Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the main sacred Hindu temples dedicated to the goddess Vaishno Devi. Three peaked mountains named Trikuta hold the location of this shrine. Mountains are located near Katra town in Reasi Mandal of Jammu in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The temple is located about 12 km distance from Katra at an altitude of 5,200 feet. Millions of pilgrims visit this holy place every year. During festivals such as Navratri, the footfalls increase to more than 10 million here.
Here, Mahalakshmi in the form of Adishakti, Mahakali, and Mahasaraswati are sitting in a cave in the form of 3 Pindis. Devotees believed that Vaishno Devi temple is one of the 108 Maha Shakti Peethas of Durga, which they worshipped. The presiding deity of this temple is Vaishno Devi or Durga, who is considered an incarnation of goddesses Kali, Saraswati, and Lakshmi.
Legend of Maa Vaishno Devi Dham
There are many legends surrounding the holiest shrine of Vaishno mata. According to Puranas, during Treta yuga many evil forces started threatening the world with their supernatural powers and evil intentions. On seeing this, the Tridevi, or the three goddesses namely Maha Lakshmi, Maha Parvati, and Maha Saraswati pooled their collective spiritual strength, and from their energies, Goddess Vaishnavi was born to defeat all the demons and evil forces tainting the world. It is said that Bhairav Nath, a famous tantric saw the young Vaishno devi at a feast organized by a Brahmin named Shridhar on orders of the goddess and lusted after her. To escape from him, she ran away halting at various places on the trail up the Trikuta Mountain for nine months.
When Bhairav Nath adamantly continuously followed her, she finally took the form of Chamundi (a form of Kali) and beheaded him just outside the cave. The severed head of Bhairon fell with a force at a distant hilltop where now Bhairav Nath temple is located. After his death, the Bhairav Nath begged the goddess for forgiveness, and as a result, she granted him further salvation. Maa Vaishno Devi gave him a boon that every devotee also needs to visit the temple of Bhairav Natha along with the Mata temple. If someone doesn’t do that then the purpose of travelling to Mata temple will remain incomplete. Vaishno Devi later manifested into 3 small rocks (Pindis) and stays there till the present day.
Maa Vaishno Devi Temple Travel Planning
Best months to visit at Maa Vaishno Devi Dham:
Vaishno Devi is open for pilgrims throughout the year but the best time to undertake the journey is between March and October. The rush of devotees between these months is the most as the weather remains cool and pleasant. Physically fit people recommended visiting the shrine during the winter months of November to February. The reason is the snow covering the Katra and surrounding areas, resulting in fewer crowds.
How to reach Vaishno Devi Temple:
To reach the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, one has to reach the nearest major city Jammu. All the major cities of India has connected to Jammu, which makes it easier to travel here.
Reach Dham By Air –
Jammu is the nearest airport to Katra, located at a distance of 50 kilometres. Also, Jammu has connections to all other states of India. One can hail a taxi or cab from Jammu Airport to Katra easily.
Maa Vaishno devi trip by train
The most common transport for the holy shrine is railway transportation. Both Jammu and Katra have well connected to other parts of the country. Many passenger trains from different parts of India operate on this route. There are many direct trains to Katra from other parts of the country for safe and smooth travel.
Trip to Dham by bus
Many roads connect Jammu with all other cities of India. National Highway no. 1 passes through Jammu towards Srinagar and regular as well as air-conditioned private deluxe bus services from all major north Indian cities are available for both Jammu and Katra.
How to reach Temple Bhawan
The 12-kilometre climb from Katra to the temple is smooth on a well-paved path with a gentle slope and the duration varies according to the weather, crowds, and speed. The route has dotted with shops selling mementoes with pleasant views all along. Those who are unable to climb or are having problems can use helicopter services from Katra to Sanji Chhat after which the walk of 2.5 kilometres can take the worshipper to the cave and the ponies, porters, and palanquins are also available for hire. It usually takes a trek of 6-7 hours to climb and 3-6 hours to trek down depending upon the stay and walking speed.
Timings of Mandir
Vaishno Devi temple is open all year 24*7 for devotees to pay for pilgrimage. There are no specific timings for the opening and closing of the temple. As per the temperature and festival footfall, the hours can be changed. Aarti has performed at the holy cave twice every day. The aarti timings are between 5:00 am to 12:00 pm and in the evening between 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily. Devotees can also do Vaishno Devi darshan at night with complete safety.
Nearby places which you can explore in the Vaishno Devi tour
Devotees, during holidays, usually plan a trip of a week so they can also visit nearby places and explore Jammu a little. There are many sightseeing places and hill stations near Katra and Jammu. They can explore the beautiful sceneries of Jammu like Amar Mahal, Bahu Fort, Mansar Lake, Raghunath temple, etc. which are worth seeing. If travelling in winter, worshippers can also enjoy the snow and see the beauty of the temple which increases fourfold during the cold season.