Indian & Sri Lankan Place Name Elements

INTRODUCTION This page lists 50 of the most common place names elements in India & Sri Lanka. Most South Asian place names, like English ones, are made up of two elements (to make it easier I illustrate these using English examples): (1) a base or generic element...

Adam’s Peak (SL)

‘Holy Footprint’ [Sri Pada] – Mountain. From Skt/Pal: śrī, ‘holy, sacred’ and Skt/Pal: pada/pāda, ‘foot, footprint’.  This iconically conic mountain rises 2,243 m (7,359 ft) above the forests of the central highlands near Ratnapura. Near the summit is a 1.8 m...

Aluthgama (SL)

Sin: අලුත්ගම alutgama – Tam: அளுத்கமை alutkamai.  ‘New Village’ Town, WP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: alut, ‘new’; and gama, ‘village’.  Not all that new.  It dates back to at least the 13thC and Thisara Sandeshaya, a 14thC poem written in the form of a message sent...

Ambalangoda (SL)

Sin: අම්බලන්ගොඩ ambalangoḍa – Tam: அம்பலாங்கொட ampalāṅkoṭa. ‘Rest-house Village’  Town, SP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: ambalama, ‘pilgrims’ rest-house’; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’.  Ambalamas were simple buildings to offer free overnight accommodation for...

Ambepussa (SL)

Sin: අඹේපුස්ස ambēpussa ‘Mango Creeper’  -Town, SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: amba, ‘mango’ and puswela, ‘elephant creeper’.  The scientific name for this large woody climber is Entada phaseoloides/pusaetha. It is a liana, a long woody vine that wraps itself around other...

Ampara (SL)

Sin: අම්පාර – Tam அம்பார ampāra ‘Waterway’ -City/District, EP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ambu/Tam: am/ambu, ‘water’ and Sin: para, ‘road’, ‘way’, ‘path’.  Ampara was nothing more than a hunter’s rest-house until the Gal Oya redevelopment when...

Sri Lanka (SL)

Sri Lanka (SL) Sin: ශ්‍රී ලංකා śrī laṅkā – Tam: இலங்கை ilaṅkai Sri Lanka, according to legend, was populated in the 6thC BCE by Prince Vijaya and 700 fellow exiles from the kingdom of Vanga (Bengal). He founded the Sinhala dynasty [SKT: siṃha, ‘lion’], a name...

Anuradhapura (SL)

Sin: අනුරාධපුර anurādhapura – Tam: அனுராதபுரம் aṉurātapuram ‘Anuradha’s City’  – City/Ancient Capital/District/Archaeological Site, NCP,  Sri Lanka From Anurādha and Skt: pur/pura, ‘(walled) city, fort, settlement’.  The ancient capital of Sri Lanka was...

Arugam Bay (SL)

Tam: அறுகம் குடா aṟukam kuṭā – Sin: ආරුගම් බොක්ක ārugam bokka ‘Bermuda Grass Bay’   [Arugam Kudah]  -Resort, EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: arugam-pul, ‘Bermuda grass’ [Cynodon dactylon].  Bermuda grass is a plant of many names: it is also known as durva grass,...

Avissawella (SL)

Sin: අවිස්සාවේල්ල avissāvēlla – Tam:அவிசாவள avisāvaḷai ‘Impassable Shore’  [Sitawaka/Seethawaka(pura)] – Town, WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: avis(h)aya, ‘impossible’, ‘difficult’, ‘treacherous’; and wella/vælla,...

Badulla (SL)

Sin: බදුල්ල badulla –  Tam: பதுளை batuḷai ‘Marking Nut Tree’  -City/Capital, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: badulla, ‘marking nut tree’ [Semecarpus anacardium] Semecarpus anacardium is called the ‘marking nut’ because dhobies used it to make an...

Balangoda (SL)

Sin: බළන්ගොඩ baḷangoḍa – Tam: பலாங்கொடை balāṅkoṭai ‘Look-out Hill’ -Town, SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: balanawa, ‘look, superintend, observe, protect’; and goda, ‘bank, hill, village’. Balangoda was the site where skeletons of anatomically modern humans dating back...

Bandarawela (SL)

Sin: බණ්ඩාරවෙල baṇḍāravela – Tam: பண்டாரவெல baṇṭāravela ‘Prince’s Field’  -Town, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bandara, ‘son of a chief or prince’; and wela, field. This prince got a prize piece of real estate because Bandarawela is generally accepted to have the...

Battaramulla (SL)

Sin: බත්තරමුල්ල battaramulla – Tam: பத்தரமுல்லை battaramullai ‘Rice Ferry Corner’ Suburb (Colombo), WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bat, ‘boiled/cooked rice, meal’; tara, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank, port, harbour’; and mulla, ‘corner, angle’. In the 15thC, the heyday of ...

Batticaloa (SL)

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...

Bentota (SL)

Sin: බෙන්තොට – Sin: பெந்தொட bentoṭa   ‘Bemthara Estuary’  -Town/Resort, SP,   Sri Lanka From Bemthara/Benthara Ganga, ‘Bentota River’; and Sin: tota, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank’. Bentota sits at the mouth of the Benthara Ganga, its position marked historically by a...

Beruwala (SL)

Sin: බේරුවල  bēruvala – Tam: பேருவளை bēruvaḷai  ‘Beru Forest’   Town, WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: beru, ‘leaf litter plant’  [Agrostistachys Indica, Agrostistachys hookeri]; and Sin: val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’. Beruwala has a majority Sri Lankan Moor...

Bibile (SL)

Sin: බිබිලේ  bibilē – Tam: பிபிலை bibilai ‘Spring’    Town, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bibula/bibilu/bibila, ‘bubble, fountain, spring’. Bibile is more famous for its sweet oranges than its spring water. There are more than 3,000 acres being cultivated in the...

Boralesgamuwa (SL)

Sin: බොරලැස්ගමුව boralæsgamuva – Tam: போரலெஸ்கமுவ bōraleskamuva ‘Clay Village’   City, Colombo District/WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: bora, ‘mud, clay, sediment’ or boralu, ‘gravel, pebbles’; and gama/gamuwa, ‘village’. Boralesgamuwa has one of the largest industrial...

Chavakachcheri (SL)

Tam: சாவகச்சேரி – Sin: චාවකච්චේරි  c(h)āvakaccēri  ‘Java Town’  Town, NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: Chavaka, ‘Javanese (people)’; and cheri, ‘town, village, hamlet, street’. This settlement dates back to the 13thC. Chandrabhanu, a Javanese ruler of the kingdom of...

