130+ Most Popular Indian Surnames or Last Names with Meanings
Indian surnames and last names are of great cultural and historical importance in India, revealing a person’s ancestry, social status, profession, and geographic origin. These last names have particular connotations and are frequently passed down from ancestors. Knowing a person’s last name is a significant aspect of understanding their family tree and tracing back to their ancestors.
India is a multicultural nation with a variety of cultures, communities, and caste groups, all united in diversity. The Indian last names are determined by castes, tribes, communities, occupational histories, or place of birth, unlike in other countries. It’s intriguing to delve into the history and meaning of Indian surnames as they hold a vast number of last names.
In this article, we’ll explore the cultural and historical significance of Indian last names and present a list of popular Indian last names. We’ll examine how these last names unveil a person’s family background, including their caste, economic status, culture, and profession. Whether you’re from India or have an interest in Indian culture, understanding Indian last names and surnames is essential to appreciate their cultural and historical value.
History and Origins of Indian Surnames
Indian surnames or last names have a rich history and diverse origins. These surnames have been derived from various sources, such as profession, geographical origin, ancestry, and religion.
Profession – In India, surnames often indicate a person’s profession or occupation. For example, the surname “Sharma” means a scholar, and the surname “Patel” means a landowner or village headman.
Geographical origin – Based surnames were also prevalent in India and were derived from a person’s place of origin. For instance, the surname “Mathur” means someone from Mathura, and the surname “Kashyap” means someone from the Kashyap clan.
Ancestry – Surnames in India are often tied to ancestral lineage or caste. For instance, the surname “Yadav” means someone from the Yadav community, and the surname “Brahmin” means someone from the Brahmin community.
Religion – Based surnames were derived from a person’s religion. For example, the surname “Singh” is commonly used by Sikhs, while the surname “Mukherjee” is commonly used by Bengali Hindus.
Overall, Indian last names reflect the country’s diverse culture, traditions, and history.
Most Common Indian Last Names Or Surnames
Discover the common Indian last names or surnames that reveal a person’s family background and cultural identity. Here we will explore the origins and significance of some of the most popular Indian surnames and lastnames.
North Indian Surnames or Last Names
North Indian last names represent a diverse amalgamation of cultural and linguistic identities, showcasing the region’s rich heritage and traditions.
Ahluwalias are spread around Northwestern India and Pakistan. They belong to the Kalal community, whose traditional occupation is brewing liquor.
Agarwal, a Jain surname, derives from the ancient city Agar Sen’s former capital, Agroha. The Agarwals are a prominent mercantile community in India.
Ahuja, a Sikh surname, means ‘descendant of Ahu’, who was an ancestor of the Arora community.
This surname derives from the Sanskrit term “Arya,” meaning “respected” or “noble,” and is commonly used by the Brahmins and Rajputs in India.
Bakshi, a Hindu and Punjabi surname, originates from the Persian word ‘bakhshi’, meaning ‘paymaster’, and was originally the title of officials who distributed wages in Muslim armies.
The surname Bedi is commonly used among Punjabi Sikhs and signifies a “religious leader” or “priest.”
Bhatia is a surname associated with the Bhat community, known for their scholarly and priestly roles, representing a lineage of knowledge and expertise.
Burman means protection and originated from the Sanskrit language. It is another name for Varman and is mainly present around East and Northern India.
Chabra is a surname belonging to the Arora clan in Hindu and Sikh religions.
Chadha is a Punjabi surname that belongs to business families and also to Khatri communities.
Chawla is also a Hindu and Sikh surname in the Punjabi regions, and a few are in Pakistan who migrated after partition.
A surname found among both Hindus and Sikhs, native to the Punjab region, meaning “a small wooden stick” in Punjabi, and originally referred to someone who made or sold wooden utensils.
Dalal is a Jats clan originating from northern India and named after a king named Dalal.
Dewan originated from an Arabic word, Diwan, and refers to family names that came down from the ancient royal times when the family person was appointed as Diwan, the highest official of the region.
