Gwalior (MP)

Hin: ग्वालियर gvāliyara ‘Cowherds’ Hill’ [Gopadri, Goaliar, Gwaliar, Gopachal, Gopagiri] City/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Skt: गोप gopā, ‘cowherd’; and adri,  ‘rock’, ‘hill’ Legends associate the name with...

Gondwana (MP)

‘Land of the Gonds’  Region, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Gond and Skt: वन vana, ‘forest’ The historical region also included parts of what are now Chhattisgarh (Chh), Maharashtra (Mah), and Andhra Pradesh (AP). It is named after the Gond tribe which has dominated the...

Abhayapuri (Asm)

Asm: অভয়াপুৰী  abhaẏāpuri ‘Ahhayeswari’s City’  -Town, Assam. From Abhayeswari and Skt: puri, ‘fort’, ‘city.  Abhayapuri was the third capital of the ancient Bijni Kingdom founded by Bijit Narayan (Chandra Narayan) in the 17thC. Abhayeswari Devi was the queen at the...

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...

Adam’s Peak (SL)

‘Holy Footprint’ [Sri Pada] – Mountain. From Skt/Pal: śrī, ‘holy, sacred’ and Skt/Pal: pada/pāda, ‘foot, footprint’.  This iconically conic mountain rises 2,243 m (7,359 ft) above the forests of the central highlands near Ratnapura. Near the summit is a 1.8 m...

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....

Adoor (Ker)

Mal: അടൂർ aṭūr ‘Valley Town’  City, Kerala. Mal: aṭi, ‘foot’, ‘bottom’, ‘base’; and Mal: ūr/oor village, town, city.  Adoor features slopes, valleys and the heaviest rainfall in Kerala (1,418mm in July alone). For related place names see Indian Place names and Kerala...

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...

Ahmedabad (Guj)

Guj: અમદાવાદ  amadāvāda ‘Ahmad’s City’  [Ashaval, Karnavati, Amdavad]  City/District,  Gujarat. From Ahmad (Khan) and Per: abad, ‘settlement’. Ashaval, the city’s first name, is a corruption of Asha Palli [from Asha, a Bhil tribal chief; and Skt/Dra: palli, ‘village’,...

Ahmednagar (Mah)

 Mar: अहमदनगर  ahamadanagara  ‘Ahmad’s City’  City/District, Maharashtra Ahmadnagar. From Ahmed and Skt: nagar, ‘city’ Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah I won a surprising victory  here in 1494 (against Mahmood Shah II of the Bahmani Sultanate) on the basis of which he founded...

Aihole (Kar)

Kan: ಐಹೊಳೆ  aihoḷe ‘Aryan Village’  [Ayyavole, Aryapura, Aivalli, Ahivolal] Archaeological Site/Ancient City, Karnataka. From Skt: arya, ‘noble’, ‘excellent’; and Kan: p/v→halli, ‘village’, ‘settlement’. Aihole is a major archaeological site featuring over 120...

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...

Ajanta Caves (Mah)

Mar: अजिंठा ajiṇṭhā ‘Shiva’   [Achinta]  Caves/Archaeological site, Maharashtra. The extraordinary Ajanta Caves feature rock-cut Buddhist monuments and paintings dating from 2ndC BCE to about the 5thC all set into a horsehoe  Although locals knew of their existence...

Ajmer (Raj)

Hin: अजमेर  ajamer ‘Invincible Ridge’  [Ajay Meru] City, District  Rajasthan. From Ajayaraj or Skt: ajay/ajayya, ‘invincible’; and Hin: meru, ‘mountain’, ‘ridge’.  Ajmer was founded by Ajayaraja I in the 7-9thC. It is positioned in a scenic valley surrounded by the...

Akola (Mah)

Mar: अकोला akōlā  ‘Akol Tree’ [Asadgad]  City/District, Maharashtra. From Hin/Mar: akol/ankol, ‘sage-leaved alangium’ [Alangium salviifolium].  The akol/ankol is a small tree. It is  used for the treatment of hemorrhoids and rheumatic arthritis. Also, legend has it...

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...

Alibag (Mah)

Mar: अलिबाग alibāga. ‘Ali’s Garden’ Town, Maharashtra. From Ali and Mar/Skt: bāga/bāgh, ‘garden’, ‘orchard’. The Bene Israel Jews lived here and there is a part of the town called Israel Ali” [Mar: āḷī , ‘lane’]. Local legends tell of Eli, a Bene...

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...

Aluthgama (SL)

Sin: අලුත්ගම alutgama – Tam: அளுத்கமை alutkamai.  ‘New Village’ Town, WP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: alut, ‘new’; and gama, ‘village’.  Not all that new.  It dates back to at least the 13thC and Thisara Sandeshaya, a 14thC poem written in the form of a message sent...

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...

Alwar (Raj)

Hin: अलवर alavar. ‘Salwar Town’ [Salwapur] City, District  Rajasthan. Cunningham’s theory is that Alwar is a corruption of Salwapur [→Salwar→Halawar→Alwar] a.k.a. Saubhanagara/Salwanagar, associated with the tribe of Salwas mentioned numerous times in the Mahabharata...

Amaravati (AP)

Tel: అమరావతి amarāvati. ‘Immortal City’  City/Capital  Andhra Pradesh. From Skt: amara, ‘ immortal’; Dra: paṭṭī/vāṭī, ‘settlement’, ‘town/village’. Amaravati was the ancient capital of the Satavahana dynasty in the 2ndC BCE. It was an important Buddhist centre and the...

Ambala (Har)

Hin: अम्बाला ambāla. ‘Mango Village’  City/District, Haryana. From Hin: amba , ‘mango’; Hin: wala, ‘a place with’, ‘village’. There are two other suggestions: from the goddess Bhawani Amba whose Temple still exists in Ambala city; named after Amba Rajput...

Ambalangoda (SL)

Sin: අම්බලන්ගොඩ ambalangoḍa – Tam: அம்பலாங்கொட ampalāṅkoṭa. ‘Rest-house Village’  Town, SP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: ambalama, ‘pilgrims’ rest-house’; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’.  Ambalamas were simple buildings to offer free overnight accommodation for...

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...

Ambepussa (SL)

Sin: අඹේපුස්ස ambēpussa ‘Mango Creeper’  -Town, SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: amba, ‘mango’ and puswela, ‘elephant creeper’.  The scientific name for this large woody climber is Entada phaseoloides/pusaetha. It is a liana, a long woody vine that wraps itself around other...

Amber/Amer (Raj)

Hin: आमेर amer ‘Ambikeshwar (Mahadev)’ – Fort/City, Rajasthan From Ambikeshwar. Amber Fort and Palace, and the town of Amer, date back to the 10thC. They took on their current form after being re-built and developed by Raja Man Singh I and Jai Singh I in the...

Ambikapur (Chh)

Hin: अंबिकापुर ambikāpūr ‘Ambika’s City’ – City/Capital (Surguja District), Chhattisgarh From Ambika and Skt/Hin: pur, ‘fort’, ‘city’. The name of the city  comes from Ambika Mahamaya Devi, an eight-armed goddess wielding an array of weapons...

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...

Ampara (SL)

Sin: අම්පාර – Tam அம்பார ampāra ‘Waterway’ -City/District, EP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ambu/Tam: am/ambu, ‘water’ and Sin: para, ‘road’, ‘way’, ‘path’.  Ampara was nothing more than a hunter’s rest-house until the Gal Oya redevelopment when...

Sri Lanka (SL)

Sri Lanka (SL) Sin: ශ්‍රී ලංකා śrī laṅkā – Tam: இலங்கை ilaṅkai Sri Lanka, according to legend, was populated in the 6thC BCE by Prince Vijaya and 700 fellow exiles from the kingdom of Vanga (Bengal). He founded the Sinhala dynasty [SKT: siṃha, ‘lion’], a name...

Amravati (Mah)

Mar: अमरावती amarāvatī ‘(Place with) Figs’   [Udumbravati, Umbravati, Oomrawutty] -City/District  Maharashtra From Mar: udumbara, ‘Cluster or Indian Fig’ [Ficus glomerata/racemosa]; and vāḍī/vāṭī, ‘enclosure’, ‘garden’. The Udumbara fig grows in bunches on the tree...

Amreli (Guj)

Guj: અમરેલી amarēlī ‘Immortal Village’  [Amarvalli/Amarpalli] – City/District, Gujarat From Guj/Skt: amar, ‘immortal’, ‘indestructible’;  and Skt/Dra:: palli, ‘village’, ‘hamlet’.  Amreli was transformed from a village to a town under the Gaekwad Marathas (a...

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...

Anand (Guj)

Guj: આણંદ āṇand(a) ‘City of Joy’   -City/District, Gujarat From Guj/Skt: anand, ‘joy’, ‘bliss’; and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’.  This implies an underlying Anandpur for which there is no evidence here (although there are 63 Anandpurs in India). Of the four Anands in...

Anantapur (AP)

Tel: అనంతపురం anantapuraṁ(u) ‘Boundless Ocean’  [Anantapuramu] – City/District, Andhra Pradesh From Skt: ananta, ‘endless’, ‘infinite’; and pur, ‘town’, ‘city’. Anantapur was named after a big tank/reservoir called Anantasagara  [Skt: sāgara, ‘sea’, ‘ocean’]....

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...

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...

Anjuna (Goa)

Kon: हणजुणें haṇajuṇēṁ ‘Merchant Guild’ – Town/Beach, Goa From Kan/Tel: hanjama, hanjamana, ‘merchant guild’ [Per: anjuman; Tam: anjuvannam]. This term referred to a medieval association of Persian or Arabic merchants and traders. In the 10thC this was a...

Anuradhapura (SL)

Sin: අනුරාධපුර anurādhapura – Tam: அனுராதபுரம் aṉurātapuram ‘Anuradha’s City’  – City/Ancient Capital/District/Archaeological Site, NCP,  Sri Lanka From Anurādha and Skt: pur/pura, ‘(walled) city, fort, settlement’.  The ancient capital of Sri Lanka was...

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),...

Aravalli Range (Raj)

Hin: अरावली arāvalī  ‘Line of Jagged Peaks’ – Mountain Range From Skt: ārāvalī, ‘row of awl-shaped hills’ [Skt: ārā, ‘shoemaker’s awl/knife; Skt: āvali, ‘row’, ‘range’].  The mountains stretch 700 km through Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat reaching a...

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...

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...

Arugam Bay (SL)

Tam: அறுகம் குடா aṟukam kuṭā – Sin: ආරුගම් බොක්ක ārugam bokka ‘Bermuda Grass Bay’   [Arugam Kudah]  -Resort, EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: arugam-pul, ‘Bermuda grass’ [Cynodon dactylon].  Bermuda grass is a plant of many names: it is also known as durva grass,...

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...

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,...

Aurangabad (Mah)

Mar: औरंगाबाद  auraṅgābāda ‘Aurangzeb’s City’ [Paithan, Daulutabad, Fatehnagar]  -City/District  Maharashtra From Aurangzeb and Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. In 1610 Malik Ambar founded Khadki, a new city which was intended to be the capital of the Ahmadnagar...

Avissawella (SL)

Sin: අවිස්සාවේල්ල avissāvēlla – Tam:அவிசாவள avisāvaḷai ‘Impassable Shore’  [Sitawaka/Seethawaka(pura)] – Town, WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: avis(h)aya, ‘impossible’, ‘difficult’, ‘treacherous’; and wella/vælla,...

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...

Badulla (SL)

Sin: බදුල්ල badulla –  Tam: பதுளை batuḷai ‘Marking Nut Tree’  -City/Capital, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: badulla, ‘marking nut tree’ [Semecarpus anacardium] Semecarpus anacardium is called the ‘marking nut’ because dhobies used it to make an...

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...

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...

Balangoda (SL)

Sin: බළන්ගොඩ baḷangoḍa – Tam: பலாங்கொடை balāṅkoṭai ‘Look-out Hill’ -Town, SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: balanawa, ‘look, superintend, observe, protect’; and goda, ‘bank, hill, village’. Balangoda was the site where skeletons of anatomically modern humans dating back...

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...

Banaskantha (Guj)

Guj: બનાસકાંઠા  banāsakāṇṭhā ‘Bank of the River Banas’  – District,  Gujarat From West Banas river [Guj: ban, forest’, ‘wood’]; and Guj: kantha, ‘bank’, ‘shore’.  The 266km West Banas river flows from the southern Aravalli Range in Rajasthan, through Gujarat...

