Pilgrimage Tours - Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi


The shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India. Situated at a height of 5, 300 ft., located inside a cave in a hill, 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. 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.

Pilgrimage Attractions of Vaishno Devi


The Yatra


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 Banganga, place where Mata quenched her thirst and at 6 km further down, is the holy cave at Adhkawari.The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night 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 clean.

 

The Darshan


At the entrance to the cave is a place called Bhavan where the worshipper buys prasad (offering to the God, a little of which is returned to the devotee for distribution amongst his near and dear ones) and other offerings. Here the Yatri is issued a token number on showing the Yatra ticket. The group no. and the time for the Yatri's turn is mentioned on the token.

Cave
The total length of the holy Cave is about ninety eight feet. Here you can see symbols of a large number of Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. At the mouth of the original tunnel to the holy Cave on the left hand side of the rock face you can see the symbol of Vakra Tunda Ganesha. Adjacent to the symbol of Lord Ganesha you can see the symbols of Surya Dev and Chandra Dev. When you crawl into the holy Cave through the natural tunnel you cross over the Dhadh of Bhairo Nath who was beheaded by the Goddess at the entry point to the holy Cave. The Dhadh is fourteen feet long. After this you come across the symbol of Lord Hanuman who was also called Launkra Beer.

The Aartis
The Aarti of the Goddess is performed twice a day, once during the morning at sun rise and again during the evening at sun set. The holy cave is closed for pilgrims during the period the Aarti is being performed. It usually takes around two hours for the Aarti to be completed. Only the Pujaris, Sahayaks and an officer are permitted in the cave when the Aarti is being performed. The sequence of the various activities that are performed at Aarti is as under :

Chanting of Mantras

At the commencement of the Aarti the Pujaris utter aloud the 108 names of Durga. Then they perform Atam Puja for their own purification and apply Tilak on each other's forehead. This is followed by the chanting of mantras exhorting the Devas to give the Pujaris sound health. Thereafter, Prithvi, Surya, Deep and Dhoop are worshipped by the chanting of mantras. Once these activities are over, the Pujaris chant the Pratigyaa Sankalp where they vow to worship Mata Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi Vaishno Mata and Mata Maha Saraswati

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
Ardh Kuwari is the halfway point, and some pilgrims stay here for the night. 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 level.


 

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