Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the most Religious & Hindu pilgrimage destinations in India, located at a height of 5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The temple of Maa Vaishno Devi in Katra located in Jammu region of the northern most state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) could be reached only after strenuous uphill trek covering 12 Km distance. Most of the devotees prefer the pedestrian way, on the road to ‘durbar’ or taking the stairs. People suffering from old age, physical ailments / handicap or any other issue can take ‘palkies’ carried by four men or on ponies / horses. The cave which enshrines the three holy ‘pindis’- stone representation of the three form of Energy- Satva, Tama and Raja, which are Mata Mahasaraswati, Mata Mahakali and Mata Mahalakshmi respectively. Although the source rock of pindis is one, they all differ in color and texture, said to be denoting the color of the goddesses they represent- slightly white for Mother Saraswati to the extreme left; to the right is black of Mother Kali, and in the middle is yellowish red of Mother Lakshmi.
Legend says that a tantric named Bhairav saw the mysterious powers of young girl and tried to get hold of her, which she escaped but not for long. On the way, she shot an arrow from where a fountain of water came out masking her presence. The water is present in the form of ‘Baan-Ganga’. She then resided in the cave known as Gabha Gufa and meditated for 9 months until Bhairav found her. She then took form of Goddess Kali and beheaded him. But, she knew that the tantric was seeking her only to attain salvation, she granted his last wish and the boon of his shrine being visited by her devotees as a completion ritual of Ma Vaishno Devi Yatra.
It is believed that the Darshans of 33 crore Gods and Goddesses are present in the Holy Cave. At the entry of the Holy Cave, towards the left hand side, is the symbol of Ganesh. Adjacent to Lord Ganesh are the symbols of Surya and Chandra Dev. Once inside the Holy Cave, one crosses over the torso of Bhairon Nath, which is around 14 ft long. Yatris may however note that most of these Darshans are possible only if the original cave is used. However, owing to the heavy rush, usually the new tunnels are used and the original cave is opened only during the lean seasons. Yatris desirous of having all the Darshans are advised to formulate their program to correspond with the lean seasons.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is located in Jammu others being New Delhi, Srinagar and Leh.
By Rail: Nearest railway station is Jammu which is connected to all major cities.
By Road: The Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation operate many buses from Jammu to Katra at regular intervals.