Know the Etymology: 127
Place Name of the Day: Sunday, 01 October 2017


Ullaik-kaḻi, Maṭṭik-kaḻi, Campuk-kaḻi-villu, Uppuk-kaḻi, Kaḻik-karai, Kaḷi-maṭu

உல்லைக்கழி, மட்டிக்கழி, சம்புக்கழிவில்லு, உப்புக்கழி, கழிக்கரை, களிமடு
Ullaik-kaḻi, Maṭṭik-kaḻi, Campuk-kaḻi-villu, Uppuk-kaḻi, Kaḻik-karai, Kaḷi-maṭu

Ullam+kaḻi
Maṭṭi+kaḻi
Campu+kaḻi
Uppu+kaḻi
Kaḻi+karai
Kaḷi+maṭu


The lagoon found with Ullam fish

The backwater found with oysters

The coastal marsh found with Campu reed

The saltpan or the salty backwater

The edge of the backwater

The clayey pond


Kaḻi backwater, shallow sea-waters, salt river, marsh, saltpan (Tamil, DED 1359, Kuṟuntokai, 9: 5; Puṟanāṉūṟu, 48: 3; inscription, 1061 CE, SII, iv, 377); sea-arm, ebbing brook, salt marsh (Malayalam, DED 1359); Kaḷappu: shallow part of the sea (Tamil, DED 1359); Kaḷar: saline soil, bog (Tamil, DED 1359, Akanāṉūṟu, 74: 7; Tirukkuṟaḷ, 50: 10). Kaḷapu, Kalapuva: lake which communicates with the sea, saltwater lake; sea backwater in which saltwater is found mixed with freshwater; "Muhuda asala tibena karadiya hā miridiya miśra jalāśaya; saltpan, "Lēvāya" (Sinhala, Clough, Sorata, inscriptions, EZ, iv, 203, 161). Etymology 1: from saltiness of water; Kari: (verb) to be salty to the taste (Tamil, DED 1466, R/ Ḻ interchange); Kaḻi-nilam: saltpan (Tamil, Piṅkalm, 4: 145); Etymology 2: from water coming and going, Kaḻi: (verb) to pass, leave, discharge (Tamil, DED 1356, Naṟṟiṇai, 241: 1); Kaḻi-mukam: where a river discharges into sea, delta (Tamil, Tivākaram, 5: 51). See column 126 on Kaḷappu
Kaḷi clay, potter's clay, silt (Tamil, DED 1381, Naṟṟiṇai, 126: 2; Puṟanāṉūṟu, 266: 2; Neṭunalvāṭai, 15-16); thick pulp, liquid paste (Tamil, DED 1378, Akanāṉūṟu, 86: 1)
Ullai1 from Ullam: a kind of tropical fish of numerous bones that goes up in rivers and lagoons to spawn, Indian Shad, Hilsa fish, sable fish, Clupea ilisha, Clupea toli (Tamil, DED 676, MTL, Winslow); a kind of fish (Malayalam, DED 676); Ullam-cēpa: the bony hilsa or sable fish (Telugu, DED 676); Kaṭal-ullam: the sea variety of Ullam (Tamil, Winslow); Āṟṟu-ullam: the river variety of Ullam (Tamil, Winslow); Ullaṅ-karuvāṭu: the salted Ullam fish (Tamil, Winslow); Ūlāva: a fish (Sinhala, Clough); probably related to the spiny attribute of the fish; Ul: point or dart of any sharp instrument, spike, stake (Sinhala, Clough); an object with sharp end (Dhivehi/ Maldivian DBF); a sharp stick or iron to peel coconuts, a stick for impaling (Tamil, Winslow, MTL citing Jaffna Diction); Aḷ: sharpness (Tamil, Malayalam, DED 293); Uḷi: chisel, burin (Tamil, Malayalam, DED 699, cognates in 8 Dravidian languages); harpoon (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Kuṟuntokai, 304: 1-2); Uruvu: (verb) to piece through, penetrate as an arrow, needle etc. (Tamil, DED 663); Śūla: spike, spit (Sanskrit, CDIAL 12575); Hūl, Hul: pierce (Sanskrit, CDIAL 14147);
Ullai 2 probably related to Ul meaning spring in Sinhala and Ūṟṟu meaning the same in Tamil (Eezham Tamil place names, Batticaloa). See column 238
Maṭṭi oyster, cockle, shellfish (Tamil, MTL); cockle, shellfish in general (Sinhala, Clough); 1. Maṭi: (verb) to be folded (Tamil, DED 4645); Maṭippu: fold, doubling (Tamil, DED 4645); 2. Maṇṭai: skull, brain-pan, earthen vessel (Tamil, DED 4682)
Campu also, Caṇpu, Campāṅ-kōrai: elephant grass, Typha elephantina (Tamil, DED 2347). See column 335
Uppu salt, alkali, saltness (Tamil, DED 2674a, Kuṟuntokai, 165: 3-4; cognates in 12 Dravidian languages). See column 129
Villu natural pond, marsh (see column 10)
Karai shore, bank, edge (Tamil, DED 1293). See column 343
Maṭu pond, pool (Tamil, DED 4658). See column 86


The Tamil/ Dravidian term Kaḻi means a small lagoon, backwater, salt-river, coastal marsh or saltpan. Kaḷappu is a cognate of the word. Both the terms come in Eezham Tamil place names and Kaḷapu is found in Sinhala place names too.

