Wednesday, November 15, 2017

393. Pages from the forgotten history: Kolalagiri

Kolalagiri (Kolalgiri) is a rural hamlet, located to the north of Udupi city. Presently it is generally known for quality laterite stone bricks, though the resources are fast dwindling, due to pronounced quarrying operations during the last century.
 The Kolalagiri hamlet is currently is a part of Uppoor village in Udupi Taluk. However, only few people may be aware of the fact that once upon a time it was an important commercial town in the bygone history of coastal Karnataka. 
During the period between 8th century CE and early part of 12th Century the Kolalagiri was a active commercial town ruled by Alupa kings.

Geography & Geology
Kolalagiri is located on the northern bank of River Suvarna (Swarna). The region forms an elevated plateau consisting of well formed red laterite stones. The belt of laterite stones runs from Manipal to Kolalagiri in an NW-SE direction. Like most rivers of coastal Karnataka the Suvarna River appears to have migrated laterally and changed its position during the last three millennia.
Similarly geological data supplemented by historical facts as well as legends (of Parashurama) suggest that   a stretch of the present West Coast was under sea before two millennia which receded gradually. Thus it can be visualized that once upon a time (about 2000 years ago), the Kolalagiri was a port town located on the northern bank of River Suvarna.

“Kolalu” means a flute in Kannada. Thus Kolala-giri  literally   stands for the metaphor of  hill of flute. The Kolalagiri  settlement forms the northern geographic extension of the  Udupi   town. The Udupi became a major center of Krishna worship after installation of idol of Krishna by sage Madhvacharya who is also well known for propagation of the dualism (“ Dwaita”) concept of metaphysical    relationship between the soul and the God.  

Local legends suggest that there was a shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna in Kolalagiri in the olden days. However, remains of such a ancient Krishna temple or the township around the temple have not be traced so far.

It appears that the Sanskrit styled nomenclature "Kolala - giri"  was  created during the hay period of Krishna cult  in the Udupi region, as the flute (“kolalu”) forms the signature musical instrument of playful Krishna in the legends.

However, on retrospection,  it appears that the deducible original word "kol-ala" in the toponym  was derived from the ethnic kol tribes, as ala is a common suffix in ancient India denoting  human settlements located beside a river.  In support of this argument, there are villages named "Kolala"  in other parts of Karnataka also.
A map of  coastal region around Kolalgiri (click to enlarge).

Kolala nakara
The inscriptions dating back to some 8th century CE suggest that earlier in the history the place was known as “Kolala-nakara”.  A “nakara” was a merchants guild during ancient historical times. The merchants were influential and economically powerful during regal periods and the rulers had close relations with the merchants who would not only pay taxes but also loans to the rulers during exigencies.  The association of merchants (“nakara”) periodically assembled in temple premises and discussed their strategies and affairs.  Because of the involvement of economics, places with ‘nakara’ associations grew up as “nagara” or cities.
Merchants of such 'nakhara' trade guilds were usually dealing with export of natural products, like rice, spices, cashew, coconuts, cotton, silk, fibers, precious stones, pearls, shanks and cowries, fish and other manufactured artefacts.   Guilds  especially for cotton and silk textiles were flourishing in many of the South Indian Coasts – both East and West.  Such guilds thrived with the patronage of kings, chieftains and powerful professional groups.
Gururaja Bhat (2010) explains the content of the inscription as follows:
“One of the inscriptions from Udyavara perhaps, of 8th C refers to the Alupa ruler- Maramma Alvarasa. He seemed to have according to the inscriptions, summoned the Nayga(Nayaka) of Odevura (Udayapura) to the Kolala-nakara and entrusted him with the administration of Udayapura. It becomes almost clear from the epigraphs that Maramma alvarasa had his capital at Kolala-nakara. It may be surmised that this Kolala-nakara could be identified with the place Kolalgiri, just 10 km to the north-east of Udupi (there are no traces of city at Kolalgiri). Tradition has it that there was a Krishna temple at Kolalgiri and because of this shrine that place name came into vogue.”
Similar opinions have been expressed in their works by renowned   historians such as K.V. Ramesh and Saletore.

The place name Kolala-nakara   reveals that the original name of the  historical village was Kolala. There are several ancient villages in different parts of Karnataka bearing the name of “Kolala” or “Kolalu” .  Incidentally, the place name Kolala is an ethnonym   as the word analysis  Kol+ala shows.

