Mata Vaishno Devi temple is one of the most visited temples which is situated at a height of 5,300 ft located inside a cave called Trikuta Bhagwat hill in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J & K). The cave temple is at a distance of 61 kms from Jammu and the last 13 kms of the way have to be negotiated on foot by the yatris and the devotees of Maa Vaishno Devi. At the entrance of the cave, the path to the temple turns into a narrow tunnel with a cold stream named the Charan Ganga running through it.
Video - In and Around Maa Vaishano Temple
The holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is nestled in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas.The cave has the images of three deities viz. the Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.
Vaishno Devi is a cave in the lower Himalayas where Katra, the town at the foot of the Trikuta hills is the base camp for the Vaishno Devi shrine. Katra is 48 km from Jammu, 650 km from Delhi (via Una), 520 km from Udhampur, 410 km from Chandigarh and 80 km from Patnitop.
The shrine is visited all through the year, but the path is difficult during the winters when the route is often blocked by snowfall.
Significance of the temple
The temple of Mata Vaishno Devi is dedicated to Vaishnavi which is the human manifestation of Goddess Shakti. Within the temple, the Goddess is in the form of a five and half feet tall rock with three Pindies or heads. It has been believed and proved that the goddess to achieve her destiny of finally merging with Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a human and was born as Vaishnavi, in the household Ratnakar. Where as a young girl, Vaishnavi displayed an immense thirst for knowledge that she soon taught her teachers and she started to search within herself for the answers that she couldn't find elsewhere and learnt the art of meditation. Realizing the importance of Tapasya (meditation) Vaishnavi the young girl of Ratnakar renounced all worldly comforts and betook herself to the forest to meditate in peace.
Legend has the evidence that Vaishnavi was in the forest where she encountered Lord Rama, prince of Ayodhya, who was in exile. Recognizing him immediately as the avatar of Lord Vishnu she begged him to merge with her, but Lord Rama was knowing that the time was not ripe promised her that on completion of his exile Lord Rama would again pass that way and if Vaishnavi would recognized him then he would fulfill her wishes. True to his word he returned in the guise of an old man, but unfortunalely Vaishnavi failed to recognize him. Rama consoled her and advised her to set up an ashram at the base of the Trikuta Hills and continue with her penance.
The holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi has unique features as it contains the holiest of holy Pindis manifesting Mata in her three forms which are Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. Each of these forms represent particular attributes.
Maha Kali represents Tam Guna where Tam stands for darkness or unholiness. The main attribute of Maha Kali is that Mata is constantly endeavoring to vanquish the forces of darkness. Maha Lakshmi represents Raj Guna which stands for sustenance, prosperity and well being. Maha Saraswati represents Satva Guna: Satva means the purity and goodness. The main attribute of Maha Saraswati, Mata blesses her devotees with pure thoughts and a high intellect.
Time to Visit
Climate in the Holy Shrine is of high altitude temperature – very cold and the best time to visit is throughout the year except during winter. The pilgrims prefer travelling between October and February.
Rules and Rituals of the temples
The 'Aarti' of the Goddess is performed usually twice a day, first time in the morning before the sunrise and second time in the evening after the sunset. During the ''Aarti'' of Maa Vaisnavi only the Pujaris, Pandits and security staff besides senior most functionaries of the Board at Bhawan are allowed inside the sanctum- sanctorum.
Other places to Visit
Ban Ganga Temple
As the Maa Vaishnav left the Bhumika Temple later she proceeded to Trikuta Hills passing through here. At this time, Langoor Vir felt thirsty then the goddess shot an arrow into the stone and a holy river was produced which is called Ban Ganga. Because the goddess washed her hair at this place and today most pilgrims take bath here.
Charan Paduka Temple
This is the place where the Maa Viashnavi stopped for some time while Bhairon was chasing her and footprints are supposed to be visible on a stone at this place.
Ardh Kuwari is the halfway point where some pilgrims stay here for the night. There is a 15-foot-long cave called Garbha Joon where the goddess hid herself for nine months and showed herself to a saint.
Access to the Temple
The cave of Maa Vaishnave Devi is in the lower Himalayas. Katra, the town at the foot of the Trikuta hills is the base camp for the Vaishno Devi shrine.
Vaishno Devi is located 14 km from the town of Katra and 52 km north of Jammu. Katra is situated at 2,800 feet and takes about 2 hours to reach from Jammu by bus.
Maa Vaishnave Devi Temple is developed to great extent where all the facilities are available for the devotees as one starts the piligrimage for Jammu.
In Jammu for the convenience of the pilgrims, the Maa Vaishnavi Shrine Board offers accommodation at its Yatri Niwas, Vaishnavi Dham located near the Railway Station. Double bedded A.C. rooms and A.C.suite accommodation are also available.
As one reachs Katra, the Yatris can get accommodation at Niharika /Vishram Ghar complex of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board .
There are other several hotels in private sector which are offering excellent facilities for boarding and lodging. Information regarding these hotels would be available with Travel agents in Jammu city and JKTDC assistance at TRC counters Jammu, Katra and Railway Station, Jammu.