Greek reports dating back to the beginning centuries of the Christian era describe a port in the west coast of India named ‘Nitrias’ (in Pliny, ca.23-29 CE), or 'Nitra' (Ptolemy, ca.110 CE). Our historians like Manjeswara Govinda Pai have identified the port of ‘Nitrias’ or 'Nitra' as the port of ancient Mangalore.
The port name ‘Nitria’ has been related with the similar sounding name of River Nethravathy. The name ‘Nitria’ apparently related to the word ‘Nethra’, may have been originated due to eye (‘nethra’) shaped landform near the port of ancient Mangalore.
There was a historical town known as Nitria on the bank of River Nile in Egypt. There is a possibility that our historians may have misinterpreted location of Nitria described in the Greek report
If we consider that the word Nitria was referring to the ancient Mangalore, the ‘Nitria’ does not appear to be a natural Tulu word. Accepting that the Greeks might have distorted the actual word, we may presume that the original native word may be something like ‘Nettara’ or ‘Nettaru’. Since Sanskrit had not taken roots in Karavali during the First or Second century CE, we can rule out the name ‘Nethra’. There are places known as Nettarakere near the River. There are also places pronounced ‘NeTTar’. The place names ‘Nettar’ in Nettara-kere may possibly be the original ancient word from Early Munda languages that gave rise to Nethra in later Sanskrit.
Similarly, the name of the River Nethravathy might not have been exactly like that during the said period. The River might have been renamed/ modified in the Sanskrit style after Fifth Century CE. The former name of the River might have been ‘Nettaral’ or something similar.
Before analyzing further on the word Nitria, it is necessary to verify the original Greek records for the nature of actual reference to the town Nitria
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