Chilaw (SL)

Tam: சிலாபம் c(h)ilāpam – Sin: හලාවත halāvata ‘Pearl Fishery’  Town, NWP,  Sri Lanka From Por: c(i)lão, a corruption of Tam: c(h)ilapam, ‘pearl-fishery’. Divers operated the coast from Mannar to Chilaw until the early 20thC, collecting as many as 3,000 oysters a...

Chundikkulam Lagoon (SL)

Tam: சுண்டிக்குளம் c(h)uṇṭikkuḷam – Sinhala: කුම්බවැව kumbavæwa  ‘Dried-up Lake’  -Lagoon/Lake, Town, NP,   Sri Lanka From Tam: kulam, ‘tank, reservoir, lake’; and chundu (chundi-), ‘dry up, be evaporated by heat’. Chundikkulam (also Elephant Pass Lagoon) has...

Colombo (SL)

Sin: කොළඹ  koḷamba – Tam: கொழும்பு koḻumpu ‘Port on the River Kolon’   -City/Commercial Capital/District, WP, Sri Lanka The Dove and the Mango Tree The Dutch Coat of Arms of Colombo pictures a dove in a mango tree. The dove is a play on the name...

Colombo Street Names (SL)

“Colombo Jumbo”  Sri Lanka.   This is a pdf copy of my book  “Colombo Jumbo: The Origin of Colombo Street Names” (2012) In the original there was a street name missing, so here it is: John Staples (1770-1839) from Kingswood in Hampshire was...

Colombo Zones (SL)

Colombo is divided into fifteen postal zones which run anti-clockwise  from Fort round to Mutwal. These match traditional names of areas of  Colombo, although (especially in Colombo North) they may merge many  of the old districts.   COLOMBO 1: FORT (COLOMBO) ...

Dambadeniya (SL)

Sin: දඹදෙණිය dambadeṇiya – Tam: தம்பதெனிய dampateṉiya  ‘Field of Damba Trees’  Ancient city, archaeological site, NWP, Sri Lanka From Sin: damba, ‘damba fruit tree’; and deniya, ‘level or cultivated ground, field’. The ‘damba tree’ is...

Dambana (SL)

Sin: දඹා dambāna ‘Forest Clearing’ -Village, UP, Sri Lanka From  Sin: dambu, ‘a field or chena cleared by burning forest or grassland for cultivation’; and ana, ‘place, grove, forest’. Dambana is now famous as a refuge for Vedda tribal people with its own Museum and...

Dambulla (SL)

Sin: දඹුල්ල dambulla – Tam: தம்புள்ளை dampuḷḷai  ‘Damba Tree Fountain’    Town, Cave Complex, CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: damba, ‘damba fruit tree’; and ul/ulla, ‘spring, fountain’. The ‘damba tree’ is confusingly known by a number of overlapping names: Malabar,...

Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia (SL)

Sin: දෙහිවල-ගල්කිස්ස dehivala-galkissa – Tam: தெஹிவளை-கல்கிசை dehivaḷai-galkisai ‘Lime Tree Forest’   Suburb (of Colombo), WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: dehi, ‘lime’; and Sin: val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’. Sir Thomas Maitland, Governor of Ceylon 1805-1811, built...

Dikoya/Dickoya (SL)

Sin: දික්ඔය dikoya ‘Long Stream’  [Dickoya] Town, CP Sri Lanka From Sin: dik/dig, ‘long’ and oya, ‘river, stream – smaller than ganga’. The river, the town and the tea estate (founded in 1870) share the same name. For related place names see Sri...

Dikwella/Dickwella (SL)

Sin: දික්වැල්ල dikvælla ‘Long Beach’  Town, SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: dik/dig, ‘long’; and Sin: wella/vælla, ‘sand-bank’, ‘sandy plain’, ‘sandy shore’ How long? About 2km. How tall? 50m. Dikwella has Sri Lanka’s largest seated Buddha statue. For related place names see...

Dimbulagala (SL)

Sin: දිඹුලාගල dimbulāgala ‘Wood-apple Rock’  [Gunner’s Quoin, Gunner;s Rock] Rock/Observation Point, NCP  Sri Lanka From Sin: diwul/dimbul, ‘wood apple’ [Pali: udumbara]; and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. The name for this rock formation in British colonial...

Dondra/Devinuwara (SL)

Sin: දෙවිනුවර, දෙවුන්දර devinuvara, devundara – Tam: தேவேந்திரமுனை dēvēntiramuṉai ‘City of the God(s)’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: devi, ‘god’; and Sin/Pal: nuwara/nagara, ‘city’ or  Sin/Tam: tara/tura/turai, The name Dondra is...

Elephant Pass (SL)

Tam: ஆனையிறவு āṉaiyiṟavu – Sin: අලිමංකඩ alimankada Elephant Pass  Causeway, NP Sri Lanka Tam: Anaiyiravu; Sin: Alimankada From Tam: (y)anai, ‘elephant’ [Sin: aliya, ‘elephant’]; and Tam: iravu, ‘passage, place of descent’ [Sin: man, ‘road, path’ and kada,...

Ella (SL)

Sin: ඇල්ල ælla – Tam: எல்ல ella ‘Waterfall’  UP  Sri Lanka From Sin: ella, ‘waterfall, rapids’. The Ravana Falls are 25m high and  behind them is the Ravana Ella cave; legend, based on the Ramayana epic, tells of how Ravana, the demon, abducted Sita and...

Elpitiya (SL)

Sin: ඇල්පිටිය ælpiṭiya ‘Waterfall Plain’  SP   Sri Lanka From Sin: ella, ‘waterfall, rapids’; and pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’. The 12m Andahelena Ella or Elpitiya waterfall is 6 km away from the village, as the crow flies. Elpitiya is famous for its low grown...

Embilipitiya (SL)

Sin: ඇඹිලිපිටිය æmbilipiṭiya- Tam: எம்பிலிபிட்டியா empilipiṭṭiyā ‘Embilla Plain’  SBP, Sri Lanka From Sin: (heen) embilla, a plant species native to Sri Lanka [antidesma alexiteria]; and pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’.  The embilla shrub is a member of the...

Eravur (SL)

Tam: ஏறாவூர் ēṟāvūr – Sin: එරාවූර් erāvūr ‘Keel Town’  EP, Sri Lanka   From Tam: era, ‘keel (of a boat)’; and ur, ‘village, town’. Located on the bank of the Batticaloa Lagoon one could imagine rows of boats moored here along the lagoon. Eravur is a  majority...