Bandarawela (SL)

Sin: බණ්ඩාරවෙල baṇḍāravela – Tam: பண்டாரவெல baṇṭāravela ‘Prince’s Field’  -Town, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bandara, ‘son of a chief or prince’; and wela, field. This prince got a prize piece of real estate because Bandarawela is generally accepted to have the...

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...

Banswara (Raj)

Hin: बांसवाड़ा bānsavāṛā ‘Bamboo Country’ – City/District, Rajasthan From Bansia, a Bhil tribal chief or Hin: bã̄s/bans, ‘bamboo’ forests; and vāṛā, ‘abode/place with’, ‘settlement’. Banswara is something of a green oasis with an abundance of thick bamboo...

Baran (Raj)

Hin: बाराँ bāran ‘Twelve Towns’ [Varah Nagari] City/District Rajasthan From Hin: bārah, ‘twelve’; and Hin: nagar, ‘city’, ‘town’. In the 14-15thC  the Chalukya (a.k.a. Solanki Rajputs) ruled the ‘twelve’ towns that constituted Baran state [Hin: bārah]. Varaha, the...

Bardez (Goa)

Kon: बार्देस  bārḍēs ‘Twelve Regions’ – Taluk/Sub-district, Goa From Hin/Mar: bārā, ‘twelve’; and Hin/Skt: desh/deśa, ‘country’, ‘region’. The name refers to the immigration of Saraswat Brahmins (cf. the thirty settlements of Tiswadi. The twelve regions,...

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...

Baripada (Odi)

ବାରିପଦା bāripadā ‘Water Village’  City, Odisha From Odi: bāri , ‘water’; padā, ‘village’. Also Trb: bauri, a large tribal community found here, in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Baripada is the HQ of Mayurbhanj district. The city’s Jagannath shrine dates from...

Barmer (Raj)

Hin: बाड़मेर  bāramēr ‘Bahada’s Hill Fort’  [Malani, Bahadamer Kot] -City/District, Rajasthan From Bahada; Hin: mer(u), ‘mountain’, ‘ridge’; and Skt/Hin: koṭa, ‘fortress’. Barmer is derived from Bahada Rao Parmar who built Bahadamer Kot in Juna (some 25km away) in the...

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...

Battaramulla (SL)

Sin: බත්තරමුල්ල battaramulla – Tam: பத்தரமுல்லை battaramullai ‘Rice Ferry Corner’ Suburb (Colombo), WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bat, ‘boiled/cooked rice, meal’; tara, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank, port, harbour’; and mulla, ‘corner, angle’. In the 15thC, the heyday of ...

Batticaloa (SL)

Tam: மட்டக்களப்பு  maṭṭakkaḷappu  – Sin: මඩකලපුව maḍakalapuva ‘Muddy Lagoon’ -City/District, EP,  Sri Lanka   From Sin: mada, ‘mud, slime, scum, froth’; and Sin: kalapuwa, ‘lagoon, salt water lake’. Batticaloa is a Portuguese corruption of a Dutch variation...

Beed (Mah)

Hin: बीड  bīḍa ‘Well’   [Bir, Bhir]   City/District  Maharashtra From Ara/Per: biir/be’r ‘well’, ‘pit’; Per: bhir ‘water’. Muhammad bin Tugluq built a fort here in the 14thC and, according to the 18thC Tārīkh-e-Bīr (‘History of Beed’), found abundant sources of...

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...

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,...

Benaulim (Goa)

Kon: बेनौलिम benaulim ‘Forest Village’   Village/Beach, Goa From Kan: vana(m)/bana, ‘forest’, ‘garden’; and Kan: halli/valli →auli, ‘village’, ‘hamlet’. An alternative derivation is  Kan:  bāṇa, ‘arrow’ and has a myth to match. Parashurama (Vishnu’s sixth incarnation,...

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...

Bentota (SL)

Sin: බෙන්තොට – Sin: பெந்தொட bentoṭa   ‘Bemthara Estuary’  -Town/Resort, SP,   Sri Lanka From Bemthara/Benthara Ganga, ‘Bentota River’; and Sin: tota, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank’. Bentota sits at the mouth of the Benthara Ganga, its position marked historically by a...

Beruwala (SL)

Sin: බේරුවල  bēruvala – Tam: பேருவளை bēruvaḷai  ‘Beru Forest’   Town, WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: beru, ‘leaf litter plant’  [Agrostistachys Indica, Agrostistachys hookeri]; and Sin: val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’. Beruwala has a majority Sri Lankan Moor...

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...

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...

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...

Bhalukpong (ArP)

 ‘City of King Bhaluka’  Town, Arunachal Pradesh Bhaluka, according to local folklore, was the grandson of Bana, a legendary king whose capital was at neighbouring Tezpur (Assam). Archaeological ruins of King Bhaluka’s kingdom are supposedly preserved here and there...

Bhandara (Mah)

Mar: भंडारा bhaṇḍāra ‘Treasury’   [Bhanara]   City/District  Maharashtra From Mar/Skt: bhāṇḍāra(m)/bhāṇḍāgāra ‘treasury’, ‘store-house’. Bhandara is nicknamed the ‘Brass City’ on account of its traditional brassworking trade. Some have suggested that the onamatopoeic...

Bharatpur (Raj)

Hin: भरतपुर  bharatapūra ‘Bharat’s City’  [Bhurtpore] City/District, Rajasthan From Bharata and  Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. The city, founded by Maharaja Suraj Mal in 1733, is named after Bharat, the half-brother of Rama who served as the king of Ayodhya during the...

Bharuch (Guj)

Guj: ભરૂચ bharūc(h) ‘Bhrigu’s Riverbank’  [Broach]  -City/District, Gujarat From Bhrigu and Skt/Guj: kachchha/kaccha, ‘bank’, ‘border’.  This derivation implies that the modern name is a corruption of Bhrigukaccha. Bhrigu is one of the Seven Sages of Vedic India....

Bhavnagar (Guj)

Guj: ભાવનગર  bhāvanagara ‘Bhavsinhji’s City’  – City/District, Gujarat From Bhavsinhji and Skt: nagar, ‘city’. This city was founded in 1724 by Bhavsinhji Gohil (1703–1764). It was the capital of Bhavnagar, a princely state before it joined the Indian Union in...

Bhilwara (Raj)

Hin: भीलवाड़ा  bhilavāṛā ‘Bhil Country’  City/District,  Rajasthan From Bhil tribe and Hin: vāṛā, ‘abode’, ‘settlement’, ‘colony’. Bhil are tribal people found in western and central India. According to legend Bhils from this region were allies of Maharan Pratap...

Bhimavaram (AP)

Tel: భీమవరం bhīmavaraṁ ‘Bhima’s Gift’  [Bhimapuram]City, Andhra Pradesh  . From Bhima and Skt: puri, ‘fort’, ‘city’; or Tel: varamu, ‘boon’, ‘blessing’, ‘gift’. Legends tell the story of Chalukya Bheema, a 10thC Eastern Chalukya king, who built a temple to Siva here...

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...

Bibile (SL)

Sin: බිබිලේ  bibilē – Tam: பிபிலை bibilai ‘Spring’    Town, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bibula/bibilu/bibila, ‘bubble, fountain, spring’. Bibile is more famous for its sweet oranges than its spring water. There are more than 3,000 acres being cultivated in the...

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...

Bicholim (Goa)

Kon: बिचोलिम bicholim ‘Bright Village’ [Dicholi]  Town, Goa From Skt: dīpa(ka), ‘bright’, ‘beautiful’, ‘shining’; and Kan: halli/valli →oli, ‘village’; Skt: viṣaya, ‘kingdom’, ‘province’. This place-name has three linguistic...

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...

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...

Bikaner (Raj)

Hin: बीकानेर bikānēr ‘Bika’s Grove’  [Bikanagar]  City/District,  Rajasthan From Bika and Skt: nagar(a)→ner, ‘town, ‘settlement’. Rao Bika, one of Rao Jodha’s sons, the founder of Jodhpur, built Bikaner in the 15thC in an arid wilderness called Jangladesh...

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...

Bundi (Raj)

Hin: बूंदी  bundī ‘Narrow Passage’  [Bunda-ka-Nal, Boondi] – City/District,  Rajasthan  From Hin: band/bund, ‘narrow’; Hin: nal, ‘passage’, ‘channel’. Bundi is situated, like an oasis, in a narrow passage in a valley in the Aravalli Hills. Bundi lies north-east...

Bobbili (AP)

 Tel: బొబ్బిలి bobbili ‘Great Tiger’ Town, Andhra Pradesh  The town of Bobbili was founded during the 17thC by Pedda Rayadu. He came into the area under the patronage of Sher [Hin/Urd: sher, ‘tiger’] Mohammad Khan who granted him land in recognition of his services....

Boralesgamuwa (SL)

Sin: බොරලැස්ගමුව boralæsgamuva – Tam: போரலெஸ்கமுவ bōraleskamuva ‘Clay Village’   City, Colombo District/WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bora, ‘mud, clay, sediment’ or boralu, ‘gravel, pebbles’; and gama/gamuwa, ‘village’. Boralesgamuwa has one of the largest industrial...

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...

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...

Calangute (Goa)

Kon: कळंगुट kaḷaṅguṭ ‘Kali Temple’   Town, Goa From Kali and Kan: guḍi, ‘house, temple’ [Tam: kuṭi]. There used to be a Kali temple here (many temples sought refuge inland under the Portuguese), built by fishermen seeking the goddess’s protection from the elements....

Canacona (Goa)

Kon: काणकोण kāṇkŏṇ ‘Forest Corner’ [Kadkona]  City/Taluk, Goa From Kan: kāḍu, ‘forest’, ‘jungle’; and Kan: kōṇ(a), ‘angle’, ‘corner’. Assuming Kadkona is the original name, this derivation is the simplest (with various name twins in South...

Candolim (Goa)

Kon: कांदोळी kāndōḷī ‘Dyke Village’   Town, Goa From Mar: kāṇḍōḷī, ‘embankment’, ‘dyke’; and Kan: halli/valli →oli, ‘village’, ‘hamlet’.  The dykes are a system of raised ridges of earth used to reclaim marshland and capture water for irrigation. Candolim was the...

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...

Champaner (Guj)

Guj: ચાંપાનેર  c(h)āmpānēra ‘Champa’s City’ – [Muhammadabad] – Ancient City and Archaeological Site, Gujarat From Champa and Skt: ayana→ana, ‘place’, ‘abode’ or nagara, ‘town’, ‘settlement. Champaner was founded by King Vanraj of the...

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...

Chandrapur (Mah)

Mar: चंद्रपूर  c(h)andrapūra ‘Moon City’  City/District  Maharashtra From Skt: c(h)and(r)a, ‘shining’, ‘pleasant’, ‘moon’; and Skt: pur, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. The Chanda dynasty started with Bhim Balal Sha in the 9thC and ended in the 18thC with Nilkant Sha. This Gond...

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...

Chavakachcheri (SL)

Tam: சாவகச்சேரி – Sin: චාවකච්චේරි  c(h)āvakaccēri  ‘Java Town’  Town, NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: Chavaka, ‘Javanese (people)’; and cheri, ‘town, village, hamlet, street’. This settlement dates back to the 13thC. Chandrabhanu, a Javanese ruler of the kingdom of...

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...

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...

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...

Chilaw (SL)

Tam: சிலாபம் c(h)ilāpam – Sin: හලාවත halāvata ‘Pearl Fishery’  Town, NWP,  Sri Lanka From Por: c(i)lão, a corruption of Tam: c(h)ilapam, ‘pearl-fishery’. Divers operated the coast from Mannar to Chilaw until the early 20thC, collecting as many as 3,000 oysters a...

Chiplun (Mah)

Mar: चिपळूण  c(h)ipaḷūṇa ‘Pure Mind’  -City/District    Maharashtra From Chitpavan [Skt: pāvana, ‘pure’, ‘holy’; Skt: c(h)itta, ‘mind’, ‘thought’]. This area was the original home of the Chitpavan Brahmins which suggests that Chiplun is a corruption of their name....

Chirala (AP)

Tel: చీరాల cīrāla ‘Garment Town’ [Kshirapuri] City, Andhra Pradesh  The original name, Kshirapuri, means ‘City of Milk’ [from Skt: kṣīra, ‘milk’; and puri, ‘fort’, ‘city’]. Given the region’s traditional association with handloom weaving and textiles it is suggested...

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...

Chittoor (AP)

Tel: చిత్తూరు cittūru ‘Spiritual City’ City/District, Andhra Pradesh From Tel: chit, ‘spiritual’; and uru/uuru, ‘town’, ‘city’. There are 43 important temples in Chittoor District including the Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati and the Si Kalahasti temple. Chittoor was...