A surname used by both Jains and Banias, with a widespread presence across India but particularly concentrated in the North and West regions.
The surname Grover is commonly used by Punjabi Hindus and refers to a “gardener” or “orchard keeper.”
The surname “Gulati” originates from the Punjabi word “Gulab,” which translates to “rose.” It is a meaningful surname associated with the Khatri community, symbolizing beauty, grace, and the delicate nature of a rose.
Jha is a popular Northern Indian surname, derived from the Sanskrit word “upadhaya,” meaning “teacher.”
Kaur is a prevalent Punjabi surname and is dominant in the state.
Kashyap is a Hindu surname derived from the name of a Gotra and the legendary sage Kashyap, meaning “tortoise” and “deer.”
Khanna is a Punjabi and Hindu surname that refers to “meal” or “food.”
Khatri is a Hindu surname and serves as a synonym for the Kshatriya caste, one of Hinduism’s five main castes.
Kohli is a surname belonging to the Khatri community in Hindu and Sikh religions.
The surname Lal, originating from Hindi, refers to the color “red.” It is commonly used by both Hindus and Sikhs.
Laghari is a common Indian last name taken from the Laghari tribe in Baluchistan.
The surname Malhotra is commonly used among Punjabi Hindus and signifies an “orchard owner” or someone who owns a fruit orchard.
Mehrotra is also from the Khatri community and belongs to the same society as Malhotras.
Roy is a Bengali surname that means “king” or “monarch.”
“Sinha” is a Sanskrit-derived surname meaning “lion,” symbolizing courage, strength, and leadership, commonly associated with Kayastha, Rajput, and Bhumihar communities in North India.
Varma is a Sanskrit surname that refers to “armor” or “protection” and is commonly used by the Kshatriyas and Rajputs in India.
South Indian Surnames or Last Names
South Indian last names exemplify a remarkable fusion of linguistic diversity and regional distinctiveness, symbolizing the rich cultural tapestry and unique heritage of the southern region in India.
Achari is a surname associated with worker-skilled caste groups in Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.
Anand, a Hindu surname, derives from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’, meaning joy, and was initially a given name but is now a popular surname.
Antony is a Christian surname commonly found in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It originated from the given name Antony and later adopted as a last name.
Balakrishnan is a popular Tamil Nadu surname that symbolically refers to “Krishna as a child.”
Chari is a surname present in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh/Telangana states, primarily associated with the Vismakarma caste group.
Goud is a surname derived from specific caste groups predominantly found in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
Gowda is a commonly found surname in various regions of Karnataka, historically associated with the role of village administrators or village heads.
Hebbar is a popular surname commonly found in the state of Karnataka.
Iyengar is a surname used by the Brahmin community in South India, and it signifies a “priest” or “religious leader.”
Kaushik is a surname popular in both northern and southern India, particularly in the Telugu states.
Krishna is a surname commonly used as a last name among individuals from South India, inspired by the name of Lord Krishna.
Kumar is a widespread surname in South India that is not specific to any particular community or caste. It often signifies the epithet of God Kartikeya.
Mani is a common short form surname found in states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Other surnames associated with it include Subramanian, Pandian, and similar variants.
Menon is a prevalent surname primarily found in Kerala. It is commonly associated with individuals belonging to the Nair community and signifies a distinguished or illustrious lineage.
Nadar is prominent in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, comprising various sub-castes within the community. Historically, their occupation was associated with the production of palm wine or toddy.
Naidu is a well-known surname in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, associated with the dominant caste in those regions.
Namboothiri or Nambudiri is a prevalent surname in Kerala, predominantly among the Brahmin and higher caste communities.
Nambiar is a Malayali surname from Kerala, meaning “trustworthy” or “reliable.”
Pillai is a widely used surname in South India, specifically among the Tamil community. It is linked to different caste groups and denotes individuals of elevated status or authority.
Raju, as implied by the name in South Indian languages, signifies “King” and is commonly used by individuals from the Kshatriya caste group. Many individuals from this caste use this surname.
