Duration :- 4 Days / 3 Nights
Destination :- Delhi - Jammu - Katra - Delhi
Faith has moved mountains. From a cave shrine tucked away deep in the the Trikuta Mountains of Kashmir to a bustling religuous centre, the call of Mata Vaishno Devi has drawn and converted many a non-believer. Those who come as tourists leave as staunch followers singing her praises. This is the ultimate refuge of the helpless. The one place that answers your prayers. Where all dilemas are resolved. So come with faith - thats all that is asked of you.
The abode of the Goddess Vaishno Devi is in the Moutains of Trikuta Hills, in the Jammu and Kashmir State of Northern India. The Goddess resides in a beautiful cave in the form of 3 Pindis namely, “Maha Kali”, “Maha Laxmi” and “Maha Sarawati”. The Goddess Durga is said to have killed the demon Bhairon here. Vaishno Devi is 61-km north of Jammu and 14-km from Katra. The cave is at an elevation of 1,700m (5,100ft) and is 30m (93 ft) long and just 1.5m (5ft) high.
Vaishno Devi is a hard four-hour (13-km) climb from Katra. The best time to come is March to July, as th rest of the time of the year it can be very cold. The main pilgrimage time is March-April and September-October. In 1986, 1.6 million people came here, or 15 to 20 thousand people a day. The cave ideally handles just 8 or 10 thousand people a day, as only 12 or 15 people are let into the cave at a time. On the full moon day in Kartika (October/ November) the line to get into the cave can be 4-km long. It is believed that the arm of Goddess Sati fell at this place.
During the time when the Goddesses were wreaking havoc on the evil Asuras, the 3 main manifestations, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, pooled their collective strength and sent a divine child to be born in the house of one Ratnakar. She was to uphold righteousness and attain a level of consciousness by which she would merge with Vishnu.
An extraordinary child, she went deep into the forest, in search of god. Intrigued by reports of her piety, Gorakhnath the tantric sent his disciple Bhairon Nath to look for her. But he began invading her privacy and even suggested that she become his wife. To escape him, Vaisnavi left Trikuta mountains.
While passing through a ravine she shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out -- this stream came to be known as Banaganga. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of her feet, is the place where she rested. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her, the reason why the cave is known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with Her Trident when Bhairon Nath located her.
On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off Bhairon Naths head which was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located. The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.
According to a legend the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi was discovered by a Brahmin, Pandit Sridhar about a thousand years ago. He used to live in Hansali village at the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains. One day, as he was grazing cattle, he met a beautiful child, Vaishnavi, on the hills. She urged him to call the people of his village to a feast. By mid-day when his guests arrived he had still not made arrangements for any provisons.
Suddenly, he saw Vaishnavi coming out of his hut and she asked Sridhar to call his guests saying the food was ready. He watched in amazement as all the villagers went inside his small hut and finished their meal. As they left , he called out to young Vaishnavi knowing that the answer to the mystery lay with her. But she was not to be found.
His search for her led him to a a cave up a cliff where he thought he spied her. But in vain. As he wept in anguish a light shone on him, and he had a vision: Vaishnavi was transformed into a transcendental beauty with eight arms and astride a lion. She told him she was Shakti and in this cave she was manifested in her three forms of Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Sridhars progeny have been worshipping the Goddess in this Holy Cave since those hoary days!
Bhumika Temple: At Darshani Darwaza, 1-km from Katra, the Goddess disappeared. This place is called Darsani Darwaza because the Trikut mountain is visible from here Tikuta Parvat is three high peaks that are the abodes of the Goddess Vaishno Devi.
Ban Ganga Temple: After the Goddess left the Bhumika Temple, she went to the Trikuta Hills passing through here. At this time, Langoor Vir (Veer Langur) felt thirsty. The Goddess shot an arrow into the stone and a holy river was produced, now known as Ban Ganga. It is called Ban Ganga because the Goddess washed her hair at this place. Most pilgrims take bath here. You must show the slip you got near the Bus Stand in Katra to pass this point. Ban Ganga is about 3-km from Katra.
Charan Paduka Temple: This is where the Goddess stopped for some time while Bhairon was chasing her. Her footprints are supposed to be visible on a stone at this place. Charanpaduka means ” holy footprints.” It is about 1.5-km from Ban Ganga at 3,380 feet.
Ardh Kuwari: Ardh Kuwari is the halfway point and some pilgrims stay here for the night. There is a 15-foot-long cave called Garbha Joon where the Goddess hid herself for nine months and showed her self to a saint. The cave is narrow, and you have to almost crawl all the way though it. When Bhairon entered the cave, the Goddess made a new opening with her trident and ran away. Ardh Kuwari is 4.5-km from Charan Paduka and 4,800 ft above sea level.
After ardh Kuwari the path gets very steep for 2.5-km. This ascent is called Hathi Matha ascent, because the mountain is shaped like the forehead of an Elephant. It is best to use the footpath rather than the stairs, as the climb will be easier. From here it is another 1,500-ft climb to Sanjhi Chatt, and from there another 4-km to the carve.
The Sri Ram Temple: The Sri Ram Temple is near Vaishno Devi cave. There is a Shiva-linga in a cave 125 steps down from the Ram Temple.
The Bhairon (Bhairav) Temple: This temple is about 2.5-km from Vaishno Devi cave at about 6,700 feet. It is traditional to visit this temple after visiting the Vaishno Devi Temple. Bhairon (Bhairav) was absolved of all sins when Durga killed him.
When Bhairon was killed by the Goddess his head flew to this place. There is a huge stone outside the cave that represents the body of Bhairon. After he was killed, her prayed to the Goddess to forgive him. It is said that the Goddess gave the benediction that the desires of her devotees who visit this place would be fulfilled.
Vaishno Devi is located 14-km from the town of Katra and 52-km north of Jammu. Katra is situated at 2,800 feet and takes about 2 hours to reach from Jammu by bus.
Air: The nearest airport is in Jammu, which is 48-km from Katra. There is a helicopter service that departs from the airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning.
Rail: The nearest railway station is in Jammu, which is well connected to all the major cities in India.
Road: There are regular buses leaving for the 52-km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road ends at Katra (2 hr). Walking From Katra it is a steep 13-km walk. You can rent a horse or be carried up from Katra. You can go up to the cave and back in the same day. It takes about 4 hours to climb up and 3 hours to come down. Pilgrims must get a Yatra- Slip from the tourist reception center near the bus stand in Katra to get pass Ban Ganga. It is Hard climb to Vaishno Devi.
Katra: You must pass through Katra to get to Vaishno Devi. It is where the road ends. There is an ISKCON temple (01991-33047)in Katra. It is located at the Kalka Mata Mandir, opposite the petrol pump. The Kalka Mata Mandir is an ancient Siva and Kali temple which has been put under the care of ISKCON. The deities are said to be self-manifested. This temple is visited by many pilgrims. construction has begun on a temple and large guest house here.
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