Galgamuwa (SL)

Sin: ගල්ගමුව galgamuva – Tam: கல்கமுவ  galkamuva ‘Rocky Village’  NWP,  Sri Lanka Sin: gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’; and gama/gamuwa, ‘village’. Tragically Galgamuwa has become the centre of a human-elephant conflict, as herds of elephants who have lost...

Galle (SL)

Sin: ගාල්ල gālla – Tam: கால gāli ‘Enclosure’  SP, Sri Lanka From Sin: gāla, ‘cattle or elephant enclosure’. This derivation has a convenient long ā to match the modern place name unlike the more popular derivation ‘Rocky Place’ [from Sin: gala, ‘stone’,...

Gal Oya (SL)

Sin: ගල් ඔය gal oya ‘Rocky River’  EP, UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’; and oya, ‘river, stream – smaller than ganga’. The Gal Oya river was dammed in 1950 and the Gal Oya National Park was established in 1954 – it is the drainage...

Gampaha (SL)

Sin: ගම්පහ gampaha – Tam: கம்பஹா gampahā ‘Five Villages’   WP, Sri Lanka From Sin: gama, ‘village’; and  paha, ‘five’. The five villages are Medagama, Pahalagama, Ihalagama, Aluthgama and Pattiyagama. All of them are in the vicinity of the modern Gampaha, except...

Gampola (SL)

Sin: ගම්පොල gampola – Tam: கம்பளை gampaḷai ’Riverside Site’  CP, Sri Lanka From Sin: gan/ganga, ‘river, riverside’; and pola/pala, ‘place, site’. Gampola’s original name, Gangasiripura, also indicates its prime riverside position on the Mahaweli Ganga. Gampola...

Habarana (SL)

 Sin: හබරණ  habaraṇa –  Tam: அபரணை aparaṇai ‘Hunter’s Place’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sabara/habara, ‘hunter’;  ana, ‘place, grove, forest’. It is possible that this refers to Sri Lanka’s indigenous hunter-gathering tribe, the Veddas. Not much hunting these...

Hakgala (SL)

Sin: හක්ගල hakgala ‘Conch or Jaw Rock’  CP, Sri Lanka From Sin:  hak, ‘conch shell’ or hakka, ‘jaw’. This 2,169m mountain is the eight tallest in Sri Lanka. Its multi-peaked profile suggests a conch shell but possibly a jaw as well. Legend also tells us that this is a...

Hakmana (SL)

Sin:හක්මණ – Tam:ஹக்மண hakmaṇa ‘Conch or Jaw Path’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hak, ‘conch shell’ or hakka, ‘jaw’; and Sin: man, ‘road, way, path’. This may be connected with shell processing and transport, or with the shape of the road junction, or with the...

Hambantota (SL)

Sin: හම්බන්තොට  hambantoṭa – Tam: அம்பாந்தோட்டை ampāntōṭṭai ‘Sampan Harbour’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Malay: sampan, ‘a traditional Asian flat-bottomed boat with oars and masts’. Travellers and traders from the Far East (Malaysia, Indonesia, China) during the Ruhuna...

Halmillewa (SL)

Sin: හල්මිල්ලෑව halmillǣva ‘Halmilla Lake’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: halmilla, ‘Trincomalee wood (tree)’ [Berrya cordifolia]; and Sin: wewa , ‘lake, pond, tank, reservoir’. This reservoir is part of  the ancient northern tank complex. The Trincomalee wood tree can...

Hanwella (SL)

Sin: හංවැල්ල haṁvælla –  Tam: ஹன்வெல்லை haṉvellai ‘Sand Junction or Ford’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sam, ‘union, with, together’; and vælla, ‘sandbank’, ‘sandy plain’, ‘shore’ This is the site of an ancient ford across the Kelani Ganga which linked the main...

Haputale (SL)

Sin: හපුතලේ – Tam: ஹபுதலே haputalē ‘Champak Summit’  UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hapu/sapu, ‘champak tree’ [Magnolia champaca]; and talā, ‘high ground, hill, summit, peak’. The champak is a flowering timber tree. Its fragrant flowers are used extensively in hair...

Harispattuwa (SL)

Sin: හාරිස්පත්තුව hārispattuva ‘Four Hundred DIvision’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: harasiya, ‘four hundred’; and pattu(wa), a feudal administrative division. Traditionally districts were divided into korales and then into pattus; and pattus were divided into villages...

Hatton (SL)

Sin: හැටන් hæṭan – Tam: ஹட்டன் haṭṭaṉ ‘Hatton’  CP, Sri Lanka Hatton is nicknamed the tea capital of Sri Lanka . It sits 1,271m up in the Central Hill Country. Hatton, Aberdeenshire, after which it was named, was the biscuit capital of Scotland,...

Hikkaduwa (SL)

Sin: හික්කඩුව hikkaḍuva – Tam: கிக்கடுவை hikkaṭuvai ‘Indian Ash Island’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hik, ‘Indian Ash’ [Lannea coromandelica]; and duwa, ‘island or part of land surrounded by water’. With lakes to the north and south, and the sea to the west...

Horana (SL)

Sin: හොරණ horaṇa  – Tam: ஹொரணை horaṇai Horana WP ‘Hora Forest’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: hora, ‘hora tree’ [Dipterocarpus zeylanicus]; and arana/aranya, ‘forest’. Horana could also simply be one of the variations on aranya [also haraṇ(a), raṇa, aran] in Sinhala....

Ja-Ela (SL)

Sin: ජා-ඇල jā-æla – Tam: ஜா-எல jā-ela  ‘Java Brook’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ja(va), ‘Malay, Javanese’; and  ela, ‘brook, rivulet, channel, canal’. There are about 40,000 Sri Lankan Malays. Most settled during the 17th and 18th centuries when both Ceylon and...

Jaffna (SL)

Tam: யாழ்ப்பாணம் yāḻppāṇam – Sin: යාපනය yāpanaya ‘Town of the Lyre Minstrels’ From Tam: yal, ‘an ancient stringed musical instrument like a harp or lyre’; paan, ‘an ancient clan of minstrels who played the yal’; and Tam: pattinam , ‘a coastal town’. This...

Kadugannuwa (SL)

Sin: കടക്കരപ്പള്ളി kaḍugannāva ‘Sword-drawing Point’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kadu, ‘sword’; and gannawa, ‘take’. The Kadugannawa Pass was a key observation post for the Kandyan Kingdom, the right sort of place to draw swords in readiness. It marked the frontier...

