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Origin Of Name
Mythology has it, that, when Parashurama (parashu for axe) threw the axe, the sea got retreated and the land exposed stretching in north-south direction. This was identified as Parashurama Kshetra. It has a scientific version too. During Megalithic period (Iron Age), perhaps man used axe to cut down the forest for his settlement and Parashurama may symbolize this cultural transposition, according to Dr. K.V. Ramesh.
The word 'Tuluva' refers to either people who speak this language or to the region. There is no single opinion as to how the word Tulu has been derived. Legend has it, that, Ramabhoja, an early ruler of this region was known for his gifts like tuludhana, tulapurusha etc. and his dynasty was called Tholar and the region under his control as Tulu. But this version is refuted by scholars like B.A. Salethore as untenable. He argues that the word 'Tuluve' has its roots in Tulu which means mild and meek; which evidently denotes the peaceful demeanour of the people. Yet in another instance, Salethore opines that, the word 'Tuluva' is derived from the Kannada word which literally means 'to attack'. It could well reflect the intrepidity of the Tuluvas in the ancient times and hence the name. A totally different version is provided by another scholar Dr. K.V.Ramesh who points out that in the Tulu language, as spoken today, when this word qualified certain fruits, it signifies the softness of the fruits. He opines that in the ancient days also, the region must have been famous for its variety of soft fruits and might have, therefore, came to be called as Tulunadu.
Legend has it, that, Chandra (the moon) who was cursed by Daksha Brahma, in order to get rid of this curse, he did penance in this part and could succeed since Lord Shiva was benevolent to him. The word Udupa refers to the lord of stars in Sanskrit language. Since Chandra (Udupa) the lord of stars did penance in this part, the place was called 'Udupi' and is entrenched in the local legend. Udupi also means Cobra, the serpent. It is no wonder that Udupi is known for snake worshipping and the name 'Udupi' could have roots in this legend as opined by Sri Gururaja Bhat.