Chittorgarh (Raj)

Hin: चित्तौड़गढ़  c(h)ittōṛagaṛh ‘Chitranga’s Fort’  [Chitrakuta] – City/District, Rajasthan From Chitrangada and Hin/Skt: gaṛh, kuṭa/koṭa, ‘fort’. Chitrangada, a Mauryan ruler, founded Chittorgarh in the 3rdC, although mythology connects the fort to the...

Chundikkulam Lagoon (SL)

Tam: சுண்டிக்குளம் c(h)uṇṭikkuḷam – Sinhala: කුම්බවැව kumbavæwa  ‘Dried-up Lake’  -Lagoon/Lake, Town, NP,   Sri Lanka From Tam: kulam, ‘tank, reservoir, lake’; and chundu (chundi-), ‘dry up, be evaporated by heat’. Chundikkulam (also Elephant Pass Lagoon) has...

Churu (Raj)

Hin: चूरू c(h)urū ‘Churuman’s City’  – City/District, Rajasthan King Churaman, a Rajput, founded Chura  in the Jangladesh region  [Skt: jangala, ‘desert’; Skt: deśa, ‘country’] in 1620. Thereafter ii was ruled by Rathore Rajputs and then became part of Bikaner...

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...

Colombo (SL)

Sin: කොළඹ  koḷamba – Tam: கொழும்பு koḻumpu ‘Port on the River Kolon’   -City/Commercial Capital/District, WP, Sri Lanka The Dove and the Mango Tree The Dutch Coat of Arms of Colombo pictures a dove in a mango tree. The dove is a play on the name...

Colombo Street Names (SL)

“Colombo Jumbo”  Sri Lanka.   This is a pdf copy of my book  “Colombo Jumbo: The Origin of Colombo Street Names” (2012) In the original there was a street name missing, so here it is: John Staples (1770-1839) from Kingswood in Hampshire was...

Colombo Zones (SL)

Colombo is divided into fifteen postal zones which run anti-clockwise  from Fort round to Mutwal. These match traditional names of areas of  Colombo, although (especially in Colombo North) they may merge many  of the old districts.   COLOMBO 1: FORT (COLOMBO) ...

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...

Cuncolim (Goa)

Kon: कुंकळी kuṅkaḷī ‘Saffron Village’  [Punyabhumi]  City, Goa From Skt: kuṅkuma, ‘saffron’; and  Kan: halli/valli →oli, ‘village’. Punyabhumi, an older name, suggests a ‘sacred land’ [from Skt: punya, ‘holy’, ‘sacred’; and Skt: bhūmi, ‘place’, ‘land’]. The 1583...

Curchorem (Goa)

Kon: कुडचडे  kuḍac(h)aḍē ‘Farmer’s Forest’ [Kudchade] -Town From Kan: kūti/kūtu, ‘hut’, ‘house’, ‘temple’;  Kan: kāḍu, ‘forest’, ‘jungle’. This town is now geared up for mining rather than farming or forestry. For related place...

Dahod (Guj)

Guj: દાહોદ dāhōda ‘Two Borders’   -City/District, Gujarat From Hin: do, ‘two’; and Hin/Guj: hada, ‘border’.  Dahod has borders with both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. There is also a suggestion that the name is linked to Saint Dadhichi who sacrificed himself so that...

Dalhousie (Him)

‘(Earl of) Dalhousie’ – Hill Station, Himachal Pradesh Dalhousie Town was named after The Earl of Dalhousie. The title refers to a hereditary peerage associated with the Ramsay clan and a castle in Midlothian, Scotland James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st...

Dambadeniya (SL)

Sin: දඹදෙණිය dambadeṇiya – Tam: தம்பதெனிய dampateṉiya  ‘Field of Damba Trees’  Ancient city, archaeological site, NWP, Sri Lanka From Sin: damba, ‘damba fruit tree’; and deniya, ‘level or cultivated ground, field’. The ‘damba tree’ is...

Dambana (SL)

Sin: දඹා dambāna ‘Forest Clearing’ -Village, UP, Sri Lanka From  Sin: dambu, ‘a field or chena cleared by burning forest or grassland for cultivation’; and ana, ‘place, grove, forest’. Dambana is now famous as a refuge for Vedda tribal people with its own Museum and...

Dambulla (SL)

Sin: දඹුල්ල dambulla – Tam: தம்புள்ளை dampuḷḷai  ‘Damba Tree Fountain’    Town, Cave Complex, CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: damba, ‘damba fruit tree’; and ul/ulla, ‘spring, fountain’. The ‘damba tree’ is confusingly known by a number of overlapping names: Malabar,...

Damoh (MP)

Hin: दमोह damōha  ‘Two Mouths’ City/District, [Damoa, Damauyo, Damauvanagara] Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Hin: दोमुँहा dōmum̐hā, ‘two mouths’ A fort was built here in the 14th century with only two points of entry/exit and it was nicknamed...

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...

Dangs (Guj)

Guj: ડાંગ ḍāṅga ‘Bamboo Forest’  District, Gujarat From Skt: dhān(us), ‘bamboo’, ‘bow (and arrow)’ Dang(s) is the smallest District in Gujarat with 657 square miles of forest including teak and bamboo. The population is 93.8% tribal and the five Bhil Kings of Dangs...

Darasuram (TN)

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

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...

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...

Datia (MP)

Hin: दमोह datiyā ‘Crooked Teeth’ City/District, [Dantavakra] Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Skt: danta, ‘teeth’; vakra, ‘crooked’ Datia has a legendary association with King Dantavakra  and the city’s name is simply a corruption of the...

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...

Daulatabad (Mah)

Mar: दौलताबाद daulatābāda ‘Fortune City’   [Devagiri, Deogiri]  -Village/Ancient City/Fort    Maharashtra From Urd: daulat, ‘fortune’, ‘happiness’; and Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. Founded as Devagiri/Deogiri in the 12thC [‘Hill of the Gods’, from Mar: deva/deo,...

Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia (SL)

Sin: දෙහිවල-ගල්කිස්ස dehivala-galkissa – Tam: தெஹிவளை-கல்கிசை dehivaḷai-galkisai ‘Lime Tree Forest’   Suburb (of Colombo), WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: dehi, ‘lime’; and Sin: val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’. Sir Thomas Maitland, Governor of Ceylon 1805-1811, built...

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...

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...

Deolali/Devlali (Mah)

Mar: देवळाली dēvaḷālī ‘God’s Village’ [Devalali, Deollaly] -Town/Hill Station  Maharashtra From Mar: deva/deo, ‘god, ‘deity’; and Mar:  valli, ‘village’ The slang word ‘doolally’ describes someone who is ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’. It is a 19th century word derived from...

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...

Dewas (MP)

Hin: देवास dēvāsa ‘Abode of God’ City/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Skt: devi, ‘goddess’, ‘deity’; vas(am), ‘abode’ The name Dewas is derived from the Tekti or Devi Vaishini hill in the city. The hill has a temple...

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,...

Dholpur (Raj)

Hin: धौलपुर dhaulapur ‘Dhaulya City’  – City/District, Rajasthan Dhawalpuri.  From Dhaulya and Skt: puri, ‘town’, ‘city’. The Dhaulyas (also Dhauliya, Dholya, Dhavala, Dholia) are a clan of Jats (a non-elite pastoral community in north and west India) who ruled...

Dhrang (Guj)

Guj: ધ્રાંગ dhrāṅga ‘(Frontier) Town’  -Village, Gujarat From Skt: draṅga, ‘town’. Sant Mekan Dada, the Sufi saint, spent most of his life in the Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat (India) searching for travellers lost in the desert and looking after survivors by...

Dhule (Mah)

Mar: धुळे dhuḷē ‘Dust’  -City/District  Maharashtra From Mar:  dhuḷē/dhūḷa, ‘dust’ Skt: dhūli In a region famous for its summer dust-storms it is tempting to reach for the obvious answer; particularly as there are no clear historical or topographical alternatives....

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...

Dikoya/Dickoya (SL)

Sin: දික්ඔය dikoya ‘Long Stream’  [Dickoya] Town, CP Sri Lanka From Sin: dik/dig, ‘long’ and oya, ‘river, stream – smaller than ganga’. The river, the town and the tea estate (founded in 1870) share the same name. For related place names see Sri...

Dikwella/Dickwella (SL)

Sin: දික්වැල්ල dikvælla ‘Long Beach’  Town, SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: dik/dig, ‘long’; and Sin: wella/vælla, ‘sand-bank’, ‘sandy plain’, ‘sandy shore’ How long? About 2km. How tall? 50m. Dikwella has Sri Lanka’s largest seated Buddha statue. For related place names see...

Dimbulagala (SL)

Sin: දිඹුලාගල dimbulāgala ‘Wood-apple Rock’  [Gunner’s Quoin, Gunner;s Rock] Rock/Observation Point, NCP  Sri Lanka From Sin: diwul/dimbul, ‘wood apple’ [Pali: udumbara]; and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. The name for this rock formation in British colonial...

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,...

Dindori (MP)

Hin: डिंडौरी ḍiṇḍaurī ‘Pole Town’ [Dandapuri] Town/District, Madhya Pradesh (MP) From Hin: ḍaṇḍā ‘pole’, ‘stick; Skt: puri, ‘fort’, ‘village’. Dindori District boasts a large resident Baiga tribal population and extensive sal forests. Article The Forest...

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...

Dondra/Devinuwara (SL)

Sin: දෙවිනුවර, දෙවුන්දර devinuvara, devundara – Tam: தேவேந்திரமுனை dēvēntiramuṉai ‘City of the God(s)’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: devi, ‘god’; and Sin/Pal: nuwara/nagara, ‘city’ or  Sin/Tam: tara/tura/turai, The name Dondra is...

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...

Dungarpur (Raj)

Hin: डूंगरपुर duṅgārapur ‘Dungar’s City’ – City/District, Rajasthan From Dungar(ia) and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. The chiefs of Dungarpur are descended from Mahup of Mewar state (centred around Udaipur) in the 12thC. After being disinherited by his father,...

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...

Dwarka (Guj)

Guj: દ્વારકા dvārakā ‘Gated City’ [Dwaravati, Mokshapuri, Dwarkamati]  -City/District, Gujarat From Skt: dvāram, ‘door’, ‘gateway’; and ; and Skt: vāṭī, ‘site’, ‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’. Dvāravatī suggests a city with many gates, or perhaps having one or several very...

Elephant Pass (SL)

Tam: ஆனையிறவு āṉaiyiṟavu – Sin: අලිමංකඩ alimankada Elephant Pass  Causeway, NP Sri Lanka Tam: Anaiyiravu; Sin: Alimankada From Tam: (y)anai, ‘elephant’ [Sin: aliya, ‘elephant’]; and Tam: iravu, ‘passage, place of descent’ [Sin: man, ‘road, path’ and kada,...

Ella (SL)

Sin: ඇල්ල ælla – Tam: எல்ல ella ‘Waterfall’  UP  Sri Lanka From Sin: ella, ‘waterfall, rapids’. The Ravana Falls are 25m high and  behind them is the Ravana Ella cave; legend, based on the Ramayana epic, tells of how Ravana, the demon, abducted Sita and...

Elpitiya (SL)

Sin: ඇල්පිටිය ælpiṭiya ‘Waterfall Plain’  SP   Sri Lanka From Sin: ella, ‘waterfall, rapids’; and pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’. The 12m Andahelena Ella or Elpitiya waterfall is 6 km away from the village, as the crow flies. Elpitiya is famous for its low grown...

Eluru (AP)

Tel: ఏలూరు ēlūru ‘Sun City’ [Helapuri, Ellore, Ellooru]  City/District, Andhra Pradesh  From Skt/Tel: heli, hēḷi, ‘(the) Sun’; and Tel: uru/uuru, ‘town’, ‘city’. Helapuri has an ancient history dating back to the 3rdC BC Mauryan dynasty. The modern city is famous for...

Embilipitiya (SL)

Sin: ඇඹිලිපිටිය æmbilipiṭiya- Tam: எம்பிலிபிட்டியா empilipiṭṭiyā ‘Embilla Plain’  SBP, Sri Lanka From Sin: (heen) embilla, a plant species native to Sri Lanka [antidesma alexiteria]; and pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’.  The embilla shrub is a member of the...

Eravur (SL)

Tam: ஏறாவூர் ēṟāvūr – Sin: එරාවූර් erāvūr ‘Keel Town’  EP, Sri Lanka   From Tam: era, ‘keel (of a boat)’; and ur, ‘village, town’. Located on the bank of the Batticaloa Lagoon one could imagine rows of boats moored here along the lagoon. Eravur is a  majority...

