In deciphering etymology of place-names, accuracy plays a vital role, therefore philological and topographical conformities to the places need to be verified. In the absence of any systematic study of Tulu Place-names, local legends are the known documents for reference. The ‘Sthala Puranas’, have been woven around legends as a means of aggrandising the greatness of places of worship, (aptly called ‘Sthala Mahatmye’), and hence may or may not be faithful to the original meaning of the place name.
Our place-names are mostly are made of two or more compound words, that reflect mostly geographical, evolutionary and tribal signatures of the location.
In Post No.186 (dated 25.05.2009), we have provided some cognate place-names distributed all over India such as :
Prefixes (such as Ad/Ade, Adya, Agad/Agal/Agar, Al/Ala, Ar/Are, Bar/Bari, Bel, Er, Kunji (=hill, e.g. Kunjibettu), Mal/Male, Mad/Man, Pa/Pan and
Suffixes (viz. Banja = Barren, Kanja = Reddish, Punja = Rocky, Renja = fragrant; ang/angadi/angar, ar, ooru/ur, od/odi, oli, oni, ade, adka, adiri/adri, anje/anje, Ja/Je/Jar, kodi, kodu/god/godu, goli, ga/gao/gaum, khed/kheta, gal/kal, kala, kona/kone, kudru, kula/kola/kolambe, kuru (=manja) = raised place, valli/pally/hally mād/mādi, mar, mār, man/manner, pad/padi, hat/haad/haadi, Padpu, padavu, pe/pu/pur, se/sar, wal/wadi) etc commonly found in place-names of Tulunadu. This was an attempt to show a layers of past socio-lingual history, common to regions. Attempts were also made to explore and analyse various Tulu place-names. Readers would appreciate if they read Posts, 116-152, 127 (on Proper names), 141 (Village name suffixes), 162 (Evolution of Tulu Language), 192 (Place-names with root of old diction in Tulu), 209 (Dravidian place-name cognates), and No.238 (Dark, Forest and Bay) etc.
One place , more names
Difficulty arises in analysing the etymology when there are many names for a place, Eg. Posodi (Posa+Odi). It is known as Hosabettu (in Kannada) in Government revenue records. Narayan A. Bangera, Mitrapatna (Mumbai) opined (Ref: Mogaveera, October 2009 – p.2) that ‘Posodi’ is a corrupt abbreviation of ‘Posa Kodi’. He is silent about earlier name of Posodi. (Legend: Jarandaya or Jarantaya, the Divine Spirit, follows Nandu Marakala and expresses his wish to stay at his village. Devout villagers construct a temple, wooden chariot and erect a ‘Posa Kodi’ (= New Flag Post), and conduct periodical annual celebration ‘Nema’ thereafter). The word ‘Odi’, though now stands for ‘place of habitation or settlement’, has many shades of meaning, such as Divine place (as in ‘Pitrodi’), Port or sheltering station (as in Airodi = Ayer + Odi). Word ‘Odi’ also refers to agriculture, breach or bursting of ridge or bund, as we can make out in ‘Odikanda‘ and Odipu (Former location of Udupi – so named possibly due to bursting of a Sandbar in a rice field in a remote past).
English Poet Wordsworth has beautifully expressed in verse the changes wrought in British Place-names by the Saxon conquerors. Readers might have read his poem (Monastery of Old Bangor) on naming of places:
“Another language spreads from Coast to Coast,
Only perchance some melancholy stream,
And some indignant hills old names preserve,
When laws, and creeds, and people all are lost I “
Global spatial word : ‘Kar’
There are so many place names suffixed ‘kar’ and ‘bar’ in Tulunadu. In the last Post No.238 we have explained the various shades of meaning of ‘kar’ and related place names in context of Tulu culture. In this Post, we are giving examples of place names in Indian as well as global context with regard to ‘kar’.
Various meanings, assigned to the word ‘kār’ are : (1) Leg, (2) Exude or seep, (3) Dark coloured or black, (eg, kari=soot; kartale >. kattale=darkness. (4) Forest, (5) Clouds; rain and rainy season, eg. kārtelu – period of June-July, (6) Sea coast/brackish water (‘ubār’ in Tulu), river bank (7) Saline stream, estuary or bay. (Post 238). (8) ‘Kār’ probably was also the older equivalent of ‘kal’(=stone). Kār>.kal. Possibly, the prefix kār in place name Karkala stands for dark rock.
