What’s in a name, or two, or 677,459? In the case of India’s villages, that list tells us they love gods, goddesses, nation builders and mythologies above all else, and that, when they migrate, they often take the name of their place of origin with them.
The Indian Express went through the names of all 677,459, inhabited and uninhabited, villages in India, as listed in Census 2011 — data for which was released recently. Lord Ram ranks way up there, with 3,626 villages named after him, in almost all parts of the country except Kerala, while Lord Krishna is a close second at 3,309.
There are 92 villages in the country whose names start with Bengal/ Bangal and all of them are located outside West Bengal, including Maharashtra, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. There are 33 villages named Kerala outside the state, mainly in the northern parts. There are 17 villages in the name of Prayag (the old name of Allahabad) and 41 named Kashi (the old name of Varanasi). There are 28 Agras outside Uttar Pradesh (most of them in Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam), while 189 village names start with Bihar, of which 171 are outside Bihar. There are 28 villages named Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh) and 40 in the name of Nepal.
Besides, there are 47 villages whose names start with Badri and 75 which feature Kedar — invoking the religious sites which were among the worst hit in the Uttarakhand floods. Most of these villages are located in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
Other Ramayana characters too figure among the names, although Bharat (187 villages) is marginally ahead of Lakshman (160). Hanuman has 367 villages in his name, while Sita has 75. While at least six villages in the country exist in the name of Ravana, and three in the name of his father Ahiravan (all in Bihar), no village is named after Ravana’s brother Vibheeshana who crossed over to Ram’s side. Some villages in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are named Ayodhya.