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...

Galgamuwa (SL)

Sin: ගල්ගමුව galgamuva – Tam: கல்கமுவ  galkamuva ‘Rocky Village’  NWP,  Sri Lanka Sin: gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’; and gama/gamuwa, ‘village’. Tragically Galgamuwa has become the centre of a human-elephant conflict, as herds of elephants who have lost...

Galle (SL)

Sin: ගාල්ල gālla – Tam: கால gāli ‘Enclosure’  SP, Sri Lanka From Sin: gāla, ‘cattle or elephant enclosure’. This derivation has a convenient long ā to match the modern place name unlike the more popular derivation ‘Rocky Place’ [from Sin: gala, ‘stone’,...

Gal Oya (SL)

Sin: ගල් ඔය gal oya ‘Rocky River’  EP, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’; and oya, ‘river, stream – smaller than ganga’. The Gal Oya river was dammed in 1950 and the Gal Oya National Park was established in 1954 – it is the drainage...

Gampaha (SL)

Sin: ගම්පහ gampaha – Tam: கம்பஹா gampahā ‘Five Villages’   WP, Sri Lanka From Sin: gama, ‘village’; and  paha, ‘five’. The five villages are Medagama, Pahalagama, Ihalagama, Aluthgama and Pattiyagama. All of them are in the vicinity of the modern Gampaha, except...

Gampola (SL)

Sin: ගම්පොල gampola – Tam: கம்பளை gampaḷai ’Riverside Site’  CP, Sri Lanka From Sin: gan/ganga, ‘river, riverside’; and pola/pala, ‘place, site’. Gampola’s original name, Gangasiripura, also indicates its prime riverside position on the Mahaweli Ganga. Gampola...

Gandhinagar (Guj)

Guj: ગાંધીનગર gāndhīnagara ‘Gandhi City’ -City/Capital/District, Gujarat From Mahatma Gandhi and Hin/Skt: nagar, ‘city’. Gandhinagar (founded in 1966)  is a planned city, designed to replace Ahmedabad as the capital of Gujarat. It is named to honour Mahatma Gandhi,...

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...

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....

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...

Godhra (Guj)

Guj: ગોધરા gōdharā ‘Cow Land’   -Town, Gujarat From Skt: go, ‘cow’; and Skt: dhara, ‘earth’, ‘land’. Presumably this was grazing land. Godhra dates back to at least the 10thC when there was a school here for Jain monks. Godhra, unfortunately, is more (in)famous for...

Golconda/Golconda Fort (Tel)

Tel: గోల్కొండ కోట gōlkoṇḍa kōṭa ‘Shepherd’s Hill’ [Golkonda, Qila Muhammadnagar]  Fort/Historic City, Telangana  From Tel: golla, ‘herdsman’,  ‘shepherd’; or Tel/Urd: gōḷ/gol, ’round; and konḍa, ‘hill’, ‘mountain’. Golconda was a fort and (initially) a capital...

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...

Gudivada (AP)

Tel: గుడివాడ guḍivāḍa ‘Temple Town’ City, Andhra Pradesh From Tel: guḍi, ‘temple’; and Dra: wada/vada, ‘district’, ‘town’, ‘quarter’. Archaeological excavations here have revealed important  Buddhist and Jain monuments, stupas and temples. The modern town has eight...

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’...

Guntur (AP)

Tel: గుంటూరు guṇṭūru ‘Pond Town’ City/District, Andhra Pradesh  From Tel:  kuṇṭa, guṇṭa, ‘pond’, ‘pool’; and uru/uuru, ‘town’, ‘city’. The city can be dated back to the 10thC at least. Guntur is the leading producer and exporter of chillies in India and is...

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...

Habarana (SL)

 Sin: හබරණ  habaraṇa –  Tam: அபரணை aparaṇai ‘Hunter’s Place’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sabara/habara, ‘hunter’;  ana, ‘place, grove, forest’. It is possible that this refers to Sri Lanka’s indigenous hunter-gathering tribe, the Veddas. Not much hunting these...

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...

Hakgala (SL)

Sin: හක්ගල hakgala ‘Conch or Jaw Rock’  CP, Sri Lanka From Sin:  hak, ‘conch shell’ or hakka, ‘jaw’. This 2,169m mountain is the eight tallest in Sri Lanka. Its multi-peaked profile suggests a conch shell but possibly a jaw as well. Legend also tells us that this is a...

Hakmana (SL)

Sin:හක්මණ – Tam:ஹக்மண hakmaṇa ‘Conch or Jaw Path’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hak, ‘conch shell’ or hakka, ‘jaw’; and Sin: man, ‘road, way, path’. This may be connected with shell processing and transport, or with the shape of the road junction, or with the...

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...

Hambantota (SL)

Sin: හම්බන්තොට  hambantoṭa – Tam: அம்பாந்தோட்டை ampāntōṭṭai ‘Sampan Harbour’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Malay: sampan, ‘a traditional Asian flat-bottomed boat with oars and masts’. Travellers and traders from the Far East (Malaysia, Indonesia, China) during the Ruhuna...

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...

Halmillewa (SL)

Sin: හල්මිල්ලෑව halmillǣva ‘Halmilla Lake’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: halmilla, ‘Trincomalee wood (tree)’ [Berrya cordifolia]; and Sin: wewa , ‘lake, pond, tank, reservoir’. This reservoir is part of  the ancient northern tank complex. The Trincomalee wood tree can...

Hanumangarh (Raj)

Hin: हनुमानगढ़ hanumānagaṛh ‘Hanuman Fort’ [Bhatner] – City/District, Rajasthan From Hanuman and Hin: gaṛḥ, ‘(hill) fort’  Bhatner, the city’s previous name, came from the Bhati rajputs who ruled here [from Bhati and Skt: nagar→ner, ‘city’] and built...

Hanwella (SL)

Sin: හංවැල්ල haṁvælla –  Tam: ஹன்வெல்லை haṉvellai ‘Sand Junction or Ford’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sam, ‘union, with, together’; and vælla, ‘sandbank’, ‘sandy plain’, ‘shore’ This is the site of an ancient ford across the Kelani Ganga which linked the main...

Haputale (SL)

Sin: හපුතලේ – Tam: ஹபுதலே haputalē ‘Champak Summit’  UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hapu/sapu, ‘champak tree’ [Magnolia champaca]; and talā, ‘high ground, hill, summit, peak’. The champak is a flowering timber tree. Its fragrant flowers are used extensively in hair...

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...

Harispattuwa (SL)

Sin: හාරිස්පත්තුව hārispattuva ‘Four Hundred DIvision’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: harasiya, ‘four hundred’; and pattu(wa), a feudal administrative division. Traditionally districts were divided into korales and then into pattus; and pattus were divided into villages...

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...

Hatton (SL)

Sin: හැටන් hæṭan – Tam: ஹட்டன் haṭṭaṉ ‘Hatton’  CP, Sri Lanka Hatton is nicknamed the tea capital of Sri Lanka . It sits 1,271m up in the Central Hill Country. Hatton, Aberdeenshire, after which it was named, was the biscuit capital of Scotland,...

Hazira (Guj)

Guj: હજીરા hajīrā ‘Tomb’   -City, Port, Suburb (Surat), Gujarat From Urd:  hisār/hizāri, ‘enclosure’, ‘tomb’, ‘grave’ A hazira was originally a ‘simple grave on a slightly raised platform surrounded by a walled enclosure’. For saints and emperors they had ...

Henry Lawrence Island (A & N)

Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence (1806-57) was a 19th century British military officer and administrator. He founded the Lawrence Military Asylum, a hill station boarding school in Kasauli/Kussowlie (Himachal Pradesh) for the children of British soldiers to relieve them...

Hikkaduwa (SL)

Sin: හික්කඩුව hikkaḍuva – Tam: கிக்கடுவை hikkaṭuvai ‘Indian Ash Island’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hik, ‘Indian Ash’ [Lannea coromandelica]; and duwa, ‘island or part of land surrounded by water’. With lakes to the north and south, and the sea to the west...

Himatnagar (Guj)

હિંમતનગર  himmatanagara ‘Himmat Singh’s City’  [Ahmednagar]  -City, Capital (Sabarkantha District), Gujarat From Himmat Singh and Hin/Skt: nagar, ‘city’. Ahmed Shah I of the Gujarat Sultanate founded a city here in 1426 and called it Ahmednagar The Rao dynasty of Idar...

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...

Horana (SL)

Sin: හොරණ horaṇa  – Tam: ஹொரணை horaṇai Horana WP ‘Hora Forest’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hora, ‘hora tree’ [Dipterocarpus zeylanicus]; and arana/aranya, ‘forest’. Horana could also simply be one of the variations on aranya [also haraṇ(a), raṇa, aran] in Sinhala....

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...

Hyderabad (Tel)

Tel: హైదరాబాద్ haidarābād  ‘Lion City’ [Bhagyanagar, Baghnagar] City/Capital/District, Telangana From: Ara: h(a)ydar/hyder, ‘lion’; and Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘village’. There are two different sets of derivations. The first revolves around Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Talib,...

Idar (Guj)

Guj: ઇડર iḍar(a)  ‘Ilva Fort’ – Town, Gujarat Ilvadurg. Idar (a.k.a. Ilvadurg) is the legendary home of Ilva and Vatapi, the Rakshasa shape-shifting demons who were finally destroyed by the sage Agastya. Idar was a Rajput Princely State from the 13thC protected...

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...

Itanagar (ArP)

(Hin) : ईटानगर iṭānagara ‘Brick City’  -City/Capital, Arunachal Pradesh From Asm: ita, ‘brick’; and Asm:  nagar, ‘city’, ‘town’.  It is actually the fort here, and not the city, that was built of bricks – the city inherited the name and was more famous for its...

Ja-Ela (SL)

Sin: ජා-ඇල jā-æla – Tam: ஜா-எல jā-ela  ‘Java Brook’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ja(va), ‘Malay, Javanese’; and  ela, ‘brook, rivulet, channel, canal’. There are about 40,000 Sri Lankan Malays. Most settled during the 17th and 18th centuries when both Ceylon and...

Jaipur (Raj)

Hin: जयपुर jayapur  ‘Jai Singh’s City’  [Jeypore] City/District, Capital, Rajasthan From Skt/Hin: [Jai Singh II] jay/jaya, ‘victory’ and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. It is the largest city of India’s largest state, and was India’s...

Jaisalmer (Raj)

Hin: जैसलमेर jaisalamer ‘Jaisal’s Ridge’  – City/District, Rajasthan From Jaisal and Hin: meru, ‘mountain’, ‘ridge’.  Rawal Jaisal, a Bhati Rajput ruler, founded the city and state of Jaisalmer in the 12thC. He moved here from Lodurva because the city had water...

Jaffna (SL)

Tam: யாழ்ப்பாணம் yāḻppāṇam – Sin: යාපනය yāpanaya ‘Town of the Lyre Minstrels’ From Tam: yal, ‘an ancient stringed musical instrument like a harp or lyre’; paan, ‘an ancient clan of minstrels who played the yal’; and Tam: pattinam , ‘a coastal town’. This...

Jagityala/Jagtial (Tel)

Tel: జగ్తిఅల్ jagtial ‘Jack and Tal Fort’ City/District, Telangana Jagtial Fort was designed and built in the 17thC using the expertise of two French engineers, Jack and Tal. In those days the French were world leaders in military architecture and the fort has many...

Jalore (Raj)

Hin: जालौर jālaur ‘Jabal’s Town’  [Jabalipura, Suvarngiri/Songir] – City, District, Rajasthan From Jalandhar/Jabal and Skt: pur →or/ore, ‘fort’, ‘town’. Jalore as  a fort and a town dates back to the 8-9thC. There is a temple to the west of the town on...

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...

Jamshedpur (Jha)

Hin: जमशेदपुर jamśēdpūr ‘Jamsetji’s City’  [Tatanagar] -City, Jharkhand Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata (1839-1904) founded the city, the industrial capital of Jharkand, on the site of a village called Sakchi. Lord Chelmsford re-named the city in his...

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...

Jhalawar (Raj)

Hin: झालावाड़ jhālāvād  ‘Jhala’s City’   City/District, Rajasthan From Jhala and Skt: pura→wara, ‘fort, ‘city’. Jhalawar was founded by Jhala Zalim Singh, the Rajput Dewan of Kota State (90km away), in the late 18thC as a military barracks to defend his territories...

