Vaishno Devi is one of the most famous oldest Hindu shrine located at a height of about 5300 feet on the Trikuta hills of the Shivalik Hill range in Jammu, Kashmir, India.It is mentioned in Mahabharata epic where Arjun, upon the advice of Sri Krishna did meditation of Goddess to take her blessing for victory against Kaurav.

In a story Mother Goddess took the birth with name Trikuta and told Sri Ram she wants to marry him and he should accept her as his wife, but Lord Rama after so many request asked her to meditate in the cave in Trikuta range and give her promise that in Kaliyug, in his next birth he will accept her as wife. Later she  became famous and  was called as Vaishno Devi and the cave where she mediated became the famous shrine.

Main temple is about 13.5 km from Katra and various mode of transportation is available, one can go by Pallaki which is carried by four peoples, by vehicles, by walk or by horses and ponnies. Me with four friends  and parents started  our journey from Delhi which is about  403 miles and it took almost nine hours and twenty-five minutes to reach Katra. One can reach by  helicopter also  upto Sanjichhat which is approx. 9.5 km from that of  Katra.

After reaching Katra we went to Hotel to take rest. One can get best Hotel with  pure vegetarian food at cheap rate. In next morning  we started our journey to Maa Vaishno Devi Temple by walk and parents by horses. One should carry a stick to make it easy to walk and keep away monkeys, and should  avoid taking heavy luggage as it will make you tired and more much facilities is available on way, so will have no need to carry extra stuff other then necessary items.

One of the main point on reaching Katra is to get yourself registered . It is carried out  at Yatri Registration counter near the bus stand Katra and another yatra registartion counter number -2 near second bus stand which is one km away from first counter at Udhampur road. Registration is also done online, and  yatri is allowed to cross first check post at Ban-Ganga within 6 hrs of  issue of slip, after that it is cancelled, if one fails to reach. 

A main  story is about seven hundred years ago in Hansali village which is about  2km from Katra there used to live a poor priest named as Pandit Sri-dhar, he was having no child. One day in Navrata Kanya Pujan ,  Maa Vaishno Devi came as a little girl and told Sri-dhar to call every village person for Bhandara (Lunch). Pandit Sri-dhar  trusting little girl called everyone to the Bhandara along with Goraknath and his disciples. Next day all people of village gathered along with Goraknath and his disciples Bhairavnath to Pandit house. 

All of them were quite surprised as Pandit was poor and he invited for food to every person of village, Bhairavnath being curious to know about little girl asked her to serve meat and wine, Maa Goddess  refused to serve and  knowing the wrong intention of Bhairav, before he could catch her, with her divine powers she disappeared. Bhairav started chasing her, on way where Mother Goddess felt thirsty it is called Ban Ganga as the name indicates with the help of  bow, stream of water start flowing out.

This is the first place where people start there journey by taking a dip into Ban Ganga. 

After that is Charan Padika where Mother Goddess rested for a while and where she rested her footprints  are still visible on the stone and is worshiped  in the temple.

After Charan Paduka is Garab Joon or  Adikumari Cave where mother Goddess did meditation for complete nine months like a child stays in the womb for nine months and thus is called as Garab Joon. 

From Adikumari two roads bifurcuate , one road you can go by vehicles and by walk which is shorter and on other side by walk or by horses and ponnies which is longer route, but facilities  of water and other shops are available on both sides, with less in shorter way.

 In another part, Bhairav came to Adikumari cave also and before he could enter the cave, mother Goddess disappears and reached the Vaishno Devi cave which is famous cave and having gained all the powers after doing meditation she with the help of her Trishul cut the head of Bhairavnath and the place where it felt is called as Bhairavnath Temple.

After request of Bhairavnath to forget his sins, she blessed him saying after her worship, people will go and pay visit to his temple, then only wish will be fulfilled.

In dream of Shri-dhar Mother Goddess showed him the cave, on finding the cave seen in dream pandit worshiped Goddess Mother , pleased with his worship she told his descendants will keep on worshiping her forever. Mother Goddess is present in the cave in three pindi forms (Maa Saraswati, Maa Lakshmi and Maa Kali ) where still descendants of pandit Sri- Giridhar worship her in the cave.

In Cave, you can entered from new way where it takes less time, when we reached main cave was closed for entering and new way was allowed to enter the cave which was easy way . After worship of Maa Vaishno Devi Goddess  we went for eating  in the shops near the temple and after taking rest for a while went to Bhairavnath temple, worshiped there and rested for a while and started our journey back and reached our hotel late at night. 

Next morning we started our journey back to home, taking along with blessing of Goddess and faith that she will fulfill our dreams and  we will  visit her once again.

Sonia Singla