VAISHNO DEVI FACTS & FIGURES
- Mata Vaishno DeviLocation: Situated at an altitude of 5200 ft above sea level in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Vaishno Devi shrine is nestled in the Trikuta Mountain. It about 650 km from Delhi, the capital of India.
- Climate : High altitude temperature – Cold
- Best time to Visit: Throughout the year except during winter Yatra Season: March-April And September-October
- Significance: Major Hindu Pilgrimage Center, One of the most Religious & Hindu Pilgrimage destination in India.
Shri Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the oldest shrine of India, located at a height of 5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The Holy cave is 13 Kms from the Base Camp Katra. The Town Katra is 50 Kms away from Jammu and 35 Kms from District HQ Udhampur and is linked by road. The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the most popular Shrines of India.
The Vaishno Devi temple is recognized as one of the “Shakti Peeths” of goddess ‘ Durga’. People who visit the shrine constitute a heterogeneous profile comprising of wealthy & poor, aged & young, males & females from within and outside the country. The Shrine of goddess ‘Vaishno Devi’ is reached by an arduous climb. .
The scenic beauty, the landscape around and the constant chanting of ‘Jai Mata Di’, leaves a mystic effect on the devotees. At the culmination of their pilgrimage the devotees are blessed with the ‘Darshans’ of the deity in her three manifestations as three Pindies, located inside the sanctum- sanatorium
About Mata Vaishno Devi
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 Mahayogi 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 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.
Other Pilgrimage Attractions and Temples in Vaishno Devi
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 durga.
BangangaBan 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 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.
Sri Ram Temple
The Sri Ram Temple is near main cave. There is a Shiva-linga in a cave 125 steps down from the Ram Temple.
Bhairon (Bhairav) Temple
This temple is about 2.5-km from main cave at about 6,700 feet. It is traditional to visit Bhairon temple after visiting the Maata Bhawan. 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.
How to Reach Vaishno Devi
The sacred shrine lies 61 km north of Jammu in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. Vaishno Devi cave is in the lower Himalayas. Katra, the town at the foot of the Trikuta hills is the base camp for the Vaishno Devi shrine. Vaishno Devi is located 14 km from the town of Katra and 52 km north of Jammu. Katra is situated at 2,800 feet
- 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 train station for pilgrims is Jammu
- Road: By road Rishikesh to Haridwar 24 kms, Dehradun 47 kms, Mussoorie 77 kms, Badrinath 301 kms (Son Prayag), Kedarnath 228 kms, Gangotri 258 kms, Yamunotri 288 kms (Hanuman Chatti), Srinagar 105 kms, Joshimath 252 kms.