[INDOLOGY] Identififying Ceylonese toponym Cauraga(s)hing

Jan Filipský filipsky at orient.cas.cz
Fri Nov 1 06:44:57 EDT 2019

Dear All,

A student of mine is trying to identify the Ceylonese/Sri Lankan toponym
"Cauragashing" mentioned by the British sailor Robert Knox in his book An
Historical Relation of Ceylon (1681), p. 4. According to the author, it is a
mountain "about the middle of the land" obviously separating the Wet and Dry
zones of the island he had personally visited, describing his experience as
follows: "as oftentimes I have seen, being on the one side of a Mountain
called Cauragas hing, rainy and wet weather, and as soon as I came on the
other, dry, and so exceeding hot, that I could scarcely walk on the ground,
being, as the manner there is, barefoot."

One may infer that Knox refers to the Central (Kandyan) highlands, playing
the role of a major watershed, a natural geographic divide; if so, could
anybody explain the local name Cauraga(s)hing? If one may venture a
speculation, couldn't it refer to the whole mass of the highlands where the
rebels (sinh. caura, cora) go to (sinh. ga) - perhaps, in haste (sinh.
hingu)? Sincere apologies to all knowledgeable colleagues for
unsubstantiated fantasizing and many thanks for elucidating.

With best regards,

Jan Filipsky, Praha

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