Rao is a surname found in states like Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha, used by various caste groups, including Brahmins, Kammas, and Velamas, in the southern part of India.
Reddy, a Southern Indian caste, is known for good administration and farming.
Sastry or Sastri denotes someone well-versed in sastras or religious treatises in the Sanskrit language. It is a common surname across all South Indian states, and it frequently starts with the letter “S.”
Shetty is a surname originating from the state of Karnataka, particularly from the coastal Karnataka region. It is associated with both the Vaishya and Kshatriya communities.
Zacharia is a widely used Christian Hebrew surname in the state of Kerala, often associated with individuals of Jewish heritage.
East Indian Surnames or Last Names
Prominent East Indian last names showcase the vibrant blend of indigenous, Bengali, Odia, and other regional influences, representing the diverse cultural heritage and historical significance of the eastern region in India.
Adhikari is generally a surname associated with officer castes. It is found in several Eastern states and is dominant in Nepal and India.
Banerjee or Bandyopadhyay is a Brahmin surname found in the state of West Bengal. Other variations include Bonnerjee, Banerjea, and Banerji.
Barua is a popular Northeastern surname in Assam and Sikkim. It is shared by several castes and signifies a new way of life.
Basak is a popular surname in the area, particularly among Bengalis. It represents someone engaged in agricultural or farming activities.
Basu, also known as Bose, is another popular surname in Bengal.
Bhattacharya is a prominent surname in East India, particularly in Bengal. It is primarily associated with the Brahmin community and denotes someone who is an expert in Vedic rituals and scriptures.
Chakrabarti is a popular surname in East India, meaning emperor or ruler.
Chatterjee is a popular surname in East India, particularly in West Bengal. It is associated with the Brahmin community and signifies a person who is skilled in conversation or discourse.
Choudhury is a popular caste group in Bengal, with the meaning of “holder of responsibilities.” It originated from a title given to military commanders, navy officers, and elephant corps.
Das is a common surname found in states such as Bengal, Assam, Orissa, and nearby regions. It signifies servant or devotee.
Datta is generally associated with the Kshatriya caste group in Orissa and Bengal.
Duttagupta is a compound surname commonly found in Bengal. It combines the surnames “Dutta” and “Gupta.” “Dutta” signifies a Kshatriya caste group, while “Gupta” means “protector of the Governor.” The surname represents a person from the Kshatriya community who holds an important position or responsibility.
Ganguly, also known as Gonguly or Gangopadhyay, is a surname associated with the Brahmin community in Bengal.
Ghosh is a surname found in several Eastern states and is associated with caste groups of Milkmen. It is dominant in Bengal, Assam, and Orissa.
Ghoshal is a common last name found in the region, often associated with the Bengali community. It signifies a person with a melodious voice or musical talent.
Gupta means “protector of the Governor” and is a popular surname in the Bengal region.
Kalita is a surname associated with the Kshatriya community in Assam and nearby states and regions.
Mukherjee means chief, principal, or teacher. The Sanskrit name Mukhopadhyay is also used. It is popular in the Bengal region.
Mukhopadhyay is a common surname in Bengal, particularly among the Brahmin community. It denotes a person who holds an important position, such as the head of an institution or organization.
Pujaris are generally Brahmin or Kshatriya community surnames. They are found in a range of states such as Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, etc.
Sengupta is a well-known surname in Bengal, especially among the Brahmin community. It translates to “one who has conquered wealth” and signifies prosperity and success.
Sharma means comfort, joy, or happiness. It is primarily a surname associated with the Brahmin caste in Orissa.
Patnaik is a common surname in the eastern state of Odisha, India. It is associated with various communities and indicates a connection to the city of Patna.
Mohanty is a widely used surname in Odisha, associated with different caste groups. It signifies individuals holding significant roles in religious or administrative domains.
Mishra is a prevalent surname in the eastern region of India, including states like Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. It is associated with the learned Brahmin community, particularly in Vedic rituals and scriptures.
