The Names of Mangalore

A search through various online sources clarified one point—everybody agrees that Mangalore gets its name from Goddess Mangaladevi, the presiding deity of Mangaladevi Temple, which is located in Bolar. The temple itself has a number of legends associated with it, but right now, we want to focus on the names of Mangalore.

Early References

The Pandyan king Chettian called the city “Mangalapuram” in 715 CE. During those days, the coastal region, including Mangalore, belonged to the Pandyan kings.

During the era of the Alupa kings, the city was called “Mangalapura,” which literally means “auspicious.”

Some historians say that the British later anglicized the name “Mangalapura” and made it “Mangalore,” a name we still use in spite of various objections to it. At the same time, it is worth noting that the historian George M. Moraes says that it was not the British, but the Portuguese who corrupted the name and changed it to “Mangalore.”

Mangalore has been mentioned in old maps such as the Sanson Map of India, dated 1652.

K. V. Ramesh, the president of the Place Names Society of India, says that the name “Mangaluru” was first heard of in 1345 CE, during the days of the Vijayanagar kings. A number of stone edicts of the time refer to the city as “Mangalapura.”

Old maps refer to Mangalore as “Bunder,” which is a Persian word for “port.” Today, the old port area of Mangalore is still called Bunder.

Local Names

Mangalore is the home of several communities, each of which has its own name for the city.

Kudla – The Tulu speakers of Mangalore, who comprise the major chunk of its population, prefer calling the city “Kudla.” The name is ideal as it means “junction” and refers to the fact that Mangalore is located at the confluence of the River Phalguni and River Nethravathi, which empty into the Arabian Sea at this place.

Kodiyal – The Konkani speakers of Mangalore, including the Catholics, the Kudubis, and the Gowda Saraswat Brahmins (GSB), who had fled Goa to escape the horrors of the Inquisition, call the city “Kodiyal.”

Maikala – The Bearys, who are the biggest community in Mangalore, call the city “Maikala.”

Mangalapuram – Mangalore is also the home of a large number of students from Kerala, who prefer to call it “Mangalapuram.”

When Mangalore Became Mangaluru

The state of Karnataka, to which Mangalore belongs, proposed several years back that the names of twelve cities ought to be changed to get rid of colonial influences. Accordingly, in November 2014, Mangalore became Mangaluru just as Bangalore became Bengaluru and Shimoga became Shivamogga.

Although the change of name did away with the colonial influences, it did not make the people of Mangalore happy. Kannada is not the mother tongue of most of the residents of Mangalore. In fact, most Mangaloreans speak Tulu and prefer the name “Kudla” for their city.

In the meanwhile, we still haven’t stopped referring to the city as “Mangalore.”


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