The chapter Utkala Khanda in Skanda Purana describes Purusottama Kshetra and presents information regarding its age, sanctity and significance. The importance of this great place had been kept a secret until a challenging situation demanded it to be unfolded.
It dates back to the period of Varaha Avatar when Lord Vishnu in the form of a varaha [boar] reclaimed Prithvi [land mass?] that had been submerged in the ocean and replanted it in its place. He also leveled its surface and used mountains to keep it rooted to its position. This done, Lord Brahma engaged himself in the task of creation and the world of both the animate and inanimate beings came into existence.
Lord Brahma placed all the tirthas, rivers, rivulets and other important areas of land [kshetras] in their due places. As time passed, Lord Brahma noticed that all the living beings were wallowing in three common forms of sufferings such as adhyatmika [sufferings caused by one’s body and mind] adibhautika [sufferings inflicted by other beings] and adidaivika [Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, etc] and felt a great concern for their wellbeing and reflected deeply on how to free them from those sufferings.
It was during this reflection that he hoped Lord Vishnu could show him the way out of it and started to recite the hymns of his glory in order to please him. Lord Vishnu was pleased with Brahma’s prayer and appeared before him riding Garuda [his vahana]. He knew that the fulfillment of the objective behind Brahma’s prayer seemed almost impossible.
However, respecting Brahma’s intent desire for the wellbeing of the creatures, Vishnu, told him about an extremely sacred Tirtha worthy of fulfilling such a desire. He said, “This tirtha is in between the north coast of Mahodadhi [Great Ocean] and the south of the river Mahanadi. This place was not mentioned in sruti [veda], smruti [specific religious Hindu scriptures], itihasa [history of mankind] and purana [universal history]. My maya [divine illusion] had kept it in obscurity. But hereafter, by my favour, it shall be known and available to all.” Regarding its sanctity He said, “People visiting this tirtha earn divine merits that equals that of visiting all other tirthas.
The noble minded people residing here enjoy the result of the good deeds of their past lives. The Nilachala [Blue Mountain] that adds to the beauty of the place is extremely sacred and has been kept concealed so far. On the deeper part of the Nilachala [Blue Mountain] there exists the holy Akshaya Vata [immortal banyan tree]. To the north of the base of the tree is the sacred tank [kunda] named Rouhina. Getting freed from their sins by the water of this tank and seeing my form in their mortal eyes, those living near this tank become one with me.
The Nilachala [Blue Mountain] is my eternal abode, where I reside with Lakshmi and Sudarshan, detached from all other companions. In the form of Purusottama, I am present there beyond all the perishable and the imperishable.”
Vishnu further described the sanctity of the Purusottama kshetra. He said “staying here only for a day can earn one all the punya [divine merits] attained from vrata, tirtha, yagyan, and dana. And being here for a nishwas [time needed to complete one breathe] blesses one with the punya of an ashwamedha yagyan. The place is so sacred that it is not affected even during Pralaya [dissolution of the universe]
Thus, Lord Vishnu related to Brahma a detailed account of Purusottama Kshetra. He then urged upon Brahma to go to Nilachala and meditate upon Him in order to experience the importance of that place.
Lord Brahma went to Purusottama Kshetra, saw the Lord there and as per His instruction started meditating upon Him. His main concern was to alleviate the three forms of suffering of all creatures. However, the fact that Purusottama Kshetra can free people from their sins made Yamraj [God of death] apprehensive of losing his power over the sinners.
He left for the same place, made an obeisance to Vishnu and started singing His glory to request for the protection of his power. [Since the divine power of Purusottama Kshetra was certainly going to invalidate his own]
Pleased with his prayer, Vishnu gestured to Lakshmi to say something to Yamraj. Lakshmi said, “It is impossible to fulfill the objective behind your prayer in this Purusottama Kshetra, because in this place no one gets the results of their deeds. Sins of the People and even of the creatures get dissolved. A glimpse of Lord Vishnu in the form of a blue idol resembling the colour of blue sapphire liberates people from their worldly bondage.
Therefore, you do not have any rights to exercise your power over the beings residing here. Your grandfather Brahma is also singing the glory of Vishnu after realizing the importance of this place. So the people dwelling here are beyond your jurisdiction.
Then Yama implored Lakshmi to relate to him detailed information on Purusottama Kshetra and its glory.
Lakshmi told him about it and finally said, “You have pleased Lord Vishnu by your prayer. So to ensure that your powers are not restricted we [Vishnu, Lakshmi and Sudarsan] will keep ourselves invisible, buried under the golden sands of this never-to-be-deserted land and thereby preventing people from seeing us.”
After this, Lakshmi told Brahma that Vishnu, in order to show his favour to Indradyumna, a king-to-be in satya yuga, will be manifested in the form of four wooden idols. Vishwakarma [God of architecture] will carve these idols and Brahma himself will install them in a temple.
Feeling convinced about the importance of Purusottama kshetra both Yama and Brahma left for their respective places.