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.
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. Sridhar's
progeny have been worshipping the Goddess in this Holy Cave since those
Other Shrines at 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 Vaishno
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
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.
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.
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.
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 nearest railway station is in Jammu, which is well connected to all the
major cities in India.
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.
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.