Did you know the origin of the names of the states of North East India?



While the names of the north-eastern states of India owe their origin to different roots, we at The Northeast Today, have compiled a brief nomenclature of the eight states of the region. Most of the origins on this list have their roots in Sanskrit words.


Most scholars believe that the name 'Assam' is derived from the Ahoms, who ruled Assam for six centuries. The word 'Ahom' itself may be derived from Shan (syam in Assamese) or from the Sanskrit word "asama" (uneven, in the sense of "unequal" or "peerless"), referring to its geology which is equal mix of river valleys and hills.

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh derives its name from another Sanskrit word which means land of rising sun referring to the fact that the state is located in the easternmost part of the country. In Sanskrit, aruna means "dawn-lit" and achal "mountains".


Manipur state derives its name from Sanskrit terms, mani ( meaning "jewel") and pur ( meaning"city").  It seems to have been named the land of jewels on account of the past prosperity of land.


The state of Meghalaya is known for having the highest rainfall as compared to other states of country. The wettest place in the world is a place called Mawsynram, located in the state.

The term 'Meghalaya' is derived from Sanskrit words, megha ( meaning"clouds") and alaya (meaning "abode"). Collectively, Meghalaya is known as the abode of clouds.


The states of Nagaland and Mizoram are the only states whose names are not derived from Sanskrit words. Mizoram was named after the Mizo tribal dialect and refers to their land. 'Mi' means "people", 'zo' means "hill" and 'ram' means "country".


The name Nagaland consists of two words: the 'Naga', a native term for umbrella of tribes and English word 'land', collectively meaning land of Naga tribes.

Until recent times term 'Naga' was foreign to Naga tribes themselves, there was no generic term for entire group of tribes, who rather identify themselves as Konyak, Tangkhul, Angami, Sema, Lotha, Ao, Pangmei, Zeliangrong, Mao and Khiumniungan etc.

The word 'Naga' is attributed to two origins. One theory states that in Myanmar, Naga tribes are called Na-Ka, which in Burmese language means 'people with pierced ear lobes'.

The British explorers who came into contact with Myanmar in 1795 and with the Nagas since 1832, heard about the Na-Ka group and anglicised it as Naga, as found in British anthropological and official records.

Another theory points to the usage by people of Assam where Naga meaning 'naked', is used for 'primitive man living in natural surroundings in uncorrupted form'.


Sikkim is the 22nd state of Eastern Himalayas of India. The Lepchas were the first settlers in Sikkim and it has been said that the new land was named Nayamyam (Heaven) by the Lepchas.

The most widely accepted origin of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two words in Limbu: su ("new") and khyim ("palace" or "house"), in reference to the palace built by the state's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal.

The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Denjong, which means "valley of rice".


Several theories exist pertaining to the origin of Tripura's name. Possible origins are from Kokborok (tui, "water" + pra, "near") and Sanskrit (tri, "three" + pura, "city").

The Sanskrit name is linked to Tripura Sundari, the presiding deity of the Tripura Sundari Temple at Udaipur, one of the 51 Shakti Peethas (pilgrimage centres of Shaktism) and to the legendary tyrant king Tripur, who reigned in the region.

Tripur was the 39th descendant of Druhyu, who belonged to the lineage of Yayati, a king of the Lunar Dynasty. Tripura by which the state is known as is another Sanskrit word which means "lands of three cities".