Vaishno Devi is among the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Goddess Shakti which is located in the Trikuta Hills of Jammu and Kashmir State in India. In Hindu religion Vaishno Devi, is also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi which is believed to be a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. The Shrine of Mother Goddess is one of the most revered and most popular religious centers in Northern India which is visited by around 8 million pilgrims every year. The shrine is situated at an altitude of 5200 feet above sea level and at a distance of approximately 12 km from Katra, a small town in Jammu and Kashmir State of India. This is the only place where these three Goddesses Maa Laxmi, Maa Kali and Maa Saraswati are enshrined in one temple in the form of natural stones or 'pindies'.
Vaishno Devi Tour takes you to the holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is 30 meter long and just one and a half meter high. It is the famous pilgrimage destination where scores of devotees come to pay homage and seek holy blessings. Majority of the devotees prefer to trek up the 13 km route to the shrine. But there are other options available as well. Tourists can hire a palki or take a pony ride. The state government also offers helicopter services from Katra and Jammu up to the shrine.
Legend of Holy Shrine
Like with the most Hindu religious Shrines it is not possible to ascertain when exactly the pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine started. But the geological study of the Holy Cave indicates that it is nearly a million years old. In the Hindu epic Mahabharata one can find the mention of this holy Shrine. According to Mahabharata legend Arjun, the chief warrior of Pandavas, upon the advice of Sri Krishna meditated upon the Mother Goddess and sought blessings for victory over Kaurvas in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It is said that after the victory Pandavas were the first to build the temples at Kol Kandoli and Bhawan in reverence and gratitude for the Mother Goddess. While some Hindu traditions quote that this Shrine is the holiest of all Shaktipeethas because at this place the skull of Mata Sati fell.
Route to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi
The 13 km hilly track between Katra and holy shrine contains number of ancient temples and view points for pilgrim rejuvenations. The first stop is at Banganga which is located 1 km away from Katra. Here pilgrims can take a dip in Holy River and have food at the Langer (free food) run by famous T-series Industries. From this place one can also see the panoramic beauty of several mountain ranges.
The second stop Charanpadhuka is located about 2.5 km away from Banganga. It is believed that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi took rest here while moving towards the Trikuta Hills. The place contains the footprints of the Goddess, and thus the place is named Charanpadhuka Temple.
The third stop is Ardhkuwari which is also known as Garbh Joon which is located about 3 km from Charanpadhuka. It is believed that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi hid herself from the demon Bairon Nath in this cave for 9 months which makes it the most revered religious place of this region. At this place devotees can visit Adkuwari Temple and Garbhjoon (an ancient Cave of about 20 feet).
After a steep trekking of about 4 km from Adkuwari comes the fourth and last stop Sanjichat. Sanjichat is located at the highest location of the track from where one can enjoy the aerial view of Katra, Udhampur, Reasi and Jammu.
From Sanjichat about 2.5 km downhill track lead to Bhawan the holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. It the culmination of this pilgrimage where devotees get a chance to worship the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. The cave is 30 meter long and just one and a half meter high. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave and only three natural rock formations called the Pindies are worshiped which are the forms of Goddess Maa Laxmi, Maa Kali and Maa Saraswati. This cave is open round the clock throughout the year.
The 2 km track from the holy cave lead to the Bairon Nath temple which is visited by almost every devotee as the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi is considered incomplete without a visit to this temple.
During this whole trek one can get various glimpses of nature which is abundant in flora. The religious atmosphere combined with scenic vistas make this trek enjoyable and interesting.
Katra Vaishno Devi Tour made easy with Cable Car
A cable car connects Bhawan and Bhairav Ghati at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu to make the yatra easier and comfortable for the devotees. Devotees can use this facility with a very minimum fee and avoid the heavy footwork needed for the pilgrimage. There are two cars at present and 45 yatris can travel at a time.
Best Time to Visit
With its sub-tropical climate, the best time to indulge in Vaishno Devi Tourism is from March to November. Do carry heavy woollen clothes during the months of winter. July to September should be avoided due to heavy rains.
How to Reach
By Air: The Satwari Airport in Jammu is located 48 km away.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi, located 47 km away.
By Road: Regular bus services are available from Jammu, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Dalhousie, Amritsar, Kangra and Anantnag to Katra.
Important Travel Information
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