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Kaḻi as lagoon, backwater etc:

"இன மீன் இருங் கழி" (குறுந்தொகை, 9: 5)

"Iṉa mīṉ iruṅ kaḻi" (Kuṟuntokai, 9: 5)

The big lagoon or backwater having a multitude of fishes


Kaḻi as coastal marsh or brackish pond connected to sea:

"மாக் கழி மலர்ந்த நெய்தல்" (புறநானூறு, 48: 3)

"Māk kaḻi malarnta neytal" (Puṟanāṉūṟu, 48: 3)

The Neytal flowers blossomed in the big coastal pond


Kaḻi as saltpan:

"கழியின் பெயர் முரம்பு காயல் கானல் உப்பளம் என்றாகும்" (சூடாமணி 5: 21)

"Kaḻiyiṉ peyar murampu kāyal kāṉal uppaḷam eṉṟākum" (Cūṭāmaṇi 5: 21)

Murampu, Kāyal, Kāṉal and Uppaḷam (saltpan) are synonyms of Kaḻi


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The Tamil/ Dravidian term Kaḷi, meaning clay, mud or silt, is etymologically unrelated to Kaḻi meaning backwater. Kaḻi is sometimes spelt as Kaḷi in backwater-related place names. But, Kaḷi meaning clay also comes in some place names related to ponds.

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Kaḷi as clayey soil:

"கருங் களி ஈந்து" (நற்றிணை, 126: 2)

"Karuṅ kaḷi īntu" (Naṟṟiṇai, 126: 2)

The wild date palm of the dark clay ground


Kaḷi as clay, mud or silt:

"கயம் களி முளியும் கோடை" (புறநானூறு, 266: 2)

"Kayam kaḷi muḷiyum kōṭai" (Puṟanāṉūṟu, 266: 2)

Summer in which ponds become dried clay beds


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Ullaik-kaḻi is the name of a lagoon lying between Uppūṟal and Ilaṅkaittuṟai in Seruvila division of Trincomalee district (Trincomalee OIS).

Maṭṭik-kaḻi is the name of a backwater cum place, south of the Batticaloa lighthouse in Manmunai North division of Batticaloa district

Campuk-kaḻi-villu is a coastal marsh by the side of the Koṭṭiyāra Bay, south of Campūr in Moothoor division of Trincomalee district (Trincomalee OIS)

Uppuk- kaḻi is noticed as a place name in Puṅkututīvu Island in Kayts division of Jaffna district (Delft OIS); and in Kaṟpiṭṭi Peninsula in Kaṟpiṭṭi division of Puttalam district (Puttalam OIS)

Kaḻik-karai is found as a locality name in Kiḷāli in Pachchilaippalli division of Kilinochchi district (V. Almanac, 2013-14, p. 102; the place borders Jaffna Lagoon); and also found as a locality name in Paḻai-Mācār, in Pachchilaippalli division of Kilinochchi district (V. Almanac, 2013-14, p. 102; the place borders Toṇṭaimāṉāṟu Lagoon).

Kaḷi-maṭu is a pond and place in Poratheevuppattu division of Batticaloa district.

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Some related place names:

Pēyk-kaḻi: Neṭuntīvu, Jaffna (Delft OIS). Pēy: devil

Vellaik-kaḻi: Neṭintīvu, Jaffna (Delft OIS). Vellai: seashore

Kaṟ-kaḻik-kuḷam: Mōḷāy, Valikamam West, Jaffna (Jaffna OIS). Kal: rock

Āṇṭārappaṉ-kaḻi: Kiḷāli, Pachchilaippalli, Kilinochchi (Pooneryn OIS). This is a brackish pond linked to the Jaffna Lagoon. Āṇṭārappaṉ; Āṇṭār+appaṉ: a deity, lord or a personal name

Kañcaṉ-kaḻi: Talaimaṉṉār, Mannar (Talaimannar OIS). Kañcaṉ: probably Kañcāṅ-kōrai: a grass, Ocimum album, Ocimum fastigiatum, Ocimum ciliare (Tamil, MTL)

Periya Nāccik-kaḻi: Kaṟpiṭṭi, Puttalam (Kalpitiya OIS). Nācci: see column 59

Ciṉṉa Nāccik-kaḻi: Kaṟpiṭṭi, Puttalam (Kalpitiya OIS). Nācci: see column 59

Nāraik-kaḻi: Kaṟpiṭṭi, Puttalam (Puttalam OIS). Nārai: pelican ibis, common crane, white stork, a small heron (Tamil, DED 2911)

Eṟāl-kaḻi-veṭṭai: Foul Point, Trincomalee, (Tricomalee OIS). Eṟāl: prawn; Veṭṭai: open place

