Vaishno Devi Temple is the most-sought after pilgrimage of the Hindus. Located at Trikoot Parvat, Mata Vaishno Mandir is the holiest shrine of India and it is famous all over the World. The temple is accessible by a journey of 13 kms from Katra. Katra is a small town that falls in Udhampur district of Jammu. From Jammu, Katra lies at a distance of 50 kms. In the northern part of India, many rail-services are available to reach Jammu.
Vaishno Devi Shrine is placed at an altitude of 5200 feet above sea
level. Vaishno Devi is the second most-visited shrines of India, first
being the Balaji Temple at Tirupati. The temple is managed and
maintained by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Vaishno Devi is
regarded as the incarnation of Durga (Shakti). Every year, millions of
pilgrims visit the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi. There is a legend behind
the establishment of this temple.
Legend of Vaishno Devi
According to the legends, Vaishno Devi took birth around 700 years ago.
The girl was a true devotee of Lord Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu)
and swore to remain celibate throughout her life. In those times,
Bhairon Nath learned about the powers of the Goddess. Being a tantrik,
he tried to capture the girl with powers. With his tantric (black-magic)
powers, he saw the girl going towards Trikoot Mountain.
Unaware about the Goddess, Bhairon Nath started to chase the girl. The
Goddess ran to save herself, when she felt thirsty, she shot an arrow in
the ground and the water gushed out. Ever since, the gush is flowing
ceaselessly and is known as Ban Ganga. Till date, the imprints of her
feet are marked on the banks of Ban Ganga and known as 'Charan Paduka'.
After this incident, the Goddess went into a cave at Ardhkuari for
Bhairon Nath took around nine months to find this cave. The meditation
was disturbed when Bhairon came at the cave and the Goddess made on
opening at the other end of the cave with her trident. From that time,
this cave came to be known as 'Garbha Joon'. The Goddess ran further on
the hill and when Bhairon tried to kill Vaishno Devi, she emerged in the
form of Maha Kali. She cut off Bhairon Nath's head, which flung up the
mountain by the force of the blow.
Today, Bhairon Temple is standing on the place where once his head was
knocked down. The area is known as Bhairon Ghati and it is at a distance
of 2.5 kms from the holy cave. In the last moments, Bhairav Nath
beseeched the Goddess for forgiveness. Vaishno Devi knew that the
objective behind the attack was to attain salvation. The Goddess
liberated Bhairon from the cycle of life and death.
In addition to it, Mata acclaimed that whosoever, come to her cave also
has to visit Bhairon Temple in order to complete their pilgrimage. Soon
after this, Vaishno assumed the image of a rock in the form of three
'Pindis' and absorbed herself into meditation forever. As per the
sayings, the rock at the entrance of the holy cave is the horrified
torso of Bhairon Nath, who was forgiven by Vaishno Devi in his last
The Holy Cave
In the cave, one can see the blissful 'pindis' of Maha Kali, Maha
Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. Mata Vaishno Devi is regarded as the granter
of boons. She fulfills the wishes of her devotes and no one goes empty
handed from her shrine. With faith in mind, people come to the temple of
Vaishno Devi to seek the blessings of the Supreme power.
In the earlier days, the journey of Vaishno Devi used to be difficult
with steep roads, but in the present day, the way has been made much
easier than before. For the convenience of pilgrims, Horses are
available that take you up to the Hill. However, people prefer to trek
the way from Katra to the Bhawan (Cave). According to pilgrims, all the
weariness gets off at the single glimpse of Maa Vaishno.
The pilgrims walk the whole way by chanting 'Jai Mata Di' in groups. At
Katra, various shops sell flowers, coconuts, dry-fruits and other things
that people buy to make an offering to the Goddess. The entire way to
the shrine is well-lighted and adequate arrangements of water and
public-convenience have been made to facilitate the pilgrims. The divine
grace of the Goddess brings her devotees to this pilgrimage of religious