Tuesday, April 7, 2009


The rich variety of place names, meanings of some of which are inscrutable to present generation in general, reminds us the richness of our Tulu language and our cultural past. However, with passage of time, words lose their original form or meaning, thus sometimes making it difficult to understand.

Rich Toponyms
It is seen that a place or locality takes its name from a person or a tribe. Examples are Mabukala, Kulashekhara, Iddya,Iravattur, Karawar, Maravoor, Bannanje, Kannarpadi, Kannangar, Bolje (Bol+je ), Bolar (Bol+ar) and so on. We call such Toponyms (place names ) as Eponyms. Topography, i.e.desriptive natural features of a land , gives rise to naming aptly that place, which may be called as Euonym (= apt or befitting name). Eg. Tiruvoil, Pangal, Polipu, Kaipunjal,Yenakal, Kolambe,Bajape, Bajal,Chitrapu,Kadekar etc.
Customs or rituals also help giving names to that place (eg. Pithrodi, Adka, Kalladka, Hiriadka, Adyanadka and so on). As said in Post-166 ( Tulu Onomastics), place-names have meanings and not definitions. Name, as coined or carried by the very early settlers of a region or other outsiders, gives a mark of identity. You may recall the various Posts on Place-names in this Blog. On reading, one can judge the sagacity of our ancestors in naming their settlements/habitations by compound words (main word, a qualifying one + suffixes, which now generally mean habitation, say adi, adka, anje/ aje/je, angar. angadi, ar/are, goli, godi/ godu, jar/ jari, kal/kala, kare, kone, kudru, kodi, odi, oli, oor, maad, maadi, maar, padi, pu/pura, padpu, padavu, je, pe, se and so on.

Toponyms of Udyavara Region
That topography plays an important role in derivation of toponyms is manifest in the localities associated with Udyavara River region in the Karavali West Coast from Kaup (Polipu-Kaipunjal-Uliyargoli) to Malpe. Some place names have been explained in our earlier Posts - 69 (Kaipunjal), 177, 178 and 181 (Pithrodi in Udyavara and Vanished Port of Udyavara). Herebelow, let us endevour to explore the meanings of place-names distributed in the region around River Udyavara. Our task is daunting as we are poorly equipped for want of documented records on the past events. Legends have percolated down the memory lane orally along the untutored generations and some of these unfortunately are partly lost, garbled or mutilated.

Mark the place-name 'Uliyargoli'. It is an ancient descriptive place-name derived from the topographical features of the land. This is made of three words, viz. Uliya+ar+goli. In Tulu language 'Uli' or 'Uliya' or 'Ulya' means 'left over or remaining land' and is generally applied to resistive islets/islands left over by the flowing river along the river beds or simply islands within river beds.It is almost equivalent of the word 'kuduru'. Therefore Uliyar represents an open field (aar) which was an island within the river bed (Uliya) in the past..
There are several such 'Uliya' or river islands in the Karavali. For example,Chitrapu ( Post- ) island within River Nandini(Pavanje) south of Mulki is also called 'Uliya' in local parlance. Similarly, a part of Ullala on southern side of Netravathi-Gurupur Estuary is also known as 'Uliya'. Further 'Pavoor Ulya or Kudru' is another such river-island within Netravathi River, located between Adyar, Farangipet in the north and Pavoor, Harekala in the south..
'Ara' means a rocky plain or field .( 'Aru' means edge, brim, near, stone, rock,etc). 'Goli' in Tulu represents a banyan tree, with numerous small reddish round-shaped fruits( 'goli'). Therefore the place name Goli in the olden days represented a habitation with a prominent banyan tree. There are many place-names with prefix or suffix 'goli', such as Golitottu, Goliangadi, Golithamajalu,Kavugoli, Kinnigoli,Taudugoli, etc.
We may conclude that 'Goli' as in Uliyargoli, simply means a habitat/habitatation built around banyan tree or trees in a riverian island. Uliyargoli might have been surrounded by large banyan trees (= goli maras). The proof is the traces of forestry with large banyan trees at Kottala Katte (Was it Kotwala Katte?), skirting the highway NH 17

Kaipunjal, Polipu
Kaipunjal (kai = tributary or rivulet flowing + punjal = on the plains of a rocky stream that joins the Udyavara River) and also at western edge (ar) of 'uliya', which is known as Kaipunjal Pattana (Pattana is a colony of Fishermen). From the above explanation, we can deduce that in a remote past the plains of Kaipunjal and Mattu-Pangal was an inlet (uliya/aruve/aluve) of River Udyavara. Naturally, Polipu (Poli = broken + pu = village) is the southern border of this Uliya. Ingress of river water is stopped here, hence name 'Polipu is coined to describe the event. When was it? Any legend in circulation? Readers, having pieces of information about this phenomenon, may join us to make this Post complete and worthwhile for future generation.

