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<< Indian Himalayas << Pilgrimage Travel Destinations >> << Vaishno Devi Shrine >>

Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine

Location  Katra, 61-km From Jammu, J&K
Highest Altitude  1,700m (5,100ft)
Yatra Season  March-April And September-October
Best time to travel  March to July

Shri Mata 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 Km 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. Faith has moved mountains. From a cave shrine tucked away deep in the the Trikuta Mountains of Kashmir to a bustling religuous centre, the call of Mata Vaishno Devi has drawn and converted many a non-believer. The Goddess Vaishno Devi's abode is in 100 feet long cave with a narrow opening. The holy cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata's "Pindian". There are three natural pindies representing Maha Sarswati, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, which represent creative, preservative, and destructive aspects of the Super Power. It is an ancient shrine whose reference is found in the Vedas and ancient scriptures.

History of Vaishno Devi Shrine

'Vaishnavi' means the one who is related to lord "Vishnu''. Goddess Vaishnavi is the manifestation of the collective spiritual strengths of Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati. It is described in Durga Sapatshati that the goddess was born as a young girl of extraordinary beauty and strength, out of the collectively pooled 'Tejas' of various 'Devtas' and three lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar.

The immediate purpose of the creation of the goddess was the annihilation of Asura (Devil) Mahishasura. However another purpose of her creation was that she might usher on earth an era of pious and ascetic life so that the peace could prevail upon the world and she through her penance could rise to higher levels of spirituality and ultimately merge with Vishnu. According to 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 provisions.

Other Shrine at Vaishno Devi Shrine

Bhumika Temple:
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 Devi.

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 from Katra.

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.

How to Reach There

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 railway station is in Jammu, which is well connected to all the major cities in India.

Road:
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.

Katra:
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.

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