Tam: மட்டக்களப்பு  maṭṭakkaḷappu  – Sin: මඩකලපුව maḍakalapuva

‘Muddy Lagoon’ -City/District, EP,  Sri Lanka  

From Sin: mada, ‘mud, slime, scum, froth’; and Sin: kalapuwa, ‘lagoon, salt water lake’.

Batticaloa is a Portuguese corruption of a Dutch variation [Matecalou] on the original Sin: Madakalapuwa.

The colonial versions may have come via Tam: Mattakallappu. But the assumption is that the Tamil name has been borrowed from Sinhala because on its own it has no clear meaning (although Tam: kaḷappu , ‘shallow (part of the) sea’, could get us halfway).

‘Muddy Lagoon’ is an accurate description of the local topography, and Batticaloa’s nickname, “land of the singing fish”, is just as apt -a mysterious musical sound recorded recently by the BBC: The Singing Fish of Batticaloa

For related place names see Sri Lanka Place names.


Batticaloa Lagoon (View from the Lighthouse)           Kondephy