Some early villages that constituted Madras are: Mylapore. Elumbur (Egmore), Nungambakkam, Velachery, Tiruvanmiyur, Mambalam, Tiruvotriyur, Pallavaram, Poonamalee and Tirisulam.

Every name has a story or a meaning to it. Find the origin of many names – beginning with the name Madras!

What’s in a name?

Asks Shakespeare. But sometimes names mean everything. Dr. S. Suresh, Tamil Nadu State Convenor, INTACH, says that names of places are special. Names of places have the possibility of a story, a religious significance or even a legend behind it. At times, we find evidence about this in stone and temple inscriptions, ancient manuscripts. But there are chances that names could change down the ages.

Some names

As Madras celebrated its 370th birthday, Dr. Suresh highlighted a few names in the city.

The origin of the name “Madras itself has many controversies. One school of thought is that it derived from the Persian word “madarasa” which means a Muslim school in the Triplicane-Royapettah area. But other possibilities there is a story which says it could have come from a wealthy Portuguese family settled in San Thome, named “Madera” or “Madra”. But again the truth is veiled in the mists of time.

Some early villages that constituted Madras are: Mylapore. Elumbur (Egmore), Nungambakkam, Velachery, Tiruvanmiyur, Mambalam, Tiruvotriyur, Pallavaram, Poonamalee and Tirisulam.

Egmore was known as Elumbur, roughly meant the “seventh village”. Tiruvanmiyur had the Ramayana author, Valmiki, living close to the Marundeeshwarar temple anywhere between 600 BC to 1000 BC. And so the name: Tiru- Valmiki-Ur.

Many legends abound in and around Mylapore. It was known as ‘Mayilpuram’ — place of the peacocks. Even before Madras, Ptolomy the Greek wrote of the port in Maillarpha or Mylarphon that is Mylapore, in 140 A.D. The Arabs knew of Maila and Meilan in the 11th Century. There was a port here and a lot of Roman coins were unearthed here.

There are innumerable places around with interesting names. Don’t dismiss them as just another boring name. This is a super chance for you to talk to your grandparents. Find out whether there is an interesting anecdote/legend behind that place name.

The origin of the name madras itself has many theories. Was it ’madrassa’ or madera that gave it the name?