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Maharashtra Has a Long Saga of Renaming Cities

Chennai was Madras, Mumbai was Bombay, Kolkata was Calcutta. The latest in the list of places whose names have been changed are Mughalsarai which is now called Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar and Allahabad which is now Prayagraj.

Now, Maharashtra’s Aurangabad is caught in the name change controversy.

While Shiv Sena has shown reluctance to the name change debate around Aurangabad, opposition BJP has reminded it that it was actually the Shiv Sena which first floated the idea of changing Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar in 1995. A proposal was passed in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in June 1995, which was challenged by a Congress corporator in the high court and later in the Supreme Court.

Apart from Aurangabad, the other Maharashtra city that is coming under name change debate is Osmanabad, with the proposed name Dharashiv.

Here is a brief list of Maharashtra towns and cities whose names have been changed:

-Nashik: The wine capital of India, Nashik, is an ancient and the largest city in northern Maharashtra. In 1615, the city was named Gulshanabad after Moguls captured it from Nizamshah Sultan. The name Nashik was restored in 1734.

-Pune: Another Maharashtra city that has had its share of name-change is Pune. It was formerly known as Poona

-Thane: This Maharashtra town was earlier known by its British name Tannah.

Other places in Maharashtra that went through the process of name change to shun the remnants of colonialism include Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus which was earlier known by its British era name Victoria Terminus. The architectural heritage located in Mumbai was designed by FW Stevens and is termed as one of the finest functional Railway Station buildings of the world. CST has gone through name change process several times and got its final name in 1996 in honour of Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Similarly, Elphinstone Road was renamed Prabhadevi after the proposal of Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote in 1991. The name Prabhadevi road, based on the idol of goddess Prabhadevi placed in a temple near the railway station, was finally approved by the union home ministry in 2017. The railway station was originally named after Lord Elphinstone, the governor of Bombay from 1853 to 1860.

Maharashtra’s tryst with changing the names of cities isn’t new. However, the Aurangabad name is being seen as a challenge for the Shiv Sena and Congress alliance in the state as the two parties are on the opposite sides of the proposal. While the Shiv Sena was the one to propose the new name, the Congress has been in opposition of it.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil has said the renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar was “acceptable to all” and his party would pass a resolution on this if it came to power in the civic body there. He also chided the Shiv Sena, which has been a votary of the name change for several years but was now in alliance with the Congress, which has consistently opposed it.


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