Vaishno Devi temple is in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located in the Trikuta Hills at Katra, Reasi district. Katra is at a distance of 42 km from Jammu.
Vaishno Devi temple is an important place of worship of Durga Devi. Maa Vaishno Devi is a combined incarnation of Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati. Millions of devotees come to Vaishno Devi every year. During Navratri, the number goes up to a crore. The annual collections of the temple add up to 1300 billion rupees. The temple is visited by both Hindus and Sikhs.
Vaishno Devi is the combined incarnation of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Saraswati, the tamasik, satwik, and rajasik aspects of Durga Devi.
Once Mahakali, Mahalakshmi andMahasaraswati got together and decided to bring all their shaktis together in one place. When they did this, it became a brilliant light and that light turned into a young girl. They told her to take birth in the human form as the daughter of Ratnakar down south. She was to protect dharma in the world.
Once, Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Saraswati wanted their powers together in one place. The powers merged and became a brilliant light. From that light, a child was born. They told her to take birth in the house of Ratnakar in South India. She grew up there eager for knowledge and was named Vaishnavi. She spent most of her time in the forest meditating. In Treta yuga, Sri Ra Ji passed through that forest during his vana vasa. Vaishnavi recognized him and prayed for sayujya. Sri Ram Ji promised to meet her again when he comes back. On his way back, he came disguised as an old man and Vaishnavi could not recognize him. Sri Ram Ji told her to go to Trikuta Hills and observe tapas there. When he takes Kalki avatara, she would merge with him. She protects dharma in the world.
Vaishno Devi was found by Guru Gorakh Nath Ji in the 11th century. He had a vision about the interaction between Vaishno Devi and Sri Ram Ji in the Treta Yuga. He realized that Devi must be still there in the Trikuta Hills observing tapas. Gorakh Nath Ji sent his disciple Bhairavnath to look for Devi. When Bhairavnath got there, he saw Devi surrounded by langurs and a ferocious lion. She carried bows and arrows in her hands.
Bhairavnath, when he saw Vaishno Devi, became obsessed with her beauty. He kept stalking her with requests to marry him. Once, Devi participated in a feast in the village disguised as a young girl. Bhairavnath recognized her and went after her when she returned to the cave. Infuriated by his behavior, Devi beheaded him. His torso lies inside the cave and his head is on the top of a nearby hill. Then she pardoned him and gave him a boon that whoever comes for darshan will take the darshan of Bhairavnath Baba first.
Shreedhar (Sridhar Pandit) was a devotee of Vaishno Devi and he lived in the Hansali village nearby. Once, Devi told him to organize a grand feast for the villagers. When he ran short of funds, Devi came assuming the form of a young girl and manifested abundant food in the kitchen. After witnessing this miracle, Shreedhat spent the rest of his life worshiping Devi in the cave and became the first priest. It was on the way back from this feast that Devi killed Bhairavnath.
As per the instruction from Sri Ramji, Vaishno Devi still observes tapas at Trikuta Hills. She is expected to merge into the Lord when he takes avatara as Kalki at the end of the present Kaliyuga. She will be alive for nearly 4,27,000 years more.
Vaishno Devi cave existed even during Mahabharata times. Before the Kurukshetra war, Arjun had worshiped Maa Vaishno Devi. The temple was originally built by the Pandavas.
They are idols of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Saraswati.
Maa Vaishno Devi’s pindies are at the end of a 98 ft. long natural cave. Originally, Devi’s darshan could be obtained only by passing through the narrow cave. Nowadays, it is open for devotees only during the lean period after Makar Sankranti.
There are three pindies representing Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati inside the cave temple. To the right of the pindies, there are symbols of Ganesh, Surya, Chandra, and Annapurna. Behind the pindies, can be seen the symbol of a lion and the right arm of Devi offering blessings. Opposite the pindies are symbols of Pashupathi Nath and Hanuman Ji. From the base of the pindies, water keeps flowing out. This is called Charan Ganga.
The temple is open throughout the year. The weather is pleasant from March to October. During winter the temperature can drop down to -5 degree celsius. Snowfall occurs from December to early February.
Vaishno Devi is at a height of 5,200 ft (1,585 m) from MSL.
Jammu Airport is the closest to Vaishno Devi. It is 50 km from Katra.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station.
From Katra, one day is enough for visiting Vaishno Devi temple and coming back.
From Katra, Vaishno Devi is a 12 km climb. If you are going by helicopter, then it is a 2.5 km walk (from Sanjhi Chhat).
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