Indian Place Names and Meaning

One of the oldest tenants of geography is the concept of place. As a result, place has numerous definitions, from the simple “a space or location with meaning” to the more complex “an area having unique physical and human characteristics interconnected with other places.” There are three key components of place: location, locale, and a sense of place. Location is the position of a particular point on the surface of the Earth. Locale is the physical setting for relationships between people, such as the South of France or the Smoky Mountains. Finally, a sense of place is the emotions someone attaches to an area based on their experiences. Place can be applied at any scale and does not necessarily have to be fixed in either time or space. Additionally, due to globalization, place can change over time as its physical setting and cultures are influenced by new ideas or technologies.


We identify the place with a NAME. In much of the “Old World” (approximately Africa, Asia and Europe) the names of many places cannot easily be interpreted or understood;[citation needed] they do not convey any apparent meaning in the modern language of the area. This is due to a general set of processes through which place names evolve over time until their obvious meaning is lost. In contrast, in the “New World” (roughly North America, South America, and Australasia), many place names’ origins are known.

Here are some Indian Place Names

  • -abad From Farsi, ‘populated’ or ‘settled’. E.g., Ahmedabad.
  • -adri Sanskrit (?) ‘hill’. E.g., Narayanadri, Anjanadri.
  • -aranya Sanskrit ‘forest’. E.g., Namisharanya.
  • -bagh Farsi ‘garden’. E.g., Charbagh.
  • -bakkam, -vakkamTamil, ‘area’ or ‘neighbourhood’?? E.g., Nungambakkam, Villivakkam.
  • -bandar, -bandra Western India, ‘port’. E.g., Porbandar.
  • -bari?? Bengali ‘house’, Assamese ‘orchard’. E.g., Alubari.
  • -bastiHindi ‘settlement’. E.g., Dayabasti, Shakurbasti
  • bazarMostly in UP/Bihar. ‘Market’. E.g., Siswa Bazar.
  • cutchery, kacheri, kutchuhery(other variant spellings exist). ‘Court’. E.g., Gonda Kutchuhery.
  • -chawniHindi ‘cantonment’.
  • -cheruvuTelugu ‘lake’.
  • -dham?? ‘Temple’? E.g., Baidyanathdham, Gandhidham.
  • -dih?? E.g., Manduadih, Pathardih.
  • -duar, -dooar?? Perhaps from Sanskrit dwar, ‘door’, ‘entrance’. E.g., Alipurduar.
  • -durg‘Fort’. E.g., Nandidurg, Jaladurg.
  • -eshwar, -eshwaramFrom Sanskrit ishwar, ‘god’, ‘lord’. E.g., Ankleshwar, Rameshwaram.
  • -gachhi(variant spellings exist). From Bengali for ‘tree’? E.g., Bamangachhi.
  • -ganjNorthern & eastern India. ‘Trading post’, ‘warehouse’? Perhaps from Indo-Iranian word meaning ‘treasure’. E.g., Collectorganj, Daryaganj.
  • -gaonHindi ‘village’. E.g., Chalisgaon.
  • -garhHindi ‘Fort’. E.g., Chittorgarh.
  • -ghatAccess point for a river with steps leading down, or a jetty. E.g., Digha Ghat.
  • -giriSanskrit ‘mountain’. E.g., Chandragiri.
  • -golaBengali ‘warehouse’. E.g., Lalgola, Bhagwangola.
  • -gramSanskrit ‘village’. E.g., Lakhmani Gram, Sewagram.
  • -gudiKannada ‘temple’. E.g., Basavanagudi.
