During the past
Matara was called " Mahathota". The river running through Matara
is 'Nilwala River. There was a wide area across this river.
Hence it was called "Mahathota" which means "The great ferry
".Out all the other "great ferries in Sri lanka,Mahathota
attracted the attention of the poets. According to Reverend Sri
Rahula's" Paravi Sndesaya " it is mentioned that Weerabamapanam
made Matara as his capital and named "Mapatuna". Portuguese
Priest Quarese's reason for the name "Matara" is also referring
to Nilwala River. Portuguese called this place as " Maturai " ,
and which means a great fortress. Portuguese called as" Maturai"
in 1672. In 1744 Hide Matheren called as "Madarai". One thing
that is clear here is that the Portuguese mis-pronounced the
word. According to the old books it is clear that the Portuguese
called it as "Maturai". "Thurai" which is a Tamil word means
The presently used name "Matara" has been in used for the last
three centuries connecting its contact with the river "Nilwala".
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