Asansol (WB)

Ben: আসানসোল āsānasōla ‘Indian Laurels’ [Assensole]  City, West Bengal  From Ben: asan, [Indian Laurel, Silver Greywood, Terminalia tomentosa]; and Ben/Skt: sala/sthala, ‘land’, ‘place’. The Asan is a deciduous tree which can grow to a height of 30m. It is found on...

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...

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...

Bangaon/Bongaon (WB)

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

Bankura (WB)

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

Bardhaman/Burdwan (WB)

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

Barrackpore/Barrackpur (WB)

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

Birbhum District (WB)

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

Bishnupur (WB)

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

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...

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...

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:...

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...

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,...

Dum Dum/Dumdum (WB)

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

Durgapur (WB)

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

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...

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...

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...

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...

Jangipur (WB)

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

Jhargram (WB)

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

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Raiganj (WB)

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

Ranaghat (WB)

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

Siliguri (WB)

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

Tamluk (WB)

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