Karnataka: Karu+nata+ka (= black soil cultivated area), poetically expressed as ‘Karunadu’, is fertile land of black soil, immensely suitable for farming since ages. Paleo-botanical evidences and ash mounds suggestive of ancient farming in south India were recovered from this black cotton soil region. However, Adrian Room’s book on ‘Place names of the World’ considers it as ‘karuppa (=black)+natu (=country) as a Tamil word. It is an erroneous interpretation. Kar, kari or karu is a Proto-Dravidian word common to Kannada, Tamil , Tulu etc – so, borrowing, or lending of words need not be visualized. It was a land of turu-karu (=cows and calves) and Turukāras (=farmers), preponderantly from ‘Kanna’ tribes; hence ‘kanna+ da’, i.e. Land of Kanna tribes.
Karyodi (Kariya>Karya+Odi): It is the old name of Kārkala, land of granites with dark exteriors. Geographically located on the lower flanks of the Western Ghats (Sahyadri), it is a Taluk Town in Udupi District. In Tulu, it is called as ‘Karla ( kār+la ), meaning an area of dark rocks by the side of a water-body. Rama-samudra lake is a perennial water supply source here. There is a monolithic Bahubali statue, popularly known as Gometeshwara, besides many granite monuments, that make Karkala a popular Jain pilgrimage centre.
Kārla reminds us another place: ‘Karla’ Caves (also known as Kārli ) near Lonavala in Maharashtra. It is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery. Topography here is similar to that of Karkala.
The word kār can also be found in many place names outside India. Consider the following examples:
Karnak: It is a village in Northern Egypt on the Nile. This name is derived from ‘kar’, meaning ‘stone’. Northern part of France is beset with many megalithic monuments. This place is also called ‘Carnac’, resembling the sound of ‘Karnak’.
Khar: Capital of Bajaur Agency, Pakistan.
Kara Sea: Sea in Northern Russia. The sea, an arm of the Arctic Ocean, takes its name from Kara River that flows into it. The river gets its own name from Mongolian word ‘Khar’ (=black).
Kara-Bogaz Gol: Lake in North-western Turkmenistan. The lake, a former inlet of the Caspian Sea, has a Turkmen name, meaning ‘Lake of black strait’ from ‘Kara’ (=black)+ bojaz (=strait, literally throat) and kol (=lake). The strait was formerly a narrow entrance to the inlet. The black colour is attributed to dried the local salt deposits.
Karacadag: Mountain, South-eastern Turkey. The mountain’s name means: ‘blackish mountain from Turkish Karaca; kara (= black) + dag (= mountain).
Karachi: Karachi is a bay described by Greek historians as ‘Krokola’. The port of Karachi was founded by Kolachi (Buloch tribes), a fishing community. Mai Kolachi put up a family and hence the village takes her name, which is still there. It grew as a trading centre with a fort constructed. Western side gate of it is called ‘Kharra Darwaaja’ (Brackish Gate - Khara+dar) and the other side gate facing Lajari River is known as ‘Meetha Darwaaza’ (Sweet Gate – Mitha+dar).
Karaichichi: Means a bare land along sea coast or lagoon coast, subject to salt water.
Karvi/Kharvi of Karwar and Karaavas of Sri Lanka are coastal people.
Kara-Kul (=Black lake): Frozen Kar-kul structure in Tajikistan is an inaccessible area. It is partly filled by the 25 km dia Kara-kul lake. It is located at 3900 m. above sea level in Pamir Mountain Range, bordering Afghanistan. Kara-kul lake, was formed out of meteorite impact crater around 5 million years ago. It is discovered recently by NASA Space Shuttle imagery. It has no drainage outlet. There are lakes with similar names in China and Uzbec.
Carrara: It is city and commune in the province of Massa-Carrara (Tuscany, Italy), famous for the white and blue-grey marble quarried there. According to a hypothesis, it is pre-Roman term, borrowed from Latin, Carraria (=quarry). ‘Kar’ (=stone) + aria (=place) = Carraria = Place of stones.
Ayastan > Karastan: It stands for Armenia, the stone country. Located between East and West, it withstood onslaughts of great empires of antiquity such as Rome, Iran, Byzantium, Arabs, Seljuks and Mongols. Ara/Are’ in Tulu language, equivalent to ‘Kara’, has also a meaning, among others, of ‘stone/rock’. Mark the word ‘Karba’ in Tulu, meaning iron ore or iron.
