Here’s the story behind Kanpur’s ever changing names

It is a known fact that during the British rule Kanpur was known by its former name “Cawnpore”. The city which was called ‘Manchester of East’ was the industrial hub and the epicenter of industrial revolution in India. The city has been subjected to many-many name changes and people can only guess why Kanpur has been called differently over the years. According to reports Kanpur’s name has been changed 21 times between late 1700s to now.

So here’s everything we know about the many name changes of Kanpur and the stories behind them.


According to a popular story, the district was established by a Hindu king Chandel, who was an ardent Krishna devotee. The king planned for the district to be established on the day of lord Krishna’s birthday-Janamashtami, hence the place came to be known as Kanhiyapur which was later abbreviated to Kanhapur and then Kanhpur.

The theory is a widely believed one and is even backed by historians. It is even said that the city was first called Karnapur a name derived after the mighty Karna from Mahabharata.


While it is widely accepted that Kanpur was once a collection of small military villages, some believe that the establishment was home to the Khan community from Afghanistan. It is widely believed that before the British realized the strategic importance of he city and named it “Cawnpoor”, the majoritarily Muslim establishment was called “Khanpur”.


After the British realized the significance of the area, they called it by several names, the most commonly used ones being Cawnpoor, Caunpour, Caunpore, Cawnpore, Kawnpore and finally Cawnpore. The city held a ton of resentment for the British, as it was in the center of the revolt of 1857 which rocked the British administration and lead to massive bloodshed.

And finally- Kanpur

After the independence of the country the city was finally renamed to Kanpur in 1948 and since then it seems the name has stuck. What was once the epicenter of revolution and labyrinth of wealth and industrial revolution, today lies stagnant, the city of Kanpur, its history, historic significance lost in the pages of history books with withered pages.

Let us recall the majesty of the city with its many names and hope that whatever new name and role Kanpur takes up in the future, it brings prosperity and happiness to the city

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