Vaishno Devi is one of the most sacred sites in North India. Being situated on top of the hill, it is also world-famous for its grandeur and beauty. The temple is 5200 meters high and about 14 kilometers from Katra. This temple is the largest scenic spot after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple.
Sridhar, a devotee of Maa Vaishnavi, lived in the village of Harshali, 2 kilometers from the present Katra town. He was sad to be childless. On the day of Kanya Poojan, Maa Vaishno sat there with 9 girls. Even after all the girls left, the Maa remained there and ordered Sridhar to invite everyone. Baba Gorakhnath and his disciple Bhaironath also attended the invitation.
Maa Vaishno started serving food to everyone from a special type of vessel. When she reached Bhaironath, he ordered meat and liquor to be brought in the food. On the refusal of the Maa, Bhairo tried to capture the mother. But Maa started flying towards Trikuta mountain in the form of air. Maa Vaishno entered a cave and meditated there for 9 years.
Hanuman Ji protected Maa Vaishno throughout this period and also fought with Bhairo. When Hanuman Ji began to wilt in the war, Maa took the form of Mahakali and separated the head of Bhairo from his body.
Later, Maa Vaishno came to Sridhar’s dream and gave him the boon of children. Sridhar too set out in search of a mother. On finding the cave, he built the temple and started worshiping there.
According to this belief, when it comes to the destruction of religion in the world and increase in the powers of unrighteousness, all three forms of Adi Shakti – Maa Durga, Maa Saraswati, and Maa Lakshmi, created a girl through their collective penance. The girl came to Rameshwar as a daughter to Pandit Ratnakar’s house.
Ratnakar named the daughter as Trikuta. Being part of Lord Vishnu, she became famous as Vaishnavi. When Trikuta came to know that Lord Vishnu also incarnated as Rama, she started meditating harshly considering Lord Rama as her husband.
Shri Ram killed Ravana and reached Rameshwar, he saw a meditative girl on the shore. When the girl asked Lord Shri Ram to accept her as his wife, Shri Ram replied that he had already married Sita in this birth and vowed not to marry anyone else. Now, He will be born as Kali in Kali Yuga and marry you. Till that time you go to the Trikuta mountain in the Himalayas and do penance and get rid of the sufferings of the devotees. “
Shri Ram also blessed her that she will do world welfare in the form of Trikuta and will become immortal.
Place where Maa Vaishno killed Bhairo is the Holy Cave and Vaishno Temple. At this place, Maa Kali is seated on the right, Maa Saraswati in the middle and Maa Lakshmi on the left side as Pind in the cave. The combined form of these three is called the form of Maa Vaishno and Ardh-Kunwari cave.
At the time of the bloodshed, the head of Bhairo Nath fell at Bhairaghati, 8 km from the Trikuta mountain. After that, Bhairo Nath repented of his mistake and apologized to Maa Vaishno. Maa knew that Bhairon’s wish was to attain salvation. Maa not only freed Bhairo from the cycle of rebirth but also blessed him that without your visit, my worship would be incomplete. This place is also known as Bhaironath Temple.
Maa Vaishno shot an arrow into the earth and a water stream flowed from it. Maa had washed her hair in that stream. In some stories, it is also mentioned that during the tenacity, when Hanuman Ji was protecting Maa, at that time, the mother had shot an arrow into the earth to calm Hanuman’s thirst and the water stream flowed from there.
The Vaishno Devi temple is open throughout the year for worship. Months of May, June, and Navratri are much crowded. Visit during the monsoon and cold days is ideal.
Katra, a small town in Jammu, is the stop destination of Vaishno Devi, which is 50 km from Jammu. From Katra to temple complex you find many stops – Bal Ganga, Char Paduka, Indraprastha, Ardha kuvanari, Garbhajoon, Himkoti, Sanjhi Chhata, and Bhairo Temple. The distance from Katra to Bhavan is 13 kilometers, which you can walk on foot or you can reduce this distance by traveling by air.
In the journey from Katra to Bhavan, you can rest at different places and proceed onwards. These rest places are available on both a free and rental basis. Pilgrims are also provided with more facilities here.