used the 13thC Jain Temple here as an artillery and ammunition dump.  The original name refers to the...

Taliparamba (Ker)

Mal: തളിപ്പറമ്പ് taḷippaṟamp ‘Temple Ground’  Town,  Kerala From Mal: taḷi, ‘temple’; or taḷika, ‘plate’; and paṟanpu, ‘terraced ground’, ‘higher ground’, ‘orchard’. The plate has its own tale which is also the legend of the founding of the...

Tamluk (WB)

Ben: তমলুক tamaluka ‘Copper (port)’ [Tamralipta, Tamolika, Tamralipti, Tamoluk] -Town, West Bengal.  Tamluk is the HQ of the Purba Medinipur district. Tamluk is the site of the ancient city variously known as Tamralipta or Tamralipti dating from the 3rd...

Tenkasi (TN)

Tam: தென்காசி teṉkāci ‘Southern Varanasi’     Town/District, Tamil Nadu Tam: ten, ’south’ and Kas(h)i, ‘Varanasi, (City of) Light [Skt: kāśī, ‘light’, ‘splendour’]. Parakraman, a 15thC Pandyan king, had a dream in which Lord Siva told him to build him to match the...

Tezpur (Asm)

Asm:তেজপুৰ tējapura ‘City of Blood’   City,  Assam Asm/Ben: tez/tej, ‘blood’[Skt: śōṇita]; and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. Tezpur is situated in Sonitpur, a District with which it shares its original name. Bana, the arrogant thousand-armed king and ardent devotee of...

Thalassery (Ker)

 ‘Upper Village’    Town, Kerala From Mal: tala, ‘head’, ‘top’; and c(h)ēri, ‘colony’, ‘settlement’, ‘village’ ‘Top’ could mean ‘upper’ or on ‘higher ground’. Thalassery if famous for its cake (Kerala’s first bakery), cricket (first place in...

Thanjavur (TN)

Tam: தஞ்சாவூர் tañcāvūr  ‘City of Refuge’ [Tanjore]  City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: tañcam, ‘refuge’, ‘protection’; and Tam:  ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’. The Chola Empire dominated South India and beyond from 9-13thC and Thanjavur was its capital for most of that...

Thekaddy (Ker)

Mal: തേക്കടി tēkkaṭi ‘Teak Forest’  Town, Kerala From Mal: tēkku, ‘teak’ [Tectona grandis]; and kāṭu, ‘forest’, ‘jungle’. Teak is a wood valued for its toughness and water resistance. Thekkady is near Periyar National Park, a wildlife sanctuary with dense forest and...

Thirurangadi (Ker)

Mal: തിരുരങ്ങാടി tiruraṅ(k)āṭi ‘Great Market’   [Tiruwarankad] Town, Kerala From Mal:  tiru, ‘eminent’, ‘prosperous’; and aṅkāṭi/aṅgaḍi, ‘bazaar’, ‘market’. Tirurangad was the site of two important events: (1) The Battle of Tirurangadi (December, 1790):  a series of...

Thiruvaiyaru (TN)

Tam: திருவையாறு tiruvaiyāṟu ‘Five Rivers’  Town, Tamil Nadu From Tam:  tiru, ‘eminent’, ‘prosperous’;  aintu, ‘five’; and āṟu, ’river’. Thiruvaiyuru sits in the middle of three parallel rivers and their tributaries: Kollidam, Kaveri (+Kudamurutti) and Vennar (+Vatar)....

Thiruvalla (Ker)

Mal: തിരുവല്ല tiruvalla ‘Sri Vallabha’  Town,  Kerala From Sri Vallabha and Mal: tiru ‘eminent’, ’holy’, ‘auspicious’, ‘prosperous’; Thiruvalla is named after its temple. This ancient temple is dedicated to Sree Vallabha, Lord Vishnu [Skt: vallabha...

Thodupuzha (Ker)

Mal: തൊടുപുഴ toṭupuḻā ‘Stream River’  Town,  Kerala From Mal: tōṭu, ‘water-course’, ‘rivulet’, ‘stream’; and puḻa/puzha, ‘river’. The stream became a river and the river became a town. Thodupuzha has an agricultural economy based on rubber and a wide...

Thoothukkudi/Tuticorin (TN)

Tam: தூத்துக்குடி tūttukkuṭi ‘Wetlands Settlement’ [Tuticorin]  City/District  Tamil Nadu From Tam: tiruttu , ‘cultivated wet land’, ‘paddy field’, ‘reclaimed land’; and Tam: kudi, ‘settlement’, ‘colony’. This suggests that Thootukudi could have been built...

