Know the Etymology: 164
Place Name of the Day: Sunday, 24 October 2010


Aayiththiyamalai

ஆயித்தியமலை
Āyittiyamalai

Aayiththiyam+malai

The hill of a kind of mineral-rock

Aayak-kalA kind of caustic stone or mineral (Tamil, Winslow); Aayaththuk-karuththan: One of the 32 kinds of arsenic in its natural state (Tamil, Winslow); A mineral poison, Agnchana Paashaa’nam (Tamil, Madras Tamil Lexicon); Ayal: A rock (Sinhala)
MalaiHill, mountain (Tamil, Changkam and modern, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 4742); Mala: Mountain, raised land, hill-land (Malayalam, DED 4742); Male: Mountain, forest (Kannada, DED 4742); Forest, hill overgrown with forest (Tulu, DED 4742); Mala: Mountain (Telugu, DED 4742); Mash: Hill, Mountain (Brahui, DED 4742); Malaya: Mountain range of the Chera country (today’s Kerala), the Western Ghats, people of the Malaiyaa’lam country (Sanskrit); Mountain or mountain range in peninsular India (Sinhala); Mala-rata: The Malaiyaa’lam country (Sinhala); Malaiyaa’lam: Malai+a’lam: The hill land, reference to the Chera country, i.e., today’s Karala; Language spoken in that country (Tamil, Malayalam and general reference); Malaiyaa’li: Person from the Malaiyaa’lam country (Tamil, Malayalam and general reference); Malaiyakaththaar: Eezham Tamil reference to people from Malaiyaa’lam until the term went in reference to Tamil migrants to the hill country of the island (Dutch records of Ceylon); Malaayaa: The Malay Peninsula of today’s Malaysia, meaning the hill-country (Malay and general reference); Malay: People of the Malaayaa Peninsula, language of the people of the Malaayaa Peninsula, a general reference to the language and ethnicity of the people of maritime Southeast Asia.


Malai is a wellknown Dravidian word, meaning hill or mountain.

Cognates of the word are found in several Dravidian languages including Brahui of Pakistan (see table and Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 4742).

Beyond meaning hill or mountain, the word Malai has also rendered names to at least two major geographical, ethnic and linguistic identities in South and Southeast Asia, associated with hill countries.

Malaiyaa’lam, Malaiyaa’li in South Asia and Malaayaa, Malay in Southeast Asia are the examples for their identity coming from the Dravidian word.

Malai as a place name component, meaning hill or hillock is found in the Eezham Tamil place names as well as in some Sinhala place names. The word Mala in some of the Sinhala place names mean flower (see column on Malwatta), but there are some clear examples in the Sinhala place names where the word means hill or hillock (see the examples given at the end of the column).

Aayiththiyam in Tamil medicinal usage means a kind of rock-mineral in its natural stage. From the usage Aayaththuk-karuththan (Madras Tamil Lexicon), one may deduce that the rock-mineral was dark in colour. The word Ayal in Sinhala also means a rock. (See table)

Aayiththiya-malai is a small hillock in the Ma’nmunai West (Vavu’natheevu) division of Batticaloa district.

A peculiar type of rock, bluish dark in colour, and which breaks into thin layers, is conspicuously found in the hillock at Aayiththiya-malai, confirms Balasugumar, former Dean of the Arts Faculty of the Eastern University, Batticaloa.


Some related place names:

North and East:

Keeri-malai: The hillock of Keeri shrub. The cliff at this place facing the sea is the highest spot in the Jaffna Peninsula. (See column on Keerimalai)

Chuthu-malai: The white mound or a mound of limestone, Jaffna dt.

Othiya-malai: The hillock of Othi trees (Odina wodier, Indian Ash Tree), Mullaiththeevu dt.

Thaddai-malai: The flattened hillock, Mullaiththeevu dt. (See column on Odduchuddan)

Chem-malai: The reddish hillock, Mullaiththeevu dt

Thirukoa’na-malai: The hillock making a triangle, Trincomalee dt. (See column on Trincomalee)

Karu-malai-oottu: The spring at the dark hillock, Trincomalee dt.

Pon-malai-kudaa: The corner or bay of the golden hillock, Trincomalee dt.

Kudumpi-malai: The hill shaped like a hair-knot. Batticaloa dt.

Kodi-poadda-malai: Probably the hill where there was a flag mast or a hill covered by creepers, Batticaloa dt.

Choorankal-malai: Probably, the rocky hillock of Choorai or Chooral vegetation, meaning several kinds of plants from rattan to jujube, Batticaloa dt.

Kadaisi-malai: The last hillock, Batticaloa dt.

Pullu-malai: The grassy hillock, Batticaloa dt.