Kalkudah (SL)

Tam: கல்குடா  kalkuṭā – Sin: කල්කුඪා kalkuḍhā ‘Rock Bay’  EP,   Sri Lanka From Tam: kal, ‘stone, rock, boulder’; and kuta/kuda ‘bay, gulf, shore’. Elephant Rock Beach sits at the northern tip of the Kalkudah peninsula. For related place names see Sri Lanka Place...

Kalmunai (SL)

Tam: கல்குடா kalkuṭā – Sin කල්කුඪා kalkuḍhā ‘Rock Point’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: kal, ‘stone, rock, boulder’; and  munai, ‘point, cape, promontory’. Kalmunai is the seventh largest city in Sri Lanka and the largest in the Eastern Province. When the Portuguese...

Kalutara (SL)

Sin: කළුතර kaḷutara – Tam: களுத்துறை kaḷuttuṟai ‘Black River Crossing’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kalu-ganga, ‘black or dark river’; and tara, ‘raft, crossing’. The modern crossing is the 38m Kalutara Bridge which links the Western regions to the South, as the...

Kandy (SL)

Sin: මහනුවර mahanuvara – Tam: கண்டி kaṇṭi  ‘Mountain Country’  [Kanda Uda Rata]  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kanda, ‘hill, mountain’; uda, ‘above, up, over’; and rata, ‘country, district’. The city, region and kingdom of Kandy has had many names. The English name...

Kankesanthurai (SL)

Tam: காங்கேசன்துறை kāṅkēcaṉtuṟai – Sin: කන්කසන්තුරේ kankasanturē ‘Murugan Port’  [Gayathurai]  NP, Sri Lanka From Tam: kankesan, ‘the god Murugan or Kartikeya’; and turai, ‘seaport, harbour’. According to legend, Mathurapuraveeravalli, daughter of the King of...

Kantale (SL)

Sin: කන්තලේ kantalē – Tam: கந்தளாய் kantaḷāy  ‘River Reservoir’   EP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: gan/ganga, ‘river, riverside’; and talla, ‘reservoir, large tank, pond’. The Kantale reservoir, originally called Gangathala or Ganthalawa, was constructed in the 7thC and...

Kataragama (SL)

Sin: කතරගම kataragama – Tam: கதிர்காமம் katirkāmam ‘Desert Village’   UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin:  katara, ‘desert’; and gama, ‘village’. Kataragama is an important pilgrimage town, sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alike. The Kataragama temple has a shrine...

Kathiraveli (SL)

Tam: கதிரவெளி katiraveḷi – Sin: කතිරවෙළිය katiraveḷiya ‘Acacia Plain’   EP, Sri Lanka. From Tam: kathiram [Mimosa catechu, Acacia catechu]; and veḷi,‘expanse’, ‘open field’, ‘plain’ This thorny tree can grow to 15m in height. Its wood is used for treating...

Kattankudy (SL)

Tam: காத்தான்குடி kāttāṉkuṭi – Sin: කාත්තාන්කුඩි kāttānkuḍi ‘Moorish or Vedda settlement’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: kudy, ‘clan or community settlement’. Kudy normally indicates a group of settlers of the same caste, tribe or religion. Kattankudy has...

Kelaniya (SL)

Sin: කැලණිය kælaṇiya – Tam: களனி kaḷaṉi ‘Auspicious Place’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Skt/Pali: kalyana, ‘beautiful, auspicious, charming’. Flowing all the way from Sri Pada to Colombo, the 145km Kelani Ganga is the fourth longest river in Sri Lanka.  Kelaniya is...

Kilinochchi (SL)

Tam: கிளிநொச்சி kiḷinocci – Sin: ගිරානික girānika ‘Parrot Fort (Walls)’   NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam/Sin: kili/giravā, ‘parrot’; and Tam: nochchi, ‘fortress’, ‘fort walls’, ‘small village’ and/or Tam/Sin: nochchi/nika...

Kiribathgoda (SL)

Sin: කිරිබත්ගොඩ kiribatgoḍa – Tam: கிரிபத்கொடை kiripatkoṭai  ‘Milk Rice Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kiribath, ‘rice boiled with coconut milk’; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’. Kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made by cooking rice with coconut milk...

Kitulgala (SL)

Sin: කිතුල්ගල kitulgala –  Tam: கித்துள்கலை kittuḷkalai ‘Jaggery Palm Rock’   SP,   Sri Lanka From Sin: kithul, ‘kithul palm’, ‘jaggery palm’ [Caryota urens];  and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. The Kithul palm is famous for its treacle and toddy;  Kitulgala...

Koggala (SL)

Sin: කොග්ගල koggala – Tam: கொக்கலை kokkalai ‘Crane Rock’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: koka, ‘crane’; and gala, ‘rock’. Martin Wickramasinghe (1890-1976), the ‘sage of Koggala’, describes it like this: “Kok-gala is the name of the big rock beyond the...

Kokkilai (SL)

Tam: கொக்குளாய் kokkuḷāy – Sin: කෝකිලායි kōkilāyi  ‘Cuckoo (Lagoon)’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam/Sin: kokila(m), ‘Indian cuckoo’ [cuculus micropterus]. The mudflats and mangrove swamps of Kokkilai Lagoon (now a bird sanctuary) are a haven for all sorts of sea birds...

Kolonnawa (SL)

Sin: කොලොන්නාව kolonnāva – Tam: கொலன்னாவ kolaṉṉāva ‘Kelani Plain’  WP,  Sri Lanka Kolonnawa is a suburb of Colombo and, like its parent city, its name probably derives from the Kelani Ganga: kolon is a corruption of kelani. Kolonnawa is part of the flood plain...

Kuchchaveli (SL)

Tam: குச்சவெளி kuccaveḷi –  Sin: කුච්චවේලි kuccavēli ‘Kusha Grassland’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: kuchcha [Skt: kusa], ‘kusha grass’ [Desmostachya bipinnata]; and Tam: veḷi , ‘plain’, ‘open land’. This coarse grass is also known as halfa grass, big...

Kuliyapitiya (SL)

Sin: කුලියාපිටිය kuliyāpiṭiya – Tam: குளியாப்பிட்டிய kuḷiyāppiṭṭiya ‘Hiring Ground’ or ‘Village Land’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kuliya, ‘hire, rent’; or Old Sin: kuli(ya)’, ’hamlet, village’; and Sin: pitiya, ‘plain tract of ground’.  It is more exciting...

