Kantavara is a remote sylvan village in Karkal Taluk of Udupi District. It can be approached from Mudabidri via Beluvayi or from Karkal or Belman via Manjarapalke or from Mundkur via Bola.
The village list in the Census of India shows it as Kanthavara. There is also a village known as Kantavaram in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
In Tulu language the village Kantavara is known as Kantara. The general impression among the people is that Kantavara is the actual original name of the village and the illiterate villagers tend to deform the place name as Kantara. We shall delve into these place names and make an endeavor to verify if this impression is correct or not.
Kāntāra means a forest in Kannada and Sanskrit. According to Kittlel's Kannada Dictionary says, it is a Dravidian word. However,Kānt(h)ar or Kant(h)ara is not a place name unique to Tulunadu. Kantar and its numerous variants such as Kant(h)a, Kant(h)an, Kant(h)ari, Kant(h)ari(y)a, Kanthal, Kant(h)ali, Kant(h)apada, Kant(h)a(va)ram, Katharpur, Kantharia, Kanthalur, Kantaoh, Kantaroli, Kantarda, Kantargre, Kantaranguri, Kantarabali, Kantharpata, etc are found in many parts of India suggesting its wide distribution in States such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttara Khand, Gujarat and Rajasthan apart from Karnataka.
The existence of more number of villages having the word Kantar in their name over Kant(h)avara(m) suggests that Kantara could been the original ancient place name which in some cases has been subsequently modified or Sanskritized into Kantavara(m) with passage of time during the history.
Incidentally, the word Kantara also represents a male personal name of among certain tribal people.
The word Kantara can also be found in African and Mediterranean regions. In fact village and streams named Kantar(a) can be found around Euphrates, Cyprus and Algeria. In Arabic language Kantara means a bridge. Whether the Arabic word Kantara is derived from similar ancient Sumerian word or does it has any genetic significance in respect of Indian place names is to be studied further.