One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In South India: an estate or territory held by a poligar. Frequently in plural (with modifying word or capital initial): a specific group of such territories or villages, considered as an administrative or political entity.
Mid 18th century. From Telugu pāḷemu encampment, hamlet among hills, (hence) estate held by chieftain or feudal retainer from Marathi pāḷẽ confined valley from pāḷ edge, parapet.
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