In the heart of Tamil Nadu, a little distance away from Chennai, flows the Varahanadi also known as Cankaraparani River. It is a perennial in a land of seasonal rivers and carries the mythologies of the region within her waters as it rushes into the sea, south of Pondicherry. This is the river around which the old and famous kingdom of Gingee flourished and where the epic heroine Draupadi came to reside and establish her cult.
The story of the river however has nothing to do with Draupadi but is linked with that of Vishnu and Shiva. Its name Cankaraparani is another name for the Ganga; it is the Tamil version of Shankarabharani which means the ornament of Shiva. In ancient times Gingee was considered to be a holy site, much like Benares where the Ganga flows. It was known as Sheo Gingee (Shiva’s Gingee). The main story of the river has more to do with Vishnu than Shiva. According to Alf Hiltebeitel (The Cult of Draupadi 1-Mythologies: From Gingee to Kurukshetra), the birth of the river is linked to a relatively unknown king of Kanchipuram known as Nantacola Raja.