aal/al, n.

…is the noni or Indian mulberry [Morinda tinctoria/citrifolia], an evergreen shrub. Its root bark is used for dyeing fabric in various shades of red, chocolate and purple.  From Hin: आल aal ‘Al or aal: it is used in giving a permanent red colour to the...

Attingal (Ker)

Mal: ആറ്റിങ്ങൽ ā(tt)ṟṟiṅ(g)al ‘Attingal Queens’  Town, Kerala Marumakkathayam is a royal and high caste system of matrilineal descent where title and inheritance follows the female bloodline, although the eldest son is still head of the family. Princess...

Aymanam (Ker)

Mal: അയ്മനം aymanaṁ ‘Five Forests’  Village,  Kerala From Mal: ai(y)m ‘five’ (in word compounds)’; and vanam ‘forest’, ‘jungle’ Aymanam  is like a small village with classic backwater scenery: coconut trees, paddy...

Belagavi/Belgaum (Kar)

Kan: ಬೆಳಗಾವಿ beḷagāvi  ‘Bamboo Village’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) Belgaum, Venugrama. From Skt/Kan: veṇu, ‘bamboo’; and  grāma/gāv(i/e/a), ‘village’. The city’s original name was Venugrama (Belgaum and Belagavi are variations on this). It was founded in the...

Chikhaldara (Mah)

चिखलदरा cikhaladarā ‘Mud Canyon’ Hill Station, Maharashtra (Mah) Mar: cikhala, ‘mud’; and darā ‘gorge’, ‘canyon’ This 1,200m hill station is famous for its tigers and coffee plantations. The 407m Chikhaldara Skywalk...

Howrah (WB)

Ben: হাওড়া hāōṛā  ‘Swampy Lake’   City/District, West Bengal  From Ben: haōṛa,  ‘lake’, ‘fen’, ‘swamp’, ‘marsh’. A haora is a freshwater wetland, floodplain, lake or swamp. Howrah City and District sit opposite Kolkata are on the western bank...

Idukki (Ker)

Mal: ഇടുക്കി iṭukki ‘Gorge’  District, Kerala From Mal: iṭukku/iḍukkụ, ‘narrow passage’, ‘gorge’ Idukki  is a mountainous and densely forested region set in the Cardamom Hills. It spreads over an area of 4,358 km2 , making it the  second largest district in Kerala. It...

Kaduthuruthy (Ker)

Mal: കടുത്തുരുത്തി kaṭutturutti ‘Sea Island’    Town, Kerala From Mal:  kaṭal‍/kaḍal, ‘sea’; and turutti, island Kaduthuruthy used to be on the coast (i.e. the complex pattern of seawater lagoons and backwaters that make up the coastline here): a 14thC...

Kasaragod (Ker)

Mal: കാസർഗോഡ് kāsargōḍ ‘Backwater Lake’  [Kanhirakode] Town/District,  Kerala From Mal: kāñjiram, ‘strychnine tree’, ‘snake wood tree’, ‘poison nut’ [Strychnos nux vomica]; and kāṭu, ‘wilderness’, ‘wood’ This derivation assumes that Kasaragoda is a simple corruption...

Kegalle (SL)

Sin: කෑගල්ල kǣgalla – Tam: கேகாலை kēkālai  ‘Stone or Cave Dwelling ’ WP, Sri Lanka From Sin: keta/ket/ke/ge, ‘dwelling, house, abode’; and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. Kegalle has a few dozen ancient rock caves, now protected archaeological monuments with...

Kolkata/Calcutta (WB)

Ben: কলকাতা kalakātā ‘Kali Area/Ghat’ [Calcutta,Kalikata, Kalkata] City/Capital, West Bengal  Kolkata, one of the four original Indian ‘metros’, is now only the seventh largest city in India. It is the capital West Bengal and was the capital of British India...

Kuduremukha/Kudremukh (Kar)

Kan: ಕುದುರೆಮುಖ kuduremukha  ‘Horse Face’  Mountain Range/Peak, Karnataka From Kan: kudure, ‘horse’, ‘knight (in chess)’; and Skt: mukha, ‘mouth’. Kuduremukha is a 1,894 m peak (Karnataka’s second highest), mountain range, national park, hill station and mining...