‘Ala’ (as a suffix in the toponym “Kol-ala”) is an ancient Indian word denoting a habitation located on the bank of a river; incidentally the suffix ~ala means water or water body, as also suggested by the word” jala” (=water) derived from ~ala.

Kols were an ancient tribe of India. They are considered to be a part of Austro-Asiatic Munda tribes, once found all over India, but now restricted mainly to parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgadh, Orissa and Bengal. There are about 1420 villages in different parts of India carrying the prefix of Kol tribes. Even in coastal Tulunadu we can find Kolnad, Kollur Kollamuger etc villages still carrying their ancient signatures.

Historical significance
Alupa rulers ruled from Alupe port in the eastern part of present Mangaluru, which formed the coast of ancient Mangaluru until   about 100 CE.  The region west of Alupe (in Mangaluru) which was under Sea earlier, was exposed due to regression of the Arabian sea after 100 CE. (The natural event of regression of the sea has been described in the legends as creation of land by Lord Parashurama .

Further natural disasters like southern drifting of Netravati River around Mangaluru, appear to have forced the Alupa rulers to shift their capital from Alupe, Mangaluru to Udyavara.
The inscription involving Kolala-nakara implies that Alupa rulers were not content at their new base at Udyavara.  Alupa ruler Maramma Aluvarasa planned to shift his base north to Kolala nakara which appears to have been a thriving “nakara” (commercial town) at that time.  Kolal nakara was located in the northern part of Shivalli (Odipu/Udupi). The decision of Maramma Aluvarasa to shift from Udyavara to Kolala nakara suggests that Kolala nakara then was a potential commercial town, superior in importance to Odipu and Udyavara. Thus it seems Kolala nakara was a commercially important coastal town from later part of 8th century and up to the  first part of 12th century.

However, another town was gaining importance during the period. It was Barkur. Alupa ruler Kavi   Alupendra shifted the base from Udyavara/Kolalgiri to Barkur   around 1139 CE ( date identified by Vasantha Shetty, 2016) .


  Thanks to reader  Shri Melwin Kolalgiri for suggesting the topic and providing essential data.

Gururaja Bhat, P (2010) History and culture of south India (Discoveries in Coastal Karnataka: Vol 1 Edited by A. Sundara. Dr Padur Gururaja Bhat Memorial trust,  Udupi. p. xviii+ 364+40.

Vasantha Shetty ,B (2016) Barakuru. A Metropolitan city of antiquity its history and culture. Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy.Mangaluru, p.xvi+296.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

392. Masked early history of Padangadi

The Padanagdi (alias Padavinangadi) is a vibrant locality on the Airport road leading from Yeyyadi to Bondel- Kavur in Northeastern part of Mangaluru city.
The “Padangadi” ( padangaDi : first d pronounced as in English word: the; second D as in English Dog) is an ancient Tulu locality name  that is also known by its Kannada   version “PadavinangaDi”.
There is also a serene village known as “Padangadi” (pronounced paDangaDi: both D as in Dog) in Beltangadi Taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka.
Location map of Padangadi, Mangaluru.

Ancient words
The words in ancient place names are like preserved old coins that are useful in understanding stages of generally masked or obscure pages of early history of this land which has not been documented otherwise. In other words, the surviving ancient words can be compared to fossils in the science of paleontology that throw significant light on the reconstruction of bygone days of past life history,  paleo-ecology and  environment.

Padangadi vs. Padavinangadi
Now, of the two (Tulu- Padangadi /Kannada- Padavinangadi) names for the Mangaluru locality under study, which one is the older? 

Going by the regional   linguistic evolutionary analysis carried out in the older posts in this blog, it can be summarized that during the early three to four centuries of the Common Era, Prakrit was the dominant/administrative language in Karnataka including coastal Tulunadu. During fourth century CE onwards old Kannada (“Halegannada”) was introduced by Kadambas as administrative language as we find in Halmidi inscription. At that time, Old Tulu was in usage in coastal Tulunadu. Old Tulu and Old Kannada were closely related languages by then, more like regional variants of a single language, as we find many Tulu equivalent words ( that are now obsolete or modified in modern Kannada) in the Halmidi inscription.

