shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most visited pilgrim
sites in India. Situated at a height of 5, 300 ft., the site is
located inside a cave in a hill. One of the most visited pilgrim
sites in India, the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located in a
cave, amidst the folds of the Trikuta Bhagwati hill at a height
of 5, 300 ft., in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J & K). This
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, as the devotees are
called. Once at the entrance to the cave, the path turns into a
narrow tunnel with a cold stream named the Charan Ganga running
through it. The pilgrim has to wade through this to reach the
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 Vaishno Devi shrine is nestled in the Trikuta Mountain. It
lies 61 km north of Jammu in the northern state of Jammu and
Kashmir. Perched at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level,
Vaishno Devi is a cave in the lower Himalayas. 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.
Vaishnavi - The Manifestation of Goddess Shakti
The temple of Vaishno Devi is dedicated to Vaishnavi, the human
manifestation of Goddess Shakti. Within the temple is the deity
in the form of a five and half feet tall rock with three Pindies
or heads. It is written 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 of one Ratnakar.
Even as a young girl, Vaishnavi displayed an immense thirst for
knowledge that soon out thought her teachers. Soon 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 renounced all
worldly comforts and betook herself to the forest to meditate in
Mata Darshan begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km of
terrain on foot to reach the Darbar. One kilometer away from
Katra, is Banganga, place where Mata.
The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled.
Besides, the whole path is lit up every Nights by powerful sodium
vapour lamps. The whole route is swept and cleaned from time to
time throughout the day. Yatris are requested to keep the path
Shelter cum sheds and shelter cum cafeterias are setup
throughout the route. Pure vegetarian food is available at these
outlets. Price charts are exhibited at all these outlets
prominently. Drinking water has been made available all along
the route, with water coolers and storage facilities.
Public utilities with automatic flushing systems along the track
and at the Bhawan. After 6 km. of trekking, you would reach
Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months.
Do visit the cave. After 9.5 km., you would reach Sanji Chhat
where you can rest for sometime. Accommodation is also available
at this place. Bhawan is just 3.5 km. away.
The Other Pilgrimage Attractions at Vaishno Devi
Ban Ganga Temple
After the goddess left the Bhumika Temple, she went to the
Trikuta Hills passing through here. At this time, Langoor Vir
(Veer Langur) felt thirsty. The goddess shot an arrow into the
stone and a holy river was produced, now known as Ban Ganga. It
is called Ban Ganga because the goddess washed her hair at this
place. Most pilgrims take bath here. You must show the slip you
got near the Bus Stand in Katra to pass this point. Ban Ganga is
about 3 km from Katra.
Charan Paduka Temple
This is where the goddess stopped for some time while Bhairon
was chasing her. Her footprints are supposed to be visible on a
stone at this place. Charanpaduka means "holy footprints". It is
about 1.5 km from Ban Ganga at 3,380 feet.
Ardh Kuwari is the halfway point, and some pilgrims stay
here for the Nights. There is a 15-foot-long cave called Garbha
Joon where the goddess hid herself for nine months and showed
herself to a saint. The cave is narrow, and you have to almost
crawl all the way through it. When Bhairon entered the cave, the
goddess made a new opening with her trident and ran away. Ardh
Kuwari is 4.5 km from Charan Paduka and 4,800 ft above sea
How to reach
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 each from Jammu by bus.
Air : The nearest airport is in Jammu, which is 48 km from
Katra. There is a helicopter service that departs from the
airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning. The ride costs
about Rs. 2,000 one way (baggage 2 kg, 15 minute)
Train : The nearest train station is in Jammu.
Bus : There are regular buses leaving for the 52
km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road
ends at Katra (2 hr).
Walking From Katra it is a steep 13 km walk. You can rent a
horse or be carried up from Katra. You can go up to the cave and
back in the same day. It takes about 4 hours to climb up and 3
hours to come down. Pilgrims must get a Yatra-Slip from the
tourist reception center near the bus stand in Katra to get pass
Ban Ganga. It is a hard climb to Vaishno Devi.