Kurundugahetekma (SL)

Sin: කුරුඳුගහහැතැප්ම kurun̆dugahahætæpma ‘Cinnamon Tree Milepost’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kurundu, ‘cinnamon’; gaha, ‘tree’; and  hæthækma, ‘mile, milepost’. In ancient Sinhalese measurement a hæthækma  is roughly 2 hoo sadde duras (the distance a ‘hoo’ cry can be...

Kurunegala (SL)

 Sin: කුරුණෑගල kuruṇǣgala – Tam: குருணாகல் kuruṇākal ‘Small Elephant Rock’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: kuru, ‘small, short’;  na, ‘elephant’; and  gala, ‘rock, rocky’. Kurunegala is surrounded by eight large rocks each of which is given the name of the animal it...

Madampe (SL)

Sin: මාදම්පේ mādampē – Tam: மாதம்பே mātampē ‘Plum Grove’  NWP, Sri Lanka From Sin: mādan, ‘Malabar plum’ [Syzygium cumini]; and pe, ‘wood, grove’. The maadan/maadam  is also known as the Malabar, Java, Portuguese, black or damson plum. Although its fruit, leaves...

Madhu (SL)

Tam: மடு maṭu ‘Lake’  NP, Sri Lanka From Tam: maṭu, ‘pond, pool, reservoir’. The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is the holiest of Roman Catholic shrines in Sri Lanka. When Catholic communities, originally converted by the Portuguese, came under attack from the King of...

Maduru Oya (SL)

Sin: මාදුරු ඔය māduru oya  ‘Caraway Stream’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: māduru, ‘(black) cumin, caraway’ [Nigella sativa]; and oya, ‘river, stream – smaller than ganga’. The Maduru Oya is a 135km river flowing through Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa Districts. It gives...

Maharagama (SL)

Sin: මහරගම maharagama – Tam: மகரகம makarakama ‘Rampart Village’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mohora (maha, ‘large, great’ + ura(ya), ‘rampart’); and Sin: gama, ‘village’. Given that Maharagama is a few kilometres from the outer fortress of the Kotte kingdom this...

Mahiyangana (SL)

Sin: මහියංගණය mahiyaṅgaṇaya ‘Great Plain’    UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: maha, ‘large, great’; and Pali/Sin: angana, ‘open space, clearing, flat land’. According to the Mahavamsa this was the site of the Buddha’s first ever visit to Sri Lanka when he arrived to settle a...

Malabe (SL)

Sin: මාළබේ māḷabē – Tam: மாலபே mālapē ‘Flower Grove’  WP, Sri Lanka  From Sin: mala,’flower’; and  pē, ‘wood, grove’.  Now more famous as the site for the electronic trading systems company, Millenium IT, than for its flowers. Because it sounds like ‘Malibu’ it...

Mankulam (SL)

Tam: மாங்குளம் māṅkuḷam – Sin: මන්කුලම mankulama ‘Deer Tank’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: māṉ, ‘deer’; and kulam,’pond, tank, reservoir’. The Sri Lankan axis deer (Axis axis ceylonensis) or Ceylon spotted deer has traditionally inhabited lowland dry forests,...

Mannar/Mannar Island (SL)

Tam: மன்னார் maṉṉār – Sin: මන්නාරම mannārama ‘Sandy Causeway’   NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: mann, ‘sand, gravel’; and ar/aru, ‘way, road, path’. Mannar Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway which at one time had a chain ferry which hauled visitors over...

Maskeliya (SL)

Sin: මස්කෙළිය maskeḷiya ‘Leaping Fish’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mas, ‘fish’; and keliya, ‘playing, sport’. There are British-era trout-fishing huts here, near the start of the Sri Pada/Adam’s Peak Trail. They were built by the tea planters at the nearby Moray...

Matara (SL)

Sin: මාතර mātara – Tam: மாத்தறை māttaṟai Matara SP ‘Great Seaport’  SP, Sri Lanka From Sin: maha, ‘large, great’; and tara, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank, port, harbour’. Matara was also known as Mahatota (Sin: tota, ‘ford, ferry, riverbank’) and Mahapattana (Sin:...

Matugama (SL)

Sin: මතුගම matugama – Tam: மத்துகம mattukama ‘Upper Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: matu, ‘upper, above’; and gama, ‘village’. Matugama is surrounded by mountains and has a history of rubber: at one time it had 1,000 acres of rubber plantations. For related...

Maviddapuram (SL)

Tam: மாவிட்டபுரம் māviṭṭapuram – Sin: මාවිට්ටපුරම් māviṭṭapuram  ‘Vanished Horse Town’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: ma,  ‘animal, beast (usually a  horse or elephant)’; viṭu, ‘remove, get rid of’; and puram, ‘city’. The Chola Princess Maruthapuraveegavalli had a...

Mihintale (SL)

Sin: මිහින්තලය mihintalaya ‘Mihinda Hill’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Mihinda and Sin: talā, ‘high ground, hill, summit, peak’. This is the hill where Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka, met Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) and converted him to Buddhism. At its summit is the...

Minuwangoda (SL)

Sin: මිනුවන්ගොඩ minuvangoḍa – Tam: மினுவந்கொட miṉuvankoṭa ‘Crown Jewel Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mini, ‘crown, gem’; barana, ‘ornament, jewel’ or ruwan, ‘gems, gold’; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’. The Minuwangoda Urban Council website points out that the...

Mirissa (SL)

Sin: මිරිස්ස – Tam: மிரிஸ்ஸ mirissa ‘Chilli Point’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: miris, ‘chilli, pepper’. This could easily be a place where chillies were grown and perhaps ground on the miris-gala, a stone mortar and pestle for grinding spices. Mirissa is an...

Monaragala (SL)

Sin: මොණරාගල moṇarāgala – Tam: மொனராகலை moṉarākalai ‘Peacock Rock’  UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: monara, ‘peacock’; and gala, ‘rock’. Monaragala sits at the foot of Peacock Rock, an imposing round-topped densely forested hill, which resembles a peacock. The 20m...

Moratuwa (SL)

Sin: මොරටුව moraṭuva – Tam: மொறட்டுவை moṟaṭṭuvai ‘Senna Plain’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: moratu, ‘avaram senna’ [Senna auriculata]; and eliya, ‘open space, plain’. The avaram senna is a yellow-flowered shrub in the legume family which grows in dry and coastal...

