Charmanwati alias Charmanvati, was a river mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. It is identified as the modern-day Chambal river, a tributary of Ganges. This river was one of the destinations (along with other rivers like Ganges and Yamuna) of the people who migrated from river Saraswati, as it dried up, due to its proximity. The word Chambal has the meaning fish in some of the Dravidian languages like Telugu. The Matsya rulers had their origin from the banks of this river. The word Matsya also means fish in Sanskrit. Thus the banks of this river is thought to be the cradle of a fishermen community who later attained kingship.
References in Mahabharata
Charmanwati was the southern boundary of Panchala Kingdom:- King Drupada ruled the southern Panchalas up to the bank of the Charmanwati river (1:140). King Rantideva is mentioned as performing animal sacrifices on the banks of Charmanwati (7:65, 12:29, 13:66). Kunti left his new-born baby (Karna) in a basket and made it float in the river. The basket floated from the river Aswa to the river Charmanwati, and from the Charmanwati it passed to the Yamuna, and so on to the Ganges (3:306) and reached the city called Champapuri the capital of Anga Kingdom.
Marching to the banks of the Charmanwati, the Kuru warrior Sahadeva met the son of king Jamvaka, who had, on account of old hostilities, been defeated before by Vasudeva Krishna. The son of Jamvaka gave battle to Sahadeva. And Sahadeva defeating the prince marched towards the south (2:30).