Pilgrimages to Puri consider bathing in the Pancha Tirtha, or the five sacred bathing spots of Puri, India, to be a necessary part of completing a pilgrimage to Puri. The five sacred bodies of water are as follows:
This tank is located near Gundicha Temple. The Mahabharat describes King Indradyumna’s Ashvamedh Yagna and the emergence of the Jagannath cult’s four deities. It describes how the holy Indradyumna tank was formed by thousands of cows donated by Indradyumna to Brahmins trodding the ground. To this day, pilgrims regard the Indradyumna tank as sacred.
Rohini Kunda is a sacred well located on the grounds of Jagannath Temple, adjacent to Vimala Temple. The Rohini Kunda is considered to be Narayan’s abode. Additionally, the sacred banyan tree known as the Akshaya Kalpavat is worshipped here. According to the Puranas, Krishna was accidentally killed and cremated by the hunter Jara Savara. Krishna appeared in Jara’s dreams and informed him that his ashes would morph into a log and float from the sea to the Rohini Kunda. Indradyumna, with Jara’s assistance, located the holy log from which Jagannath’s idol was carved.
For pilgrims to Puri, Markandeya Tank is considered the starting point of their journey. The water body is approximately 4 acres in size and is adjacent to the Shiva-dedicated Markandeshwar Temple.
To the south of Nilachal is Swetaganga Tank. On the banks of the tank are temples dedicated to Vishnu’s Matsya Avatar and King Sweta.
In the Swargadwar area, the Sea, also known as the Mahodadhi, is considered a sacred bathing spot. The Samudra arati is a daily practise initiated nine years ago by the current Shankaracharya. Daily practise includes prayer and offering of fire to the sea at Swargadwar in Puri by matha disciples. Every year on Paush Purnima, Shankaracharya himself comes out to offer prayers to the sea.