Saturday, April 18

The logic of naming names

Having lived in this part of town for almost three decades, I have often wondered on this blog the names of places and their histories. Often we live in a place and still do not know how it got its name.

Take Pusa Road. Of course it got its name from the Pusa Institute. In the early 80's that was the only building at the Pusa Road/Patel Nagar crossing. Beyond that it was all the ridge some of which had been cut out to make farmland for the agricultural institute.

But recently I found out that PUSA was actually a place in Bihar which was site for the earlier agricultural institute that was destroyed in the 1934 earthquake. The institute was then shifted to Delhi.

It struck me as funny the idea of naming an institute after a place. Normally gates of forts were named after places - Lahore gate or Ajmeri gate. These gates were the main points of departure to those places. But the Red Fort went a step ahead and had a Delhi gate which probably led to the city. Maybe they wanted to show that the fort was different from the city !

I am not sure what is the logic behind many of the names. Lodi Garden used to be Lady Willingdon Park till people reverted to the dynasty that created the tombs within the gardens. CP was named after the Duke of Connaught (he was lucky - three places in the world share the same name) and then they named it after Rajeev Gandhi. I am clueless about both choices.

But then there are pleasant surprises. There is Skinner's Church and Kwame Nkrumah Marg. The outer Ring Road in certain places is known as Gamal Abdel Nasser Marg. Trying to understand the names is like a lesson in history.

My award for the wierdest names goes to the Ulan Bator road. It is a short road that takes us to Delhi airport.

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