As per media reports, the tradition of Panch Koshi Parikrama in Prayagraj, which was banned by the Mughal Emperor Akbar 550 years ago, has been restarted at the Kumbh Mela in 2019. Saint community and various Hindu organizations had been working in this direction for a long time. Earlier, in 1993, the Parikrama was started for a short period but got terminated due to inadequate management.
Panch Koshi Parikrama is a practice of performing spiritual walk all around the holy place. Parikrama needs to end at the place where it starts. It is performed on the Ekadashi at many important places including Iskon Temple, Madan Mohan Temple (Vrindavan), the Jagannath Temple and other sites of Hindu pilgrimage.
On Thursday, the Parikrama was started after the Ganga Aarti with the chanting of Vedic Mantras. Various officials including Akhara Parishad President Mahant Mahendra Giri, Juna Peethadhishwar Avdheshanand Giri and General Secretary of Akhara Parishad participated in the worship.
There is a belief that Panch Koshi Parikrama only gets completed after the devotee crosses the five sacred places (that’s why it is named so) and ends at the place of origin. At Prayagraj, the Parikrama starts with the Ganga Aarti and is followed by giving a visit to the four ashrams of four Hrishis including Hrishi Durvasa (in the east), Hrishi Bharadvaj (in the west), Hrishi Pandeshwar Mahadev (in the north) and Hrishi Parashar (in the south).
Fulfilling the demand of the Hindu saints, the Yogi government is set to start the renovation work of the routes to facilitate the Parikrama. Apart from this, the UP government has also decided to open the Akbar fort for devotees. Akshayavat and Saraswati Koops, located inside the fort, were made accessible to the devotees by the UP government last month. Mughal emperor Akbar had built a fort around the two sacred sites. This is for the first time that Akshayvat and Saraswati Koop have been opened during the Kumbh for devotees.
According to Hindu belief, Akshayavat is a site of sacred fig tree having divine power. As per the ancient Hindu texts, Hrishi Markandeya asked Bhagwan Narayana to show him a specimen of the divine power. Narayana flooded the entire world for a moment but Akshayavat was the only thing that was not drowned and could be seen above the water level. Similarly, it is believed that Saraswati Koop is evidence of the existence of mystical river Saraswati which mingles with the other two holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna at the Sangam in Prayagraj.
Last month, the Yogi Adityanath government held a cabinet meeting at the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj. A number of important decisions were also taken at the cabinet meeting. In the same, he announced that his cabinet has decided to start the construction of Ganga-Expressway, to connect Prayagraj with Western Uttar Pradesh.