West Indian Surnames or Last Names
The West Indian last names prevalent in Western India epitomize the rich cultural mosaic of the region, blending influences from Gujarati, Marathi, Rajasthani, and other local traditions.
Amin means trustworthy or faithful in Islam. It is a popular Muslim surname in western India.
Apte is a prominent surname among certain Brahmin communities in Maharashtra.
Awasthi is a sub-sect of Kanya-kubja Brahmins, primarily found in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh.
Bissoon is a surname found in West Indian communities, often associated with auspiciousness or good fortune.
Deshpande is a Marathi surname primarily used by Deshastha Brahmins and Goud Saraswat Brahmins.
Deshmukh is a title given to a particular community called desamukhi, which is then used as a surname in Maharashtra and surrounding regions.
D’Cruz is a common surname among Goan Catholics, symbolizing the Christian faith.
Dubey or Dwivedi is a popular Brahmin surname in Gujarat, belonging to the Pancha Gauda classification.
Fernandes is a popular West Indian surname, especially among Catholics. It is derived from the Portuguese name Fernão and denotes a connection to the Fernandes family lineage.
Gandhi is a well-known Baniya Gujarati surname.
The surname Jain is associated with individuals belonging to the Jain religious community, and it is prevalent in western India.
Fadnavis is a Maharashtrian surname commonly found in the state of Maharashtra, which is also associated with the Brahmin community.
Joshi literally means Astrologer. It is a well-known surname in western India, particularly among certain communities.
Kapadia refers to fabric makers and is a surname associated with the textile business community in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.
Kulkarni is a common surname among Brahmins in Maharashtra.
Mohammed is a prevalent West Indian surname among Muslim communities, derived from the Arabic name meaning “praiseworthy.”
Modi is a surname found in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and other regions, associated with the Rajput Kshatriya community.
Patel is a common surname in the state of Gujarat, associated with landowning, agriculture, and business.
Pereira is a common surname in West India, particularly among Goan Catholics. It originated from the Portuguese word for “pear tree” and symbolizes a family’s ancestral link to the name.
Sankar is a popular surname in West India, particularly among Gujaratis. It is linked with the Hindu deity Shiva and signifies devotion and reverence.
Shah is a common Indian surname found in the western region, particularly in Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is associated with various communities, including Hindu, Muslim, and Jain.
Singh is a widely recognized surname associated with bravery and lion-like qualities, particularly among Indo-Caribbean communities.
Tendulkar is a Maratha surname, along with other related surnames such as Sawarekar, Mangeshkar, and Gavaskar.
Trivedi is a Gujarati surname commonly found in the western part of India. It belongs to the Brahmin community, particularly the Nagar Brahmins, and signifies individuals who have mastered the knowledge of three Vedas.
Waghela is a surname primarily associated with the Rajput community in Gujarat and Maharashtra. It signifies bravery and strength, as “Wagh” translates to “tiger” in Gujarati.
Top Indian Business Family Surnames or Last Names
Prominent business surnames exemplify the achievements and entrepreneurial prowess of individuals and families across diverse industries, showcasing their significant impact on the nation’s economic landscape.
Adani is another prominent surname representing successful business individuals from Gujarat, known for their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Ambani is a renowned Indian surname associated with the influential business family, including Anil and Mukesh Ambani. They hail from the Hindu community in Gujarat.
Bajaj is a well-known surname used by members of the Khatri community engaged in business and trade, signifying their association with the mercantile class.
Birla is a surname belonging to the prosperous Marwari community, known for their involvement in trade and commerce. They trace their origins to Rajasthan.
Damani is a surname commonly associated with the trading community in Maharashtra and Gujarat, known for their business acumen.
Godrej is a Parsi surname primarily associated with the Zoroastrian Parsi family in Gujarat and Maharashtra, recognized for their contributions in various industries.
Hinduja is a surname derived from the word “Hindu” and is commonly associated with the Sindhi trading community, highlighting their connection to the land of Hindustan.
Jindal is a well-established surname associated with the influential Jindal family, known for their significant contributions in industries such as steel, power, and infrastructure.
Mallya is a surname associated with the influential Mallya family, known for their successful business ventures and significant impact in sectors such as liquor, aviation, and more.
Mittal is a prominent Hindu surname, predominantly found in northern Indian states such as Punjab and Rajasthan, known for their achievements in various fields. The name gained recognition through individuals like Lakshmi Mittal, the head of a steel company.
Premji is a surname linked to the renowned Premji family, recognized for their pivotal role in the IT industry and notable contributions to its growth in India.
Ruia is a surname belonging to the prominent Ruia family, renowned for their accomplishments in the business sector, particularly in textiles and manufacturing.
Singhania is a widely recognized surname associated with the esteemed Singhania family, known for their entrepreneurial endeavors and notable presence in sectors like textiles, chemicals, and more.
Tata is a well-known Indian surname associated with the Tata family, a prominent business conglomerate in India known for their diverse industry presence and contributions.
Wadia is a surname associated with a Parsi family from Gujarat, recognized for their involvement in business and trade, reflecting their entrepreneurial background.
Film Industry Indian Surnames or Last Names
Indian film industry surnames embody creative brilliance and significant contributions to cinema’s rich legacy.
The Kapoor family, led by Prithviraj Kapoor and Surinder Kapoor, is one of the oldest and most influential families in Bollywood. Hailing from Punjab, Rajasthan, and Peshawar, they have dominated the industry for generations. Renowned actors in this family lineage include Raj Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Rajiv Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Karishma Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Boney Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Jahnvi Kapoor, and Khushi Kapoor.
The Bachchan family hails from Uttar Pradesh and is well-known in the film industry. The legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek Bachchan have gained immense fame under this surname.
The surname “Khan” carries a meaning of “leader” or “ruler” in several cultures. In Bollywood, the Khan surname is prominently associated with actors who have achieved great success and popularity. Some of the top actors with the Khan surname include Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Irrfan Khan.
The Chopra family surname originates from the Punjabi region, which extends to Pakistan after the Partition. The Chopras are also widespread in Rajasthan and Haryana. They belong to the Kshatriya community. Notable figures from this family in Bollywood include the late Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra, and Uday Chopra.
The Johar family, associated with filmmaker Karan Johar, has played a significant role in shaping Bollywood’s modern film landscape through their production house, Dharma Productions.
The Bhatt family, associated with Mahesh Bhatt and Alia Bhatt, is another well-known surname in Bollywood. The Bhatts belong to the Brahmin or priest community within the Hindu religion.
7. Allu and Mega
The Allu and Mega-Konidela families are prominent in the Tollywood movie industry. With roots in Andhra Pradesh, they hold significant influence in both Tollywood and the South Indian film industry.
The Devgan family, associated with Ajay Devgn and Kajol, is a prominent Bollywood family known for their acting prowess and contributions to the industry.
The Roshan family, led by Rakesh Roshan, is renowned in Bollywood for their contributions as actors, directors, and producers, with Hrithik Roshan being a prominent member of the family.
The Patekar family, represented by the talented actor Nana Patekar, has left a lasting impact on the Hindi film industry through their powerful performances and social activism.
The Gulzar family bears the Sikh surname. The renowned lyricist and writer Gulzar Saheb hail from a Sikh family, which is now based in present-day Pakistan.
The surname “Deol” is of Punjabi origin and is derived from the word “deval,” which means “god-like” or “divine.” The Deol family is renowned in the Indian film industry, with notable actors like Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, and Bobby Deol. They have contributed to the industry with their powerful performances and unique style.
India surnames are a reflection of the country’s rich cultural and regional diversity. They serve as markers of one’s community, caste, or place of origin, showcasing the intricate social tapestry of India. These names offer a unique insight into the vast array of traditions and backgrounds that make up the country’s heritage, contributing to its vibrant and multifaceted identity.
Infographic – Indian Last Names Or Surnames