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.
shrine of Mata Vasihnodeviji or Trikuta Bhagwati (alt: 5,200
ft.) has been a beacon of faith and fulfilment to millions
of devotees from all over the world. The pilgrimage to the
Shrine holds great significance for the pilgrims.
of Mata Vaishnodeviji.
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's 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.
The 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
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 Tantrik called Gorakh Nath (Demo God), 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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
herself took up permanent abode in a cave in the Trikuta
Mountains by metamorphosing herself in to three pindis (Rock).
This holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is unique as it
contains the holiest of holy Pindis manifesting the Mata in
her three forms - Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati
- each form representing a particular attribute. Maha
Kali represents Tamas Guna, Tamas meaning
darkness. In her manifestation of Kali the omnipotent,
absolute and all pervasive, she is said to be beyond fear
and finite existence and is therefore able to protect her
devotees against fear and to give them limitless peace. Maha
Lakshmi represents Rajas Guna, Rajas meaning
prosperity. In this manifestation, the goddess blesses her
devotees with wealth and prosperity for living a better
life. Maha Saraswati represents Sattav Guna,
Sattav meaning wisdom and knowledge. This manifestation
enables her devotees to distinguish between good and bad and
helps them to adopt the right path in life. The combination
of these three attributes in a single Shakti is a unique
combination, which is what makes it, revered all over the