Subsequently, Kannada was imposed as administrative language in coastal Karnataka (Tulunadu) by the Vijayanagar Kings during and after 12th century CE.  Under this program parts of Tulu regions around Barkur were brought under the intensive influence of Kannada.   During the Kannada period, most of the local names were translated   to  Kannada  prevalent in the period.
Therefore, the Kannada version of the locality name Padavinangadi can be dated to 12th Century CE or later, attributable to the influence of ambient Kannada kings.

What could be the original meaning of the composite word Padangadi ?
For a simplistic analysis, if you split the word into pad(a) + angadi: we can find 9 possible meanings for the words ‘pad’ and ‘pada’ in Tulu Nighantu, Vol. 5 .

Pad = (a) ten (b)shrink;
Pada =(c) level, status (d) word (e) song (f) maturity (g) square pattern (h) tranquility and (i) sole or foot step.

It can seen that those who translated the original Tulu word ‘Padangadi ‘  into ‘Padavinangadi’ under the  regional “Kannadaization” program,  utilized the meaning  #(c) ie., the level ground. The Tulu geographic term “padavu” represents a lateritic plateau or a planar open field.

As a contrast, the term “angadi” (pronounced: angaDi) is a common word for a shop or a marketing stall in most of the Dravidian languages, including Tulu and Kannada.
If you analyze this particular word as ang+Di,   you get the meaning of an open area or open field. The ang means open; as in angai (ang+kai=open hand; palm of hand). Or as in Tulu phrase: bāyi angāvu open (your) mouth.

~Di , as in angadi,  is a spatial suffix in ancient Indian languages.  (Examples: Garodi, Gardadi, Tadadi, etc).  From the   suffix ~Di,   further suffixes  ~Adi and ~Odi have evolved.

The original meaning of the word angadi, as courtyard or open field is still preserved in Parji language.
 Since early days of civilization open fields or yards were used for selling goods on a designated day of the week. The open market was known as “santhe”.  From the ancient markets in open yards, the usage of the word angadi was later applied to shops.

There is another interesting twist to the story offered by the “Padangadi”, name of the village in Beltangadi Taluk, located on the Guruvāyana-kere - Venur stretch of road. This particular village name is pronounced locally as   “paDangaDi” (D as in Dog) adding a tinge of   dilemma  to our derivation of the meaning of the place name.
Which of the two toponymic   pronunciations: padangaDi and paDangaDi - is original one and which one was modified with passage of time?
Cenang beach, Kedah, Langkawi, Malaysia

Padang : Southeast Asia connection
Since ~Di, is an ancient spatial indicator suffix, we can also think of analyzing the word Padangadi  as Padang+Di or Padang+aDi. Thus, we confront with a   new word Padang.

A recent   visit on tour to Malaysia and Singapore, enlightened me regarding the word Padang.  The Padang is a usual toponymic word in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Mynamar and other Southeast Asian countries. Besides, the place name “Padang” also means an open field in Malayan language.
Incidentally, there are many place names in these Southeast Asian countries that contain the suffix ~ang, such as Padang, Penang, Kallang, Cenang etc.
By the bye, the words containing Padang are not limited to coastal Tulunadu alone. Similar  place names are also found in   parts of Orissa and Rajasthan suggesting the wide distribution of early phases of Austro-Asiatic cultures in different parts of India.
 Thus after an overall analysis, we can conclude that the ancient place name Padangadi evolved from the words of Austro-Asiatic- Munda origin, namely:  padang+adi .

Austro-Asiatic languages
Early forms of Munda languages had their sway in southern India during and before the early centuries of the Common Era, as evident from the existence of umpteen fossil Munda words and related cultural vestiges preserved in Tulu and other Dravidian languages. ( Older posts in this blog.). The Munda languages of India (now surviving mainly in central and eastern parts of India) are considered to be a part of the ancient Austro-Asiatic language family.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

391. ‘Palke’ in Tulu Place Names

Toponymy, i.e. the study of place names world-wide, contains generic terms in most of the place names.  They describe invariably geographical features, as a suffix.   Elsewhere we have analysed some Tulu generic terms, such as aal/la, ba/va/ya, bar, war, wal, kuppe, kar, kuda, kal, kod/kodu/godu, mancha etc. in our earlier Posts.  ‘Palke’ is another generic term which can be added to this list.  Some of the Tulu Place Names cited below, having ‘palke’ as a suffix, may explain the geographical significance.  

