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Building Types
Trasliteration Tamil Meaning


ţ Houses constructed out of permanent materials such as concrete blocks, clay tiles etc. are generally called as kalveedu which literally means stone house.
kattitam ʼ The word implies a built place, and this stands for Building in English.
kOttai Fort
kottil Generally a shelter with posts supporting a thatched roof, open on sides. Used for keeping live stock, storage and for certain other activities.
kottu -
kOyil ¢ Temple. Generally Hindu temple. However in Jaffna, Christian Churches and Buddhist places of worship also some times refered to as 'Koyil' with suitable adjectives such as 'Matha Koyil' and 'Buddha Koyil'.
matam f This denotes resting places of different types found on road sides, near temples and market places, cemeteries etc. Functions of this building type were ranging from provision shade for short resting to the provision of food and sleeping space for temporary stay.
manai In Jaffna 'Manai' means house. In Tamil Nadu this word is also used to mean the plot where the house is constructed. 
maNtapam f Large Hall. Generally referred to deferent types of halls in Hindu temples and other public places such as wedding halls (Kalyana Mandapam), Town hall (Nagara Mandapam) etc. 
maNvItu ţ Refers to a  house made out of mud walls and thatch roof. The floor too of the same material as the walls, used to be finished with a mixture of cow dung and earth. 
nARsArvItu ţ A Traditional house with centre court yard. 'Natsar' in tamil language means 'four-sided'.
panthal f In Jaffna this word refers to different types of temporary structures constructed for short term use. 'Thanneer Panthal' constructed during temple festival days to provide shade and water to those who go to temples by foot and shelters built with decoration for weddings are examples for this.
puhaiyilaikkudil Ҩ¢ -
santhai Market Place.
saththiram This word also refers to a Resting place, possibly a larger one. It seems that it has not been interchangeably used in Jaffna. Most of the Jaffna resting places were called 'Madam'. There was a resting place situated in the Jaffna town. This was referred to as 'Ganga Saththiram' and the junction near it is still known as 'Saththiraththu Santhi' after this. See also 'Madam'.
suruttukkottil Generally an open shelter built as a work space for cottage industry to produce cigars, one of the main economic activity of Jaffna for centuries until recently.
vatta vItu ţ This means Round House. Single room mud houses with circular plan and conical roofs thatched with Palmyrah leaves were found in some areas of Jaffna peninsula and Vanni. This type of houses, which had been found in considerable numbers a few decades ago, had now reduced to an insignificant number if not out of the scene completely.
vAsikasAlai š A public reading room. These building types are of recent origin. Most of these buildings consist of a space where a large table with benches is provided, for reading. Some of these have one or two lockable rooms for storage and other purposes.
vIdu ţ Generally this means House. Some times the word 'veedu' is also used, in Jaffna, to refer the main room of the house.

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Last updated on 09 February 2005