|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
Origin of name
Its ancient name was Charmanyavati (चर्मण्वती) meaning the river on whose banks leather is dried. In due course of time, this river became famous as the river of ‘charman’ (skin) and was named as Charmanvati.
Mention by Panini
The river flows north-northeast through Madhya Pradesh, running for a time through Rajasthan, then forming the boundary between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh before turning southeast to join the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh state.
It is a legendary river and finds mention in ancient scriptures. The perennial Chambal originates at Manpura, south of Mhow town, near Indore, on the south slope of the Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh. The Chambal and its tributaries drain the Malwa region of northwestern Madhya Pradesh, while its tributary, the Banas, which rises in the Aravalli Range, drains southeastern Rajasthan. It ends a confluence of five rivers, including the Chambal, Kwari, Yamuna, Sind, Pahuj, at Pachnada near Bhareh in Uttar Pradesh state, at the border of Bhind and Etawah districts.
Tributaries of the Chambal
The tributaries of the Chambal include Shipra, Choti Kalisindh, Sivanna, Retam, Ansar, Kalisindh, Banas, Parbati, Seep, Kuwari, Kuno, Alnia, Mej, Chakan, Parwati, Chamla, Gambhir, Lakhunder, Khan, Bangeri, Kedel and Teelar.
- It says vanquishing completely at the outset the Surasenas, brought the king of Matsya, defeated Dantavakra, the mighty king of the Adhirajas and making him pay tribute, re-established him on his throne. The prince then brought under his sway Sukumara and then king Sumitra, and he next vanquished the other Matsyas and then the Patacharas, the Kuru warrior then conquered the country of the Nishadas and also the high hill called Gosringa and that lord of earth called Srenimat. Subjugating next the country called Navarashtra, marched against Kuntibhoja, And marching thence to the banks of the Charmanwati, the Kuru warrior met the son of king Jamvaka, who gave battle to Sahadeva, and Sahadeva defeating the prince marched towards the south.
- Charmanwati (चर्मण्वती) (III.80.73), with regulated diet and senses subdued, one acquireth, at the command of Rantideva, the merit of the Agnishtoma sacrifice.
- The animals, both domestic and wild, slaughtered in his sacrifice, used to come to Rantideva of rigid vows and great fame, of their own accord. The secretions that flowed from the skins of the animals (slaughtered in his sacrifices), produced a mighty and celebrated river which to this day is known by the name of Charmanwati.
- On those nights during which the guests used to live in Rantideva's abode, twenty thousand and one hundred cows had to be slaughtered.
- "And in days of yore, O Brahmana, two thousand animals used to be killed every day in the kitchen of king Rantideva; and in the same manner two thousand cows were killed every day." : Charmanwati originating from the blood of thousands of animals sacrificed by the Aryan King Rantideva.
- "So large was the number of animals sacrificed in the Agnihotra of that king that the secretions flowing from his kitchen from the heaps of skins deposited there caused a veritable river which from this circumstance, came to be called the Charmanwati."
Charmanwati was the southern boundary of Panchala Kingdom. King Drupada ruled the southern Panchalas up to the bank of the Charmanwati river (1:140).
In the Mahabharata, the Chambal area was a part of Shakuni’s kingdom. The infamous dice game whereby Shakuni won the kingdom of the Pandavas' for his nephew Duryodhana was played hereabouts. After the attempted disrobing of Draupadi (the daughter of Drupada) she cursed any one who would drink the water of the Charmanwati river. The legends of its curse by Draupadi and its bloody ‘unholy’ origins due to King Drupada have helped the Chambal to survive unpolluted by man, and its many animal inhabitants to thrive relatively untouched. The Chambal remains one of India’s most pristine rivers.
Dams on the Chambal River
The Chambal River is utilized for hydropower generation at
- Jain, Sharad K.; Pushpendra K. Agarwal; Vijay P. Singh (2007).
- V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.508
- V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.46
- V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.70
- Jain, Sharad K.; Pushpendra K. Agarwal, Vijay P. Singh (2007). Hydrology and water resources of India- Volume 57, Springer. p. 350. ISBN 1-4020-5179-4.
- Lallanji Gopal, Vinod Chandra Srivastava (2008). History of agriculture in India (up to c. 1200 A.D.).
- ततश चर्मण्वती कूले जम्भकस्यात्मजं नृपम, थथर्श वासुथेवेन शेषितं पूर्ववैरिणा ((II.28.7))
- चर्मण्वतीं समासाद्य नियतॊ नियताशनः, रन्ति देवाभ्यनुज्ञातॊ अग्निष्टॊम फलं लभेत (III.80.73)
- महानथी चर्म राशेर उत्क्लेथात सुस्रुवे यतः, ततश चर्मण्वतीत्य एवं विख्याता सा महानथी (XII.29.116)
- 119 साङ्कृते रन्ति देवस्य यां रात्रिम अवसथ गृहे, आलभ्यन्त शतं गावः सहस्राणि च विंशतिः (XII.29.119)
- रदस्दां शतकुम्भां च सरयूं च नरेश्वर, चर्मण्वतीं वेत्रवतीं हस्तिसॊमां दिशं तदा (Vi.10.18)
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- "Charms of Chambal". The Sunday Tribune, Spectrum. The Tribune Trust,. 2010-04-18.
- "The National Chambal Sanctuary". Chambal Safari. Adysoft.