Ever wondered why Mumbai is called Mumbai, Hyderabad is called Hyderabad, and Bhopal is called Bhopal? We travel to many places, but have we ever thought about how that place got its name???

So, if you are curious to know how different places got their names, this post is for you!! Read further to know the history behind the names of the most famous cities of India. 


1. Bhopal -

  • The history of the City of Lakes and Capital of Madhya Pradesh – Bhopal starts from the 11th century. Ancient Bhopal was established by the historic King of the Parmar Dynasty – Raja Bhoj
  • This place was named Bhojpal after the name of Raja Bhoj.
  • According to some other theories, Bhopal was also pronounced as Bhupal or Bhoopal derived from the ancient king Bhupala.
  • According to some folklore, Raja Bhoj had a disease named Leprosy. His Vaidyas (physicians) advised him to take bath in 365 lakes to get rid of this bacterial disease. Raja Bhoj built a huge lake near Bhojpur which was the collection of 365 water sources. This is the same lake that you call Bhoj Tal.


2. Mumbai -

  • The City That Never Sleeps – Mumbai has not always been such a fast-paced place. In the 6th century BCE, fishing communities like Kolis, Kunbis, Bhandaris, Agris were settled on the small islands in the Mumbai region. These communities started worshiping Mumba Devi, the local deity of these fishing communities, and the region has been named Mumbai.


 3. Hyderabad 

  • Hyderabad was founded by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. The name Hyderabad means "Haydars city" or "lion city" after Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Talib, also known as Haydar because of his lion-like valour in battle.   
  • Originally, Hyderabad was called Baghnagar which means “City of Gardens”.
  • According to other theories, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah married Bhagmati, a dancing girl, and named the city Bhagyanagar derived from the name of his wife. Later, Baghmati converted to Islam and adopted the title Hyder Mahal from where the city acquired its name Hyderabad.  


 4. Jaipur 

  • The Pink City of India - Jaipur was founded by the King of Amber, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II on 18 November 1727.
  • Jaipur was named after the name of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II.
  • According to some sources, Jaipur was also known as Jayapura and Jainagar.


 5. Vadodara 

  • The second-largest city of Gujrat – Vadodara acquired its name from the Sanskrit word Vatodar which means "Belly of the Banyan Tree".
  • Anciently, Vadodara was called Chanadanavati, named after the King Chandan of the Dodiya Rajputs.
  •  It was also known as Virakshetra or Viravati which means “the land of warriors”.


 6. Chennai

  • Madras became Chennai in 1996. Madras was a colonial version of Madraspattinam, a fishing town in current Chennai. 
  • There are various theories on the origin of the word Chennai. Some say the city is named after Telugu ruler Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu. Some believe the name comes from the Chenna Kesava Perumal temple.


 7. Kanpur 

  • Situated on the banks of Ganga, Kanpur which was earlier known as Kanhiyapur is an industrial city.  
  • According to some stories, Kanpur was earlier known as Karnapur which originated from the name of one of the heroic characters of Mahabharata, Karna.
  • Britishers called it by several names, the most commonly used ones being Cawnpoor, Caunpour, Caunpore, Cawnpore, Kawnpore and finally Cawnpore
  • After the independence of the country, the city was finally renamed to Kanpur in 1948.


 8. Indore -

  • The cleanest city of India, Indore, was formerly known as Indrapura. The word Indrapura is also found in Gupta Inscriptions.
  • It is believed that the city is named after its Indreshwar Mahadev Temple, where Indra is the presiding deity. It is believed that Indra himself did Tapasya in this place and led sage Swami Indrapuri to establish the temple.


9. Pune -

  • The earliest marks of the city were found with copper plates dated 937 B.C.E, referring to the town as Punya Vishaya. 
  • It was in the late 13th century that the name of the city got changed; this time, it was referred to Punawadi. 
  • Till the year 1960, the name of the city was Poona, but after that, the name officially got changed to Pune.


10. Guwahati 

  • In the Ancient Assamese texts, the city is referred as Pragjyotishpura. 
  • Guwahati is the combination of the Assamese words guwa meaning “areca nut” and haat meaning “market”. 
  • The city reclaimed its non-anglicised spelling in 1980.


In this post, we have shared the hidden history behind the names of some of the famous cities of India. If you are inquisitive to know about the history of the names of more cities of India, then stay connected with Step Up Academy.