Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani, Trikuta and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Hindu Mother Goddess Mahalakshmi. The words “maa” and “mata” are commonly used in India for “mother”, and thus are often used in connection with Vaishno Devi. Vaishno Devi Mandir (Hindi: वैष्णोदेवी मन्दिर) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess, located in Katra at the Trikuta Mountains within the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Temple or Bhawan is 13.5 km from Katra and various modes of transportation are available from katra to Bhawan, including Ponies, Electric vehicles and paalkhis operated by 2 or 4 persons. Helicopter services are also available up to Sanjichhat, which is 9.5 km from Katra. Vaishno Devi Mandir is a very popular Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess, located at the Trikuta Mountains in Jammu & Kashmir, India.

Nestled in the folds of the mighty Trikuta mountain 61 kilometres north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet from the sea level, the cave shrine of Trikuta Bhagwati has been a beacon of faith and fulfillment for millions of devotees since time immemorial. Vaishno Devi, a holy cave shrine situated at an altitude of over 5000 feet in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas attracts a huge number of pilgrims every day of the year unless the route is blocked by snowfall.

Within the cave are ancient images of three deities, the Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks up to the shrine of Vaishno Devi to ask for a boon rarely goes back disappointed. There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance, regardless of their faith or belief, creed or class, caste or religion, for Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such barriers.

Mata Vaishno Devi

As the legend goes, more than 700 years ago Mata Vaishno Devi, a devotee of Lord Vishnu, had taken a vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric (demon-God) tried to behold her, making use of his tantric powers. On arriving at the holy cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut-off Bhairon Nath’s 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. The abode of the Goddess Vaishno Devi is in the Moutains of Trikuta Hills, in the Jammu and Kashmir State of Northern India. Ma resides in a beautiful cave in the form of 3 ‘Pindis’ namely, Maha-Kali, Maha-Laxmi and Maha-Sarawati. Ma Vaishno Devi took birth in the South of India in the home of Ratnakar Sagar, Her worldly parents had remained childless for a long time. Ratnakar had promised, the night before the birth of the Divine child, that he would not come in the way of whatever his child desired. Ma Vaishno Devi was called Trikuta as a child. Later She was called Vaishnavi because of Her taking birth from Lord Vishnu’s lineage. When Trikuta was 9 years old, She sought her father’s permission for doing penance on the sea-shore. Trikuta prayed to Lord Vishnu in the form of Rama. During Shree Ram’s search for Sita, He reached the sea-shore along with His army. His eyes fell on this Divine Girl in deep meditation. Trikuta told Shree Ram that She had accepted Him as Her husband. Shree Ram told Her that during this Incarnation He had vowed to be faithful to only Sita. However the Lord assured Her that in ‘Kaliyuga’ He would manifest as ‘Kalki’ and would marry Her. In the meantime Shree Ram asked Trikuta to meditate in the cave found in the Trikuta Range of Manik Mountains, situated in Northern India. Ma decided to observe the ‘Navratra’ for the Victory of Shree Ram against Ravan. Hence one reads the Ramayana during the 9 days of Navratra, in remembrance of the above connection. Shree Ram promised that the whole world would sing Ma Vaishno Devi’s praise. Trikuta was to become famous as Vaishno Devi and would become immortal forever. With the passage of time many more stories about the Mother Goddess emerged. One such story is about Shree-Dhar. The above story is about 700 years old. Shri-Dhar was an ardent devotee of Ma Vaishno Devi. He resided in a village called Hansali, 2 Km away from the present Katra town. Once Ma appeared to him in the form of a young bewitching girl. The young girl asked the humble Pandit to hold a ‘Bhandara’. (A feast to feed the mendicants and devotees).

Vaishnodevi Temple by Air
Vaishnodevi Temple by Air

The Yatra (Religious Pilgrimage) begins in Katra at 1,700 ft. From here, pilgrims have to get a mandatory Yatra slip, which is free of cost from the Yatra Registration Counter at the Tourism Reception Centre. The Yatra traverses a distance of 7 miles covering a vertical height of about 3500 ft. The path is wide, tiled and well lit at night. Pure vegetarian food and drinking water is available at outlets along the route as well as public utilities. At Bhawan, pilgrims need to present the Yatra slip at the Registration Office and obtain a batch number, which determines your place in the queue for darshan (holy offering). Here, pilgroims have a bath and proceed. Luggage and leather items need to be booked in the cloakrooms here.

vaishno-devi-temple

The holy cave shrine of Vaishno Devi is said to have been built by the five Pandavas. The length of the cave is about 98 ft. The symbols of a large number of gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon can be seen here. At the mouth of the original tunnel to the holy cave can be seen the symbols of Vakra Tunda Ganesha, Surya Dev and Chandra Dev. When one crawls into the cave through the tunnel, he/she crosses over the Dhadh of Bhairon Nath. The symbol of Lord Hanuman, called Launkra Beer, can also be seen and the pilgrims have to wade through water beyond the Launkra Beer point. Twenty-three feet beyond Launkra Beer, on the upper left-hand side, the roof of the cave flares out and the weight of this overhang appears to be resting on the innumerable heads of Shesh Nag. Immediately below Shesh Nag can be seen the symbols of Shankh, Chakra, Gada and Padam. Higher up, almost touching the ceiling of the cave, are the symbols of the five Pandavas, the Sapt Rishi, the udders of the divine cow, Kamadhenu, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati.

Appropriate time to travel: – By the way, devotees visit Vaishno Devi for a year-long devotees but there is a better weather to go here. In winter, the minimum temperature of the building goes up from 3 to -4 degrees and there is a danger of rock climbing from this season. So avoid traveling in this season.

How To Reach :-

By Road – Vaishno Devi Temple can be reached after making a steep 13-km trek from the road head at Katra, the town at the foot of the Trikuta hills. Several porters and ponies are available at Katra on hire.

By Air– Jammu is the nearest airport. Jammu’s civil airport at Ranibagh is 9 km from the city center. Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Indian Airlines, runs flights to and from Delhi, Srinagar and Leh. Apartment for Rent in Al Ghaf 4, Greens

By Rail – Jammu is the nearest railhead, which lies on the other side of the Tawi River. Jammu is very well connected with all major destinations in India by rail. Direct express trains link it with Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta.

Katra is connected with Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Jallandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jwalaji and Srinagar by road. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.

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