Campuk-kaḻi-villu: Campūr, Trincomalee OIS

Shuvanthere-kaḻi?: Ilakantai, Trincomalee OIS

Amirta-kaḻi: Manmunai North, Batticaloa

Maṭṭik-kaḻi/ Maṭṭik-kaḷi: Manmuṉai North, Batticaloa (Kanthaiya, p. 432). Maṭṭi:

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Kaḷiya/ Kalliya: (as Sinhala form of Kaḻi):

Vaṭṭak-kaḷiya: Chilaw, Puttalam

Nārak-kalliya; Kaṟpịṭṭi, Puttalam. See Nāraik-kaḻi

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Kaḷi: (as clay or silt):

Kaḷi-mōṭṭai: Mannar Town, Mannar

Kaḷi-mōṭṭaip Puḷiyaṇ-kuḷam: Nanaddan, Mannar

Kaḷiyōṭai: Addalaichchenai, Amparai; Navāli, Valikamam Southwest, Jaffna

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Campu:

Campuk-kuḷam: Campūr, Moothoor, Trincomalee (Trincomalee OIS); Kiḷāli, Pachchilaippalli, Kilinochchi (Pooneryn OIS)

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Ullai:

Ullaik-kuḷam: This is a tank lying north of Ullaik-kaḻi, Moothoor, Trincomalee (Trincomalee OIS)

Ullaik-kuḷac-cēṉai: Moothoor, Trincomalee. This is the cultivation field of Ullaik-kuḷam

Ullaik-kuṭā: name of a part of Aṟukam-kuṭā bay, Pottuvil, Amparai

Periya-ullai: a coastal place having a pond by the side of Ullaik-kuṭā Bay, Pottuvil, Amparai. Probably, Periya-ullaik-kuḷam

Ciṉṉa-ullai: a coastal place having a pond by the side of Ullaik-kuṭā Bay, Pottuvil, Amparai. Probably, Ciṉṉa-ullaik-kuḷam

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Notes on Ullam:

Ullam is anadromous, i.e., it is a sea fish but comes into lagoons, estuaries and rivers for spawning. It is also known for swimming upstream for several km for this purpose.

May be it is for this reason, in Tamil usage the fish is differentiated as Kaṭal-ullam (the sea Ullam) and Āṟṟu-ullam (the river Ullam). 

Ullam, as it is known is Tamil (in Tamil Nadu as well as in Eezham usages) and known as Ulla in Sinhala (not found in the entries of Sinhala dictionaries) is an oily fish full of thin bones.

Even though some ichthyologists equate Ullam with Hilsa of Bengal and give a common name Tenualosa ilisha, some others differentiate them. 

Prof. Abdus Salam Bhuiyan of Bangladesh says, Hilsa the national fish of Bangladesh that comes upstream in the river Padma / Ganges is Hilsa ilisha. Two other species Hilsa keele and Hilsa toli are marine varieties, he says. (Bangladesh Fisheries Information) 

He also morphologically differentiates Tenualosa ilisha of the Ilaṅkai waters from Hilsa ilisha of Bangladesh, saying the former has 6 -7 dorsal spots while they are not found in the Hilsa of Bengal.

Others identify the fish known as Ullam in Tamil with Tenualosa toli. 

Ullam and its cousins such as Koy (Hilsa keele, Kaṭu-koiya in Sinhala) of the Hilsa group are not very popular varieties in the food culture of Tamil Nadu or Ilaṅkai.

But, Hilsa that is found in the Delta and estuaries of the river Ganges / Padma, has a special place in the cuisine of the Bengalis, both in West Bengal and in Bangladesh. Its smelliness and bones are acceptable there. Bengali traditions call it Matsya Raja (the king of fishes) and it is a food offered to the goddesses of Hindu Bengalis.

A pair of Hilsa fish is an auspicious symbol and it is especially offered during Sarasvati Pūjā to the goddess of learning (this comes in April in Bengal. i.e., Vasanta Navarāthri).

Bengali cuisine has many ways of cooking Hilsa and there is a knack of eating it, avoiding the numerous bones.

Whether Ullam, Ullā or Hilsa, it seems the fish got its name from its bony nature.

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Ullaik-kazhi
The location of Ullaik-kazhi in Seruvila division of Trincomalee district [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth]


Hilsa of Bangladesh
Hilsa of Bangladesh [Photo courtesy: Banglapedia]
Ullai fish
A. Spotted Ilish Tenualosa ilisha, B. National fish of Bangladesh Hilsa ilisha (adult), C. Hilsa ilisha, Jatka (juvenile) [Photo courtesy: Abdus Salam Bhuiyan, www.bdfish.info]
Ullam fish
Tenualosa toli identified as Ullam in Tamil by Alan Davidson [Courtesy: Seafood of South-East Asia, p.27]


Chinna Ullai, Periya Ullai
The location of the villages Periya Ullai and Chinna Ullai along the shore of A'rukam Kudaa (Arugam Bay) [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth]
Ullai Bay


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Revised: Monday, 01 October 2017, 18:30

First published: Thursday, 26 March 2009, 00:14

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