The Chambal river, spread across a length of 1,000 kilometres and bounded by the Aravalli range to the north and the Vindhya to the south, flows through the plateaus of Malwa and Hadauti before meeting the Yamuna in the Gangetic plains. There are many myths behind the unholy origin of Chambal River.
According to an ancient Indian text, the river is considered to be cursed because it is believed to have originated from the blood of thousands of cows sacrificed by the Aryan King Rantideva. The river is still untouched and unpolluted, and remains one of the cleanest rivers in India. The water is so clear that it mirrors the blueness of the sky.
Chambal runs along the shared borders of three States: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The place has deep ravines and fascinating ruins. With vibrant diversity and a unique ecosystem, Chambal ki ghati has a rich history and heritage.
National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS) straddles the three States and is the first and only tri-state-protected area in India. The sanctuary is home to alligators (gharial), a rare species of crocodiles that was once said to be endangered. Rare spotted Gangetic Dolphin, Marsh Crocodiles (muggers), eight species of turtles, Indian Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals and Indian Skimmer are other species found in the sanctuary.
The NCS also boasts a rapidly increasing and impressive list of birds with over 330 species of resident and migratory birds. Many ferocious dacoits once ruled the Chambal ravines in all their bandit glory. The region was earlier known by the bandits who resided there.
Believe it or not, the bandits were the unsaid deity who protected the valley from the settlement of people who would have surely harmed the ecosystem in various ways. Due to the fear of their presence, no one tried to go near the valley. They protected it in every way — they abstained from fishing, poaching of endangered species and illegal sand mining. Due to the dark history of this place, there has been no industrial town established near the river, which is what made it free from industrial pollution and makes it one of the cleanest rivers in India today.
After the wiping out of the bandits, the poaching of alligators increased. Surveys carried between 2003 and 2006 have revealed less than 250 breeding adults in the wild. Official estimates show that the Chambal population crashed from 1,289 to 514 in a span of five years. Sand mining in the region has been banned by the government for the protection of alligators (gharial) and preservation of ecological diversity.
But in reality, there has been an increase in illegal sand mining. When sand is removed or mined from the river, it leads to erosion, thus changing its course. The rise of the sand mafia in the region has become a threat to the environment. If these type of activities are not stopped soon, Chambal would soon lose its glory of being the cleanest river.