Each place name would have an interesting story behind it. The name may come from some institution, personality or trade related to the area. However, as the years pass, the place may undergo a total transformation. The institution that gave the spot its name may no longer exist. New buildings would have come up there, but the old name may still persist. In some other cases, the original names fade from public memory. Here is a brief look at some interesting place names in Kochi and the history related to them.
Menaka and Padma
Every person who has visited Kochi at least once is certain to have heard or noticed these names. Either of these names appears on all buses passing through Kochi city. Moreover, staff of private buses attract passengers calling out the names which bring images of two pretty women to one's mind. But they are, in fact, the names of two movie theatres.
Passengers in buses can still get down in front of Padma theatre on M G Road. However, Menaka theatre no longer exists but Menaka bus stop witnesses a steady stream of passengers on Shanmugham road. In place of the movie hall, a shopping complex named Penta Menaka has come up at the exact spot.
Menaka theatre is memory, but film lovers still reach Padma, which has undergone a renovation to survive in the age of multiplexes.
Perumanoor and Kurisumukku
The name Perumanoor still remains thanks to the church and Anglo Indian School there. However, in the past, Perumanoor was a large area from Thevara Junction to Ernakulam General Hospital. There was a road that passed through the area which was taken over for building the Cochin Shipyard. When the Shipyard came up, a good part of the road was lost. The remaining part came to be known as Old Thevara Road. This stretch starts from Perumanoor Church and heads to the backwaters along Kurissupally Road. Kurissumukku is the junction where both roads meet. From Kurissumukku one could reach Varavukattu Church, which was the cemetery church of Perumanoor shrine. At the place where Perumanoor Church existed, the dry dock of the Shipyard can be seen now. This area was reclaimed from the backwaters and was called Bund. Over the years, Bund became One Day. One Day Junction was the place where the Shipyard is located now. The Varavukattu Church at One Day Junction was relocated for building the Shipyard. It is now the Ambikapuram Church in Panampilly Nagar.
In the past, at the tip of Perumanoor there existed a railway station. This area is now called Thevara Junction. People from Thevara, Konthuruthi, Nettoor and Kumbalam boarded the train from this railway station. Later this railway line and the station were abandoned. The railway tracks were stolen. Recently, the remaining portion of the station also collapsed.
Where is Madhava Pharmacy?
The northern tip of MG Road is called Madhava Pharmacy Junction. However, no such pharmacy comes into view. One may notice Seematti Textiles, Chennai Silks, the Metro station and PNVM Hospital.
Many years ago, an Ayurveda pharmacy belonging to Poruthiyil Narayanan Vaidyar existed here. The pharmacy later became an Ayurveda-Allopathy Hospital. The name Madhava Pharmacy was changed as PNVM Hospital. However, everyone calls the place Madhava Pharmacy Junction.
Where grass was in plenty
There is no grass (pullu) in plenty at Pulleppady nowadays. However, a family named Pulloott lived here in the past. The area was also well known for dairy business. Grass was brought from various parts of Kochi to feed the cows. This made Pulleppady the main grass trade spot in the city.
The scent of Tata soap
Tatapuram was the area between the High Court and Ayyappankavu and near ERG Station. The scent of soap prevailed in the region thanks to the soap factory and oil mill owned by the Tatas. It was the place where soap with sweet scent was manufactured for the first time in South India. The Tata hair oil also was much in demand. When the factory workers - numbering around 1,500 - headed home on bicycles after their shifts at night, the sweet smell spread all over the area. Regular trade union and political meetings took place at Tatapuram. There was also a railway line that carried soap from the factory premises to all places in India.
At present, the Tata factory has been taken over by Hindustan Lever. There are barely 45 workers. ‘Sunlight’ brand of soap is made here with granules transported from elsewhere. When the Tata factory vanished, the place name also faded from public memory. Earlier, the area was also well-known owing to Tatapuram Sukumaran, a short-story writer.
Thrikkanarvattom close to Tatapuram also met the same fate. But a division of the City Corporation bears the name and in revenue records there is mention of Thrikkanarvattom. However, everybody calls the place Ayyappankavu.
A danger spot
Pulinchodu is the spot where vehicles from Aluva town enter the National Highway. Earlier it was notorious all over Kerala as a regular accident spot. But with four-laning and other road works, the place no longer witnesses many accidents. A big tamarind tree (puli) stood there once. The tree has gone but the name stuck.
There are other interesting place names in Aluva. They include Glass Factory Stop and Cochin Bank Junction. The headquarters of the erstwhile Cochin Bank existed here. Cochin Bank merged with another bank but local people call the place Cochin Bank Junction even now.
This was the place where Kochi’s fashion was tailored. The Jos Brothers tailoring centre brought European fashion to Kerala. The tailoring unit later became a textile dealer. Branches were set up all over the state. The ‘cut piece trade’ carried out by Jos Brothers helped people who were not well-off to wear fashionable clothes. The textile trade has ceased but a Jos Brothers shop can still be seen at the spot. Nobody has changed the place name.
The place where people from Tamil Nadu settled came to be known as Pandikkudi. The Tamilians made a living by grinding peanuts (kappalandi) and dried coconut (copra) to create oil. Though oil-making has ended, the place where Tamilians (people from Pandinadu) lived is still called Pandikkudi. Similarly, Chirattappalam witnessed coconut shell (chiratta) trade. The bridge where boats carrying the shells arrived was named Chirattappalam. Close by was Karippalam, the centre of coal (kari) trade. The spot where paddy (nellu) arrived became Nellupalam. Peanut (kappalandi) was dealt with at Kappalandimukku, which was the place from where one had to deviate to Ernakulam or Mattanchery while travelling from Fort Kochi.