Mangar: Possibly Man + Kar: It is an old area in Mangalore, A spirit shrine still stands as a testimony to this old location name. Old names of Mangalore are discussed in earlier Posts in this Blog. Postulation of chronological occurrence of these place-names is difficult to arrive at. Mangarda Kariya or Mangaarakariya is a ferry point where pedestrians cross Netravathi River from Mangalore to Ullal on the other side. This place is located near Pandeshwara where a spirit shrine .
Kar(a), Ker(a), Khar/Khari, Kher (swampy area): These are notable words. We have designations to place and people, based on these words. Khar (Mumbai), Kherwadi (east of Bandra, Mumbai), Karkera(Kar+kera) and Bangera (Ban+Kera) surnames in coastal Tulunadu. Karkar surname in Maharashtra ought to have connection to coastal side.
We are listing below some of the Indian place-names with the spatial word ‘Kar’ for the readers to guess and analyse.
Andhra Pradesh: Karamchedu, Karavadi, Karanji, Kareyagudem.
Bihar: Karakat, Karba.
West Bengal: Karandighi, Karanjali
Gujarat: Kara Ghogha , Karakhad, Karakthal, Karannagar, Karbatiya.
Karnataka: Karje, Karki,Karadi, Karagaon, Karahalli (2 - one in Bangalore), Karajagi, Karakurchi, Karamadai, Karankote, Karapure, Karatagi, Karandalaje, Karamdoor.
Kashmir: Kargil, Karakaoram.
Kerala: Karakkad, Karakonam.
Maharashtra: Karjat, Karad,Karghar, Karadkhed, Karanjagi, Karamba, Karambali, Karamboli (Kalamboli), Karandi, Karamwadi, Karanj Phen, Karanja (2 – one in Wardha), Karanjala, Karanji (2 – One near Pune), Karanji Kaji. (Note: Suffix ‘ad’ in Maharashtra, mostly means forest but, in Karad it is made of: Karhat>Karhad>Karad).
Madhya Pradesh: Karakbel, Karanja Bhilai, Karanjia, Karanwas.
Orissa: Karachuli, Karamal, Karamdihi, Karanjia
Punjab: Karamgarh Sataam.
Tamilnadu: Karachurri, Karadivavi, Karaikal, Karaika Medu, Karatadi Palayam, Karavalur.
Uttaranchal: Karan Prayag.
‘Bār’ means a vast open area, beside sea shore or river front. We know maritime trade thrived with good water transport system. ‘Bari or bali’ (lineage surname) as we explained in earlier Post on the subject, was coined for the clans living together in such settlements. These places developed into ‘nakhar > nagar, i.e. city. Today, it stands for an important place or city. Parts of Karkala and Panambur were also called Nakhar in the past.
In Sumerian language, ‘bār’ has the meanings of “open, expose, uncover.”( Euskara Magyar List-6)
In Afro Asiatic languages, ‘barri’ = open (of land), rural; Arabic: barr/burr = open area. A city in Dubai is called ‘Burr Dubai’.
Let us consider a few place-names with ‘bar’:
Barakur: Historical town Barakur has been analysed as ‘bara + kur’ as well as ‘baraka + ur’.
Kudumbara: Country of Kudi or Kuduva, an agricultural tribe of Dravida/Tulunadu.
Malabar: A country or place of mountains, as in Kerala and Mumbai.
Nicobar: It is known as Car Nicobar and described as (1):(in Hindi) 'Nagda' (=naked)+'Varam' (=country). Or the land of the naked tribes. Adrian Room an Arab historian (C.1300) wrote that the men were entirely naked whereas their women wore only a girdle of coconut leaves.
(2) It is corrupted form of 'Narikela dvipa', meaning a land of coconuts trees.
Zanzibar: Two Arabic words – Zing (meaning ‘black’) + al-bar (meaning ‘land of’). So it means the land of Blacks, i.e. Negro Coast.
Baramulla: An area in Kashmir attributed to Varaha Mula.
Traditional tribal thoughts obviously revolved around the Nature. Our ancestors’ complete integration with Nature is reflected in the Place-names. Thus, in many cases the place-names have become identity marker of the ancient tribes.
Lack of inquisitiveness or interest to know the meaning of place-names is apparent by the absence of comments from readers. We want our readers to follow Bacon, who says: “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, but weigh and consider.”
- H. Vishwanath, 30.04.2010
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
Copy? Right - but kindly remember to acknowledge!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.