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vaishnav devi

Vaishno Devi

Indian Spiritual tradition has propounded four Purusharth (objectives) of a human life. These being Dharm (Righteousness), Arth (Material Pursuits), Kaam (Contentment) and Moksh (Enlightenment). Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is believed to grant all the four boons to those who visit Her Holy Shrine. She is considered to fulfill anything and everything that a person wishes for in life, in a righteous way. It is an experience of all, that no one goes empty handed from Her Great Pilgrimage.

The journey to the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is thus an enchanting journey of the places where Mata Vaishnavi had spent some time while observing various spiritual disciplines and penances. The culmination of this journey is at the Holy Cave where She merged Her Human form with the astral form of Her creators, the three Supreme Energies

Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine

A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds 5 million. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.

The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the yatris are blessed with the Darshan of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum-the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave.Darshans are open round the clock throughout the year.

The Journey

The journey to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji starts with the Call of Mata. It is not only a belief but also a strong experience of one and all that the Divine Mother sends a call to her children. And once a person receives it, wherever he is, is bound to visit the Mother to receive Her unbounded love and blessings. A popular slogan in the local folklore beautifully expresses it- Maan Aap Bulandi - which means that The Mother Herself Calls! It is also a matter of experience by almost all those who visit the Holy Shrine that upon the Call of Mata, a person needs to just take one step and leave the rest to Her and his journey gets completed with Her divine blessings. Simultaneously, it is also believed that unless there is a call or Bulawa no one can visit the Shrine or have Her blessings, howsoever high or mighty one may be.

History

Like with most old Shrines, it is not possible to ascertain when exactly the pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine started. A geological study of the Holy Cave has indicated its age to be nearly a million years. Vedic literature gives no reference to the worship of any female deity, although the mountain Trikuta does find its mention in Rigveda, the oldest of the four Vedas The practice of worshipping Shakti, largely started in the Puranic period.

The first mention of the Mother Goddess is in the epic Mahabharat. When the armies of Pandavs and Kaurvas were arrayed in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjun, the chief warrior of Pandavs upon advice of Sri Krishna; meditated upon the Mother Goddess and sought Her blessings for victory. This is when Arjun addresses the Mother Goddess as ‘Jambookatak Chityaishu Nityam Sannihitalaye’, which means ‘you who always dwell in the temple on the slope of the mountain in Jamboo’ (probably referring to the present day Jammu).

It is also generally believed that the Pandavs were the first to build the temples at Kol Kandoli and Bhawan in reverence and gratitude for the Mother Goddess. On a mountain, just adjacent to the Trikuta Mountain and overlooking the Holy Cave are five stone structures, which are believed to be the rock symbols of the five Pandavs.

Perhaps the oldest reference of the visit of a historical figure to the Holy Cave is that of Guru Gobind Singh who is said to have gone there via Purmandal. The old foot track to the Holy Cave passed through this well-known pilgrimage centre.

Some traditions believe this Shrine to be the holiest of all Shaktipeeths (a place where the Mother Goddess, the Eternal Energy has Her abode) since the skull of Mata Sati fell here. Others believe that her right arm had fallen here. But some scriptures do not agree with it. They do agree that at a place called Gandarbal in Kashmir, the right arm of Sati had fallen. Nevertheless, in the Holy Cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji, one does find stone remains of a human hand, popularly known as Varad Hast (the hand that grants boons and blessings).

Legend

As per the legend, during the period when the Goddess was busy in annihiliting the Asuras, Her three main manifestations viz. Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati got together one day and pooled their collective Tejas or spiritual strength. A stunningly bright light emanated from the place where the Tejas of the three manifestations coalesced and a beautiful young girl emerged out of this Tejas. The young girl asked them, "Why have I been created?'' The Devis explained to her that they had created her so that she would live on earth and spend her time in upholding righteousness.

The Devis added, "Now, go and take birth in the house of Ratankar and his wife who reside in the southern part of India, and who are great devotees of ours. Live on earth. Uphold righteousness and evolve yourself spiritually so that you reach higher levels of consciousness. Once you have attained the appropriate level of consciousness you will merge into Vishnu and become one with him.'' So saying they blessed the girl. Sometimes later a very beautiful girl child was born to Ratankar and his wife. The couple named the child Vaishnavi. The girl right from her childhood displayed a hunger for knowledge which was like a vortex and which no amount of teaching and learning could sufficiently satiate. Subsequently, Vaishnavi started looking into her inner self for knowledge, and soon learned the art of meditation and realized that meditation and penance only could bring her close to her greater objective. Vaishnavi thus relinquished all household comforts and went deep into the forest for Tapasaya (meditation). Meanwhile, Lord Ram, during his fourteen years of exile happened to visit Vaishnavi who recognized him immediately as no ordinary being but the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and immediately asked him to merge her into himself so that she could become one with the supreme creator.

However Lord Ram, knowing that it was not the appropriate time, dissuaded her by saying that he would visit her again after the end of his exile, and at that time if she succeeded in recognizing him, he would fulfill her wish. True to his words, Rama visited her again after being victorious in the battle, but this time he did so in the disguise of an old man. Unfortunately, Vaishnavi was unable to recognize him this time and was distraught. Upon this, Lord Ram consoled her that the appropriate time for her being one with the creator had not come, and that time would come eventually in 'Kaliyug'when He (Ram) would be in his incarnation of 'Kalki'. Ram also directed her to meditate, and set up an Ashram at the base of Trikuta hills, to elevate her level of spirituality so as to bless mankind and rid the poor and destitute of their sufferings.Only then would 'Vishnu' merge her into himself. Vaishnavi, immediately set off for the northern part and after immense hardships, reached the foot of the Trikuta Hills. After reaching there she set up her ashram there and began to meditate.

As predicted by Lord Ram, her glory spread far and wide, and people began to flock to her Ashram to seek her blessings. As time passed, a Tantrik named Gorakh Nath who had a vision of the episode between Lord Ram and Vaishnavi in the retrospective time frame, became curious to find out whether Vaishnavi has been able to attain a high level of spirituality or not. He, therefore, sent his most able disciple 'Bhairon Nath' to find out the truth. Bhairon Nath on locating the ashram started observing Vaishnavi secretly, and realised that though a 'