Panch Kroshi Yatra Of Kashi – Ancient Pilgrim Route


I first came to know of Panch Kroshi Yatra when I was visiting Varanasi about 4 years back. I saw a unique map on the walls of Bharat Kala Bhavan at Banaras Hindu University. Just a year before that I had done the 84 Kos Yatra of Braj in the Mathura-Vrindavan area. I was curious about this ancient pilgrim route. Not many people could tell me much about the yatra, except that it is done on foot on Shivratri. I came back from Varanasi with Panch Kroshi Yatra added to my wish list.

Panch Kroshi Parikrama
Panch Kroshi Parikrama

This time I am happy that I could do the yatra- it took a lot of research and a lot of asking around. It was all worth it.

When is the Panch Kroshi Yatra done?

Laxmi Narayan Temple on Panch Kroshi Yatra Parikrama
Laxmi Narayan Temple on Panch Kroshi Yatra Parikrama

Panch Kroshi yatra is done on Shivaratri – as it is full of Shiva temples. Devotees would start in the evening from Manikarnika Kund and from Assi Ghat around midnight. Depending on each one’s capacity to walk, they complete the yatra in 1, 3, or 5 days.

This yatra is also done in Purushottam Maas that is also known as Mal Maas or Adhik Maas. This is the extra month that is added to the lunar calendar we follow every 2-3 years. My logic is that since this is an unplanned extra period available, it is a good time to do the yatra.

In the Hindu months of Falgun, Vaishakh & Chaitra, this yatra can be done anytime.

I would say, a yatra can be done anytime a devotee is ready to do it.

Panch Kroshi Yatra Route

Boards guiding the Panch Kroshi Parikrama Route
Boards guiding the Panch Kroshi Parikrama Route

Panch Kroshi Yatra begins at Manikarnika Kund. This is a small water tank situated close to the famous Manikarnika Ghat. It is said that the Kund is older than the Ganga in Varanasi. The legend associated the Kund with both Shiva, Shakti & Vishnu, making it sacred for all three sects of Hinduism. The devotees take a dip in the Manikarnika Kund. They then take some water in their hands and do a Sankalp for the yatra. This is like making a commitment to complete the yatra. If you have a wish that you want to come true, this is the time to make that wish. However, you must come back again to say Thank you when your wish comes true.

After the Sankalp, devotees take a boat and head to Assi ghat – the southernmost ghat on Ganga at Varanasi. This is the beginning point of the yatra.

Plaques about Panch Kroshi Temples
Plaques about Panch Kroshi Temples

After this, there are 5 Padavs or stops on the 50 miles or roughly 80 km path. The Panch Kroshi road is an ancient pilgrim route. There are boards guiding you on the path and informing you about the Padavs or stops as well.

Distances between Padavs

  • Manikarnika to Kardameshwar – 3 Kos
  • Kardameshwar to Bhim Chandi – 5 Kos, a total of 8 Kos
  • Bhim Chandi to Rameshwar – 7 Kos, a total of 15 Kos
  • Rameshwar to Shivpur – 4 Kos, a Total of 19 Kos
  • Shivpur to Kapildhara – 3 Kos, Total 22 kos
  • Kapildhara to Manikarnika – 3 Kos, Total 25 Kos

1 Kos = 3.2 Km

All through this journey, you will see many small temples on your right side. A lot of them are in red color. However, a lot of them have undergone restoration/renovation at different points in time and have all possible colors and shapes. Look for the plaque mentioning the names of the temples and if possible the number.

What are Padavs on Panch Kroshi Yatra

Padav and temple signs on Panch Kroshi - the ancient pilgrim route
Padav and temple signs on the yatra – the ancient pilgrim route

Padavs are the 5 stops on this yatra path. These are 5 temples that have Dharamshala’s or places to stay for the pilgrims. Some of these Dharamshala’s can accommodate up to 25,000 people at any time. The places to stay are available for free. Pilgrims must arrange their own food. Traditionally, India really did not have the concept of hotels or restaurants, and travelers used to cook their own food. Even my grandparents told me that when they went on Yatras, they carried their provisions and cooked wherever they halted for the night.

These 5 stops at regular intervals are the places where people could stay, cook and pray.

Each of these temples has a large temple tank, that can take of water requirements of the large visiting population.

Pilgrims carry 5 beetle leaves and 5 beetle nuts i.e. Paan & Supari to offer at each of these Padavs.

Akshat or raw rice is offered at each temple on the way.

Temples on the Panch Kroshi yatra are numbered and you can easily follow them.

Legends of Panch Kroshi Yatra or Parikrama

Manikarnika Kund - Varanasi
Manikarnika Kund – Varanasi

It is said that in Treta Yug – Lord Ram did the Panch Kroshi Yatra along with his 3 brothers and wife Sita. The Shivalingas set up by each of them can be seen at the Rameshwaram temple. Lord Rama did this yatra to release his father Dashrath from the curse of Shravan Kumar’s parents.

In Dwapar Yug, Pandavas did this yatra along with Draupadi. The Shivalinga set up by them can be seen at Pandav temple at Shivpuri. The tank next to this temple is called Draupadi Kund. Pandavas did this yatra during their Agyaat Vaas i.e. the period of exile when they were in hiding.

Lolark Kund near Tulsi Ghat, Varanasi
Lolark Kund near Tulsi Ghat, Varanasi

You are supposed to go clockwise for the Panch Kroshi Yatra. When you do so, all the temples are on your right-hand side. All the Dharamshala are on your left. The area enclosed by the yatra path is supposed to be sacred. No toilets were supposed to be here. Of course, people living in this area have their home toilets.

One of the priests at Bhimchandi told us that the Kashi Khand – the area enclosed by the yatra path is supposed to have 3,65,000 idols of various Hindu deities. Some of these are visible while others are not. To begin with, I would not have believed that number, but after doing the yatra I have no reason to doubt that number. In my small day-long journey, that too on a car, I could see thousands of Linga’s along with a similar number of idols.

My Panch Kroshi Yatra

Assi Ghat - Varanasi
Assi Ghat – Varanasi

I walked through the narrow lanes leading to Manikarnika ghat to reach the Manikarnika Kund. The Kund was dry, so I just said my prayers and headed back to the car to go to Assi Ghat.

Before going to Assi Ghat I visited the Lolark Kund which is also known as Surya Kund or the Sun Pond. This pond is best known for fulfilling the wish of having children.

At Assi ghat, I walked around.  All the visuals of scenes I have read about it in books like Kashi Ka Assi by Dr. Kashinath Singh came alive. I looked at the newly made platform where the morning Aarti is done. In my mind, this is a Ghat that belongs to foreigners and tourists. Panch Kroshi Yatra though begins from here.

From Assi Ghat we started moving towards our first Padav. On the way, for the first time, I saw the Assi River. Yes, it is a small river but not a Nallah as everyone always told me.

River Assi at Varanasi
River Assi at Varanasi

As soon as we left the Varanasi city limits, we were treated to rustic sights of fields and small mud houses. There was no sign of commercialization. I felt like a Yatri, who was visiting Kashi for the first time.

Kardameshwar Temple Padav

Kardameshwar Temple
Kardameshwar Temple

Our guide asked the driver to stop and park the car. I gave him a look full of questions. He pointed to a small but beautiful temple and said this is Kardameshwar.

We got down and walked to the temple to discover a large pond. People were taking dips in the pond, children were swimming. Across the pond, we could see fairly large structures and I was told these are the Dharamshala for the pilgrims to stay.

Kardameshwar Temple Entrance
Kardameshwar Temple Entrance

I entered the narrow tall temple that dates back to 10-11th CE. This is one of the few temples that have survived from that period in Varanasi. Most other temples are rather modern versions of their original self. The temple entrance was surrounded by a number of bells.

After paying my respects to the Shivalinga, I spoke to the priest. He told me the legend of Kardameshwar Temple. He said the Shivalings at the temple were established by Kardam Rishi. The tank next to the temple is known as Bindu Sarovar as it is supposed to have been formed by the tear of Shiva himself.

Sculpted walls of Kardameshwar Temple at Kandwa
Sculpted walls of Kardameshwar Temple at Kandwa

Kardameshwar temple is numbered 33 on Panch Kroshi Yatra. This is the first time I noticed the numbers, so I missed the first 32 temples on this path. Next time when I go, I will start from 0 or 1 as the case may be. However, till then I am reading books on Panch Kroshi to figure out what these temples are.

In structures around the temple, there were Rudrashtakam and Shiva Tandav Stotram written in black on a white marble plaque. The place is popularly referred to as Kandwa. It is not too far from Banaras Hindu University.

Bhim Chandi Padav

Chandikeshwar Mahadev Temple at Bhim Chandi Padav on Panch Kroshi Yatra
Chandikeshwar Mahadev Temple at Bhim Chandi Padav on the yatra

On way to Bhim Chandi, we were treated to the fields of Marigold flowers. The rich yellow and saffron color looked vibrant against the green of the earth and blue of the sky. I figured out where all the flowers for Varanasi temples come from.

Details of Chandikeshwar temple entrance
Details of Chandikeshwar temple entrance

The Shiva temple at Bhimchandi Padav is known as Chandikeshwar Mahadev temple. The temple is quite similar to the Kardameshwar temple. Chandikeshwar Mahadev temple is also a narrow tall temple with stone carved Shikhara. The temple is as small as it can get but it stands next to a huge tank. The tank here is called Gandharva Sagar Kund or simple Gandheshwara.

Shivalinga at Chandikeshwar temple has also the small idols of 5 Pandavas.

Gandharva Sagar - the tank next to Chandikeshwar temple
Gandharva Sagar – the tank next to Chandikeshwar temple

It was a pity that people were washing clothes in the temple tank and the water in the tank was green. If you look intently you can see the water channels in the walls of the tank indicating a rainwater harvesting system in place.

The Padav though gets its name from the nearby Devi temple called Bhim Chandi. The complex has many big and small temples. The temple is numbered 60 on the Panch Kroshi Yatra path.

Rameshwar Padav

Rameshwar Temple at Panch Kroshi
Rameshwar Temple

The Rameshwar temple is located on the banks of river Varna – one of the two rivers that give the city of Varanasi its name, the other being Assi. The temple is so called because the Shivalings here were established by Lord Rama himself when he came for the Panch Kroshi Yatra.

River Varna
River Varna

Next to the Rameshwara temple, there are temples called Lakshameshwar, Bharateshwar, and Shatrughaneshwar. One rarely sees the temples associated with the younger brothers of Ramayana.

Tulja Bhawani at Rameshwar Padav of Panch Kroshi
Tulja Bhawani at Rameshwar Padav

There is a temple dedicated to Tulja Bhavani – a form of Devi that is worshiped in western India. She is the Kula Devi of Shivaji Maharaj and her temple can be seen in many places associated with him. The idols of Tulja Bhavani are huge and lovely. If you focus on them you will be in awe of them.

The temple priest told me that the Rameshwar temple could never be approached by the army of Aurangzeb because Tulja Bhavani protects this temple. According to the priest, whenever the army tried to head toward the temple – scorpions, snakes & honeybees would attack them and stop them.

The temple is full of Shivalingas.

Young actors of Ramlila
Young actors of Ramlila

I met a group of children who were ready to play Ram Lila. Dressed up as Ram, Sita, Laxman, and Hanuman, they waited for Ram Lila to begin. This is the closest I have been to watching the famous Ram Lila of Kashi.

Shivpur Padav

Pandav & Draupadi sculpture at Shivpur Padav
Pandav & Draupadi sculpture at Shivpur Padav

The temple at Shivpur is the simplest. There are 5 Shivalingas in 5 sizes in descending order ascribed to each of the Pandavas. The ancient well near the temple is called Draupadi Kund.

This temple pretty much comes within the city limits and you would see the city go around it.


Mahadev temple at Kapildhara
Mahadev temple at Kapildhara

This temple is located on the northern edge of Varanasi. A lovely temple overlooks the large tank. We took the stairs to reach the temple, and said our prayers before talking to the priest. He took us to a smaller temple next to the main temple where there is an idol of Kapil Muni. It is believed that this Shivalinga was established by Kapil Muni.

Jaun Ganesh & Adi Keshav Ghat

Panch Kroshi Jaun Vinayak Temple near Adi Keshav Ghat
Jaun Vinayak Temple near Adi Keshav Ghat

The final stop before you take a boat back on Ganga is Jaun Ganesh temple. A small Ganesh temple with a lovely Ganesh Image overlooks the Ganga, almost at the confluence of Varna & Ganga.

This temple is located very close to Adi Keshav Ghat, which is one of the northernmost ghats of Varanasi. People take Jaun or Oat saplings from this temple and plant them in Ganga. It is said that planting in oat saplings in Ganga is akin to accomplishing a big task. In the local language, they say ‘ Ganga Ji mein jaun bo diye’ meaning you have achieved a big thing.

From here take the boat back to Manikarnika ghat to complete the yatra.

I, of course, drove back in my car.

This yatra had been on my mind since the time I last visited Varanasi. At the end of it, I had a sense of accomplishment. So, maybe, I can say – Ganga Ji mein jaun bo diye.

Travel Tips for Panch Kroshi Parikrama

  • You do not get much food outside the city limits of Varanasi. The only thing I could spot was the Samosa chana – which seems like the staple pilgrim diet here. So, pack your food.
  • The same goes for water. If you are conscious of the water you consume, carry your own water.
  • In a car, it took me almost 12 hours to do the Parikrama. I did not do the two boat parts on the boat as they are supposed to be. So budget ample time based on your choice of vehicle.
  • Carry small change to offer on all the temples on the way. Priests would try to ask for money in various forms. I would say decide what you want to donate and stick to that.
  • Talk to priests, they always have some stories to share that would surprise you.
  • The whole yatra is 25 Kos or roughly 80 km – the beginning and end are within the city limits of Varanasi and passes through some of its most crowded areas.

Thank you, Kashi

There are some people I must thank who helped me in doing this yatra. Thank you, Ashok Bhaiya for sending your car & Pradeep Ji for driving me around for the whole day and maintaining a calm smile throughout the day. Thank you, Dilip Kumar Gupta Ji of UP Tourist Police for not only providing me a sense of security but for sharing all your Kashi knowledge throughout the day. You were our Guru, sharing your knowledge on so many aspects of Kashi and Panch Kroshi Yatra. Finally, thank you Vikas Singh – you were the only one in the car who had already done the yatra. I am happy that you discovered some new aspects of yatra with us. I hope you would take many more curious travelers like me to the yatra again & again.


  1. Hi Anuradha,
    The first articles of you I’ve read were from Kinnaur-Spiti, the area which I love. Anyway I read your posts regularly since then. They are great. Keep going Anuradha and great thanks.
    Best greetings fro Poland, Jan

  2. मुझे लगता है जिस दिन हमने किसी यात्रा का सपना आंखों में भरा होता है उसी पल से हम उसका संकल्प बुन लेते हैं। खुशी हुई कि आप आपना संकल्प पूरा कर लौटे हो काशी से।

  3. You are the true inspiration for us Anuradha mam :-). I love your blog and your creativity very informative blog. keep up the good work.Always curious to know more from this blog.

  4. Love the way you have presented it. Interesting stuff…especially since I did not about the details of this yatra. The kund looks interesting and the street art around the ghats is so vibrant.

  5. बहुत पुरानी यात्रा है शायद ये ! आप बहुत बेहतर पोस्ट लेकर आये हो , इतना गहरा कोई कहाँ सोच पाता है ! आपने काशी के प्राचीन रूप को फिर से एक बार जिन्दा करने की कोशिश की है ! आभार

    • जी, योगी जी, बहुत प्राचीन यात्रा है यह, आशा यही है की कुछ लोग इसे पढ़ कस यात्रा करने के लिए प्रेरित होंगे. हमारी प्राचीन यात्राएँ हुमें अंतर्मुखी करने जा काम करती हैं, मुझे लगता है की आज के युग में इस की बहुत आवश्यकता है.

  6. What a fabulous post, Anuradha. I read read it once, twice, thrice before getting down to commenting. Thank you for tagging me.

    The idea of treading the path – even if it is by car – that so many have undertaken before gives me goosebumps. I visited Varanasi around Dussera in 2011 and hope that when I visit next time, I can do this too.

  7. Dear mam
    I am too willing to do this Yatra. For this how to hire guide and car suggest me if any best one and what is the complete cost of guide and car. And how much day it take to compete this yatra

  8. Dear mam I am too willing to do this Yatra how much day it require to do this Yatra and how to hire guide and car for this Yatra and suggest me the best one and can you quote the price how much it cost for guide and car for complete this yatra

  9. Thank you for your post, Anuradha!
    I am from Uruguay (South America). Is it allowed for me to make the pilgrimage? Thanks, Fabián.

