Ancient Sutras and old Smrtis like Manu and Yajnavalkya do not attach much importance tio Tirthas, but the later literature on this branch of Dharmasastra is very extensive. The Mahabharata regards pilgrimage to Tirthas more meritorious than sacrifices. Hence it was natural that Puranas and digests on Tirthas vied with one another in glorifying their respective Tirthas.
The Skanda-Purana (SkP) is not one book but a library of such Sthala-Puranas or Tirtha-Mahatmyas. The SkP is thus a mine of social, cultural, political, historical, geographical, religious and philosophical information. Vyasa named this Purana Skanda and described it as consisting of a hundred thousand verses and all the rites and rituals regarding Siva revealed by Skanda.
In the traditional list of Mahapuranas, the SkP holds the thirteenth rank, but in its extent, in number of verses, it is the first. The SkP is found in two versions or forms ;
(1) Khandas and
The Samhitas are six in number, viz.
(5) Brahmi and
The total number of verses in these Samhitas is one hundred thousand. The SkP has the following seven Khandas :
(6) Nagara and
The SkP VII.iv.44.1-2 states that the entire Purana was narrated formerly by Skanda to Bhrgu. Angiras got it from Bhrgu. Cyavana got it from Angiras. Rcika got it from Cyvana. It is thus traditionally handed down. The Purana is silent as to how it came up to Suta through Vyasa. The rest of that last chapter of the SkP is Phalasruti.
The SkP is specially important as it covers practically the whole of India. Thus it describes the topography, cultural traditions etc. of the Himalayan region (in the Kedarkhana and the Badarikasra-ma-mahatmya), of Uttara Pradesh (in Kasikhanda and Ayodhyamahatmya), Orissa (in Purusottmma-ksetra-mahatmya), Malwa, Rajasthan and a part of Gujarat (in Avantya-khanda), Western India along with Gujarat (in Nagara-and Prabhasa-khanda) and South India (in Venkatacala-and Setumahatmya). The SkP has thus covered the major part of India (except such states as Maharashtra and Punjab).
Skanda Purana – Part 18: Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology – Vol. 66
G. V. Tagare (Author)