Sunday, 22 September 2019

Pakistan Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Pakistan's cities.

Karachi is reputed as being founded in 1729 as Kolachi and said to have honoured Mai Kolachi, she a fisherwoman who settled here. When her husband was lost in a storm she, despite warnings to the contrary, went to search for him and proved successful. Interestingly her surname is said to come from the Baloch tribe originating from Kulanch, while Mai is a word still used to mean 'respected lady'.

Lahore has a number of suggested origins, most often cited as coming from Ravawar (R to L is common in languages derived from Sanskrit), itself a simplified version of the name Iravatyawar, from the Ravi River or Iravati, she the daughter of Kadru and Kasyapa in Indian mythology. Hindu legend suggests the name comes from Lavpur or Lavpuri meaning 'city of Lava'. This is not molten rock but named after its founder, Prince Lava, the son of Sita and Rama.

Faisalabad means 'the city of Faisal' and named after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, a great benefactor to Pakistan. Earlier, during the time of the British Raj, the place was named after the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Sir James Broadwood Lyall, where the addition of Sanskrit pur or 'city' gave us the name Lyallpur.

Gujranwala means 'abode of the Gujjars' in Punjabi, this tribe of nomads and grazers living in northern Punjab. Some consider their tribal name to be derived from the area around the Caspian Sea, for their ancestry came from this area and the sea's alternative name of Bahr-e-Khizar produced tribal names of Khizar, Guzar, Gujur, Gurjara, and Gujjar.

Peshawar likely comes from the Sanskrit Purushapura, either 'the city of men' or 'city of Purusha', the latter an ancient king, although likely a fictional one as no evidence has been found.

Multan is possibly from the Old Persian word mulastana 'frontier land' or the Sanskrit word mulasthana a Hindu deity worshipped at the Multan Sun Temple.

Hyderabad was named in honour of Ali, the fourth caliph and a cousin of the prophet Muhammad. It translates as 'Lion City' from haydar 'lion' and abad 'settlement'.

Islamabad is derived from two words abad 'settlement', preceded by the religion meaning 'submission to God'.

Quetta is a variation of the Pashto word Kot meaning 'fortress'.

Sukkur is thought to come from the Arabic word shakkar 'sugar' as sugarcane fields were once abundant here.

Sheikhupura was earlier known as Virk Garh or 'Virk fort', this the name of the tribe resident here. Later it became Jehangirabad, named after the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, with the modern name derived from Jehangir's nickname of Shekhu, coined by his mother.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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