Narada visits Yudhisthara and is asked about what Tirthas one should do and what is the benefit that is accrued by doing them. He tells him that in ancient times Bhishma asked the same question of the rishi Pulastya who tells him about several holy places, and what happens when you visit them. These are things like visiting a place is equal to donating a thousand cows, being absolved of the sins of killing a brahmana, being born a brahmana in the next life, getting a pot of gold etc.
There is an interesting story here about the rishi Mankanaka who found success at Saptasarasvata. Saptasarasvata is so named because it is believed that the river Saraswati had seven tributaries and the rishi Mankanaka made them confluence in Kurukshetra with his powers.
The story goes that Mankanaka cut his finger with the kushu grass and vegetable juice instead of blood started coming out of his body. He felt that this was an indication of extreme greatness, and he was immensely happy on seeing this, and started dancing, and the energy of his dance was so immense that all mobile and immobile things were benumbed, and also started swaying like they have been stunned. The lord Brahma along with other gods went to Shiva for help and asked him to make Mankanaka stop dancing so that the world may be rescued.
Shiva went to him and asked him why he was so delighted and dancing like that, and Mankanaka replied don’t you see there is vegetable juice in my body instead of blood, and that to him seemed a sign of greatness. Then the lord Shiva said that he is not surprised at this at all and pricked his finger and bled himself. Mankanka saw that there were ashes as white as snow that came from his body.
When Mankanaka saw this he was extremely shamed and fell down on Shiva’s feet. He told him there is no god greater than him, and that he has created everything and it is into him that everything enters into destruction at each yuga. He prayed to him for forgiveness of sort for being so proud (my interpretation) and asked that his austerities may not diminish. Shiva was happy with him, and went to live with him in his hermitage and thus this became an important tirth.
I wrote the passage above even though I found a translation Mankanaka’s story on this page. I did this primarily because that excerpt is from Kisari Mohan Ganguli’s translation of the Mahabharata which is written in the late 19th century and as a result is not in modern english that we are used to reading.