Kadekar is in Udupi along Udyavara River. Kadekar is dissected as Kade + Kar. 'Kade' means end/last. Kar (kari or khari) means a lagoon or a brackish water creek, i.e. inlet of saline stream along the coast . On studying the map in Post 181 (Vanished Port of Udyavara), one can see two inlets (M-shaped) on River Udyavara at Kadekar.
There is also another Kadekar near Jeppu in Mangalore,on the northern banks of River Nethravati reminding us of a dried up rivulet or saline stream. So Kadekar is a habitation around a coastal lagoon or creek (after Pithrodi). So it is a befitting geographic name for a village.

In Mumbai, there is Khar Danda (Railway station Khar Road) - a rocky sea inlet area - in between Juhu Beach and Danda-Agripada. There is a sad connection to this place for my family. My sister's son Vijay (in teens), drowned in Juhu Beach on 14th April (in 1962-63 or so) and his dead body washed ashore next day at Khar Danda.
( For pleasure of reading: As a Mumbaikar around 40 years ago, I suggest Mumbaiwalas, with historical bent of mind, to log in 'Khar Danda' where you get a Page informing about history behind naming of Railway Stations in Western Railway - Churchgate to Virar )

Malpe is now at the estuary of River Udyavara. . It is a natural port and has a large fishing harbour. Malpe beach is beautiful and is a paradise for tourists and week-end revellers. However, geographically it was a different scenario in the past.
How 'Malpe' got this name? The Old Tulu name in local tongue is 'Malapu' or 'Malape'. Malapu was a popular coastal name as there are several such place-names along Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Sri Lanka coasts.And also compare with the famous island name Maldives. On dissecting the word, it becomes Mal(a)+pe/pu. Mal/Male means Hill and Pe/Pu can be explained as Town or Pura. Now there are no hills in the neighbourhood of Malpe's mainland except that there are four rocky islands in the Arabian sea, very close to mainland, not inhabited. They are :
- Dharia-Bahadurgad is the Northern-most island,
- Kari-Illada-Kallu is the southern-most island,
- Daria-Gadara-Kalluthe is situated in between. (It is a forgotten ancient place for worshipping Nagabrahma - say Serpent-God, and Kallutti. This place is in news these days about sighting some strange phenomenon, which raised religious fervour in locals).
- Fourth one is St. Mary's Island (where Vasa-da-Gama anchored for praying on his way from Goa to Cochin).

At the end of Barrier Sand Spit area along Udyavara River, on the southern side of Malpe Estaury is Padukare, a proper name for a village. Ship-building industry has taken root in this area, which has become a 'apple of discord'. This area seems to have been populated much later. The barrier Spit now found along the beach was not existing some 150 years ago. The place name Padukare exactly means 'the west coast' ! So the Padukare must have been the popular beach directly connected to mainland during the reign of kings and queens at Udyavara.

Write in if you have more details on ancient scenarios in and around Udyavara! Leonardo Da Vinci has said that "All knowledge has its origins in our perceptions." So let us explore the varied perceptions of our people and hone towards a better and clearer knowledge of our heritage.

-Hosabettu Viswanath


  1. The description by u about the Local areas is excellent. ULIYARGOLI. I belong to this village, presently settled in Bangalore. The life was worderful during student days, enjoyed every bit of it. I have made it a point to visit my village with family particularly with grandchildren, enjoy the KAPU beach, rivers, temples, to see the rural life.

  2. Thank you for the feedback. We wish you pleasant journey and stay.If you happen to gather any interesting new data on Uliyargoli while you are there,please remember to share with us here for the benefit of our readers.

  3. Hi Ravi.. thanks for this .. post.. it was really amazing to know the meaning of my place..I also posted in my blog.. thanks again


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 Culture.by 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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