The Panchkroshi Yatra has a long history and a large number of devotees – especially from rural areas – throng the event every year. This year the number of pilgrims of the Yatra doubled to around six lakh due to Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv.
The Panchkroshi Yatra is an integral part of the folk life, religion and culture. The Yatra has found mention in the Avantikhand of Skandpuran according to which, there are four dwars (gates) around Mahakal Van – Pingleshwar in the east, Vilvakeshwar in west, Uttareshwar in north and Kayavarohan eshwar in south.
In Panchkroshi Yatra, pilgrims perform Pradakshina of Ujjain and then take rest on the bank of river Kshipra to finish the Ashta Teerth Yatra.
Panchkroshi Yatra commences on Vaishakh Krishana Paksha Dashmi and culminates on Amavasya. This year, the Amavasya fell on Monday (Somvati Amavasya), which multiplied its importance.
Legend has it that the pilgrims in the Yatra get rid of sins after paying obeisance to Nagchandreshwar Mahadev (Shivlinga).
The Yatra pilgrims reach Pingleshwar on Ekadashi festival on the first day of Yatra. They perform the worships of 81st Pingleshwar Mahadev.
It is believed that the homes of Panchkroshi pilgrims are blessed with prosperity and wisdom. The Dharmraj in the Swarga too also pays full respect to them.
Panchkroshi pilgrims perform worships of Kayavarohan eshwar (Shivlinga), the 82nd of 84 Mahadevs on Dwadashi.
Myths have it that whoever performs worship of Kayavarohan eshwar on Dwadashi will get rid of all the sins and would find a place in the heaven.
Panchkroshi pilgrims reach village Jethal and offer prayers to 84th Dardureshwar Mahadev. It is also said that forefathers of pilgrims get salvation who offer prayers to Dardureshwar Mahadev on Vaishakh Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi.
The Panchkroshi pilgrims, who reach Ujjain on Amavasya, once again offer prayers to Nagchandreshwar Mahadev after the daylong Ashta teertha Yatra and then resume their journey by offering prayers to Ashwashaskti.
The number of women is far more than their male counterparts in the Panchkroshi Yatra.
The pilgrims, who undertake the journey with complete independence, halt at several places and perform bhajan and music during the Yatra. The villagers celebrate it as a festival.
The pilgrims could be seen amassing stones alongside the road. The mythological significance of this ritual has it that they will get palatial buildings in their next birth.
With the Parikrama of Ujjain city, they perform the Parikrama of all the 84 Mahadevas. It is said that Ujjain has 84 Mahadevas and Darshan of which get rid the pilgrims of 84 lakh Yonis.
Lakhs of devotees walk for around 24 km daily in the scorching heat and daylight. However, one cannot find a slightest trace of fatigue on their face.
Some of them even carry on their journey in the daytime in order to complete the 118-km long journey within six days.