Morawaka (SL)

Sin: මොරවක – மொறவக்க moṟavakka ‘Peacock Bend’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: monara, ‘peacock’; and  waka, ‘bend, curve’. The Nilwala Ganga and the roads that skirt it do indeed fan out here on the bend in the river like a peacock’s tail feathers. Th town is...

Mullaittivu (SL)

Tam: முல்லைத்தீவு mullaittīvu- Sin: මූලදූව mūladūva  ‘Jasmine Island’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: mullai, ‘jasmine’; and tivu, ‘island, islet’. Perched precariously on the NE shoulder of Sri Lanka, Mullaitiva was a strategic target for opposing troops in the Civil War...

Nawala (SL)

Sin: නාවල – Tam: நாவல nāvala ‘Elephant Jungle’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: na(ga), ‘elephant’; and val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’. This name dates back to the Kotte kingdom. Nawala is a suburb of Colombo and is called the Ceramics Capital of Sri Lanka. For...

Nawalapitiya (SL)

Sin: නාවලපිටිය nāvalapiṭiya – Tam: நாவலப்பிட்டி nāvalappiṭṭi ‘Ironwood Forest Plain’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: na (gaha), ‘ironwood tree’ [Mesua ferrea]; val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’; and  pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’.   It is called the ironwood...

Negombo (SL)

Sin: මීගමුව mīgamuva – Tam: நீர்கொழும்பு nīrkoḻumpu ‘Honey Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: mee, ‘honey’; and gamuwa, ‘village, hamlet’. Negombo is a Portuguese corruption of Tam: Neerkolumbu, which may itself be a corruption of the original Sin: Megamuwa....

Nikaweratiya (SL)

Sin: නිකවැරටිය nikaværaṭiya ‘Heap or House of Cow Dung’   NWP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: nika, ‘house, heap’; and waeratiya, ‘dried cow-dung’. For centuries cow dung has been collected and stored for use as fuel, manure, disinfectant and house-building material. For...

Nilaveli (SL)

Tam: நிலாவெளி nilāveḷi – Sin: නිලාවැලි nilāvæli ‘Moonlit Land’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: nilā ‘moonlight’; and veḷi, ‘open space’, ‘expanse’ Nilaveli has an enviably long and pristine beach which is undoubtedly even more awesome when lit up by a full...

Nivithigala (SL)

Sin: නිවිතිගල nivitigala ‘Spinach Rock’  SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: nivithi, ‘Malabar or Ceylon spinach’,  ‘Malabar nightshade’ [Basella alba] and gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. This is a tall, climbing vine with fleshy green leaves and green or purply-red stems,...

Nugegoda (SL)

Sin: නුගේගොඩ nugēgoḍa – Tam: நுகேகொடை nukēkoṭai ‘Banyan Village’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: nuga, ‘banyan tree’ [ficus benghalensis]; and goda, ‘village, hamlet’. The banyan is revered as sacred in India,  where it is the national tree. It is a parisitic fig...

Nuwara Eliya (SL)

Sin: නුවර එළිය nuvara eḷiya – Tam: நுவரெலியா nuvareliyā ‘City on the Plain’  CP,  Sri Lanka From SIn: nuwara, ‘town, city’; and eliya, ‘open space, plain’. The coolest city in Sri Lanka, situated in the middle of the most important tea growing area, sits...

Panadura (SL)

Sin: පානදුර pānadura- Tam: பாணந்துறை pāṇantuṟai ‘Rocky Harbour’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pāṇa/pasana, ‘stone, rock’ (used only as a place-names prefix); and Sin/Tam: tara/tura/turai, ‘seaport, harbour’. Panadura was the site for the 1873 Debate between Buddhists and...

Pasikuda (SL)

Tam: பாசிக்குடா pāsikkuṭā – Sin: පාසිකුඩා pāsikuḍā ‘Green Bay’  EP,  Sri Lanka  From Tam: pāsi/pāci, ‘green’, ‘moss’, ‘lichen’, ‘seaweed’; and kuta/kuda ‘bay, gulf, shore’. Like its name twin in Wisconsin (U.S), Passikuda is...

Pattipola (SL)

Sin: පට්ටිපොල paṭṭipola – Tam: பட்டிபொல paṭṭipola ‘Cattle Site’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pattiya, ‘stall or herd of cattle’; pola, ‘place, site’. Pattipola is the site of the two highest (2,000m) and two largest (2,000 head of cattle) dairy farms (Ambewela and...

Peradeniya (SL)

Sin: පේරාදෙණිය pērādeṇiya – Tam: பேராதனை pērātaṉai ‘Guava Plain’ CP,   Sri Lanka From Sin: pera, ‘guava tree’ [Psidium guajava]; and deniya, ‘plain, field’.  The guava is a green, fleshy edible fruit also used in shampoo and traditional medicine. The Peradeniya...

Pinnawala (SL)

Sin: පින්නවල pinnavala -பின்னவலை piṉṉavalai ‘Hill Glory Bower Wood’  SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: pinna, ‘hill glory bower’ [Clerodendron infortunatum]. The pinna is a small flowering shrub or small tree; the Latin name refers to its sad, ugly leaves. It is famous for...

Point Pedro (SL)

‘Rocky Cape’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Por: Ponta das Pedras,  ‘rocky point or cape’. Point Pedro is the most northerly point in Sri Lanka, 432k; from Dondra, Sri Lanka’s southernmost point. The Tamil name of the town in Tamil is Paruthithurai, ‘cotton harbour’....

Polonnaruwa (SL)

Sin: පොළොන්නරුව poḷonnaruva – Tam: பொலன்னறுவை polaṉṉaṟuvai ‘Pulastya’s City’  NCP,  Sri Lanka The origins of the name Polonnaruwa are unclear. Polonnaruwa is not the real name of the place and is not very ancient. Major Forbes, writing in...

Pottuvil (SL)

Tam: பொத்துவில் pottuvil – Sin: පොතුවිල potuvila ‘Rush Pond’  EP, Sri Lanka From Sin: potukola or potupan, ‘reed, rush’ [Scleria oryzoides]; and vila, ‘pond, lake, marsh’. This coarse reed is used for mat-weaving. The Pottuvil Lagoon is a complex of wetlands,...

Pussellawa (SL)

 Sin: පුස්සැල්ලාව pussællāva – Tam: புசல்லாவ pusallāva ‘Creeper Falls’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: puswela, ‘elephant creeper’ [Entada Pusaetha]; and ella, ‘waterfall, rapids’. This is a large woody climber with a thick trunk and long twisted snake-like branches....