Kurseong (WB)

Nep: खरसाङ kharasāṅa ‘Little Orchid’   Town, West Bengal From Lep: kurson-rip, ‘little orchid’ [Coelogyne cristata] These little white orchids can be found in the valleys around the town. The town is a tea centre with dozens of plantations. It...

Munnar (Ker)

Mal: മൂന്നാര്‍ mūṇṇāṟ ‘Three Rivers’  Town/Hill Station, Kerala From Mal: mūnnu, ‘three’; and āṟu, river. The three mountain streams are: Mudrapuzha, Kundala and Nallathanni. Munnar is famous for its tea plantations, waterfalls, hiking trails and spectacular views....

Muvattupuzha (Ker)

Mal: മുവാറ്റുപുഴ mūvāṭṭupuḻā  ‘Three River Confluence’  Town, Kerala From Mal: mūnnu, ‘three’; āṟu/āṟṟu, ‘river’; and  puḻa/puzha, ‘river’. The Muvattupuzha river flows through the town. It is the sacred Triveni Sangam (3-way confluence) of three rivers:...

Ottappalam (Ker)

Mal: ഒറ്റപ്പാലം oṟṟappālaṁ ‘Single Bridge’   Town, Kerala From Mal: oṟṟa, ott(r)a, ‘single’, ‘one’; and pālam, ‘bridge (over a river)’. The Ottappalam-Mayannur bridges stretches 0.71km across the Bharathapuzha river. For related place names see Indian Place...

Polgahawela (SL)

Sin: පොල්ගහවෙල polgahavela ‘Coconut Field’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pol, ‘coconut’; gaha, ‘tree’; and wela, ‘field ’. Polgahawela is an important railway junction that  joins the Main Line (Colombo, Kandy, Matale, Nawalapitiya and Badulla) and the Northern Line...

Sultan Bathery (Ker)

Mal: സുൽത്താൻ ബത്തേരി sulttān battēri ‘Tipu Sultan’s Battery’ [Ganapathivattam]  Town, Kerala Tipu Sultan, ‘Tiger of Mysore’ and ruler of the Mysore Kingdom, used the 13thC Jain Temple here as an artillery and ammunition dump.  The original name refers to the...

Thiruvananthapuram (Ker)

Mal:തിരുവനന്തപുരം tiruvanantapuraṁ ‘City of Lord Anantha’  [Trivandrum] City/Capital/District, Kerala From Mal: tiru, ‘eminent’, ’holy’; Anantha; and Skt: pur(am), ‘fort’, ‘town’, ‘city’. Anantha or Anantashayana Vishnu is the deity at the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple....

Thrippunithura/Tripunithura (Ker)

Mal: ത്രിപ്പൂണിത്തുറ trippūṇittuṟa ‘Flower Wharf’   Region of Kochi, Kerala From Mal:  tiru, ‘eminent’, ‘auspicious’, ‘prosperous’; pū, ‘flower’; and tuṟa, ‘harbour’, ‘landing-place’, ‘wharf’. Tripunithura was the capital of the post-Chera Kochi Kingdom and the...

Tirumangalam (TN)

Tam: திருமங்கலம் tirumaṅkalam  ‘Prosperous Land’  Town, Tamil Nadu From Tam: tiru, ‘prosperous’, ‘eminent’, ‘auspicious’; and mankalam, ‘agricultural tract’, ‘fertile country’, ‘prosperous land’. In loan words Skt: mangalam has a similar meaning to Tam:...

Vijayapura/Bijapur (Kar)

Kan: ವಿಜಯಪುರ vijayapura ‘Victory Town’ [Bijapur] City/District, Karnataka  Bijapur. From Skt: vijaya, ‘conquest’, ‘victory’; and pur, ‘fort’, ‘city’. The city was established in the 10th-11th centuries by the Kalyani Chalukyas. It was captured by the Bahmani Sultanate...