Giving Ooty back its name makes economic sense
Dharmalingam Venugopal – Coordinator – Vote for Ooty
see – http://voteforooty.com/
According to latest statistics, over 26 lakh tourists visited Ooty last year. Of this, 60% were from Kerala and Karnataka. Others came from all over India and outside. Ooty is the only name known to them. In the future several lakh more visitors are likely to come from various parts of the country and the world. They are being attracted only by the name of Ooty.
Therefore, continuing to call Ooty officially as Udhagamandalam makes no economic or cultural sense.
The name Ootacamund (spelt variously over the years as Hottegemund, Utakamand, Whatakaimand, Whotakamund, Wootaycamund, Wotaycamund, Wotokymand and Wuttacamund) has been in use since 1821. Over time, it got shortened snuggly to Ooty, by which it is known world over.
In 1972 the name was abruptly changed to ‘Udhagamandalam’. The change of name has since been a source of confusion and inconvenience for the millions of tourists who visit the hills every year. Many think Ootacamund and Udhagamandalam are two different places. Besides, visitors often mistake ‘Udhyogomandal’ in Kerala for Udhagamandalam!
M.B. Emeneau, the authority on all Dravidian languages, had clearly documented the origin of the name several decades ago. Where Stonehouse (the first house built in Ootacamund by its founder John Sullivan) now stands, there was formerly a Toda mund, called by the Badagas as “Hottegemund” and later as the British developed the place, the whole town was called by that name.
Sir Frederic Price in his, ‘Ootacamund. A History’ published in 1908 dealt at length with the origin of the name and agreed that, ‘ The word is certainly no corruption of the Tamil tongue, nor has it its origin in anything derived from the English language’.
photo – saniyaholidays.com
The Tamilised name Udhagai is only a corruption of the Badaga word Hottagai for Hottegemund.
There is absolutely no mention of the name ‘Udhagamandalam’ in Tamil literature or other historical records.
Considering the national and global importance of Ooty, the state and the centre should accept the inadvertent mistake and restore the name OOty in English and Udhagai in Tamil.
It will be most appropriate if the change is made this year as Ooty Municipality celebrates its 150 anniversary.
Voteforooty, a coalition of local stakeholders, will raise this as an election issue in the coming Assembly polls.
photo – Wg Cdr JP