The Holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most adorable places of worship for Hindus in Northern India. Dedicated to Goddess Shakti Mata Vaishno Devi is nestled in the laps of the Himalayas on the top of the Trikuta Hills forming a part of the Lower Himalayas in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. It is basically maintained by the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
Vaishno Devi Cave is located at an altitude of 5200 feet . The yatra towards Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover a distance of 13 kms of topography on foot to reach the Darbar of the Mata. Every day throughout the year mass of humanity surge up steep pathways that cut across the hillside mile after mile.
Popular belief is that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to her abode to ask for a boon rarely gets disappointed. It is said when one goes on climbing the hill with utter devotion a supernatural power rejuvenates the senses. While climbing the hill one can also have the breathtaking view of the Katra city and the snow clad Himalayan ranges.
Vaishno Devi Yatra also includes the visit to numerous other shrines and temple like the Kalika Temple, Shiva Goompha, Bhumika temple, Ardha Kuwari, Ban Ganga temple, Bhairon Mandir.
The sacred cave of Mata Rani is 30 metres and just a one and half metres high. It is said that this is the place where Mata Vaishno Devi merged with her astral form of her creators. Those are said to be the three supreme energies. The cave of Mata Vaishno Devi has three Pindies or stones dedicated to the three forms of Mother Shakti viz: Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Maha Saraswati.
This legend has its roots more than 700 years ago. Vaishno Devi was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and used to worship Lord Rama. Bhairon Nath a tantric (Demon God) tried to behold her knowing her captivating powers and gave her a chase to the Trikuta Hills. The Goddess there felt thirsty and at Ban Ganga shooted an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka is said to be the place she rested and here lies her foot imprints. Then she meditated in the cave of Adhkawari. According to popular belief it took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her and the cave is known as Garbha Joon. It is said Mata Vaishno Devi bursted up an opening at the other end of the cave with her Trident knowing that Bhairon Nath has located her. On arriving at the holy cave at Darbar she is assumed to have taken the form of Maha Kali and cut off the head of Bhairon Nath. The head cut off from the Torso flew fell at the place where the present Bhairon temple is located. But legend has it that the benevolent goddess forgave the Demon god and blessed him for the attainment of salvation.
To visit the Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, firstly one has to reach Katra a small town which is located around 50 kms from Jammu. Katra is considered the base camp for Vaishno Devi Yatra. Best time to travel is throughout the year except during winter. Pilgrims prefer the months of October and February for Vaishno Devi yatra.