Palla, Palike>Palke
It means:
1.       Dead woods and other waste substances, drained to sea through rivers, scattered by action of sea currents and washed ashore by waves. 
’palke booruni’ is a sign of subsiding of sea from roughness (Read our Post: 389 of 16th September).  It is a marine incident witnessed in summer monsoon after a stormy weather with rough sea.
2.       A valley, slope, or low lying area between mountains or hills.
3.       A place where a dead body is placed on floor.
4.       A mat (made of leaves or grass)
5.       A dead body (= ಪುಣ) itself.  One must have heard the swearing words in Tulu when one keeps things for himself beyond ones needs or demands for more):  Daane undu ninna palkeda adik paaderena (ದಾನೆ ಉ0ದು ನಿನ್ನ ಪಲ್ಕೆದಡಿಕ್ ಪಾಡೆರೆನ)It is a custom to burn in the pyre and/or throw away things connected to the departed soul. 

6.       Base word for Palike is ‘pal or palla’ in Tulu, Kannada and other South Indian languages.  ‘Palla’ means Pit, Hole, Depth, Low ground or spot, shallow stream, pond, ditch, hollow, etc.   ‘Palike’ has the meaning of: valley, declivity, pond and ditch    (See Dravidian Etymological Dictionary).   In Toda language also ‘pal’ means ‘valley’.  In Barakur-Kannada Palli, Balli or Pali means a long rice field. Pallamu in Telugu means:  pit, low ground, dale, wet land and wet crop.
In Southern States (Kerala and Tamil Nadu) ‘palike’ is called as ‘chakara’.  A source (now seen by the writer) tells: “A Chakara is a peculiar marine phenomenon in which a large number of fish and prawns throng together during a particular season as a result of mud bank formation.  It is derived from (Sanskrit word) Chakra (Disc) which has similar meaning   of ‘palke’ in Tulu”. 
It is seen that some stretches of a river are deep because of eddy currents.  Such area is called Chakra Teertha. Similarly, sea currents create declivity near shore-line, which also results in sand-banks.

Tulu Place Names
Native readers may comprehend meanings of some place names given below.  These are commonly found in Tulu Nadu (now Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts).   

Manjara palke:  The village is in Karkala Taluk, Udupi. The place is also known as ‘Kedinje’ (kedu+inje = a place with many ponds).
Aremajaalu palke:  It is in Mangaluru.  We think that it is half-terraced (ಅರೆಮಜಲು/ಅರೆಮಜಾಲು) area with ‘palke’ below.
Barry palke:   It is a hamlet in Mangaluru (See our Post: 390 – Valencia in Mangaluru).  This place is popularly known as ‘Gorigudda (Hill of burial)’ in local tongue even today.
Kocharla Palke:  It means: ‘a valley of Kochar Tribes’.  It is a place name of a hamlet in Ajekar, Belthangadi Taluk, Dakshina Kannada) (See Post: 272/04.06.2011 - Kochar Tribes).
Chittal palke:  The writer has found a reference to this hamlet in ‘Tulu Nada Garodigala Samskritka Adhyayana, 1990’, a cultural study of Garodi Shrines vis-a-vis Folklores related thereto, penned by Bannanje Babu Amin and Mohan Kotian (Ref. Page-314: Thingale Garodi in Karkala Taluk).   We think that Chitteripalke (Chita+Eri) also refers to Chitalpalke (Chita+al+palke), i.e. a locality ear-marked for crematorium or burial as is ‘adka’ (= a barren place on the periphery/edge/boundary of a village, i.e. a marginal place in Tulu language).

Other Sub-villages with ‘Palke‘
We have picked up following places from ‘Revenue Villages, Hamlets and Towns of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada’:
Karkal:  Majal palke, Dadal/Dodal Palke
Dakshina Kannada: Nejaarpalke, Tailapake (Taluk ?)
Bantwal: Palike, Mada palke, Kuntala palke, Shanti palke, Raja palke, Uppara palke, Achari palke, Gadi palke.
Belthangadi: Bejada palke.  Dappada palke, Nelya palke, Kontu palke, Kanthavara palke,
Mangalore:   Dompada palke, Murkolthu palke, Muchchara palke.   

‘Palke’ in other Indian State
We have reason to believe that other Indian states must have place names with Pal or Palke too.  We shall feel thankful if readers bring such place names to our notice.