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...

Jhunjhunu (Raj)

Hin: झुन्झुनू  jhun̄jhunū ‘Jhunjhar’s Town’  City/District, Rajasthan From Jhunjhar or Jujhar Singh This is an interesting one. The reduplication implies a repetitive rattle or ‘jingle-jangle [Hin: jhun-jhunā, ‘rattling toy’, ‘rattle’; Skt:...

Jodhpur (Raj)

Hin: जोधपुर jōdhpūr ‘Jodha’s City’  City, District, Rajasthan From Jodha and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. Rao Jodha, a Rathore Rajput,  founded Jodhpur in 1459. It was the capital of his Marwar kingdom [from Hin: maru, ‘desert’; and wara, ‘abode’, ‘settlement’].  The...

John Lawrence Island (A & N)

Sir John Laird Mair Lawrence was Viceroy of India, 1864-69. Tragically, his greatest failure was the Orissa Famine of 1866. It affected more than 47 million people along the eastern coast northwards from Madras. One  million died. It is argued that by moving from...

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...

Junagadh (Guj)

Guj: જુનાગઢ junāgaḍh ‘Old Fort’  -City/District,  Gujarat From Guj/Skt: juna/jurna, ’old’; and Guj: gadh, ‘(hill) fort’.  Uparkot Fort in the centre of the town is indeed a very old fort. It was first built in 319 BCE during the Mauryan dynasty and some even suggest a...

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...

Kadapa/Cuddapah (AP)

Tel: కడప kaḍapa ‘Gateway’ [Cuddapah]  City/District, Andhra Pradesh  From Tel: kaḍapa, gaḍapa, ‘threshold’, ‘gate(way)’. The name probably refers to the fact that in the past Kadapa was the entry point to the Tirumala Hills and the sacred pilgrimage site of...

Kadugannuwa (SL)

Sin: കടക്കരപ്പള്ളി kaḍugannāva ‘Sword-drawing Point’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kadu, ‘sword’; and gannawa, ‘take’. The Kadugannawa Pass was a key observation post for the Kandyan Kingdom, the right sort of place to draw swords in readiness. It marked the frontier...

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...

Kakinada (AP)

Tel: కాకినాడ kākināḍa [Kakinandiwada, Jagannathpuram, Jaggernaikpuram, Cocanada]  City/District, Andhra Pradesh (AP) From Dra: wada/vada, ‘district’, ‘quarter’. It is likely that Kaka or Nandi (or both) refer to ancient kings (or dynasties): Kaka suggests an Ikshvaku...

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...

Kalkudah (SL)

Tam: கல்குடா  kalkuṭā – Sin: කල්කුඪා kalkuḍhā ‘Rock Bay’  EP,   Sri Lanka From Tam: kal, ‘stone, rock, boulder’; and kuta/kuda ‘bay, gulf, shore’. Elephant Rock Beach sits at the northern tip of the Kalkudah peninsula. For related place names see Sri Lanka Place...

Kalmunai (SL)

Tam: கல்குடா kalkuṭā – Sin කල්කුඪා kalkuḍhā ‘Rock Point’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: kal, ‘stone, rock, boulder’; and  munai, ‘point, cape, promontory’. Kalmunai is the seventh largest city in Sri Lanka and the largest in the Eastern Province. When the Portuguese...

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...

Kalutara (SL)

Sin: කළුතර kaḷutara – Tam: களுத்துறை kaḷuttuṟai ‘Black River Crossing’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kalu-ganga, ‘black or dark river’; and tara, ‘raft, crossing’. The modern crossing is the 38m Kalutara Bridge which links the Western regions to the South, as the...

Kalyan (Mah)

Mar: कल्याण kalyāṇa ‘Noble (City)’  City, Maharashtra From Skt:  kalyāṇa, ‘noble’,  ‘blessed’, ‘auspicious’. Kalyan was a fort city. The Durgadi Fort [Hin/Mar: gadh/gaḍhī, ‘fort’ dedicated to the goddess Durga] was first constructed by the Moghuls in the 16th and...

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...

Kandy (SL)

Sin: මහනුවර mahanuvara – Tam: கண்டி kaṇṭi  ‘Mountain Country’  [Kanda Uda Rata]  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kanda, ‘hill, mountain’; uda, ‘above, up, over’; and rata, ‘country, district’. The city, region and kingdom of Kandy has had many names. The English name...

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’. ...

Kankesanthurai (SL)

Tam: காங்கேசன்துறை kāṅkēcaṉtuṟai – Sin: කන්කසන්තුරේ kankasanturē ‘Murugan Port’  [Gayathurai]  NP, Sri Lanka From Tam: kankesan, ‘the god Murugan or Kartikeya’; and turai, ‘seaport, harbour’. According to legend, Mathurapuraveeravalli, daughter of the King of...

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...

Kantale (SL)

Sin: කන්තලේ kantalē – Tam: கந்தளாய் kantaḷāy  ‘River Reservoir’   EP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: gan/ganga, ‘river, riverside’; and talla, ‘reservoir, large tank, pond’. The Kantale reservoir, originally called Gangathala or Ganthalawa, was constructed in the 7thC and...

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...

Karauli (Raj)

Hin: करौली karaulī ‘Kali’s City’  [Karoli,  Kerowlee].City, District, Rajasthan  From Kali/Kalyan and Skt: puri→-auli, ‘town’, ‘city’. The surprising corruption of the name [Kalyanpuri →Karauli] is, in fact, quite regular: ‘l’ and ‘r’ are interchangeable , and the ‘p’...

Karimnagar (Tel)

Tel: కరీంనగర్ karīnnagar  ‘City of Karimuddin’ [Elagandula, Sabbinadu] City/District, Telangana The city was founded in 1905 by Syed Karimuddin at a time when the Elgandal fort, 10km away, was still the seat of government. Syed Karimuddinwas the Quildar or Fort...

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...

Kataragama (SL)

Sin: කතරගම kataragama – Tam: கதிர்காமம் katirkāmam ‘Desert Village’   UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin:  katara, ‘desert’; and gama, ‘village’. Kataragama is an important pilgrimage town, sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alike. The Kataragama temple has a shrine...

Kathiawar (Guj)

Guj: કાઠીયાવાડ kāṭhīyāvāḍa ‘Land of the Kathis’ -Region/Peninsula, Gujarat From Kathi and Guj/Hin: vāṛā/vāḍā, ‘place (belonging to)’, ‘colony’, ‘settlement’. The 61,000 km2 Kathiawar/Saurashtra peninsula (the names are roughly equivalent), reaching out into the...

Kathiraveli (SL)

Tam: கதிரவெளி katiraveḷi – Sin: කතිරවෙළිය katiraveḷiya ‘Acacia Plain’   EP, Sri Lanka. From Tam: kathiram [Mimosa catechu, Acacia catechu]; and veḷi,‘expanse’, ‘open field’, ‘plain’ This thorny tree can grow to 15m in height. Its wood is used for treating...

Kattankudy (SL)

Tam: காத்தான்குடி kāttāṉkuṭi – Sin: කාත්තාන්කුඩි kāttānkuḍi ‘Moorish or Vedda settlement’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: kudy, ‘clan or community settlement’. Kudy normally indicates a group of settlers of the same caste, tribe or religion. Kattankudy has...

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,...

Kavaratti (Lak)

‘Forked (Island)’   -Island/Capital, Lakshadweep Mal: kavaram, ‘prong(ed)’, ‘branch(ed)’, ‘fork(ed)’, ‘(separated into) channels’. This is a fairly good description of the island which splits the sea into two channels in the middle. The island...

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...

Kelaniya (SL)

Sin: කැලණිය kælaṇiya – Tam: களனி kaḷaṉi ‘Auspicious Place’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Skt/Pali: kalyana, ‘beautiful, auspicious, charming’. Flowing all the way from Sri Pada to Colombo, the 145km Kelani Ganga is the fourth longest river in Sri Lanka.  Kelaniya is...

Khambat (Guj)

Guj: ખંભાત khambhāt ‘Pillar Village’  [Cambay, Khambavati]  – City, Gujarat From Skt/Hin: stambha/khambhā, ‘pillar’; and Skt: vāṭī, ‘site’, ‘enclosure’, ‘village’. Khambhat was, in ancient times before its harbour silted up, an important port and trading...

Khammam (Tel)

Tel: ఖమ్మం khammaṁ ‘Pillar Rock’ [Stambhadri, Kambhadri, Kambham mettu] City/District, Telangana From Tel: stambhamu/kambamu, ‘pillar’ The name is derived from the vertical rock under the Narasimha Swamy hill-top temple. The Khammam fort was built in the 13thC by the...

Khandala (Mah)

Mar: खंडाळा khaṇḍāḷā ‘Chasm’  -Hill Station  Maharashtra Skt: khaṇḍa ‘chasm’, ’gap’, ‘fissure’; and Mar: āvali, ‘row’, ‘range’. Khandala is a hill station in a dramatic setting with steep valleys and mountain passes. The name fits. Khandala and the nearby Lonavla hill...

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...

Kheda (Guj)

Guj: ખેડા khēḍā ‘Field’  [Khetaka]  -City/District, Gujarat From Skt: kshetra, ‘field’. The name Kheda originated from kshetra [→khetta→kherak→kheda]. Kheda has a history of rebellion. In 1803-8 the  Koli chiefs rose up against the East India Company, raiding and...

Khuldabad (Mah)

Mar: खुलदाबाद khuladābāda ‘City of the Exalted’ [Rauza] -City,  Maharashtra From Per: ḵẖuld-makānī, ‘exalted to heaven (title given to deceased emperors, princes etc.), ‘dwelling in Paradise’; and Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. Emperor Aurangzeb’s tomb...

Kilinochchi (SL)

Tam: கிளிநொச்சி kiḷinocci – Sin: ගිරානික girānika ‘Parrot Fort (Walls)’   NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam/Sin: kili/giravā, ‘parrot’; and Tam: nochchi, ‘fortress’, ‘fort walls’, ‘small village’ and/or Tam/Sin: nochchi/nika...

Kiribathgoda (SL)

Sin: කිරිබත්ගොඩ kiribatgoḍa – Tam: கிரிபத்கொடை kiripatkoṭai  ‘Milk Rice Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kiribath, ‘rice boiled with coconut milk’; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’. Kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made by cooking rice with coconut milk...

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...

Kitulgala (SL)

Sin: කිතුල්ගල kitulgala –  Tam: கித்துள்கலை kittuḷkalai ‘Jaggery Palm Rock’   SP,   Sri Lanka From Sin: kithul, ‘kithul palm’, ‘jaggery palm’ [Caryota urens];  and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. The Kithul palm is famous for its treacle and toddy;  Kitulgala...

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...

Koggala (SL)

Sin: කොග්ගල koggala – Tam: கொக்கலை kokkalai ‘Crane Rock’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: koka, ‘crane’; and gala, ‘rock’. Martin Wickramasinghe (1890-1976), the ‘sage of Koggala’, describes it like this: “Kok-gala is the name of the big rock beyond the...

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...

Kokkilai (SL)

Tam: கொக்குளாய் kokkuḷāy – Sin: කෝකිලායි kōkilāyi  ‘Cuckoo (Lagoon)’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam/Sin: kokila(m), ‘Indian cuckoo’ [cuculus micropterus]. The mudflats and mangrove swamps of Kokkilai Lagoon (now a bird sanctuary) are a haven for all sorts of sea birds...

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...

Kolhapur (Mah)

Mar: कोल्हापूर kōlhāpūra ‘Fox City’  -City/District,  Maharashtra From Mar: kōlhā, ‘fox’, ‘jackal’ [Lat: Canis aureus]; and Skt: pur, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. According to myth this was the home of Kolhasur, a fox-like demon defeated by the Goddess Mahalakshmi to save...

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...

Kolonnawa (SL)

Sin: කොලොන්නාව kolonnāva – Tam: கொலன்னாவ kolaṉṉāva ‘Kelani Plain’  WP,  Sri Lanka Kolonnawa is a suburb of Colombo and, like its parent city, its name probably derives from the Kelani Ganga: kolon is a corruption of kelani. Kolonnawa is part of the flood plain...

Konark Temple (Odi)

Odi: କୋଣାର୍କ kōṇārka ‘Angle of the Sun’  Temple, Odisha From Skt: kōṇ, ‘corner’, ‘angle’; and  arka, ‘the sun’. The temple here is dedicated to Surya, the sun god. The 13thC temple is an astonishing piece of architecture: it is designed as a stone chariot...

Kota (Raj)

Hin: कोटा kota ‘Fort’  [Kotah]  City/District, Rajasthan From Kotya, a Bhil tribal chief or Skt: koṭa, ‘fort’, ‘stronghold’ The tall ramparts, six gateways and twenty-five towers of Kota Fort loom over the Chambal river. It is said that Jait Singh laid the foundations...

Kotagiri (TN)

Tam: கோத்தகிரி kōttakiri ‘Kot(h)a Hill’   Town/Hill Station, Tamil Nadu Kotagiri is a town in the Nilgiri Hills. It is 1,950m up and enjoys one of the coolest climates in South India. The Kotas are an ancient tribal community of 2,000 people living in...

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,...

Kuchchaveli (SL)

Tam: குச்சவெளி kuccaveḷi –  Sin: කුච්චවේලි kuccavēli ‘Kusha Grassland’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: kuchcha [Skt: kusa], ‘kusha grass’ [Desmostachya bipinnata]; and Tam: veḷi , ‘plain’, ‘open land’. This coarse grass is also known as halfa grass, big...

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...

Kuliyapitiya (SL)

Sin: කුලියාපිටිය kuliyāpiṭiya – Tam: குளியாப்பிட்டிய kuḷiyāppiṭṭiya ‘Hiring Ground’ or ‘Village Land’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kuliya, ‘hire, rent’; or Old Sin: kuli(ya)’, ’hamlet, village’; and Sin: pitiya, ‘plain tract of ground’.  It is more exciting...

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...

Kurnool (AP)

Tel: కర్నూలు karnūlu ‘City of Grease’ [Kandenavolu] City/District, Andhra Pradesh From Tel: kandena, ‘grease’; and prolu→v(r)olu, ‘(tax) district’, ‘town’, ‘city’ [Tam/Dra: por̤il, ‘park’, ‘(sand)bank’, ‘district’]. Local sources say that, at the time the Alampur...

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...

Kurundugahetekma (SL)

Sin: කුරුඳුගහහැතැප්ම kurun̆dugahahætæpma ‘Cinnamon Tree Milepost’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kurundu, ‘cinnamon’; gaha, ‘tree’; and  hæthækma, ‘mile, milepost’. In ancient Sinhalese measurement a hæthækma  is roughly 2 hoo sadde duras (the distance a ‘hoo’ cry can be...

Kurunegala (SL)

 Sin: කුරුණෑගල kuruṇǣgala – Tam: குருணாகல் kuruṇākal ‘Small Elephant Rock’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kuru, ‘small, short’;  na, ‘elephant’; and  gala, ‘rock, rocky’. Kurunegala is surrounded by eight large rocks each of which is given the name of the animal it...

Kutch/Kachchh (Guj)

Guj: કચ્છ kaccha ‘Salt Marsh Desert’  -Region, Gujarat From Skt: kaccha, ‘marsh’; Hin/Skt:  ran/īriṇa ‘desert, ‘barren land’.  The Great and Little Rann of Kutch/Kachch are salt marsh wetlands, submerged during the monsoon. They cover an area of around 27,000 sq. km....

Leh (Lad)

Lad: གླེ ‘Nomad Encampment’  City/Capital, Ladakh Leh was an important junction on trading routes linking Tibet, Kashmir, and China where foodstuffs (grain, spices, salt) and textiles (silk, wool, cloth, thread) were exchanged. Francke (1914) suggest the...

Lonavla (Mah)

Mar: लोणावळा lōṇāvaḷā ‘Cave Row’  Town/Hill Station,  Maharashtra From Mar: lēṇē, ‘(man-made, decorated) cave’, ‘rock-cut temple’; and Mar: āvali, ‘row’, ‘range’. This refers to the sequence of ancient caves nearby (mostly Buddhist) with carvings, stupas, temples and...

Lothal (Guj)

Guj: લોથલ lōthala ‘Mound of the Dead’  -Archaeological site, Gujarat From Hin/Guj: loth, ‘dead’; and Skt: sthala, ‘mound’. Lothal was a southern port city of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization dating back to the fourth millenium BCE. It shares the same name as...

Loutolim (Goa)

Kon: लौतोलिम lautolim ‘Sedge Grass Lake’ – Village From Kon: lovo/loyo, ‘sedge grass’; and Kon: tollem, ‘lake’, ‘pond’. Sedge is a relative of grass but has a triangular stem and and spiral display,  rather than a...

Luni (Raj)

Hin: लुनि luni ‘Salt River’  Town, river, Rajasthan From Skt: lavaṇa, ‘salt’, ‘sea-salt’; and Skt: vahatī, ‘river’. Luni is situated on the banks of the Luni river (495km), the longest river in the Thar Desert flowing from Ajmer to the Rann of Kutch. It flows through...

Machilipatnam (AP)

Tel: మచిలీపట్నం macilīpaṭnaṁ  ‘Fish(ing) Port’  [Bandar, Maisolia, Masulipatnam]  City, Andhra Pradesh  From Skt/Tel: matsaḥ/maccha/machilī, fish’; and Tel: paṭṭaṇam, ‘(port/coastal) town’, ‘city’; or Urd: bandar, ‘port’, ‘harbour’.; Maisolia/Masulipatnam was an...

Madampe (SL)

Sin: මාදම්පේ mādampē – Tam: மாதம்பே mātampē ‘Plum Grove’  NWP, Sri Lanka From Sin: mādan, ‘Malabar plum’ [Syzygium cumini]; and pe, ‘wood, grove’. The maadan/maadam  is also known as the Malabar, Java, Portuguese, black or damson plum. Although its fruit, leaves...

Madanapalle (AP)

Tel: మదనపల్లె madanapalle ‘Beeswax Village’  City, Andhra Pradesh Skt/Pkt: madana/mayana, ‘beeswax’, ‘gum/resin’; and Tel: palli, ‘village’, ‘town’. Madanapalle is now better known for its tomatoes: it has the biggest market for them in Asia. Madanpalle supplies...

Madhu (SL)

Tam: மடு maṭu ‘Lake’  NP, Sri Lanka From Tam: maṭu, ‘pond, pool, reservoir’. The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is the holiest of Roman Catholic shrines in Sri Lanka. When Catholic communities, originally converted by the Portuguese, came under attack from the King of...

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...

Maduru Oya (SL)

Sin: මාදුරු ඔය māduru oya  ‘Caraway Stream’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: māduru, ‘(black) cumin, caraway’ [Nigella sativa]; and oya, ‘river, stream – smaller than ganga’. The Maduru Oya is a 135km river flowing through Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa Districts. It gives...

Mahabaleswar (Mah)

Mar: महाबळेश्वर mahābaḷēśvara ‘Lord Mahabali’  [Malcolmpeth]   -Hill Station/Town, Maharashtra Mahabaleshwar is a hill station (1,372m) in the Western Ghats. It was founded by Sir John Malcolm in the early 19thC who made it the summer capital of the Governors of...

Mahabubnagar (Tel)

Tel: మహాబుబ్‌నగర్  mahābub‌nagar  ‘City of Mahbub Ali Khan’ [Rukmammapeta]  City/District, Telangana  Mahabubnagar was named after Mir Mahbub Ali Khan Asaf Jah VI, the Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1890. The name replaced the former Rukmammapeta [Tel:  rukmama, gold’,...

Maharagama (SL)

Sin: මහරගම maharagama – Tam: மகரகம makarakama ‘Rampart Village’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mohora (maha, ‘large, great’ + ura(ya), ‘rampart’); and Sin: gama, ‘village’. Given that Maharagama is a few kilometres from the outer fortress of the Kotte kingdom this...

Mahiyangana (SL)

Sin: මහියංගණය mahiyaṅgaṇaya ‘Great Plain’    UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: maha, ‘large, great’; and Pali/Sin: angana, ‘open space, clearing, flat land’. According to the Mahavamsa this was the site of the Buddha’s first ever visit to Sri Lanka when he arrived to settle a...

Maho/Mahawa (SL)

Sin: මහව mahava – Tam: மாகோ mākō ‘Great Lake’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From: Sin: maha, ‘large, great’; and wewa, ‘lake, pond, large tank’. Maho is a British corruption of Mahawa which in turn is a truncated form of Mahawewa; there is a sister Mahawewa in Puttalam...

Mahsana/Mehsana (Guj)

Guj: મહેસાણા mahēsāṇā ‘Mehsaji’s City’ – City/District, Gujarat From Mehsaji or Hin/Skt: mahish/mahiṣa, ‘buffalo’; and Skt: ayana→ana, ‘place’, ‘abode’. Mehsana was established by Mehsaji of the Chavda dynasty. He constructed the Torana (arc gate) of the city...

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...

Malabe (SL)

Sin: මාළබේ māḷabē – Tam: மாலபே mālapē ‘Flower Grove’  WP, Sri Lanka  From Sin: mala,’flower’; and  pē, ‘wood, grove’.  Now more famous as the site for the electronic trading systems company, Millenium IT, than for its flowers. Because it sounds like ‘Malibu’ 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,...

Mandvi (Guj)

Guj: માંડવી māṇḍavī ‘Settlement’   -Town (Kutch District),  Gujarat From Mandavya or Skt: mandira, ‘dwelling’, ‘resting place’, ‘house’, ’palace’, ‘camp‘, ‘temple’.  Like Mandya (Karnataka) the most popular derivation is the unlikely one that the town was named after...

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...

Mankulam (SL)

Tam: மாங்குளம் māṅkuḷam – Sin: මන්කුලම mankulama ‘Deer Tank’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: māṉ, ‘deer’; and kulam,’pond, tank, reservoir’. The Sri Lankan axis deer (Axis axis ceylonensis) or Ceylon spotted deer has traditionally inhabited lowland dry forests,...

Mannar/Mannar Island (SL)

Tam: மன்னார் maṉṉār – Sin: මන්නාරම mannārama ‘Sandy Causeway’   NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: mann, ‘sand, gravel’; and ar/aru, ‘way, road, path’. Mannar Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway which at one time had a chain ferry which hauled visitors over...

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...

Mapusa (Goa)

Kon: म्हापशें mhāpaśēna ‘Large Land Grant’  [Mahapasaita] – Town/Capital From Skt: mahā, ‘great’, ‘large’; and Mar: pasaita, ‘land grant (in return for services)’. Mahapasaita was clearly too much of a mouthful for the Portuguese. They called it Mabussa and then...

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...

Marathawada (Mah)

Mar: मराठेवाडा marāṭhēvāḍā ‘Abode of the Marathas’ – Region/Division,  Maharashtra From Maratha and Mar: vāḍā, ‘settlement’, ‘colony’. This region of Maharashtra was formerly a Marathi-speaking region of the former princely state of Hyderabad. The term dates...

Margao/Madgaon (Goa)

Kon: मडगाव maḍagāva ‘Monastery Village’  [Maṭhagrāma, Madgao(n)] -City/Capital From Skt: maṭh(a), ‘hermitage’, ‘monastery’, ‘temple’; and Skt: grāma→Mar/Kon: gaon/gaun, ‘village’. Margão is the Portuguese spelling (with nasalised ending), and Madgao(n) is the name...

Marusthali (Raj)

Hin: मरुस्थली marusthalī ‘Desert Land’  Region, Rajasthan From Skt: maru, ‘arid tract’, ‘sandy waste’, ‘desert’;  Skt: sthala, ‘land’, ‘place’. Marusthali is a 62,000 sq. km region north of the Luni River which forms the sand-dune-covered...

Maskeliya (SL)

Sin: මස්කෙළිය maskeḷiya ‘Leaping Fish’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mas, ‘fish’; and keliya, ‘playing, sport’. There are British-era trout-fishing huts here, near the start of the Sri Pada/Adam’s Peak Trail. They were built by the tea planters at the nearby Moray...

Matara (SL)

Sin: මාතර mātara – Tam: மாத்தறை māttaṟai Matara SP ‘Great Seaport’  SP, Sri Lanka From Sin: maha, ‘large, great’; and tara, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank, port, harbour’. Matara was also known as Mahatota (Sin: tota, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank’) and Mahapattana (Sin:...

Matheran (Mah)

Mar: माथेरान māthērāna ‘Forest Hill’  -Town/Hill Station, Maharashtra Mar: māthā, ‘crown’, ‘crest (of a hill); Mar/Skt: araṇa/araṇya, ‘forest’ Matheran is a car-free hill station, 80km west of  Mumbai.  It was founded by the British in the mid-19thC. The Matheran toy...

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,...

Matugama (SL)

Sin: මතුගම matugama – Tam: மத்துகம mattukama ‘Upper Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: matu, ‘upper, above’; and gama, ‘village’. Matugama is surrounded by mountains and has a history of rubber: at one time it had 1,000 acres of rubber plantations. For related...

