Sunday, July 20, 2008

129. Puttūr

There are several place names in Karavali that were repeated in other area. For example: Udyāvara, Uchila, Alike, Bengare, Kodiyala, Pāndesvara, Puttige, Puttūr etc. The repetition apparently occurred along the timeline and the intention of repetition of name was to repeat the fame, popularity or importance of the place with that original name.

Ur > Oor
Ur was a very famous city during ancient Sumerian civilization. The name must have been repeated many times over in different parts of the civilized world by those tribes who migrated from that region. Even the spread of fame might have spurred the people of far off places to rename their towns or villages as Ur. Proto-Dravidians who emigrated from Africa and Mid-east brought this famous word along with them and now we all know that ‘Oor’ (or ‘ūr’) derived from ‘Ur’ is the popular word for village in the south Indian languages. Note that even the Sanskrit ’pur’ or ‘pur-a’ is a more refined Ur that is made up of ‘p + ur (± a)’.

There are at least two ‘Puttūr’-s in Dakshina Kannada. One is a major and popular town and a Taluk headquarters on the Mangalore-Mysore road. The other is a hamlet appended to Udupi civic agglomeration. Even though the Puttur town, the headquarters of Puttur Taluk is more famous now, at this juncture it is difficult to recognize which was the first original town/village in the history that was named ‘Puttur’ first and which followed it later. There is also a ‘Puttur’ in Andhra Pradesh, suggesting the spread of these common Dravidian words.
The usual current explanation of ‘Puttūr’ is 'Pootta+ oor' or ‘village of flowers’. However an analysis of the word suggests it could have had other meanings originally!

Beloved village
The word ‘Puthu’ has three possible meanings: 1.Favorite or Beloved (Tulu Nighantu) 2. New (‘puth’ as in ‘puttari’ –Kodagu; suggested by Manjunat) 3.A combination of 'beloved' and 'new'; and 4. Anthill ( putta >.hutta Kannada; suggested by Viswanath).
The ‘puthu’1 (=beloved) has survived in Tulu (and also in Beary language) as a pet name used for designating fond children. If you consider the ‘beloved’ as the meaning of the prefix ‘puthu’ then ‘Puttur’ becomes ‘beloved or favorite village’.
Similarly, in the case of other ‘puth-’ settlements, it could have been: ‘Puth+ila’ (=beloved house) and ‘Puth+ige’ (=favorite domain) etc.

New village
Other possibilities for these words considering Puthu 2 (= new) are ‘new village’ (Puttūr), ‘new domain/ habitation ‘(‘Puthige’) and new house/habitation (‘Puttila’). Alternately, in view of Naga worship cults in the region the place names could also been derived from the third meaning namely the ‘puthu’ 3 (=anthill).

One village along NH 48 before Bantval along the Mangalore-BC Road(Bantval cross) is named 'Pudu'.The word 'Pudu' may be a modified form of 'Puthu' discussed above.
Similarly,Puduvettu would be a 'new upland'(pudu+bettu) settlement.
I agree with Manjunat who opines that ‘puthu’ stands for ‘new’ like ‘Hosa’ in place names like ‘Hosapet’ or ‘Hosabettu’. However, I feel that original ‘puth’ conveyed a combined emotional expression of ‘new’ and ‘favorite/ beloved/ affectionate’ considering the pet name used for calling fond children.
The ‘puttari’ festival of Kodagas is ‘puddar’ for Tulu people. (Was it ‘puddari’ initially?) The festival originally conveyed an emotional respect/devotion to the new rice or ‘kadire’ the ear of paddy. The ‘puddar’ has later changed into ‘posatt’. The ‘posa’ has become ‘hosa’ along the timeline in modern Kannada.

Possibly with evolution, we lost the original sentimental attachment and concurrent devotion of our ancestors to the arrival of new objects and now we recognize and distinguish just - old and new!



  1. There are place names where puttUr act as second name or suffix. eg. mogrAl puttUr in Kasaragod and kOyamputtUr in Tamil Nadu. Why not people keeping a name like Mogral and Koyam and adding puttUr to indicate it's a new Ur? If you observe, we have a penchant for adding "new". Hosapete, Hosadurga, Hosa-angadi, Hosabettu...

  2. You may be right! The exact meaning of 'puthu' in Tulu/Dravida possibly lies somewhere between or combination of 'new' and 'favorite'.

  3. Yes,right. 'Pudu' in Tamil means 'New'. So is the meaning in Tulu also. To be clear 'Puddar'is 'pudu'+'baar'(new grain).
    And one thing we have to be very carefull while tracing a place name(espisally in Tulunad) is that we should not start from the kannada name but from the Tulu name itself. the list of names,Ravi, you mentioned 'belman'.Where as the original name is 'bolman',as you mentioned later.
    I stress this point because,it may be misleading in some instances.Eg.'Kuderebettu'.This is a small hamlet on the Mangalore-Bangalore high-way(NH-47),near Kalladka. Before Kannadization, the Tulu name was 'kudurubottu'. i.e.'kuduru'(island)+'bottu'(a type to field in the hills). Deviating from the root it has become 'kudere'(horse)+bettu(Kannadization of'bottu' meaning the same.)

  4. You are right,Ranjan! As a consequence of imposition of Kannada and translation of Tulu names into Kannada during and after the Vijayanagar period in Tulunad has altered the original meanings of some of the place-names.
    Shall make a note on your point.


Blog Archive

Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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