Jajpur/Jajapur (Odi)

Odi: ଯାଜପୁରିଆ yājapuriā ‘Viraja’s Town’ [Virajam, Yajanagara] The 13thC Viraja temple is dedicated to the goddess Durga manifested as Viraja and the town has been called ‘Viraja’,  ‘Viraja Kshetra’ and ‘Biraja Pitha’. The original name Jajnanagar may...

Gopalpur (Odi)

‘Town of Gopala-Krishna’  Town/Beach, Odisha  There is an 18thC  temple dedicated to Gopala-Krishna, the ‘protector of cows’ [Skt: go, ‘cow’; and pāla, ‘guardian, ‘protector’]. Gopalpur-on-Sea is a coastal town near Taptapani. It has a port and a popular beach. For...

Dhenkanal (Odi)

Odi: ଢେଙ୍କାନାଳ ḍhēṅkānāḷa ‘Dhenka’s Land’  Town/District, Odisha  From Dhenka Sabara, a 16thC Sabara/Saora tribal chief; and Odi: naḻa, ‘strip of land’.  Dhenkanal Palace was the official residence of he Rajas of Ghenkanal. It was built in the 19th century on the site...

Cuttack (Odi)

Odi: କଟକ kaṭaka  ‘Royal Fort’ [Bidanasi Katak]  City/District, Odisha From Skt: kaṭakḥ, ‘royal capital, cantonment, fort or metropolis’.  Cuttack is the second largest city in Odisha, but no longer the capital which is Bhubaneswar. Its original name was Bidanasi...

Indian & Sri Lankan Place Name Elements

INTRODUCTION This page lists 50 of the most common place names elements in India & Sri Lanka. Most South Asian place names, like English ones, are made up of two elements (to make it easier I illustrate these using English examples): (1) a base or generic element...

Asika/Aska (Odi)

Odi: ଆସିକା  āsikā  ‘Sugar City’ [Aska] City/District, Odisha From Odi: ikṡhu, akhuṡaḻa, ‘sugar cane’, ‘sugar processing’ [Skt:  asi, ikṣu, aikṣava, ‘sugar cane’, ‘made of sugar-cane’]. This really is India’s sugar city. The sugar factory here, opened in 1848, was the...

Balangir (Odi)

Odi: ବଲାଙ୍ଗୀର balāṅgīra ‘Balaram’s Fort’ [Balramgarh/Bolangir]- City/District, Odisha From Balarama Deva or Deo and  Hin/Odi: gaṛh, ‘fort’. Balaram Deo, the 16th C Raja of Patna (now in Bihar), founded Balramgarh and even moved his capital here. Balramgarh gradually...

Balasore (Odi)

ବାଲେଶ୍ୱର୍ bālēśॱr ‘Lord of the Forest’ [Baleshwar] – City/District, Odisha It is likely that this name is related to the  town’s ancient Shiva temple, Baneshwar, from Odi/Skt: baṇa/vana, ‘forest’; and Skt: īśvara, ‘lord’, ‘master’. The name metamorphosed in the...

Bargarh (Odi)

ବରଗଡ଼ baragaṛa ‘Great Fort’ City/District, Odisha From Odi: baṛa/baṛd̩a, ‘big’, ‘great’; or Balaram Deva’; and Odi: garha, gardha, ‘fort’. Balaram Deva, the 16th C Chauhan King of Sambalpur, ruled this province when it acquired the name Bargarh and it may, like...

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...

Berhampur/Brahmapur (Odi)

ବ୍ରହ୍ମପୁର brahmapura ‘City of Brahma’ [Brahmapur] City, Odisha From Brahma, the creator god of Hinduism; and Skt: pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’. Brahma is the forgotten god of the Hindu trimurti, ‘trinity’ of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva ; there are only a handful of temples...

Bhadrak (Odi)

ଭଦ୍ରକ bhadraka ‘Auspicious (Kali)’  City/District, Odisha From Skt: bhadra(ka), ‘auspicious’, ‘gracious’; and Kali, a fearsome but protective aspect of the Goddess and destroyer of demons. The Bhadrakali Temple here is one of the most important shaktipithas...

Bhanjanagar (Odi)

Odi: ଭଞ୍ଜନଗର bhañjanagara ‘Poet King City’ [Russellkonda] Town, Odisha Under British rule this city was called Russellkonda  [Tel: konda ‘hill’, ‘hillock’] after George Russell, dispatched to Odisha from the Madras Board of Revenue in 1836 to quell revolt among Hindu...

Bhawanipatna (Odi)

Odi: ଭବାନୀପାଟଣା bhabānīpāṭaṇā ‘City of the Goddess’ City/District, Odisha From Skt: bhavānī, ‘goddess’, ‘Pārvatī, wife of Śiva’; and paṭṭana(m), ‘city’, ‘commercial town’. Although there is a temple here dedicated to Lord Bhavani  Shankar (Shiva), the town and...

Bhubaneswar (Odi)

Odi: ଭୁବନେଶ୍ଵର bhubanēśvara ‘Lord of the (Three) Worlds’  City, Odisha From Skt: tri, ‘three’; bhuvanam, ‘world(s)’; and īśvara, ‘lord’, ‘master’. The traditional ‘three worlds’ in Hinduism are: swarga, the world of the devas (gods); martya or prithivi: ‘Earth’; and...

Hajipur (Bih)

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

Jamalpur (Bih)

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

Jehanabad (Bih)

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

Katihar (Bih)

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

Kishanganj (Bih)

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

Madhubani (Bih)

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

Motihari (Bih)

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

Munger (Bih)

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

Muzaffarpur (Bih)

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

Nawada (Bih)

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

Patna (Bih)

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

Purnia/Purnea (Bih)

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

Rajgir (Bih)

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

Saharsa (Bih)

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

Saran District (Bih)

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

Sasaram (Bih)

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

Shergarh (Bih)

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

Sitamarhi (Bihar)

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

Siwan (Bih)

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

Shahabad (Bih)

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

Tirhut Division (Bih)

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

Wellington (TN)

Tam: வெல்லிங்டன் velliṅṭaṉ ‘(Duke of) Wellington’ [Jakkatalla] Town, Tamil Nadu  The Wellington Barracks in the Nilgiri Hills was originally known as Jakkatalla/Jagathala: there is a Badaga Village with that name further north [Tam/Bad: cakke,...