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...

Maviddapuram (SL)

Tam: மாவிட்டபுரம் māviṭṭapuram – Sin: මාවිට්ටපුරම් māviṭṭapuram  ‘Vanished Horse Town’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: ma,  ‘animal, beast (usually a  horse or elephant)’; viṭu, ‘remove, get rid of’; and puram, ‘city’. The Chola Princess Maruthapuraveegavalli had a...

Medak (Tel)

Tel: మెదక medaka ‘City of Boiled Rice’  [Methukuseema, Gulshanabad, Methukudurgam]  From Tel: meduku/metuku, ‘(boiled) rice’, ‘rice grain’; and sīma, ‘country’, ‘district’. Medak is a corruption of  Methukuseema. Methuku means a grain of cooked rice. The region...

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...

Mewar (Raj)

Hin: मेवाड़ा mēvāṛā ‘Abode of the Medas’  Region, Rajasthan Medas and Hin: vāṛā, ‘place (belonging to)’, ‘colony’, ‘settlement’. Mewar or Mewad is a region in the south-central part of Rajasthan state of India. It includes the present-day districts of Bhilwara,...

Mihintale (SL)

Sin: මිහින්තලය mihintalaya ‘Mihinda Hill’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Mihinda and Sin: talā, ‘high ground, hill, summit, peak’. This is the hill where Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka, met Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) and converted him to Buddhism. At its summit is the...

Minuwangoda (SL)

Sin: මිනුවන්ගොඩ minuvangoḍa – Tam: மினுவந்கொட miṉuvankoṭa ‘Crown Jewel Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mini, ‘crown, gem’; barana, ‘ornament, jewel’ or ruwan, ‘gems, gold’; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’. The Minuwangoda Urban Council website points out that the...

Mirissa (SL)

Sin: මිරිස්ස – Tam: மிரிஸ்ஸ mirissa ‘Chilli Point’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: miris, ‘chilli, pepper’. This could easily be a place where chillies were grown and perhaps ground on the miris-gala, a stone mortar and pestle for grinding spices. Mirissa is an...

Miryalaguda (Tel)

Tel: మిర్యాలగూడ miryālagūḍa ‘Pepper Village’  City, Telangana  From Tel: miriyālu, ‘black pepper’; and gūḍa, ‘village’.  Miryalaguda is one of the top markets in Telangana for rice and its 45 acre agricultural market is the largest. in the state. For related place...

Modhera (Guj)

Guj: મોઢેરા mōḍhērā ‘City of Joy’ – Village/Temple, Gujarat From Skt: modaḥ ‘delight’, ‘pleasure’, ‘joy’; and Skt: pura→ara, ‘fort’, ‘city’. This extraordinary 11thC Sun Temple (one of only two in India) was built in such a way that on the days of the spring...

Moira (Goa)

Kon: मोइर mo’ir ‘Peacock (Village)’ – Village From Skt/Mar: mayūra, ‘peacock’. The peacock suggests a connection with the Mauryan kingdom and an early Aryan settlement rather than simply the bird. The Western Maurya Kingdom (and its offshoot, the Konkan...

Monaragala (SL)

Sin: මොණරාගල moṇarāgala – Tam: மொனராகலை moṉarākalai ‘Peacock Rock’  UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: monara, ‘peacock’; and gala, ‘rock’. Monaragala sits at the foot of Peacock Rock, an imposing round-topped densely forested hill, which resembles a peacock. The 20m...

Moratuwa (SL)

Sin: මොරටුව moraṭuva – Tam: மொறட்டுவை moṟaṭṭuvai ‘Senna Plain’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: moratu, ‘avaram senna’ [Senna auriculata]; and eliya, ‘open space, plain’. The avaram senna is a yellow-flowered shrub in the legume family which grows in dry and coastal...

Morawaka (SL)

Sin: මොරවක – மொறவக்க moṟavakka ‘Peacock Bend’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: monara, ‘peacock’; and  waka, ‘bend, curve’. The Nilwala Ganga and the roads that skirt it do indeed fan out here on the bend in the river like a peacock’s tail feathers. Th town is...

Mormugao (Goa)

Kon: मोरमुगाव mōramugāva ‘Peacock Village’ – City and Sub-district. From Skt/Kon: mora, ‘peacock’; and Skt: grāma→Mar/Kon: gaon/gaun, ‘village’. Mormugaon is a seaport with a deep natural harbour. It is Goan’s main port and India’s leading iron ore...

Mount Abu (Raj)

Hin: माउंट आबू mā’uṇṭ ābū ‘Serpent Forest Mountain’  [Arbudaranya. Arbuda-anchal] Hill Station, town, Rajasthan From Skt: arbuda,  ‘snake’, ‘(name of a) serpent-demon’; and Skt: araṇya, ‘forest’; or Hin: anchal, ‘region’. In ancient times Mt Abu was called...

Mullaittivu (SL)

Tam: முல்லைத்தீவு mullaittīvu- Sin: මූලදූව mūladūva  ‘Jasmine Island’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: mullai, ‘jasmine’; and tivu, ‘island, islet’. Perched precariously on the NE shoulder of Sri Lanka, Mullaitiva was a strategic target for opposing troops in the Civil War...

Mumbai (Mah)

Mar: मुंबई mumba’ī ‘Mumba Devi’   [Bombay. Bom Bahia]  -Capital City,    Maharashtra Originally Mumbai was a group of seven islands [Bombay, Colaba, Lt Colaba, Mahim, Mazagaon, Parel, Worli] separated by malarial swamps; in the 14thC they were part of the lands...

Mundra (Guj)

Guj: મુન્દ્રા mundrā ‘Picturesque’  -Town/Port (Kutch District), Gujarat From Guj/Hindi: manōhara, ‘picturesque’, Mundra is a medieval port town founded by Rao Bhojrajji I in the 17thC and built by Vardhman Sheth, a Jain ship-owner and merchant.A legend tells of...

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...

Murud-Janjira (Mah)

Mar: मुरुड muruḍa  ‘Morod Island’   Fort, Maharashtra From Kon: morod, ‘upland’; and Urd/Per: jazī’rah, ‘island’. The sea fort at Murud-Janjira is surrounded by the Arabian Sea on all sides and can only be reached by boat. It has 22 huge bastions with high...

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...

Nalsarovar (Guj)

Guj: નળ સરોવર naḷa sarōvara ‘Drain Lake’  -Lake/Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat From Hin/Guj: nal, ‘channel’, ‘drain’; and Guj: sarōvar, ‘lake’. Nalsarovar is a shallow lake spread over 120 sq. km with 36 islets. 75,000 years ago, Nalsarovar was part of a channel that...

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...

Nagarjunakonda (AP)

Tel: నాగార్జునకొండ nāgārjunakoṇḍa ‘Nagarjuna’s Hill’ [Vijayapuri] Ancient Site, Andhra Pradesh Nagarjuna was a 2-3rdC Mahayana Buddhist philosopher and founder of the Madhyamaka School, famous for its doctrine of ‘emptiness’. Some say he was an advisor to the...

Nagaur (Raj)

Hin: नागौर nāgaur ‘Naga’s City’  City/District, Rajasthan From Naga and Skt: pur(i)→-aur, ‘town’, ‘city’. Nagapura was founded  by Nag Rajputs, a warrior clan claiming descent from the Nagas, a snake-worshipping tribe in ancient India, who used the serpent as their...

Nagpur (Mah)

Mar:नागपूर  nāgapūra ‘Nag River City’    -City/District, Maharashtra From Nag River; and SKT: pur, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. The Nag River flows through the city and this is the most popular derivation. But it may also refer to a much earlier pre- or non-Aryan tribe, the...

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:...

Nalgonda (Tel)

Tel: నల్గొండ nalgoṇḍa ‘Black Hill’ [Neelagiri, Nalgunda, Nalagonda] City/District, Telangana From Tel: nīlam, ‘blue’, ‘purple’, ‘deep blue’;  nalla, ‘black’;  koṇḍa, ‘hill’;  giri, ‘hill’. Apart from a disagreement about colour the name has remained the same for two...

Nanded (Mah)

Mar: नांदेड nāndēḍa  ‘Nandi Shore’   [Nanditata, Nandigrama] -City, Maharashtra From Nandi and Mar: taṭa ‘shore or bank (of the sea or a river); or Skt: grama, ‘village’. Nanded is on the banks of the Godavari river. Nandi is Shiva’s gatekeeper, vehicle...

Nandyal/Nandyala (AP)

‘Abode of Nandi’  [Nandalluru] City/District, Andhra Pradesh  From Nandi or Skt: nandā/nanda, ‘prosperity’, ‘happiness’; and ālaya, ‘abode’, ‘house’. Nandi is the sacred bull and vehicle of Siva. Nandyal is surrounded by nine Siva temples (Nava Nandi): Garudanandi,...

Narcondum Island (A & N)

‘Hell-pit Island’ From Tam: naraka, ‘hell’; and Tam: kuṇṭam, ‘deep cavity’, ‘pit’. This is a volcano island with a 710m peak. 150km further south is Barren Island which still has an active volcano. For related place names see Indian Place names and Andaman &...

Narmada River (Guj, MP)

Guj: નર્મદા નદી narmadā nadī ‘Pleasure-giver’  [Nerbudda] River, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh Nerbudda, Narbada. From Skt: narmada, ‘causing mirth or pleasure’, ‘delightful’.  The Narmada, India’s fifth longest river, is called the ‘life line’ of Madhya Pradesh and...

Nashik (Mah)

Mar:नाशिक nāśika ‘Nine Peaks’  [Gulshanabad] – City/ District, Maharashtra From Mar: nava, ‘nine’; Mar: śikhara ‘top, summit, or peak (of a mountain); and (Mughal period) Urd: gul’shan, ‘flower garden’;  Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. Nashik is located...

Navsari (Guj)

Guj: નવસારી navasārī ‘New Inn’   – City/District,Gujarat From Skt/Hin/Guj: nav, ‘new’; and Hin/Guj: sarāi, ‘inn’, ‘resting place’. Navsari has strong Parsi connections. Jamsetji Tata, the industrialist, and Dadabhai Naroji, the first Indian M.P. in Britain...

Nawala (SL)

Sin: නාවල – Tam: நாவல nāvala ‘Elephant Jungle’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: na(ga), ‘elephant’; and val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’. This name dates back to the Kotte kingdom. Nawala is a suburb of Colombo and is called the Ceramics Capital of Sri Lanka. For...

Nawalapitiya (SL)

Sin: නාවලපිටිය nāvalapiṭiya – Tam: நாவலப்பிட்டி nāvalappiṭṭi ‘Ironwood Forest Plain’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: na (gaha), ‘ironwood tree’ [Mesua ferrea]; val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’; and  pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’.   It is called the ironwood...

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,...

Negombo (SL)

Sin: මීගමුව mīgamuva – Tam: நீர்கொழும்பு nīrkoḻumpu ‘Honey Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mee, ‘honey’; and gamuwa, ‘village, hamlet’. Negombo is a Portuguese corruption of Tam: Neerkolumbu, which may itself be a corruption of the original Sin: Megamuwa....

Nellore (AP)

Tel: నెల్లూరు nellūru ‘Paddy Town’ [Vikrama Simhapuri] City/District, Andhra Pradesh (AP) From Dra: nel, ‘rice’, ‘paddy’ or Tel/Dra: nelli, Indian gooseberry [Phyllanthus emblica]; and Tel: uru/uuru, ‘town’, ‘city’. The Indian gooseberry has both edible fruit and...

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island (A & N)

[Ross Island] This island (measuring less than 1.0km²) and the surrounding region was surveyed in 1788 by Sir Daniel Ross, a British hydrographer famed for his scientific accuracy and nicknamed “the Father of the Indian Surveys” landed on the small island in 1788 and...

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...

Nikaweratiya (SL)

Sin: නිකවැරටිය nikaværaṭiya ‘Heap or House of Cow Dung’   NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: nika, ‘house, heap’; and waeratiya, ‘dried cow-dung’. For centuries cow dung has been collected and stored for use as fuel, manure, disinfectant and house-building material. For...

Nilaveli (SL)

Tam: நிலாவெளி nilāveḷi – Sin: නිලාවැලි nilāvæli ‘Moonlit Land’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: nilā ‘moonlight’; and veḷi, ‘open space’, ‘expanse’ Nilaveli has an enviably long and pristine beach which is undoubtedly even more awesome when lit up by a full...

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...

