Vaishno Devi is nestled in the mighty Trikuta mountain 61
kilometers north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in
the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The shrine is visited all through the
year, but the path is difficult during the winters due to snowfall.
As the legend goes, more than 700 years ago Vaishno Devi a devotee of Lord
Vishnu, used to pray to Lord Rama and had taken vow of celibacy. Bhairon
Nath, a tantric (demon-God) tried to behold Her. Making use of his tantric
powers, Bhairon Nath was able to see Her going towards the Trikuta mountains
and gave chase. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate Her, the reason
why the cave is known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at
the other end of the cave with Her Trident when the demon-God located Her.
On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali
and cut off Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force
of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located.
The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the
petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the
benevolent Mata in his dying moments.
The Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on
foot to reach the Darbar. One kilometer away from Katra, is a place known as
Banganga, where Mata quenched her thirst and at 6 km., the holy cave at
Adhkawari. After 6 km. of trekking, the yatries reach Adhkawari, the holy
cave where Mata meditated for nine months.
The journey amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from
within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. There is a common faith among
the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a 'Call' to her devotees and that once a
person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine
of the great Goddess. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the
mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting 'Prem
se bolo, Jai Mata Di'. There are images of three deities - The Mahakali, Maa
Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi.