Badami/Vatapi (Kar)

Kan: ಬಾದಾಮಿ bādāmi ‘Vatapi’  [Vatapi,Vatapipura]  Town, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt/Hin: vadāma(m)/bādāmi  ‘almond (tree’)/’almond-coloured’; or Vatapi, the asura or demon. Badami was the regional capital of the Chalukya kingdom in the 6-8thC and...

Bagalkot/Bagalkote (Kar)

Kan: ಬಾಗಲಕೋಟ bāgalakōṭa ‘Fort Gateway’  [Bagadige] City/District, Karnataka (Kar) Kan: bāgil/bāgal/bākal, ‘doorway’, ‘entrance’, ‘gate’; and  kōṭe, ‘fort’, ‘rampart’. Stories tell of this town being offered as a present by Ravana, (demon) king of Lanka, to his...

Ballari/Bellary (Kar)

Kan: ಬಳ್ಳಾರಿ baḷḷāri ‘Bush Town’  [Bellary, Vallari,Vallaripuram] City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Tam/Kan: vallai/balle ‘thicket’, ‘bush’, ‘forest’; or Skt/Tam/Kan: vaḷḷi/baḷḷi/vallari, ‘creeper’, ‘vine’; and Skt: puri, ‘fort’, ‘city’ or Kan: ūr, ‘village’,...

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...

Belur (Kar)

Kan: ಬೇಲೂರು bēlūru ‘Radiant Town’ [Velur, Velapuri, Beluhur] Town, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: beḷ/veḷ, ‘bright’, shining’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. Belur is famous for its 12thC Chennakesava temple [from Kan: canna/cenna, ‘handsome’, ‘elegant’; and Skt: keśava,...

Bengaluru/Bangalore (Kar)

Kan: ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು beṅgaḷūru ‘Venga Tree Town’  City/Capital/District, Karnataka (Kar) Kan: bēṅga, ‘Malabar/Indian kino tree’ [Pterocarpus marsupium, Tam: vēṅkai]; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. For as long as I can remember I have been told that Bangalore means ‘City of...

Bhadravati (Kar)

Kan: ಭದ್ರಾವತಿ bhadrāvati  ‘Bhadra Village’  City, Karnataka (Kar) From Bhadra river and Kan: vāḍī/vāṭī, ‘settlement’, ‘village’. The 171km Bhadra river [Skt: bhadra, ‘blessed’, ‘auspicious’] flows through southern Karnataka starting out from the Western Ghats (in...

Bidar (Kar)

Kan: ಬೀದರ್ bīdar ‘Halting Place’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From  Kan: bīḍāra,  ‘halting or dwelling place’, ‘camp’. Bidri metal working started here in 14-15thC. It uses a blackened alloy of copper, lead, tin, and zinc as a base for gold and silver inlay. It is...

Bijapur/Vijayapura (Kar)

Kan: ವಿಜಯಪುರ vijayapura ‘Victory City’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt: vijaya, ‘victory’, ‘triumph’; and pur(a), ‘(fortified) city’ After the fall of the Bahmani Sultanate in the late 15thC the Adil Shai...

Chikkamagaluru/Chikmagalur (Kar)

Kan: ಚಿಕ್ಕಮಗಳೂರು cikkamagaḷūru ‘Youngest Daughter’s Town’  City/District/Hill Station, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: cikka, ‘smallest/youngest’; magaḷa, ‘daughter’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. This town, or village as it probably was then, was given as a dowry by...

Chitradurga (Kar)

Kan: ಚಿತ್ರದುರ್ಗ citradurga ‘Bright Fort’  [Chitaldoorg]  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt: citra, ‘bright’, ‘wonderful’, ‘picturesque’; and Kan: durga ‘fort’, ‘stronghold’. Chitradurga is a seven-layered fort which sits astride a row of rugged hills peppered...

Davanagere (Kan)

Kan: ದಾವಣಗೆರೆ dāvaṇagere ‘Wormwood Tank’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: davana, ‘Indian Wormwood’ [Artemisia indica]; and keṟe, ‘tank’. Davanagere is Karnataka’s seventh largest city and the glasshouse in its Botanical Gardens is the second largest in Asia....

Gadag-Betageri (Kar)

Kan: ಗದಗ-ಬೆಟಿಗೇರಿ gadaga-beṭigēri ‘Rocky Road-Hill Tank’  [Kaldugu] -City/District, Karnataka From  Kan: kal, ‘stone’, ‘boulder, ‘pebble’; Skt: durga, (difficult, uneven) road; ‘(inaccessible) place’; Kan: beṭṭa, ‘hill’; and kere/gere, ‘tank’, ‘reservoir’. The Kalyani...

Gajendragad (Kar)

Kan: ಗಜೇಂದ್ರಗಡ gajēndragaḍa ‘Elephant Fort’ [Gajendragarh] -Fort/Town, Karnataka (Kar) .From Sin: gajendra, ‘elephant’; Hin: gaṛh, ‘fort’ The fort was built by Shivaji, the Maratha chieftain, in the 17thC. Its film appearances (it has plenty of flat surfaces for...

Gangavathi (Kar)

Kan: ಗಂಗಾವತಿ gaṅgāvati ‘(Holy) River Village’  -City, Karnataka  From Ganga or Ganges, ‘goddess’ or ‘holy river’; and Dra: vāti, ‘village’, ‘settlement’. The Ganges is 1,500km away, as the crow flies. The Tungabhadra is a bit closer. The city is nicknamed...

Halebidu/Halebeedu (Kar)

Kan: ಹಳೇಬೀಡು haḷēbīḍu ‘Old City’ [Halebid]  Town/Monument, Karnataka From Kan: haḷē, ‘old’; and bīḍu, ‘camp’, ‘settlement’. Halebid was capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12thC. It is home to some superb Hindu and Jain temples, fine examples of ornate Hoysala...

Hampi (Kar)

Kan: ಹಂಪಿ hampi ‘Pampa’  Monument, Karnataka From Pampa river. In the epic Ramayana, the 531 km Tungabhadra River is called the Pampa. This name metamorphosed, in Kannada [p→h], to Hampa and was then anglicized to Hampi or Hampe. Hampi was the 14thC capital of the...

Hubballi/Hubli-Dharwad (Kar)

Kan: ಹುಬ್ಬಳ್ಳಿ hubbaḷḷi ‘Flowering Creeper’, ‘Gateway’ [Hubballi, Pubballi] City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Kan: pu→hū(v)u, ‘flower’; v→baḷḷi, ‘creeper’, ‘vine’; and Skt: dvāratā, ‘gateway’, ‘stopover’. It has been suggested that Dharwad was a stopover for...

Kalaburagi/Gulbarga (Kar)

Kan: ಕಲಬುರಗಿ kalaburagi ’Stone Garden’/’Rose Garden’  City/District, Karnataka (Kar) From Hin/Urd: gulāb, ‘flower’, ‘rose’; or Kan: kal, ‘stone’, ‘boulder’; Hin/Urd: bāg, ‘garden’, ‘park’. Gulbarga was renamed Kalaburagi in 2014, a decision which did not meet...

Kolara/Kolar (Kar)

Kan: ಕೋಲಾರ  kōlāra ‘Waterlily City’ [Kuvalapura Kolahalapura] City/District, Karnataka From Skt: kuvaḷa(ya), ‘(blue) waterlily’ [Kan: kōvaḷ, kōhaḷ, kōḷe]. Kolaramma has been the resident goddess of Kolara for a thousand years with her own Chola-style temple decked...

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...

Mandya (Kar)

Kan: ಮಂಡ್ಯ maṇḍya ‘Settlement’  City/District, Karnataka Skt: mandira, ‘dwelling’, ‘resting place’, ‘house’, ’palace’, ‘camp‘, ‘temple’.  Like Mandvi (Gujarat) the most popular derivation is the unlikely one that the town was named after the ancient sage, Mandavya,...

Mangaluru/Mangalore (Kar)

Kan:ಮಂಗಳೂರು maṅgaḷūru ‘Mangaladevi’s City’  [Mangalore, Mangalapuram] City/District, Karnataka From Mangaladevi and Kan: ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. Mangalore is named after its  9thC temple dedicated to the goddess Mangaladevi who clearly brings the city great fortune...

Pattadakal (Kar)

Kan: ಪಟ್ಟದ್ಕಲ್ಲು  paṭṭadkallu  ‘Coronation Stone’ [Raktapura] From Skt: paṭṭa ‘crown’, ‘band’, ‘ribbon’; Kan: kal/kallu, ‘stone’. Pattadakal is a complex of exquisitely crafted 7-8thC Hindu and Jain temples. It is the artistic and spiritual legacy, with neighboring...

Raichur (Kar)

Kan: ರಾಯಚೂರು rāyac(h)ūru ‘Royal City’  City/District, Karnataka From Kan: rāya(ca), ‘royal’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. There has been a fort here since the 7-8thC under the Chalukyas of Badami – it was rebuilt in the 13thC. Raichur was a part of the...

Ranebennuru (Kar)

Kan: ರಾಣೇಬೆನ್ನೂರು rāṇēbennūru ‘Queen’s Town’   City, Karnataka (Kar) From Skt/Pkt: rājṇī/rāṇī, ‘queen’; Kan: rāṇē(ben), ‘queen’; and ūr/ūru, ‘town’, ‘village’. The ‘ben(n)’ insert appears in two other towns: Santhebennur,  Motebennur and there are three more Bennurs;...

Robertsonpete (Kar)

Kan: ರಾಬರ್ಟಸನ್‌ಪೇಟ್ rābarṭasan‌pēṭ ‘Robertson Suburb’   Town, Karnataka From Robertson and Kan: pete, ‘town’, ‘suburb’, ‘market’ [Tam: pēṭṭai]. Robertsonpete was built and designed in 1902 to accommodate the population overspill from the Kolar Gold Fields....

Shivamogga/Shimoga (Kar)

Kan: ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗ śivamogga ‘Shiva Lane’  [Shimoga] City/District, Karnataka From Kan: mukku/mogge, ‘lane’ [Tam: mukku, ‘lane’,  ‘corner’, ‘junction’]. There are no shortage of alternatives, many of which have myths to accompany them: Shiva-Mukha [Skt/Kan: mukha/moga,...

Shravanabelagola/Sravanabelagola (Kar)

Kan: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ śravaṇabeḷagoḷa ‘Monk’s White Pond’  Town, Karnataka From Skt: śramaṇa, ‘ascetic’, ‘mendicant’, ‘(Buddhist or Jain) monk’; Kan: beḷ/veḷ, ‘bright’, shining’, ‘white’; and koḷa/koḷahe, ‘pond’. This is the site of the 18m, 10thC Gommateshwara...

Srirangapatnam/Srirangapatna (Kar)

Kan: ಶ್ರೀರಂಗಪಟ್ಟಣ śrīraṅgapaṭṭaṇa ‘Sri Ranga City’  [Seringapatnam] Temple Town, Karnataka  From Sri Ranga, ‘(name for) Vishnu’; and Kan: paṭṭaṇam, ‘(port/coastal) town’, ‘city’.  The city is named after the 10thC Sri Ranganthaswamy temple. Sri Ranga(natha) is the the...

Tumakuru/Tumkur (Kar)

Kan: ತುಮಕೂರು tumakūru ‘Mangosteen Town’ [Tumkur] City/District, Karnataka From Kan: tumaki/tumari/tumbari, ‘wild mangosteen tree’ [Diospyros peregrina/Diospyros embryopteris]; or tumbe/tumbi, ‘Ceylon slitwort’ [Leucas zeylanica]. The modern city is a food processing...

Udupi/Udipi (Kar)

Kan: ಉಡುಪಿ uḍupi ‘Elevated Village’  [Odipu] City, Karnataka From Tlu: odi, ‘elevated’, ‘high’; and ipu/apu/ape, ‘village’, settlement’. Tulu word ‘Odipu ‘(Odi+pu) means an elevated village. Udipi is known as the temple city. Its most famous one is the 13thC Sri...

Vijayanagara/Vijayanagar (Kar)

Kan: ವಿಜಯನಗರ vijayanagara ‘Victory City’  Historic site/District, Karnataka  From Skt: vijaya, ‘conquest’, ‘victory’; and nagar, ‘city’. The District was named after the Vijayanagar Empire which dominated South India from the 13thto the 16thC from its capital at...

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...