It is assumed that ‘palke’ sub-villages are undeveloped or under-developed localities in earlier days. Landscape of land is being changed or destroyed by human actions in the name of development, which may lead to change in place name.  As an example, we may cite ‘Barry palke or Gorigudda’ in Mangaluru, which is now an elite urban place with modern buildings.  Such changed topography may also lead to man-made disasters.  So the past and present topography of a village may not be the same.
We may be able to add to above-mentioned list if readers inform such place names, which they know.  We value very much these feed-backs from them.  Thus, we will be able to substantiate our statements.

1.       Tulu Lexicon (page:1962)
2.       Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, Entry No .4016, page 357 under Pallam).

- Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

Camp: Udyavara, Udupi; 14th October, 2017 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

390. Valencia in Mangaluru

One of the localities in Kankanādi area in the southern part of Mangaluru city (formerly: Mangalore) is known as Valencia. Very few of our readers may be aware of the history relating to how the place name was derived.
In fact, the Valencia happens to be   the name of a famous metropolitan city located in the east coast of Spain in Europe.

A website of the Valencia Church of  Mangaluru throws light on the history of this place and the origin of the interesting place name. The hilly area surrounded by dense vegetation was also known as Beary-palke or Gorigudda. The old name  Gorigudda reveals that   it was used for burial of the dead bodies.

In the beginning of the 20th century, there was no church for the villagers of Kankanādi and Jeppu region. People had to depend on   Milagres   or Rosario churches for their religious needs. The Madras Government of the period sanctioned 5.73 Acres of land in an area used for burial ground in Beary - palke   or Gorigudda   in the Kankanādi village. Accordingly, the Muncipal  council  handed over the  land to Bishop of  Mangaluru.  Initially, Rosario cathedral erected boundary walls around the burial ground and later the Milagres parish authorities renovated the cemetery in the year 1923 followed by erection of a wooden cross in the premises by the  Rosario administration in the year 1928.

Later in the year 1935, Bishop  V.R.  Fernandes approved the proposal for building a church in  the  Beary palke   cemetery plot. He decreed that the new church be named in honour of St. Vincent Ferrar, a European Saint, who hailed from the city of Valencia in Spain. The foundation of the church was laid on September 24, 1942 and the construction was completed and religious ceremonies were begun since January 1944.

The rest is part of the history. Along with growth of the Mangaluru city, the name of the church spread to the entire surrounding area which is now  known as Valencia. Along with Valencia the old name Gorigudda also survives even to date.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

389. ‘Palke booruni’ – a sign of sea subsiding from roughness

Nature plays an important role in traditional occupations or professions of a region.  As we observe, ‘geographical niches’ have conditioned everyday life of inhabitants therein from pre-historic ages.  We observe such conditioning of people living on coastlines too.
Recently, there was a news-item in Kannada vernacular newspaper (Udayavani, 21st July, 2017).  It reported sighting of ‘kadaluda madi’ (wastes of sea in form of woody substances), washed ashore at Malpe beach.  This is a phenomenon observed during July-August.    This is a natural process how the sea cleans itself by throwing out the ‘madi’ to shoreline.  This coincides with the process of calming of the sea after a stormy weather.

Palke booruni
Returning of calmness to sea after the stormy summer monsoon (May end to July-August) is called ‘Palke booruni’ In Tulu.  Ferocious tidal waves subside, yielding place to normal waves.  This is a condition when sea water is placid and calm.  Waves are not so threatening to fisher-folk for venturing into sea by boats.
Heavy rain water washes down all kinds of tid bits  of wood, logs and leaves, fruits and seeds like pallekkayi and akrot,( apricot: with heart-shaped nut with brown-yellow hard outer-cover) from forest areas to rivers through ‘pallas’ (water collected naturally at low lying areas), canals and streams.  These pieces of forest waste are drained into sea when these rivers debauch into sea near the  sea-river mouth  (estuary) known as  aluve or alivey in Tulu.

Factors of Palke
Calmness of sea water occurs for various reasons.  The factors are:
1.Action of under-currents of sea makes erosion at bank and creates ‘barakane’ (sand-walls) at the bank. Normally a shore-parallel depression develops in the sea bed,  quite close to the shore.  This is called a fault in geological parlance or gundi-barakane booruni in Tulu parlance.
These pits or ponds are not found in entire stretch of coastline.  At some place sea bed is flat near shore.This can be understood by the fact that ‘palke booruni’ is not uniform in the entire stretch of shoreline though ‘madi’ is scattered on beachline.

