Maa Vaishno Devi is a very famous holy place of Goddess Durga. It is in the cave at the top of Trikutas Hills in Katra, Jammu Kashmir. The holy cave of Goddess is at the height of 5200 ft. Vaishno Devi has become the most visited place by Devotees. The numbers of Devotees are increasing year by year. Millions of Devotees came every year to fulfill their wish. No idols of Goddess in the cave. There are three shapeless stones are worshiped as Maha Kali, Maha Laxmi, and Maha Saraswati. Devotees have to climb 12 km from Katra to reach the Holy cave of Goddesses.
About Vaishno Devi Temple
It is very difficult to say, how old it is? But it is sure it’s a very old holy cave. There is a description of Trikuta Hills in Ringha Veda. There is also a description of the holy cave at Trikuta Hills in Mahabharata. Guru Govind Singh has also come here. There is a Geological study that claims the holy cave is millions of years old.
Story of Maa Vaishno Devi
There was a man named Ratnakar who lived in South India. He and his wife were great devotees of Goddess. Ratnakar had married but didn’t have a child. Once the goddess gave the couple a boon to get a child and said that this daughter will take birth in your home to protect religion and promote righteousness. Ratnakar gave all religious education to his daughter Vaishnavi. Once she mates Lord Rama during his Banvasa. Lord Rama advised her to go on Trikuta Hills and said to establish an Ashram to meditate there as well as help and bless the mankind and poor. At the behest of Bhagavan Ram, Vaishnavi built an ashram on Trikuta hill and started giving boons to help the poor and needy and fulfill their wishes. Slowly, the glory of Vaishnavi began to be celebrated all around.
To know the glory of Vaishnavi, Guru Gorakhnath sent his disciple Bhaironath to find out. Bhairon Nath began to crazy to get her seeing her beauty. He started to pressurize her to marry. Once a devotee of goddess Shridhar organized a Bhandara and invited all. During the Bhandara, Bhaironath attempted to grab her and he tried his best to scare her but failing to do so, Vaishnavi decided to run into the mountains to continue her penance. Bhairon Nath started to search for her. Vaishnavi first took a bath in Banganga and stayed at an Adkwari cave to penance.
When Bhaironath has reached there to search her she moved in a cave at the hilltop. Bhairon Nath also reached there. Seeing this, Vaishnavi took the form of rage and Vaishnavi Mata hit the Bhaironath strongly by the sharp sword that her head fell on the other hilltop after cutting. After that Bhaironath felt her mistake. He apologized to the goddess.
Kindness goddess forgave him and blessed that whoever devotee would come to goddess Darshana who would have to Darshana Bhairon Nath after goddess Darshana. After this, Goddess Vaishnavi gave up her body and she sat inside the cave in the form of Pindi (rock).
Katra to Bhawan
There are many ways to reach the holy cave (Bhawan) from Katra. It is 13 km climbing from Katra to Bhawan.
Katra → Banganga (1 kms) → Charan Paduka (1.5 kms) → Adkwari (3.5 kms) → Himkoti (2.5 kms) → Sanjhi Chat (1 kms) → Bhawan (2.5 kms) → Bhairo (1.5 kms).
1 By helicopter: there is a facility of the helicopter to reach Katra to the holy cave. The helipad is just about 2 km. far from the holy cave. It takes only 5 minutes to drop. The fare of one side is 1045 rs. and 2090 rs. for return.
2 By Ponies (horse) Pitthu and Palki (Palanquins): Devotee can reach to the holy cave by Ponies, Pitthu, and Palki (Palanquins) from Katra or from midway. Shrine Board has fixed the Price of Ponies, Pitthu, and Palki (Palanquins).
3 By Battery Car: There is also farcicalities of battery car for those who are unable to climb. This battery car facility is available from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. From the Adkwari to Holy cave 300rs per person and Holy cave to Adkwari 200 rs.
Bhawan to Bhairo Rope way
It is a must to visit Bhairo temple after Darshana of Goddess. The distance between Bhawan to Bhairo temple is 1.5 km but it is a straight climb. Shrine Board has started ropeway facilities for devotees. The charge of one way is only 100 rs.
Registration for Yatra
A devotee has to do registration for Maa Vaishno Devi yatra from the registration counter. The registration card is checked 2-3 times during the yatra. Shrine Board has opened the registration counter at Katra or who are coming by air that can also get registration cards from Jammu Airport. One has to show one any govt. ID for registration.
Vaishno Devi temple timing
5:00 to 12:00 am and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm .
Morning 6:00 am to 8:00 am. Evening 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.