Kachchakkodi-malai: The hillock of Kachchat-kodi creeper (Cæsalpina boducella, Molucca-bean, also called Kazhatchi), Batticaloa dt.

Thaanthaa-malai: Probably, the hill of tranquillity, from Daanta /Saanta in Sinhala / Prakrit, Batticaloa dt.

Malaiyar-kaddu: The bund of people from Malayaa’lam, or Malaiyar could be a personal name, Batticaloa dt.

Anna-malai: The hillock of swans or water birds, Ampaa’rai dt

Malaiyadik-kiraamam: The village at the bottom of the hill, Ampaa’rai dt

Nallatha’n’ni-malai: The hill of portable water, Ampaa’rai dt

Malaiyadi-govipala: The place of cultivation at the bottom of the hill, the place name is a combination of Tamil and Sinhala, Ampaa’rai dt

Malaiyadiya: The bottom of the hill, note the Sinhalicisation, Ampaa’rai dt. Adi: Foot, footprint, base, bottom (Tamil, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 72); Adiya: Foot, footstep, the bottom of anything, (Sinhala).

Other Districts:

Kuthirai-malai: The hillock probably connected with horse, horse images or a variety of plants that have the name Kuthirai. This is cliff of solidified deep red soil, related to the Theari of the extreme south of Tamil Nadu. There is a historic Aiyanaar temple at this place in the Vilpattu reserved forest. The Aiyanaar cult is associated with making terracotta horse images, Puththa’lam dt. (Kuthirai: Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 1711)

Adiya-mala-thenna: The place of the hill of sacred footprint. A resting place close to the peak of the Adam’s Peak. Adi: Foot, footprint, base, bottom (Tamil, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 72); Adiya: Foot, footstep, the bottom of anything, (Sinhala).

Æla-mala-wala: The forest of the hill having a waterfall. Colombo dt. See column on Ællagoda.

Mala-gala: The rocky hill, Colombo dt. (See Gala in the other columns)

Mala-palla: The bottom of the hill, Colombo dt. Pa’l’lam: Lowness, low land, valley, ditch, dimple, also a place where a river or rivulet flows (Tamil, Dravdian Etymological Dictionary 4016); Palla: Underneath, ground below, bottom (Sinhala); Pallama: (singular), Pallam (plural): Low place, hollow, valley, descent of a hill, declivity (Sinhala)

Nedi-mala: Probably the hillock that has a cliff or a hillock that ends with a face, Colombo dt. Nettiya: Forehead, corner, point, end; ends or tips of the fingers (Sinhala); Neththi, Netti: Forehead, front, top, summit (Tamil, DED 3759); Neddu: Stalk (Tamil, DED 2936): Neddi: crackling of finger joins (Tamil, DED 2936)

Mala-mulla: The hill-corner, Kalutara dt.

Pol-mala-gama: The village of coconut palm hillock, Kandy dt.

Kumbala-mala-hena: The slash-and-burn cultivation field of the hillock of Kumba'lu tree (Ailantus malabarica, wild bilimbi), Galle dt.

Mala-mura: The hill sentry, Galle dt. Mura: Watching, guarding; Mura-kaaraya: Sentry, guard, watchman; Mura-maduwa: Watch house, guard room; Mura-pala: Watch post, sentinel’s post (Sinhala); The Sinhala word is related to Tamil Mu’rai: The turn by which work is done, regularity, order, arrangement, system etc. (Tamil, DED 5015)

Yata-mala-gala: The low rocky hill, Galle dt.

Palle-malala: The low hill, Hambantota dt. Pa’l’lam: Lowness, low land, valley, ditch, dimple, also a place where a river or rivulet flows (Tamil, Dravdian Etymological Dictionary 4016); Palla: Underneath, ground below, bottom (Sinhala); Pallama: (singular), Pallam (plural): Low place, hollow, valley, descent of a hill, declivity (Sinhala)

Usa-mala-goda: The high hill, Matara dt. Mala and Goda mean the same (see columns on Goda). Us: (adjective) High, elevated (Sinhala); Uyar: (verb and adjective) To rise, be high etc (Tamil, DED 646)

Malan-gamuwa: The village in the hill, Badulla dt.

Mala-gamuwa: The hill-village, Kurunegala dt.

Malan-deniya: The hill-place, Kurunegala dt.

Naram-mala: The hill of mandarin oranges, Kurunegala dt.

Mala-wita: The hill or the flower hill, Kegalle dt. Mala and Wita mean the same. See column on Kuruwita.

Dunu-mala: The sharp hill, Kegalle dt. Dunu: Sharpness (Sinhala); Nuni: Point, tip (Tamil, DED 3719)

First published: Sunday, 24 October 2010, 08:36

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