Tamil place names in Malaysia

The name Malaya is a combination of two Tamil words, மலை Malay or Malai (hill/forest) and ஊர் ur (town) meaning hilltown / forested town” (Malaiyur). There is also another hill-town in Sumatra (Malayadvipa),[1] which had been given the same name Malai-Yur which later became Malayu (see Melayu Kingdom). Till the time of I-Tsing (671 AD), this was known as Jambi.[2]

The name Malaiyur, also spelt Mazhaiyur, is a small town in Thiruvannamalai District of Tamil Nadu, India. Malaiyur is 110 km south-west of Chennai at Latitude (lat): 12°30'0"N and Longitude (lon): 79°29'0"E. Located on Chetpet-Vandavasi Road, the town is midway between Chetpet and Vandavasi.[3]

Kadaram (Kedah)

Depiction of the siege of Kedah, the battle between Beemasenan's Chola naval infantry and the defenders of Kedah fort.

Kedah, the west coast of Malaya, is known as Kadaram in Tamil. Kadaram-kondan “conqueror of Kadaram” was one of the attributes given to Rajendra Cholan I of the Tamil Chola empire of the early 11th century AD. There is also a place in the Madurai District in Tamil Nadu, of the Pandyan Empire, with the name Kadaram.[2] A village located in the former Chola empire, part of today's Tanjore District, near Mayiladuthurai, now is 'Kadaram kondan'. A fruit which is a species of orange, called kadarangkay or kadaram-pulp, was brought by the Tamil traders from Malaysiya to a village in Tanjore District in Tamil Nadu, which was part of the former Chola empire.[2]

Kedah in the Malay language means 'open wide'which is apt as Kedah is primarily made of padi fields which as flatlands. So Negeri Kedah would be 'Wide Open State'. Place names in Malaysia tend to be Malay words that describe the nature of the place or the plants or animals that are abundant there.


Cheras in Malaysia is a suburb located in both Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Originally, Cheras is the name of a kingdom in ancient Tamilakkam. Outside of Malaysia on the central part of the island of Sumatra are a group of people called the Batak Karo carrying a Dravidian clan names such as Cholia (Chola), Pandia (Pandya), Meilala (Malayalam), (Brahmana) and Pelawi (Pallava).


A more plausible theory claims Selangor state's name is derived from the term Selang Ur meaning "land of the straits". According to this theory, "selang" could be derived from the Malay word "selat" which means "straits" in the Malay language and "ur" which means "land" in Tamil.


The town of Muar in Johor may have gotten its name from a combination of the Tamil language words Munu meaning "three" and Aru which means "river". There was a large state in South India which three important rivers merged into a river called Muar or Munar('Three Rivers State'). When the Indians traders came to the country to trade and look for gold during ancient times, they found the three rivers; the Muar River, the Serting River and the Pahang River met and merged at Muar just like in the state of Munar in India.

See also


  1. Archived June 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. 1 2 3 Arokiaswamy, Celine W.M. (2000). Tamil Influences in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Manila s.n. pp. 43, 45–47, & 49.
  3. "Malaiyur in Malaiyur India". India9.com. 2005-07-29. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
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