Puttalam (SL)

Tam: புத்தளம் puttaḷam – Sin: පුත්තලම puttalama ‘New Saltpans’  NWP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: puththu/puttu, ‘new’; and Tam: aḷam, ‘salt pans’. Puttalam is one of the largest salt production areas in Sri Lanka and the location of its first salt refinery. When Ibn...

Puttur (SL)

Tam: புத்தூர் puttūr ‘New Town’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: puththu/puttu, ‘new’; and ur, ‘town, city’. In 1976 the fledgling Tamil Tigers robbed a bank here in brazen cinematic style and got away with LKR700,000 in cash and jewellery.  Puttur boasts the Nailavarai...

Puwakpitiya (SL)

Sin: පුවක්පිටිය puvakpiṭiya ‘Areca Nut Field’   CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: puwak, ‘areca nut tree’ (colloquial); and pitiya, ‘ground, land, field, plain’. The areca nut (also called betel nut) is actually a berry which, when it hardens, can be cut and chewed. It is a...

Rambewa (SL)

Sin: රඹෑව rambǣva – Tam: இறம்பாவை iṟampāvai ‘Plantain Tank’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ramba, ‘plantain, banana’; and wewa, ‘lake, pond, tank, reservoir’. The ground reservoir here has a capacity of 1,500 cubic metres. For related place names see Sri Lanka Place...

Rambukkana (SL)

Sin: රඹුක්කන rambukkana – Tam: ரம்புக்கனா rampukkaṉā ‘Cane Thicket’  SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: rambuk, ‘cane’ [Saccharum procerum]; and  Sin: ana, ‘place, grove, forest’. Clough describes rambuk as ‘a kind of cane resembling but more elegant than the sugarcane’....

Rangala (SL)

Sin: රංගල raṁgala ‘Gold Rock’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ran, ‘gold’; and gala, ‘rock’. A popular trekking centre. Maybe the hikers are looking for something more than just waterfalls, forest walks, hilltop views and picturesque plantations! For related place names...

Ratnapura (SL)

Sin: රත්නපුර ratnapura – Tam: இரத்தினபுரி irattiṉapuri ‘Gem City’  SBP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ratna, ‘jewel, gem’; and pura, ‘city’. Ratnapura is the traditional centre of Sri Lanka’s gem trade. There are many gem ‘mines’ in the area where you can watch the...

Rumassala (SL)

Sin: රූමස්සල rūmassala ‘Golden Coral’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: ru, ‘gold, beauty, form’; and masaragalla, ‘coral’. The coral reefs here are endangered and are now under sanctuary protection. In the past, fisherman used to dynamite the coral to make fishing easier....

Sammanthurai (SL)

Tam: சம்மாந்துறை sammāntuṟai – Sin: සම්මාන්තුරේ sammānturē Town, EP , Sri Lanka Sammanthurai is a Muslim-majority town and was the birthplace of  of M. H. M. Ashraff who founded the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Here are three possibilities: ‘Saman’s Port’. From...

Seeduwa (SL)

Sin: සීදුව sīduva  –  Tam: சீதுவ sītuva  ‘Lion Island’  WP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sinha, ‘lion’; and duwa, ‘island, or ‘part of land surrounded by water’.  Seeduwa may not be an island, strictly speaking, but it is surrounded by the sea, rivers, canals and...

Sigiriya (SL)

Sin: සීගිරිය sīgiriya – Tam: சிகிரியா sikiriyā ‘Lion Rock’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sinha, ‘lion’; and  giriya, ‘rock, mountain’. King Kashyapa (477–495 CE) built a palace fortress on the top of this 180m column of rock. He had usurped the throne by murdering...

Sinharaja Forest (SL)

Sin: සිංහරාජ siṁharāja ‘Lion King’   SBP, SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sinha, ‘lion’; and raja, ‘king’. The Mahavamsa tells the story of the origins of the Sinhalese people from the union of a lion and a princess. Their grandson, Prince Vijaya, founded a new kingdom in...

Sita Eliya (SL)

‘Cold Plain’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: sita, ‘cold’; eliya, ‘open space, plain’. The Sita Amman Temple tells the story that the demon Ravana kept the abducted Princess Sita here. Devotees believe she prayed by the temple brook for Rama to rescue her and that...

Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (SL)

Sin: ශ්‍රී ජයවර්ධනපුර කෝට්ටේ śrī jayavardhanapura kōṭṭē                                                            Tam: ஶ்ரீ ஜெயவர்த்தனபுர கோட்டை śrī jeyavarttaṉapura kōṭṭai ‘Victory City Fort’   WP,  Sri Lanka From Skt/Pali: sri, ‘prosperous’,...

Talawakele (SL)

Sin: තලවාකැලේ talavākælē – Tam: தலவாக்கலை talavākkalai ‘Jungle Meadow’  CP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: talawwa, ‘meadow, plain’; and kele, ‘jungle’.  Talawakele, 1,198m up in the heart of the Hill Country, has been the HQ of the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka...

Tanamalvila (SL)

Sin: තණමල්විල taṇamalvila – Tam: தணமல்வில taṇamalvila ‘Grass Flower Marsh’   UP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: tana, ‘grass’; mala, ‘flower’;  vila, ‘pond, lake, marsh’. For related place names see Sri Lanka Place names....

Tangalle (SL)

Sin: තංගල්ල taṅgalla – Tam: தங்கல்லை taṅkallai ‘Grass Rock’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: tana, ‘grass’; gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. Tangalle, a fishing port, has the second largest blowhole (sea geyser) in the world and its beaches are a magnet for tourists....

Tantirimale (SL)

Sin: තන්තිරිමලේ tantirimalē – Tam: தந்திரிமலை tantirimalai ‘Tantra Rock’   NCP,  Sri Lanka. From Tam: tantiri, ‘(tantric) priest’; and malai, ‘hill, mountain, rock’. Tantirimalai is now a 200 acre archaeological site with caves, drawings, inscriptions and a...

Thammannawa (SL)

Sin: තම්මැන්නාව tammænnāva ‘Tammana Tank’  NCP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: tammana, [mischodon zeylanicus]; and wewa, ‘lake, pond, tank, reservoir’. Tammana is a  tall evergreen tree or large shrub which is unique to Sri Lanka and South India. For related place names...

Thirukkovil (SL)

Tam: திருக்கோவில் tirukkōvil ‘Holy Temple’  EP,  Sri Lanka. From Tam: t(h)iru, ‘auspicious, sacred, holy’; and  kovil, ‘shrine, temple’. This is an ancient temple which dates back to the 10th-11thC. Originally named Nagarmunai, it was probably an ancient settlement of...

