moved mountains. From a cave shrine tucked away deep in the the
Trikuta Mountains of Kashmir to a bustling religious centre, the call
of Mata Vaishno Devi has drawn and converted many a non-believer.
Those who come as tourists leave as staunch followers singing her
praises. This is the ultimate refuge of the helpless. The one place
that answers your prayers. Where all dilemmas are resolved. So come
with faith - that's all that is asked of you.
The holy cave shrine of Vaishno Devi is nestled in a beautiful recess
of the Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas. It is
located 61 km north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea
level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In the cave there are images
of three deities viz. the Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.
The shrine is visited all through the year, but the path is difficult
during the winters when the route is often blocked by snow-fall.
Katra Town, lying in the foot of Trikuta Mountains, 48 kms. from
Jammu, serves as the base camp for visiting the famous shrine of Shri
Mata Vaishno Devi, which is approachable on foot along a 13 kms long
well laid footpath. Every year, more than 4.5 million pilgrims pass
through Katra on their way to the holy shrine.
The cave shrine of Mata Vasihno dev iji or Trikuta Bhagwati (alt:
5,200 ft.) has been a beacon of faith and fulfillment to millions of
devotees from all over the world. The pilgrimage to the Shrine holds
great significance for the pilgrims.
The Legend of Mata Vaishno devi ji:
Everyday of the year throngs of people surge up the steep pathways
that cut across the Trikuta hillsides for mile after mile. This show
of faith is finely interwoven with the cultural strands of the Indian
subcontinent, and these pathways have been trod on for many centuries
now. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail
to the goddesses' abode to ask for a boon rarely goes back
disappointed. Whatever be it, a new enterprise or a forthcoming
examination, marriage or birth, the devout look up to the Mata For
blessings and guidance. There are many who journey year after year to
pay obeisance regardless of their faith or belief, creed or class,
caste or religion.
Yatra to the holy shrine is as fascinating as the legend associated
with it. It goes that thousands of years ago, a comely maiden called "Vaishnavi"
have been created by the three lords attained human form and was a
devotee of Lord Vishnu. Having taken a vow of celibacy, she spent
almost all her life in meditation and prayers. In time she attained
enormous spiritual powers and is believed to have extracted an
assurance from Lord Rama that he will marry her in Kali-Yug if she
persisted in her spiritual quest. This is why she is also known as Adh
Kanwari or the "eternal virgin".
Mata Vaishno Devi established an ashram in the foothills of the
Trikuta Mountain and began to meditate. As predicted by Lord Rama, her
glory started spreading and people began to flock to her ashram to
seek her blessings. As time passed, a Maha Yogi Guru Gorakshnath, who had a vision of the episode between Lord Rama and Mata
Vaishno Devi, became curious and wanted to know more about her.
Accordingly, he sent his most able disciple `Bhairon Nath' to find
out. Bhairon Nath started observing her secretly and realized that
despite being a `Sadhvi', she always carried a bow and arrows and was
always surrounded by langoor (apes) and a ferocious looking lion.
Bhairon, the demon God took a fancy to her. But the Mata spurned his
advances and fled to the Himalayas to continue her spiritual quest.
On the way the goddess felt thirsty at Banganga and shot an arrow into
the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, which is marked
by the imprints of her feet, is the place where she rested.
The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adh Kanwari. It took Bhairon
nine months to locate her, which is why the cave is known as Garbh
Joon. When the demon found her, Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening
at the other end of the cave with her trident and fled to the Holy
cave at Darbar (temple). However, Bhairon was persistent and followed
her there to harass her. Then goddess became very angry and assuming
the form of Mata Kali, beheaded Bhairon outside the cave with the aid
of the flying disc gifted to her by Lord Krishna. The severed head of
Bhairon fell at a distant hilltop. In his dying moments, Bhairon
begged and received divine forgiveness from the goddess. Today, it is
believed that the Yatra is not complete unless the pilgrim has been to
Bhairon ka Mandir (2.6 km from the main sanctum) as well, after the
darshan of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi.