An odd sounding word, Mangaruth is what a foreign traveler described this city of Mangalore during Sixth century CE. At the first instance we get skeptical of the word, under the blanket impression that the foreigner might have erroneously pronounced/spelt the name of the town, normally known as the Mangalur.
545. CE. Mangaruth
The traveler who called himself was ‘Cosmas indiko pleustes’ (= the voyager of India) visited India during the year ca.545 CE. Earlier, during the year ca.150 CE, Ptolemy reported the name of the city as Magganour! Ptolemy’s accounts are said to be based on third party reports, hence his accuracy can be questioned, but we expect this traveler to India, Cosmas, to be more authentic and nearer to the real name of the town at the time of his visit.
There is one old name of the town orally preserved by those who used to cross the River Nethravathy, usually by boat. In the remote, undocumented, historical days, the ferry on the Mangalore side of River Nethravathy was called Mangar kariya. The word ‘Kariya’ refers to the ferry point. (For example, Kadapu-kariya, Sankala-kariya etc).This word ‘Mangara –kariya’ has found entry in the Tulu Nighantu. Since there is some correspondence between the words Mangar and Mangaruth we can infer that Cosmas was almost accurate in describing the said place name.
It appears that the Mangalore town was called Mangar or Mangarur, during the sixth century. Since, this word specifically refers to Mangar, we can omit incidental allusion to the ‘manga’ (= the monkey) part in the name.
.Mangar is an ancient word from Munda group of languages. It has been found specifically in Santali language. The word mangar means crocodile. [Mangar. (Santali/Munda). > Maggar (Prakrit/ Hindi).> Makara (Sanskrit)].
The word Mangar, apparently, is not used in the Tulu or any other languages presently prevalent in the area. The general word for crocodile in Tulu is ‘mudale’. Thus it appears to be an ancient word used by pre-Tulu tribal civilization (older than 600-800BC) that prevailed in the region.
Thus the name Mangar or Mangarur may be one of the oldest names of the town. The word Mangar is also used in certain Tulu pad-dana in the form of ‘Mangarda gatta’ (=hill of Mangar) as cited in the Tulu Nighantu.
An incidental byproduct of this word verification is the information that the River Nethravathy that flows by Mangalore was infested with crocodiles once upon a time.
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