  • -guntaTelugu ‘lake’. E.g., Renigunta.
  • -guri, -garaLoosely, ‘place’ (Bengali?). E.g. Jalpaiguri, Mainaguri, Siliguri, Matigara.
  • -guttaTelugu ‘hill’, also -gudda in Kannada. E.g., Panjagutta.
  • -hat, -hati, -hatta, -het‘Market’ or ‘fair’. E.g., Guwahati, Jorhat, Sylhet.
  • kasbaArabic qasbah, a market town. Often used as a prefix.
  • kalan‘Big’, the bigger of two towns/villages with the same name. E.g., Kosi Kalan, Jharonda Kalan.
  • khurd‘Small’, the smaller of two towns/villages with the same name. E.g. Ugar Khurd, Renala Khurd.
  • -kereKannada ‘lake’. E.g., Arsikere.
  • -kondaTelugu ‘hill’. E.g., Golconda, Penukonda.
  • -kot ‘Fort’ or ‘fortified town’. E.g., Rajkot, Pathankot. Perhaps a variant of this is -kotla (‘fortification’).
  • -kovil Tamil ‘temple’. Variant spelling is -coil. E.g. Nagercoil.
  • -madugu Telugu ‘lake’. E.g. Jammalamadugu.
  • -malaiSouthern India, ‘hill’. E.g., Sabrimalai, Kollamalai, Annamalai.
  • mandi Hindi ‘Market’. Often a prefix. E.g., Mandi Adampur, Mandi Gobindgarh, Sabzimandi.
  • -mangalam Tamil, perhaps a camp for soldiers. E.g., Needamangalam.
  • -merPerhaps ‘mountain’ from Sanskrit ‘meru’. E.g., Ajmer, Barmer, Jaisalmer.
  • -nagar Sanskrit ‘town’. E.g., Srinagar.
  • -nathS anskrit ‘lord’, usually referring to deities/shrines. E.g., Ambernath, Parasnath.
  • -ner– E.g. Bikaner, Gajner.
  • -pahar Hindi ‘hill’. E.g., Belpahar, Tinpahar.
  • -palli Tamil/Telugu. Also -halli, -alli ‘Village’. E.g., Thiruchirapalli, Jalahalli.
  • -palya, -palyamKannada? E.g. Kalasipalyam.
  • -paraBengali ‘locality’. E.g. Rangapara, Kendrapara.
  • -patHaryana/Punjab. Probably ‘rock’ or ‘plateau’ from Sanskrit prastar. E.g., Panipat, Sonepat.
  • -patnamSouthern India, ‘port’. Several variant spellings. E.g., Masulipattanam.
  • -pet, -pettaiSouthern & western India. ‘Marketplace’. E.g., Hospet, Jolarpettai.
  • -prasthaSanskrit ‘established’. E.g., Indraprastha.
  • -proluTelugu ‘village’. E.g. Bhattiprolu, Gollaprolu.
  • -pur, -puri, -pura, -puram, -poreFrom Sanskrit, a town (walled city — may also mean a city with a citadel or palace). E.g., Kanpur, Thiruvananthapuram. Also Singapore!
  • qilaArabic ‘fort’.
  • -sandraKannada? E.g. Chennasandra.
  • -sarSanskrit, ‘lake’ (from sarovar). Mostly in northwestern India. E.g., Amritsar, Soodsar.
  • -serai, -saraiIn medieval times, an inn or resting place for travellers. E.g., Mughalsarai.
  • -shaharFarsi ‘town’. E.g., Bulandshahar.
  • -sthanSanskrit ‘place’. E.g., Rajasthan.
  • -tal, -talao, -talaiyaHindi, ‘natural lake’. E.g., Nainital.
  • -tanr, -tand‘On the river bank’ (Bengali?). E.g., Jamuniatanr, Tulsiatanr.
  • -ur, -oor, -uru, -oreTamil/Kannada/etc. ‘village’/’town’. E.g., Kadambur, Bangalore, Coonoor.
  • viharSanskrit ‘garden’, ‘park’. E.g., Anand Vihar, Mayur Vihar.
  • -wada, -wara‘House’. E.g., Bhilwada, Teliwara.
  • -wala. – e.g Lacchiwala


About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
This entry was posted in Class Notes, earth, Urban Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

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