2.In some coastal villages, water-bodies (i.e. canals, streams and rivers) are running parallel to sea coastline.  As observed by the writer during his native high school days, the chance of occurrences of ‘palke booruni’ is more at this stretch than at other places.  In other areas sea is rough at the same time. He observed such palke occurrence in Chitrapur area, i.e. the stretch of coast between Hosabettu and Baikampadi.  Storm water drainage used to flow through  a ‘Bailare’ (a flood zone) and drained to Gurupura River near Kulur-Panambur before implementation of the Projects of Fertilizer Plant and New Mangalore Harbour at Panambur.  This natural canal was bye-passed to sea near Baikampadi thereafter (Read our Post: Debacle of a place called Bailare’).

Formative years of the writer are spent in a coastal village.  He used to play a game of ‘pallekkayi’, collected from the sea-shore.  One more memory connected with sea is collecting of small coins while there are ‘barakanes’.  Coins, which are thrown into sea as offering on certain religious rituals, surface on such sand-wall.  While returning from school, we children used to take beach route to home. I noticed in later life pallekkayi and akrot are included in ‘Bālaguti’ along with other roots and fruits/seeds like Badām (almond).

Spawning of fish
Monsoon is fish-spawning time.   Fish thrive in such deeper ponds, filled with woody substances.  Hence ‘palke booruni’ is harbinger of fishing season.

Cast-net (Beesana) Fishing
Cast-net fishing is common during this period as sea waves are sober at ‘palke booruni’ places.  So country boats venture into sea to catch fish by throwing round nets (beesanigeda bale).   Boats from neighbouring villages too throng to this stretch of calm sea.  These boats are pushed through shallow shore waters.  Common catch is ‘etti’ (prawns), kuruchi, a thorny fish and nangu, a flat fish.
At times, kai-ramponi type of fishing is also carried on (a smaller version ramponi, which is now extinct).   The catch is called as ‘kare meenu’, which is a common name for group of fish thriving near shore (= kare).

On full-moon day of August (Shravan Pournami), fisher-folk worship the sea and throw coconuts to the sea, praying the Sea God to bestow them with bountiful catch of fish.  This ritual is called ‘Samudra Pooje or Poojan’.  Fishing season starts from this day.
This day of ritual is known by many names as Nārikela or Nālikera Pournami (i.e. Coconut Day or Nāriel Pournima in Hindi-speaking Belt), and Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi.  This day sisters tie sacred threads to wrist of their brothers or brotherly friends. This sacred knot of sisterly-brotherly love is believed to protect their brothers. They do ‘arati’ (waving of sacred light) to their brothers,   apply vermilion ‘Tilak’ on their foreheadsand feed them with sweetmeats.   This is a symbolic ritual when brothers vow to protect their sisters.  They give presents to their sisters.

As I observe, ‘palke or palike’ is nothing but pieces of woody substances drained to sea through rivers.  So ‘palke’ is same as ‘madi’.  While ‘madi’ has a narrow meaning ‘palke’ has a wider connotation as is explained in foregoing paragraphs.  Another meaning of palke(palike) is ‘a valley, slope or low lying area on mountainous or hilly area’.  Depth on sea-shore, created by slippage action as aforesaid, can be compared to the other meaning of  palke(palike).
Action of Nature is instrumental in undisturbed fish spawning, thereby balancing the fish production against the rigorous fish harvesting of previous year.  This ensures a steady flow of catch to fishermen. Intensive or excessive fishing is detrimental to fisher-folk as well as the Nation.

-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

September 15, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

388. Kundar bari- lineage

Kundar d pronounced as in the) is one of the ‘bari’ genetic lineages existing in Tulunadu since times immemorial. The surname Kundar or Kundaran was popularized several decades ago by an Indian cricketer Budhi Kundaran who originally hailed from a Mogaveera (Marakala) family of Udupi region of coastal Tulunadu. Incidentally, the term “Kundaran” in Old Tulu and Old Kannada meant a person from Kundar tribe. The bari lineage surname also exist among Bunts, in the form of “Kunda” or “Kundade”, (Indira Hegde, 2009) though it might be less common or has been eventually obliterated in other Tulu communities.

However it is interesting to note that bari lineage Kundar (or its variants) is not just exclusive to Tulunadu or coastal Karnataka. A popular bollywood actress hailing from Tulunadu, Shilpa Shetty is married to a Rajastani gentleman known as Raj Kundra. The surname “Kundra” in his name apparently is a  regional variant of the surname “Kundar”.

