It is also said – that in ancient times, the Chambal was cursed by Draupadi for being a silent witness to her humiliation at the hands of the Kauravas. Since then, it is said, whoever drinks the waters of the Chambal will thirst for revenge forever.
The Chambal River originates from the Janapav mountain in the Vindhyanchal Range, in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. On its 1000 km long journey it flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and to join the Yamuna River in Jalaun in Uttar Pradesh. It forms a riverine boundary between these states.
The Chambal has always been considered different from the other rivers in our country because of its past, its name is synonymous with one of the most notorious regions and conjures up fearful images of the rule of guns and gangs. The areas around the Chambal river are known as ‘Beehad’ or uncultivated forest lands and ‘Ghatis’ or valleys.
This region was infamously known to be the home of dreaded dacoits who until twenty years ago made national headlines. Now peaceful, the area is dotted with villages and tribal hamlets.
It is also said – that in ancient times, the Chambal was cursed by Draupadi for being a silent witness of her humiliation at the hands of the Kauravas. Since then, it is said that whoever drinks the waters of the Chambal will thirst for revenge forever.
Whether is it because of the curse, or the erstwhile fear of dacoits, this river and the areas around it have been kept away from the reach of humans and their means to pollute the environment, making the Chambal the cleanest river in India today.
This riverine ecosystem is now also known for being home to endangered species of crocodiles, the Maggar and the Ghariyal.
A part of the region has also been declared a protected area known as ‘The Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary’ established to protect the crocodiles and other endangered species of turtles and dolphins in the Chambal river.
One can easily spot jackal, nilgai or blue bulls, wild boar and sometimes even leopards in the forest lands around the river.
Human existence around the Chambal is mostly villages and tribal areas. And the Chambal for them is more a blessing than a curse. Most importantly because they have a very clean source of water around them, which they can even drink from if they have to. It’s also an easy source of water for the farmers to irrigate their farms along the banks.
The people of the Chambal are not thriving, but they are satisfied with their lives. They value what they have, their small farms give them sufficient crops for their basic needs and they all have cows and goats for some milk, butter and ghee.
Camels are also commonly found in these villages as not all of these Beehad areas can be traversed by motor vehicles. So sometimes either it’s a walk or a camel ride.
For the children, the Chambal is like having a water park 24/7 around them.
And when asked about the crocodiles, they said – crocodiles don’t harm us, they don’t come around when we (humans) are there on the banks but we still keep an eye on them to avoid accidents.
The children are happy today, but will this simple existence still satisfy them when life means more than just play? Will they still be satisfied with just enough grain and milk, and camels instead of fast cars and motorcycles, as their parents are today.
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