My Kannadiga friends used to tease about the apparent odd sounding place names in Tulunadu. Some of these prompted me to delve deeper into the meaning behind some of these place names. People generally look for meanings in the place names using the currently prevailing language without realizing that some of these odd sounding names could be heritage words preserved as fossils that throws light on the existence of an earlier and older phase of bygone languages and culture in our terrain. During the course of my studies and analysis I have realized that odd sounding place names are not unique to Tulunadu. Some of these odd sounding ancient place names are found all over India.
For example there are some 113 officially listed villages having the prefix of ‘Manch’ or ‘Mancha’ in the census of India 2011 , which obviously includes numerous hamlets and unlisted villages with the tag of Mancha.
The word ‘mancha’ in Tulu, Kannada and other Dravidian languages mean a wooden or stone bed or cot. In North-Indian languages ‘manch’ generally means a platform or podium. Let us evaluate some of the place names associated with the word ‘manch’ or ‘mancha’ and analyse the historical significance of these place names.
Manchi is a modest village in Bantwal taluk, Dakshina Kannada district. Naturally most of the locals are not aware why or how their place was called Manchi. Some might think that it was derived from the Telugu word which means nice or good. Surely the word ‘manchi’ does not mean anything in Tulu language. Some have felt that the name Manchi was influenced by or derived from Telugu people since the word ‘manchi ‘ means good in Telugu.
There are some 27 villages (this excludes hamlets named after Manchi in different States of India. We find Manch in Uttarkhand and Mancha in Bihar and West Bengal. Similarly there are villages known as Manchi in Uttar Pradesh, Rajastan, Tamilnadu, Orissa, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, besides Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Therefore the place name Manchi is not a place name exclusive to Tulunadu.
Manchale was the original name of the village now known as Mantralaya famous for the Brindavan of Guru Raghavendra Swamy on the bank of Tungabhadra River in Kurnool District (which borders Raichur district of Karnataka). Before the establishment of Raghavendra Mutt at Mantralaya an ancient tradition of mother Goddess cult prevailed in the village of Manchale and the deity was known Manchalamma (= Mother of Manchale Village). It seems the place name Mantralaya was thought out by Raghavendra Swamy and is followers who were influenced by the original name Manchale.
The ‘Manchale’ or manch+ale represents a habitation containing a ‘mancha’ (traditionally a rock bed used by ascetics to take rest) located on the bank of river.
However, the place name Manchal, Manchala or Manchale can be found in Bihar, Rajastan, Arunachal Pradesh, and Other States. Manchalkuppe and Manchaldore can be found in Tumkur District of Karnataka.
We have covered a post on Manchakallu. The Manchakall is a village in Udupi district near Shirva and Kapu. There is also a Manchakall in Kolar District and a Manchakal kuppe in Tumkur District of Karnataka, besides Manchikall in Guntur District and Manchikall-padu in Prakasham District of Andhra Pradesh.
Other Mancha place names
There are other Manch place names prevailing in different parts of India such as Manchod (Bihar), Manchar (Madhya Pradesh, Maharstra) , Manchur (Andhra Pradesh), Manchia(Orissa), Manchang (Meghalaya), Manchagaon (Orissa), Manchapur( West Bengal), Manchanpur (Maharastra); Manchanbele, Manchasandra, Manchinakoppa, Manchagondanhalli, Manchibeedu, Manchanahalli, Manchiganahalli (Karnataka); Manchipatna, Manchanpalu, Mancharami, Manchippa, Manchirevula, Manchagonda, Manchalkatta, Manchili,(Andhra Pradesh) etc.
Mancha-the rock beds
In all the village names cited above the common word is Mancha. The name Mancha has been named after rock beds (beds or platforms fashioned in rocks and designed for resting of Jain ascetics in different parts of India during the Early history). It is generally claimed that Jainism is a very ancient religion and that Mahaveera was the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism. Stringent ascetism was the essential feature of Jainism and the monks made use of rock beds to meditate, relax or to take rest. Thus the rock beds or Mancha came into significance in early civilization. In Buddhism the Mancha was the platform on which relics of Buddha were kept.
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