Thulhiriya (SL)

 Sin: තුල්හිරියා tulhiriyā ‘Bulrush’ WP, Sri Lanka. From Sin: thunhiriya, ‘bulrush’ [Schoennoplectus grossus]. A tall grass-like water/wetland reed in the ‘sedge’ family with long stems, cylindrical heads and tipped with flowers. Thulhiriya is now a large, 165 acre...

Tissamaharama (SL)

Sin: තිස්සමහාරාමය tissamahārāmaya – Tam: திஸ்ஸமஹாராம tissamahārāma ‘Tissa’s Great Monastery’  SP, Sri Lanka. Mahinda Thera, the son of Emperor Asoka, arrived in Sri Lanka in the 3rdC as a missionary and converted King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura. Following...

Trincomalee (SL)

Tam: திருகோணமலை tirukōṇamalai –  Sin: ත්‍රිකුණාමලය trikuṇāmalaya ‘Sacred Rock Point’   EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: t(h)iru, ‘auspicious, sacred, holy’; kona(m),  ‘point, tip, summit, end’; and malai, ‘hill, mountain, rock’. The Koneswaram temple was constructed...

Udawalawe (SL)

Sin: උඩවලව uḍavalava ‘Upper Walawe’  SBP,  Sri Lanka  From Sin: uda, ‘upper, higher’. The Walawe river flows 38.7 km from Adam’s Peak to the Indian Ocean at  Ambalantota. Udawalawe is the main entry point for the National Park which bears its name. The Park is...

Unawatuna (SL)

Sin:උණවටුන uṇavaṭuna  ‘Bamboo Port’  SP,  Sri Lanka From Sin: uṇa, ‘bamboo’ [Bambusa vulgaris]; and paṭṭana/paṭuna, ‘sea port’, ‘trading town’. The sound change ‘paṭṭana/paṭuna’ → ‘waṭuna’ is fairly regular. There is another derivation based on...

Uppuveli (SL)

Tam: உப்புவெளி uppuveḷi  ‘Brackish Land’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: uppu, ‘salt, salty, brackish’; and veḷi, ‘land’, ‘open space’, ‘expanse’ Behind the beach there is a saltwater lagoon with a network of backwaters and patches of mangrove swamp....

Vakarai (SL)

Tam: வாகரை vākarai  – Sin: වාකරේ vākarē ‘Windy Shore’  EP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: vakam, ‘wind’; and  karai, ‘bank, sea-shore’. This is a small coastal fishing town practising both shallow and deep sea fishing. Catches include prawns, sea mackerel, sprats, rays,...

Valvettithurai (SL)

Tam: வல்வெட்டித்துறை valveṭṭittuṟai – Sin: වල්වෙට්ටිතුරෙයි valveṭṭitureyi ‘Forest Path Harbour’  NP,  Sri Lanka From Tam: vallai, ‘thicket, forest’;  vetti, ‘way, path’; and Sin/Tam: tara/tura/thurai, ‘seaport, harbour’. The Vadamarachchi lagoon or Thondamannar...

Vavuniya (SL)

Tam: வவுனியா vavuṉiyā, Sin: වවුනියාව vavuniyāva ‘End of the Forest’  NP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: vanya/vana, ‘forest’; and nimawa, ‘end, boundary, limit’. Vavuniya sits on the edge of the Vanni, a forest which covers most of the Northern Province, creating a boundary...

Walapane (SL)

Sin: වලපනේ valapanē ‘Forest Village’  [Wathumulla] CP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: val/vala, ‘forest, wood, jungle’; and pane, ‘place, site’ (variation of Sin: pala, pola). Walapane is in the hill country, at an altitude of 1,280m, surrounded by lush green forest,...

Wariyapola (SL)

Sin: වාරියපොල vāriyapola ‘Indigo Place’  NWP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: nili (colloq. awariya) ‘indigo plant’ [Indigofera tinctoria]; and Sin: pola/pala, ‘place, site, village’. Wariyapola Sri Sumangala is a monk who was born here and became famous in 1815 for lowering...

Wasgamuwa National Park (SL)

Sin: වස්ගමුවෙ vasgamuve ‘Bear Village’  NWP, NCP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: walas, ‘bear’; and Sin: gama/gamuwa,, ‘village’.  Wasgamuwa National Park has 23 species of mammals (including a herd of 150 elephants, sloth bears, purple-faced langurs and golden palm civets),...

Wattala (SL)

Sin: වත්තල vattala  – Tam: வத்தளை vattaḷai ‘Garden Plain’   WP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: watta, ‘garden, grove’; and tala, ‘plain, place’. Wattala is now a large suburb of Colombo with a population of 175,000. The Hamilton or Dutch Canal passes through Wattala. The...

Wattegama (SL)

Sin: වත්තේගම vattēgama – Tam: வத்தேகம vattēkama ‘Garden Village’  CP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: watta, ‘garden, grove’; and gama/gamuwa, ‘village’. Wattala railway station on the Periyadeniya to Matale line was coveniently located for transporting large amounts of...

Weligama (SL)

Sin: වැලිගම væligama  – Tam: வெலிகாமம் velikāmam ‘Sandy Village’  SP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: væli/weli,  ‘sand(y)’; and gama/gamuwa, ‘village’. Weligama is a coastal village famous for its long, sandy bay, lace-making, coir rope and stilt fishing. It also boasts...

Wilpattu National Park (SL)

Sin: විල්පත්තු vilpattu ‘Lake District’  NWP, NCP, Sri Lanka. From Sin: vil, ‘lake’, ‘pond’; and pattuwa, ‘a division of a korale, or district’. Sri Lanka’s largest national park (1,316.671 sq. km2) features over a hundred natural rain-filled water basins....

Yakalla (SL)

Sin: යකල්ල yakalla – Tam: யகல்ல yakalla ‘Devil’s Rock’   NCP,  Sri Lanka. From Sin: yak/yaka, ‘demigod, demon, devil’; and  gala, ‘stone, rock, rocky place’. Any grotesque-looking rock merits this name-calling. There are plenty of those here as well as...

Yala National Park (SL)

Sin: යාල yāla – யால yāla ‘September Paddy’  SP, UP, Sri Lanka. From Sin: yala, ‘September harvest, the minor one’. If the paddy fields are fertile enough paddy can be grown in the later season. These are the yala fields. Yala National Park is popular with...