Thrikkakkara (Ker)

Mal: തൃക്കാക്കര trikkākkara ‘Land of the Holy Foot’   Town, Kerala From Mal: tiru, ‘holy’, ‘auspicious’;  kāl, ‘leg’, ‘foot’; and kara, ‘land’, ‘place’, ‘shore’. Thrikkakara Temple is dedicated to Vamana, the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu. The myth told here (and at the...

Tinsukia (Asm)

Asm: তিনিচুকীয়া tinasukiẏā ‘Three-cornered Tank’   [Bengmora] City/District, Assam From Asm: tini, ‘three’; kōṇa, ‘corner’; and pukhuraī, ‘tank’.  Bengmora was the capital of the Motok kingdom which rebelled against the Ahom kings. It was founded by...

Tiruchirappalli (TN)

Tam: திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி tiruccirāppaḷḷi ‘Holy Rock Town’ [Trichy, Trichinopoly]  City/District  Tamil Nadu From Tam:  tiru, ‘holy’, ‘sacred’; cilā/cilai, śilā. ‘stone’, ‘rock’; and paḷḷi, ‘village’. A 16thC inscription (1520) records the name as Tiru-śśilla-paḷḷi. ...

Tirumangalam (TN)

Tam: திருமங்கலம் tirumaṅkalam  ‘Prosperous Land’  Town, Tamil Nadu From Tam: tiru, ‘prosperous’, ‘eminent’, ‘auspicious’; and mankalam, ‘agricultural tract’, ‘fertile country’, ‘prosperous land’. In loan words Skt: mangalam has a similar meaning to Tam:...

Tirunelveli (TN)

Tam: திருநெல்வேலி tirunelvēli ‘Paddy Field’  [Tinnevelly, Nellai]  City/District  Tamil Nadu From Tam:  tiru, ‘prosperous’, ‘eminent’, ‘auspicious’; and  nel , ‘paddy’; Tam: vēli,  ‘field’, ‘enclosure’, ‘land’. Tirunelveli has a history dating back at least two...

Tiruppur (TN)

Tam: திருப்பூர் tiruppūr ‘Holy City’  City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: tiru, ‘holy’, ‘eminent’, ‘auspicious’; and Skt: puram, ‘town’, ‘city’. Tiruppur has temples dating back to the Cholas and Pandyas including the 10thC Sukreeswarar Temple. Tiruppur’s main claim...

Tirur (Ker)

Mal: തിരൂര്‍ tirūr ‘Prosperous Town’  Town, Kerala From Mal:  tiru ‘eminent’, ’holy’, ‘auspicious’, ‘prosperous’; and ūr, ‘town’, ‘city’. The modern city earns its keep from fish, coconuts, betel leaves and electronics. The Tirur Betel Leaf has its own GI Tag (a...

Tiruvannamalai (TN)

Tam: திருவண்ணாமலை tiruvaṇṇāmalai ‘Holy Red Mountain’   City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: tiru, ‘holy’, ‘eminent’, ‘auspicious’; aṇṇā/aruṇa, ‘red’, ‘(colour of the) dawn’; and malai, ‘mountain’, ‘hill’. Aruṇācala, the Red Mountain [Tam: acala(m), ‘mountain’] is...

Travancore (Ker)

Historic Kingdom and Region, Kerala Tiruvalumkotu→tiruvitamkotu. From Tam: tiru ‘eminent’, ‘prosperous’;  vāḻum , ‘prosperity’, ‘happiness’; and kōṭu, ‘(fortified) place’, ‘stronghold’. The kingdom of Travancore was named  after Thiruvithamkodu in present-day...

Triplicane – Thiruvallikeni (TN)

Tam: திருவல்லிக்கேணி tiruvallikkēṇi ‘Holy Lily Pond’  Locality (Chennai), Tamil Nadu From Tam:  t(h)iru, ‘sacred’, ‘auspicious’; alli, ‘water lily (the plant and the flower)’; and kēṇi, ‘pond’,...

Tumakuru/Tumkur (Kar)

Kan: ತುಮಕೂರು tumakūru ‘Mangosteen Town’ [Tumkur] City/District, Karnataka From Kan: tumaki/tumari/tumbari, ‘wild mangosteen tree’ [Diospyros peregrina/Diospyros embryopteris]; or tumbe/tumbi, ‘Ceylon slitwort’ [Leucas zeylanica]. The modern city is a food processing...

Tura (Meg)

‘Durama Imbama’  [Dura]  City, Meghalaya From Durama Imbama, a Garo god. Tura is in the foothills of the Tura Hills. Tura peak (872m) is where the Garo goddess Durama Imbama lives.  Tura is in the West of Meghalaya and is closer to Assam, Guwahati, West Bengal and...