Nivithigala (SL)

Sin: නිවිතිගල nivitigala ‘Spinach Rock’  SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: nivithi, ‘Malabar or Ceylon spinach’,  ‘Malabar nightshade’ [Basella alba] and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. This is a tall, climbing vine with fleshy green leaves and green or purply-red stems,...

Nizamabad/Induru (Tel)

Tel: నిజామాబాదు nijāmābādu ‘City of Nizam-Ul-Mulk’  [Indur]  City/District, Telangana From Nizam and Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘village’. It was originally named after the 10thC Rashtrakuta ruler, Indra III. The Rashtrakuta was an Indian dynasty ruling large parts of...

Nugegoda (SL)

Sin: නුගේගොඩ nugēgoḍa – Tam: நுகேகொடை nukēkoṭai ‘Banyan Village’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: nuga, ‘banyan tree’ [ficus benghalensis]; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’. The banyan is revered as sacred in India,  where it is the national tree. It is a parisitic fig...

Nuwara Eliya (SL)

Sin: නුවර එළිය nuvara eḷiya – Tam: நுவரெலியா nuvareliyā ‘City on the Plain’  CP,  Sri Lanka From SIn: nuwara, ‘town, city’; and eliya, ‘open space, plain’. The coolest city in Sri Lanka, situated in the middle of the most important tea growing area, sits...

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’....

Osmanabad (Mah)

Mar: उस्मानाबाद  usmānābāda ‘Osman’s City’  City/District,  Maharashtra From Osman and  Urd: ābād, ‘city’, ‘settlement’. The modern Osmanabad and Latur Districts were historically known as Dharashiv, the name of the seven ancient Buddhist and Jain caves which are...

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...

Paithan (Mah)

Mar: पैठण paiṭhaṇa ‘Foundation (City)’  [Pratisthana] Town, Maharashtra  From Skt: pratiṣṭhāna, ‘foundation’, ‘firm standing-place’; or Skt:  pratiṣṭhā, ‘abode’,’ dwelling’; and Skt: sthāna, ‘place’. Paithan was the original capital of the Satavahana Empire (2ndC BCE...

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...

Palanpur (Guj)

Guj: પાલનપુર pālanapura ‘Palansi’s Town’  [Prahaladanapura]  – City,  Gujarat Prahladana of the Parmar/Paramar Dynasty founded the original town in 1218. The Parmar Dynasty ruled Malwa and neughbouring regions in the 9-14thC. A century later Palansi Chauhan took...

Palghar (Mah)

Mar: पालघर pālaghara ‘Leaf House’  Town, Maharashtra From Mar: pālā, ‘leaves’ or Mar: pāla, ‘hut with sloping sides and open ends’, ‘(cloth or blanket) tent’; and Mar: ghar(a), ‘house’. This may refer to the original type of housing here, which may or may not be...

Pali (Raj)

Hin: पाली pālī ‘Village’  [Pallika and Palli]  – City/District, Rajasthan From Skt/Dra:  palli, ‘village’, ‘hamlet’. It’s not a village now and it’s even been nicknamed the ‘Industrial City’. Its industries are textiles (it has Rajasthan’s largest cotton mill),...

Palitana (Guj)

Guj: પાલીતાણા pālītāṇā ‘Sanctuary’  [Padliptpur] -Temple town, Gujarat. From Padlipt and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’; or  pālita, ‘protected’  and  ayana→ana, ‘place’, ‘abode’. 1,008 Jain temples sit in a cluster on top of Shatrunjaya Hill, a place where you can...

Panadura (SL)

Sin: පානදුර pānadura- Tam: பாணந்துறை pāṇantuṟai ‘Rocky Harbour’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pāṇa/pasana, ‘stone, rock’ (used only as a place-names prefix); and Sin/Tam: tara/tura/turai, ‘seaport, harbour’. Panadura was the site for the 1873 Debate between Buddhists and...

Panaji (Goa)

Kon: पणजी paṇajī ‘Five Creeks’  [Nova Goa, Pahajani kali, Pangim, Panjim] -Capital/City From Skt/Mar/Hin: pañca, ‘five’; or Skt/Mar/Hin: prācyaka/ prācya/prāchi, ‘eastern’, ‘easterly’; and Hin/Mar: khāṛī/kālavā, ‘canal’, ‘creek’ Panaji is Goa’s...

Panchmahal (Guj)

Guj: પંચમહાલ pan̄camahāla ‘Five Mahals’ -District, Gujarat From Hin/Skt: panch, ‘five’; and Hin/Urd: mahal, ‘(political) division’ (originally ‘palace’).  A mahal  is an administrative division in India corresponding to a township (and ancillary villages), tehsil or...

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...

Parbhani (Mah)

Mar: परभणी parabhaṇī ‘Prabhavati’s City’   [Prabhavatinagar]  – City/District,  Maharashtra From Prabhavati and Skt: nagar, ‘city’. Parbhani is a corruption of Prabhavati (Nagar). In ancient times there was a large temple here dedicated to the goddess Prabhavati...

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...

Pasighat (ArP)

‘Pasi Pass’  Town, Arunachal Pradesh From Pasi, the name of a sub-tribe of the Adi, the predominant tribe in Arunachal Pradesh; and Asm: ghāṭa ‘landing-stage on the bank of a river’. Pasighat is where the Brahmaputra River descends from the Himalayan foothills into...

Pasikuda (SL)

Tam: பாசிக்குடா pāsikkuṭā – Sin: පාසිකුඩා pāsikuḍā ‘Green Bay’  EP,  Sri Lanka  From Tam: pāsi/pāci, ‘green’, ‘moss’, ‘lichen’, ‘seaweed’; and kuta/kuda ‘bay, gulf, shore’. Like its name twin in Wisconsin (U.S), Passikuda is...

Patan (Guj)

Guj: પાટણ pāṭaṇa ‘(Anahil’s) City’   -City/District, Gujarat From Skt/Guj: pattana/paṭṭana, ‘town’, ‘city’.  King Vanaraja of the 8thC Chavda dynasty founded this city and, according to legend, named it Anahilpur or Anahilpattana after a cowherd who chose the...

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...

Pattipola (SL)

Sin: පට්ටිපොල paṭṭipola – Tam: பட்டிபொல paṭṭipola ‘Cattle Site’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pattiya, ‘stall or herd of cattle’; pola, ‘place, site’. Pattipola is the site of the two highest (2,000m) and two largest (2,000 head of cattle) dairy farms (Ambewela and...

Peradeniya (SL)

Sin: පේරාදෙණිය pērādeṇiya – Tam: பேராதனை pērātaṉai ‘Guava Plain’ CP,   Sri Lanka From Sin: pera, ‘guava tree’ [Psidium guajava]; and deniya, ‘plain, field’.  The guava is a green, fleshy edible fruit also used in shampoo and traditional medicine. The Peradeniya...

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...

Pernem (Goa)

Kon: परनेम paranem ‘Foundation’ – Town and Sub-district From Mar: pēraṇēm, ‘foundation’. The name refers to the settlements of Saraswat Brahmins (see Tiswadi). Pernem was one of the Novas Conquistas or ‘New Conquests’, sub-districts added to Portuguese Goa...

Pinnawala (SL)

Sin: පින්නවල pinnavala -பின்னவலை piṉṉavalai ‘Hill Glory Bower Wood’  SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pinna, ‘hill glory bower’ [Clerodendron infortunatum]. The pinna is a small flowering shrub or small tree; the Latin name refers to its sad, ugly leaves. It is famous for...

Point Pedro (SL)

‘Rocky Cape’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Por: Ponta das Pedras,  ‘rocky point or cape’. Point Pedro is the most northerly point in Sri Lanka, 432k; from Dondra, Sri Lanka’s southernmost point. The Tamil name of the town in Tamil is Paruthithurai, ‘cotton harbour’....

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’,...

Polonnaruwa (SL)

Sin: පොළොන්නරුව poḷonnaruva – Tam: பொலன்னறுவை polaṉṉaṟuvai ‘Pulastya’s City’  NCP,  Sri Lanka The origins of the name Polonnaruwa are unclear. Polonnaruwa is not the real name of the place and is not very ancient. Major Forbes, writing in...

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...

Porbandar (Guj)

Guj: પોરબંદર pōrabandara ‘Porav’s Port’  -City/District, Gujarat. From Porav Mata and Guj: bandar, ‘port’, ‘harbour’, ‘port-town’. The guardian and patron goddess of the town is Porav Mata whose temple, at the mouth of the creek, was built in the 8thC. This...

Port Blair (A & N)

‘Port Blair’ – City/Capital Lieutenant Archibald Blair surveyed the Islands in the late 18thC for the British East India Company.  Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Its infamous Cellular Jail [also Kala Pani from Hin:...

Pottuvil (SL)

Tam: பொத்துவில் pottuvil – Sin: පොතුවිල potuvila ‘Rush Pond’  EP, Sri Lanka From Sin: potukola or potupan, ‘reed, rush’ [Scleria oryzoides]; and vila, ‘pond, lake, marsh’. This coarse reed is used for mat-weaving. The Pottuvil Lagoon is a complex of wetlands,...

Prakasam District (AP)

Tel: ప్రకాశం prakāśaṁ ‘(Tanguturi) Prakasam’  District, Andhra Pradesh  This District recalls Tanguturi Prakasam, freedomfighter, Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency and then first Chief Minister of the new Andhra state, created in 1953 when Madras ...

Pratapgarh (Raj)

Hin: प्रतापगढ़ pratāpagaṛh ‘Pratrap’s Fort’  [Partabgarh]  – City/District, Rajasthan From Pratap [Skt/Hin: pratāpa, glorious, dignified, mighty] and Hin: gaṛh, ‘fort’. Rajkumar Pratapsingh built Pratapgarh in 1698 near the older Devgarh Fort and...

Proddatur (AP)

Tel: ప్రొద్దటూరు proddaṭūru ‘Bush Town’  City, Andhra Pradesh (AP) From Tel: poda, podaru pōḍu, ‘bush’, ‘thicket’, ‘scrub (jungle)’; or poddu, ‘sun’; and uru/uuru, ‘town’, ‘city’. There are local derivations based on Rama (or Hanuman) arriving here at sunset; or...

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’...

Pune (Mah)

Mar: पुणे puṇē ‘Auspicious City’  [Punya-Visaya, Punyangari, Pumawadi, Poona].- City/District, Maharashtra From Skt: puṇya, ‘auspicious’, ‘virtuous’, ‘holy’, ‘sacred’; Skt: viṣaya, ‘kingdom’, ‘province’, ‘region’; Skt: nagar, ‘city’; Mar: vāḍā/vāḍi, ‘settlement’]....

Pushkar (Raj)

Hin: पुष्कर pushkar ‘Blue Lotus’  – City, Rajasthan From Skt: puṣkara, ‘blue lotus-flower’ [Nelumbium Speciosum or Nymphaea Nelumbo]. Pushkar is famous for the Kartik Mela, the annual Camel Fair featuring thousands of camels, horses and heads of cattle; and...

Pussellawa (SL)

 Sin: පුස්සැල්ලාව pussællāva – Tam: புசல்லாவ pusallāva ‘Creeper Falls’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: puswela, ‘elephant creeper’ [Entada Pusaetha]; and ella, ‘waterfall, rapids’. This is a large woody climber with a thick trunk and long twisted snake-like branches....

Puttalam (SL)

Tam: புத்தளம் puttaḷam – Sin: පුත්තලම puttalama ‘New Saltpans’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: puththu/puttu, ‘new’; and Tam: aḷam, ‘salt pans’. Puttalam is one of the largest salt production areas in Sri Lanka and the location of its first salt refinery. When Ibn...

Puttur (SL)

Tam: புத்தூர் puttūr ‘New Town’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: puththu/puttu, ‘new’; and ur, ‘town, city’. In 1976 the fledgling Tamil Tigers robbed a bank here in brazen cinematic style and got away with LKR700,000 in cash and jewellery.  Puttur boasts the Nailavarai...

Puwakpitiya (SL)

Sin: පුවක්පිටිය puvakpiṭiya ‘Areca Nut Field’   CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: puwak, ‘areca nut tree’ (colloquial); and pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’. The areca nut (also called betel nut) is actually a berry which, when it hardens, can be cut and chewed. It is a...

Querim/Keri (Goa)

Kon: कुएरिम kuerim ‘Street’ (Keri) From Kan: kēri,  ‘street’, ‘lane’. Querim beach sits at the end of a 5km-long path. The name is a Portuguese corruption (the final -m indicates that the preceding vowel is nasalized). For related place names see Indian Place...

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...