    • Great to hear that someone from Uruguay is interested in Panch Kroshi Yatra when many Indians have not even heard of it. Yes, of course, you can do this yatra – there are no restrictions whatsoever to go on this pilgrimage.

  10. Hello Anuradha, Thanks for writing such informative article. Can you suggest any knowledgeable guide/operator who can take us around.

  11. Excellent. and wonderful naration. I have been visiting Kasi regularly. This is the first time I have come across the yatra. I shall try to complete it is my lord SIVA bestows me healtah and finance. I am now 71 but with good health and sound mind. A retired Army person. I am residing in chennai and shall be much thankful if a like minded person is willing to joint with me.

    Any how my MY BEST WISHES for all efforts your doing and taking. – Jambulingam alias Sengailingam.

  12. Many thanks for this, Anuradha ji. Planning for this Parikrama, this April with Guru’s grace.. Did a google map of this and it fits in beautifully as a circle. Kannan


    just yesterday was mahashivratri and i started the panchkroshi yatra,
    people start at 12’o clock just as the mahashivratri day starts and complete it in rough 10 to 11 hours coz the deadline is considered 24 hours(it’s what i was told).
    i know it’s a sort of impossible but believe me , it took me 14 hours for me and my brothers who were with me took just 10 and a half hours
    it’s not as easy as it looks
    you can’t afford to stop or take a rest coz it would jam your legs completely giving you immense pain, i can’t even describe the pain it gave me
    also people who lived near the roads for the yatra would prepare all kinds of dishes for you to eat
    they give you everything from water to sugarcane juice,from fruits to carrot’s halwa(gazar ka halwa) you don’t have to worry for anything
    you just have to focus on the journey
    the people will be on the roads to welcome you ,encourage you and even massage your legs as much as you want
    during the last PADAV (pandava to kapildhara) lord shiva or mahadev will test you your ass off
    you will start vomit, feeling dizzy and even fall down or fall sleep but people who will be there will just be there to help you to continue the journey
    also all the people who will be doing the journey will help you , you won’t know them still they will encourage you and carry you for some distance
    you will feel sleepy at the edge but after you have completed and removed sankalap at the place you took it
    you will feel energetic and won’t even think of sleeping
    it was really a difficult but worthful yatra.
    tis my second time .
    it is considered you should not stop at an even number of your yatra,you should only stop at odd number of yatras.e.g. you should not stop if you have done 2 or 4 times consecutively,you should only stop if you have done 1 or 3 and vice versa times consecutively without failing to take a year off.
    you legs are all swollen at the end of the yatra and you won’t even be able to move a muscle


    it denotes that we are giving up our anger.

    a bel leaf has three leafs at a joint, resembling the three eyes of mahadev.
    it is the symbol for flow of knowledge within us.

    it symbolises for a healthy marital life b/w a husband and a wife.

    it resembles that we are giving up all type of intoxications and alcohol for the rest of the year.


  14. It is wounderful artilcle and we came to know so many things about Kasi.
    can you provide cell no of Kapildhar pandit, i want to help him since he looks very poor.
    Please can you do me this favour.

  15. Thanks for detail information about Panchkoshi Parikrama .I am also interested to perform this pavitra Yatra by car . Kindly send the details of the car driver.In the year Nov 2019 I completed the Narmada parikrama by car from omkareshwar.Ab Baba Vishwanathan ki kripa. Har Har Mahadev.

  16. Hi Anuradha Ji much for this Article, it’s really very helpful for me although I am born and brought up in varanasi but I never knew about this before. Pachkroshi Yatra I always came to know by my senior citizens but why it is done today came to know by your article. Just in morning I went to Paanch Pandav Temple then it came in my mind to find article to know it’s history.
    Very soon I will go for Pachkrishi Yatra . Thank You

  17. Thanks for the detailed information on Panchakoshi Parikrama in Varanasi.
    This would be very helpful to all those are interested to complete this whenever they plan to visit Varanasi. Appreciate your interest to help others.


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