Udhagamandalam/Ooty/Ootacamund (TN)

Tam: உதகமண்டலம் utakamaṇṭalam ‘Single Stone Settlement’  [Ooty, Ootacamund]   City, Tamil Nadu From Tam: oṟṟai, ‘single’; kal, ‘stone’, ‘rock’; Tod/Kot: moḏ/manḏ, ‘Toda village’. The modern Ooty  was founded in the 19thC on the site of a Toda mand. The British used it...

Udupi/Udipi (Kar)

Kan: ಉಡುಪಿ uḍupi ‘Elevated Village’  [Odipu] City, Karnataka From Tlu: odi, ‘elevated’, ‘high’; and ipu/apu/ape, ‘village’, settlement’. Tulu word ‘Odipu ‘(Odi+pu) means an elevated village. Udipi is known as the temple city. Its most famous one is the 13thC Sri...

Uppala (Ker)

Mal: ഉപ്പള uppaḷa ‘Saltpan’    Town, Kerala From Mal: uppu/uppaḷam, ‘salt/saltpan’, ‘saline land’. Uppala is famous for its beaches, shops and busy town centre. For related place names see Indian Place names and Kerala place names.  ...

Vaikom (Ker)

Mal: വൈക്കം vaikkaṁ ‘Deposits’  Town, Kerala From Mal: vaikkam, ‘deposits’, ‘alluvial ground’ This suggests that the sea has receded over time leaving alluvial deposits in its wake (see also Vechur/Vechoor (Ker)): Places situated on...

Vaniyambadi (TN)

Tam: வாணியம்பாடி vāṇiyampāṭi ‘Trading Town’  Town, Tamil Nadu From Tam: vāṇikam/vāṇiyam, ‘trade’, ‘commerce’; and Tam: pāṭi , ‘town’, village’. Leather is the mainstay of Vaniyambadi’s economy: it has more than 150 tanneries and manufactures a wide range of leather...

Varkala (Ker)

Mal: വർക്കല varkkala ‘Line of Rocks’  Town, Kerala From Mal: vara, ‘line’, ‘furrow’, ‘straight’; and kal, ‘rock’. Varkala has a unique cliff formation of red sandstone, in contrast to the the rest of coastal Kerala which is flat. The cliffs are a protected...

Vatakara/Vadakara (Ker)

Mal: വടകര vaṭakara ‘North Bank’  [Badagara] Town, Kerala From Mal: vaḍa, ‘north’; and  kara, ‘shore’, ‘riverside’. Vatakara lies on the northern shore of the  Kuttiyadi river. For related place names see Indian Place names and Kerala place names.  ...

Vechur/Vechoor (Ker)

Mal: വെച്ചൂർ veccūr ‘Alluvial Village’  Village, Kerala From Mal: vaikkam/vekka ‘deposits’, ‘alluvial ground’; and ūr, ‘town’, ‘city’. The name suggests [see Vaikom (Ker)] that this was originally a seashore that has receded over...

Vellore (TN)

Tam: வேலூர் vēlūr ‘Babul Tree Town’    City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: vēl , ‘babul tree’ [Vachellia nilotica]; and ūr, ‘village’, ‘town’. The babul, a thorny tree with yellow flowers, is also known as the gum arabic, thorn mimosa, Egyptian acacia or...

Vijayanagara/Vijayanagar (Kar)

Kan: ವಿಜಯನಗರ vijayanagara ‘Victory City’  Historic site/District, Karnataka  From Skt: vijaya, ‘conquest’, ‘victory’; and nagar, ‘city’. The District was named after the Vijayanagar Empire which dominated South India from the 13thto the 16thC from its capital at...

Vijayapura/Bijapur (Kar)

Kan: ವಿಜಯಪುರ vijayapura ‘Victory Town’ [Bijapur] City/District, Karnataka  Bijapur. From Skt: vijaya, ‘conquest’, ‘victory’; and pur, ‘fort’, ‘city’. The city was established in the 10th-11th centuries by the Kalyani Chalukyas. It was captured by the Bahmani Sultanate...

Villupuram (TN)

Tam: விழுப்புரம் viḻuppuram ‘Great Town’     City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: viḻu/vizhu, ‘great’, ‘excellent’. wealthy’; and puram, ‘town. ‘village’ Sugarcane is an important commercial crop in Viluppuram...

Virudhunagar (TN)

Tam: விருதுநகர் virutunakar ‘Victory Town’     City/District, Tamil Nadu From Tam: virutu , ‘banner’, ‘trophy’, ‘badge of victory’; and Skt: nagar, ‘city’. The town clearly commemorates a victory of some sort. But it is not clear what it was or when. Legends tell...

Williamnagar (Meg)

‘Williamson’s Town’  [Simsanggre]  Town, Meghalaya Williamson Ampang Sangma (1919 – 1990), a Garo leader, was a pioneer in the struggle for Meghalaya state and its founding Chief Minister.  He was born in Baghmara and fought his whole life for the rights and autonomy...