Ancient Kunda tribe
In the past posts, I have explained that our surnames are mostly derived from our or genetic lineages, known regionally as bari (bali or gotra ). And that the bari or lineage system in India existed before the invention and adoption of castes and communities that disunited and separated even peoples of   same lineage!  In other words, the people eventually absorbed into different communities (and also different  languages and religions) have faithfully  retained their (known) original genetic tags as surnames, wherever possible.
Thus the pan Indian presence of Kunda, Kundar, Kundra etc related surnames lead us to deduct that there existed an ancient tribe, widespread in ancient India, by the name of Kunda or Kundar. But, how is it possible to arrive at such a deduction?

Kunda villages in India
Like most of the ancient tribes the Kunda tribes have left a large number of villages (and hamlets) named after them. The data gathered by the census of India gives us a glimpse of the spread of ethnonyms of village names in different parts of  India. The census data for 2011 reveals that there are some 897 villages spread in different States of India carrying the tags of the assimilated ancient tribe of Kunda. (The number does not include hamlets which have not been considered in the census). The State-wise distribution of Kunda village names are as follows: Andhra Pradesh (27), Arunachala Pradesh (8), Assam (17), Bihar (27), Chattisgarh (22), Gujarat (39), Haryana (4), Himachal Pradesh (27), Jammu & Kashmir (6), Jharkhand (64), Karnataka (47), Kerala(1),, Madhya Pradesh (139), Maharashtra(46), Orissa (96),Punjab(4), Rajasthan (100), Tamilnadu (17), Uttar Pradesh (135), Uttara Khand (34), and West Bengal (37).
Some of the ethnonym styles of the Kunda villages in above regions are like these:
Kunduru, Kundar, Kundol, Kundchar, Kundulia, Kundrol, Kundru,Kundi, Kunda, Kund, Kundhal, Kundala, Kundal, Kundawada, Kundeli, Kundia, Kundari, Kundum, Kundral, Kundahalli, Kundli, Kundo, Kundpani, Kundiya, Kundgol, Kundla, Kunduni, Kundarsi, Kundada, Kundil, Kunding, Kundan, Kundaram, Kundrudi,  Kundanpalle,…Kundapur... etc.

Gold : Prospecting and Smelting
The expansive spread of the Kunda tribes as evident from the ethnonyms prevailing  in different States of India suggests their proliferation all over the land in ancient days.

And what could have been the nature of work profession engaged by these tribes?  The ancient   term “kunda” refers to (1) gold and  to (2) smelting.  The metal gold being one of the fond objects of possession as well as transaction throughout the history, it appears that these tribes were involved in the discovery and smelting of the metal gold.  Probably, a large number of people in ancient India were interested in and made themselves proficient in discovering and gathering native gold nuggets from the lodes of gold ores. Placer deposits of gold possibly enticed these prospectors to unravel more varieties of small to substantially large gold occurrences and deposits. The art of smelting gold rich ores was also developed in the due course. Subsequently the art of panning for gold particles in flowing streams and rivers could also have been associated with these tribes. After gold, the metal copper also attracted people because of its utility in vessel and weapon making. Thus art of smelting the copper rich ores was also developed.

A statistical relationship (correlation) between the existence of number of Kunda villages to gold and copper ore deposit bearing regions in India can be noticed if you review the list of Kunda villages cited above.

Kunda- kundavuni
An interesting word retained in Tulu language apparently throws light on the   ancient art of smelting for metals like gold copper and iron. The usage in Tulu is the verb form of the word kunda: The Tulu term “kundavuni” ( d pronounced as in the) refers to boiling a liquid till it solidifies. The same word also existed in Kannada as we find the sweetmeat kunda popular in Belgaum region. The kunda  in Belgaum is a sweetened, boiled and desiccated form of milk solids.Delicate works the gold artisans like fixing precious stones on gold ornaments is called 'kundana'.  
 The artisans are called as 'kundanagāra'. The word kundu in Kannada also means to decrease and related to the process of evaporation and desiccation as also found in the prevailing  Tulu word kundavuni.


Indira Hegde, Dr. (2009) Bantaru-Ondu Samajo Sanskritika Adhyayana. (in Kannada). Revised edition,  Kannada Pustaka Pradhikara  Bengaluru-560002, p. xviii+480.

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Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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