Fun and games with official languages in India

Let us first be clear about the official languages in different states of India.

Refer to the first two tables in this article:

Our first stop is in Punjab, where Punjabi is the official language. Signboards in railway stations are expected to be in English, Hindi as well as the state’s official language if it is not English or Hindi.

We see that “Chhavni” is the word for “Cantonment” in Hindi and Punjabi, although some places use Cantt in these languages.

Now to Uttarakhand, where the official languages are Hindi and Sanskrit. Earlier Urdu was an official language when UK was part of UP. See the old and new signs here:


(New). Note the addition and subtraction of languages.

In UP, the official languages are Hindi and Urdu (but not Sanskrit). Now see some newly painted signs:

This is the old sign for Manduadih, a suburb of Varanasi. Recently it was renamed:

Note that both Sanskrit and Urdu are here.

The main station in Varanasi is:

They haven’t thought of adding Sanskrit here. Surely this station is more deserving than Manduadih, which most people outside this area have never heard of.

One more example of old and new:


New. It is not to be confused with the existing Ayodhya:

Here is another city in UP:

Now, what will strike you is that “Chhavni” is the standard word for “Cantonment” in Hindi-speaking states and neighboring states.

Why does the Hindi inscription at Ayodhya Cantt have “Cantt” and the Sanskrit inscription “Chhavni”? Isn’t there any suitable word in Sanskrit?

Finally we visit a few more stations elsewhere in India:

In Southern India, Hindi script could have Chhavni or Cantonment.

And in Bengal and Bangladesh, “Cantonment” is used in Hindi as well as Bengali:

The last one is Chattogram Cantonment.

Stop trying to look for consistency in languages used and in nomenclature. There isn’t any.

Where English is the official language of a state

In railway station signboards in India, the normal practice is to have the state language at the top, followed by Hindi (unless it is the state language), followed by English.

(However, in Pakistan Urdu is always at the top even when the state language is different (as in Sind and Khyber-Pakhtunwa).

There are some states where the script of the state language is Roman script, even if the state language is not English.

Arunachal Pradesh:

This seems to prove that the station is in Arunachal and not Assam. And the present signs all say “Bhaluk Pong” instead of a single word.


Note that according to the convention mentioned above, Naharlagun should have had the English script at the top.

Now to Meghalaya:

This is the only station presently open in Meghalaya. It is adjacent to Nolbari:

You can see that this is in Assam.

Now to Mizoram. This is the only station presently open:

There are a few stations in Nagaland. the best known is:

Also in Nagaland:

There are or were other stations in Nagaland. Naginimora was closed long ago. Tuli did have the branch from Amguri converted to BG, but there are no passenger services.

Tripura has Bengali, and Manipur has something else in Meitei script.