(Last Updated on : 16/06/2010)
The greatest concentration of Draupadi temples in South India is found in the area once dominated by the Nayaks of Gingee. The part of Puducherry
State that surrounds the city of Puducherry is embraced by South Arcot, well within the Draupadi Cult's main area. Draupadi temples are, thus, found in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka
, and Andhra Pradesh. As far as the spread of Draupadi Temples are concerned it can be said that the dispersal of temples in Karnataka is limited to areas bordering on north-western Tamil Nadu
, just as in Andhra Pradesh
the only Draupadi temples are in the two districts namely Chittoor and Nellore that border north-eastern Tamil Nadu. Of the 349 temples mentioned in the sources, 236, or 67 percent, are found in the Arcots and Chingleput District. The surrounding districts of Nellore, Chittoor, Dharmapuri, Salem, Tiruchirapalli, and Thanjavur then account for 90 recorded temples, or 26 percent of the total, while the more distant southern and western districts of Tamil Nadu account for the remaining 7 percent.
In the present age some temples have no doubt fallen into disuse and a number have discontinued their festivals since 1961. But most of these South Arcot Draupadi temples are probably still standing. Around the Arcots, the temples are widely dispersed and predominantly rural. Around Chittoor and Puttur, Salem, Thanjavur, and the Kaveri Delta there is still some rural dispersal, but a majority of temples are located in high population areas. Finally most of the temples in Dindigul, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli are connected with larger towns or cities.
Gingee is said to be one area in the south of India which is one of the cornerstone of the Draupadi cult. Towards the north of Gingee are Kalahasti and Gudur temples which are prominent temples of the Draupadi Cult. Also from east to west in Gingee there are numerous Draupadi temples. It can be said that Gingee country is the Draupadi cult's core area, with a mythic "temple of origins" at the town of Old Gingee, or Melacceri. Residents of Melacceri call the Draupadi temple the goddess's "primal shrine."