This sacred shrine of the Divine Mother is hidden in a beautiful ancient cave high on the sacred Trikoota Mountain. The divine Mother rests in this place in the sublime form of Vaishno Mata, who is believed to embody Goddess Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. The holy and blessed shrine of Vaishno Mata is regarded with the greatest respect by the Shaktas (devotees of God as Divine Mother). It is one of the rare Shakti Peethas or abodes of the supreme power in the Indian subcontinent. To visit all these places and experience the divine power of God Vaishno Devi Yatra is the only way.
The temple of Mata Vaishno Devi is very ancient, according to the study of geologists. Legend has it that Mata Vaishno Devi had incarnated as a beautiful princess in Treta Yuga as the Shakti of Mother Parvati, Saraswati and Lakshmi for the benefit of humanity. She performed penance in the cave at Trikuta Mountain. When the time came, her body merged with the astral form of the three divine energies - Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.
According to the sacred scriptures, before the great war between the Kurus and the Pandavas began in Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to worship Goddess Durga to obtain her grace. During his prayers, Arjun addresses the Divine Mother as " Jambookatak Chityaishu Nityam Sannihitalaye", which translates to "you who always dwell in the temple on the slope of the mountain in Jamboo" ("Jamboo" comes from "Jamboodweep" and also refers to, India and its surrounding lands in ancient times). Pleased with his devotion, the Divine Mother grants Arjun the blessing of victory over his enemies. It is also believed that the Pandavas visited the shrine of Vaishno Devi on Mount Trikuta.
It is a belief held in sacred respect by the devotees of Divine Mother that it is impossible to have her darshan unless she calls you to visit her. The Bulava (or divine call) to receive the Mother's blessings is all that is necessary, and she does the rest. Therefore, high or low, wise or ignorant, men or women are waiting for Her Bulawa.
The shrine opens at 5 am every morning for darshan and closes after 10 pm. If you are aiming for morning darshan, always expect a long queue of devotees after 11.AM, the crowd of devotees, waiting in line for darshan thins out. Free bathing and toilet facilities for both men and women are available outside the main shrine area. These days various tour and travel companies offer Vaishno Devi Tour Packages to make Yatra comfortable and smooth. So, if you are considering a tour package the company will also explain all the details to you.
Tourists and pilgrims can avail the free Dharamshala facility available around the main shrine area. Payment of a nominal amount for the upkeep of the Dharamshala is desirable but not mandatory. Hotels and guest houses are available in sufficient numbers at the base camp in Katra. Be sure to book in advance, especially if you are travelling in the high season between April and September.
Vaishno Devi is open to pilgrims all year round, but the best time to go is between March and October. Many pilgrims visit Vaishno Devi between these months as the weather is cool and pleasant, but most visitors plan their trip during the Navratras.
You can reach the temple from the town of Katra, which lies at the foot of the mountain, about 12 km away, by trekking, pony riding or helicopter flight. Here are the complete details:
For your journey, first of all, you need to reach Jammu. Once you reach Jammu, you need to move forward towards Katra. If you are travelling through a bus, train or air, you need to get another bus or private taxi to reach Katra.
It will take 2 hours for you to reach Katra from Jammu. Now you can explore the city, and then you can start your trek to Vaishno Devi temple. You can visit various temples in Katra like Baba Dhansar, Bhoomika Mandir, Deva Mai, and Nau Devi temple. To avoid daytime heat, it's preferable to start trekking during the night or evening.
The pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi shrine starts from the base camp in Katra, and a 12 km long path leads up to the shrine where the "Three Divine Pindis of the Goddesses" reside.
Feel eternity at the Ardh Kuwari Cave
Take a trip to Dera Baba Banda
Buy some souvenirs
Experience the goosebumps at Bhairavnath Temple
Go trekking to Deva Mai
A helicopter for the Vaishno Devi is available from Katra (the starting point of the yatra) to Sanjichatt. 5-6 passengers can be accommodated at a time while the flight takes about 8 minutes. The helipad at Katra is located at Udhampur Road, 2 km from Bus Stand Katra.
During your Vaishno Devi Yatra, you can explore other attraction points of the nearby mountains and holy shrines.
On the 13 kilometre stretch between Katra and Bhawan, one can find several ancient temples and places of interest. The first one is Banganga, which is 1 kilometre away from Katra. Here one can take a holy dip in the river and avail of the Langer service (free food).
The Charanpaduka Temple is the second stop, about 2.5 kilometres from Banganga. It is said that the goddess rested here for a while before travelling to Trikuta Hills. This place is so named because it contains the footprints of the deity.
Adkuwari is located at a distance of about 3 kilometres from Charanpaduka. This point is halfway to the Vaishno Devi shrine. Devotees usually spend the night here before proceeding to the shrine. This place also houses the Adkuwari Temple and Gerbhjoon, an ancient cave where the Devi is hidden for 9 months to protect herself from Bhairon Nath.
The next stop is Sanjichat, which is about 4 kilometres from Adkuwari. This is the highest point of the long trail from where travellers can get a breathtaking view of Katra, Udhampur, Reasi and Jammu from the air.
The last 2.5 kilometres is downhill to Bhawan, the holy shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. After completing their darshan there, devotees must then proceed to the Bhairon Nath temple, which is a short distance away on a connecting path of the main Bhawan-Sanjichat trail. This path further leads to a dense forest area; inhabited by several monkeys, wild animals and birds.
Apart from the above shrines, one can also visit the Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh Dham, which is very close to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. This Dham is crowded with devotees, especially during Kartik Poornima. On this special evening, devotees perform a special Deep-Daan (donation of candles) ritual in front of Mata Vaishno Devi and Mata Annapoorna.
Now, you know all about Vaishno Devi Yatra and all its nearby areas. If you are looking forward to booking a travel package to Vaishno Devi, you can consider Sikh Tour. Sikh Tours is the Best Tour and Travel Company in India with customized travel packages.