This Is How 29 Indian States Got Their Names

A lot goes behind a name.


Ever wondered how each of the Indian states derived its name?

India is a multilingual country and it is evitable in most of the names of the states too. Many of the states have their origin in Sanskrit words, which was once the main language of India. History, language, rulers are also contributors to the nomenclature. 

Read on to know better. 




The Sanskrit meaning of Andhra is ‘South’. Tribes in the state were also originally called ‘Andhras’.

On 2 June 2014, the north-western portion of Andhra Pradesh was separated to form a new state of Telangana. The name Telangana is derived from the word Telugu Angana, which means a place where Telugu is spoken.




Madhya Pradesh gets its name from its location. Being located in the centre, it is named as Madhya (meaning in the middle) of the country.  

Chattisgarh, the separated part of Madhya Pradesh literally means 36 forts. Legend has it that the region, earlier located in the Dakshin Kosala region of Medieval India, had thirty-six ancient castles sprawled in the expanse.  

Jharkhand is also known as ‘Vananchal’. In Sanskrit Jhar is ‘forest’ and Khand is ‘land’. 

Bihar, the name Bihar has a Sanskrit origin and is derived from the word ‘Vihara’ which means ‘abode’.

Uttar Pradesh means ‘Northern Province’.

Uttarakhand the new state of Uttaranchal means, ‘northern mountains’. The state got separated from Uttar Pradesh in 2000. The name was later changed to Uttarakhand which means ‘Northland’. 


Maharashtra in Sanskrit means a ‘great nation’ from a combination of the words 'Mah' and 'Rashtra'. 

Goa is centred around the Sanskrit word Gau meaning cow as per some theories. It could also have a European or Portuguese connection, not verified though. 

Odisha - 'Odra Desh', named after the Odra people who inhabited the central part of the region.    

Karnataka has been derived from Karu which means ‘lofty’ and Naad that means ‘land’. 




Kerala - In Sanskrit Keralam is known as ‘the land added on’. As per one theory, Lord Parsurama reclaimed the land from the sea, hence the name added land.

Tamil Nadu means the homeland of the Tamil people.    


Jammu & Kashmir - Jammu gets its name from the ruler 'Jambu Lochan' and 'Kashmir', means land desiccated from the water.  

Himachal Pradesh - 'Hima' means ‘snow’ and 'achal' means ‘mountain’. The name translates to snow-capped mountains. 

Haryana means the abode of God. 'Hari' means Vishnu and 'ana' means come. During Mahabharata, Lord Krishna came to this place, so the state got its name from this legend.

Punjab translates to land of 'five rivers'.   


Rajasthan had been a land of Rajas. During British rule, it was referred as Rajputana - the land of Rajputs.

Gujarat is named after the 'Gurjars' who ruled during the eighth century.     


West Bengal - The name of Bengal, or Bangla, is derived from the ancient kingdom of Vanga, or Banga. 

In 1947 when India got independence, Bengal was partitioned between India and Pakistan. India's share came to be known as West Bengal. 


Assam is named after the 'AHOMS' who ruled over the area. 

Arunachal Pradesh - Sanskrit meaning of 'Aruna' is ‘dawn lit’ and 'acha' is ‘mountain’. Which further made Arunachal Pradesh.

Sikkim has a Limbu origin where Su means new and Khyim means palace.

Manipur is the land of jewels.

Meghalaya, as the name suggests, is the abode of clouds (Megh - alaya).

Mizoram has been derived from two words 'Mi' that means people and 'zo' that means highlander.

Tripura is the third smallest state of India. Many theories are attached to it nomenclature while one of them states the etymology of the state comes from the king whose name was Tripur, who ruled the region.

Nagaland means 'The Land of Nagas'.

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Hope you found it a useful read. The content has been assorted from various online sources and primarily from Maps of India. 

If you have more useful insights, please share with us in the comment section below.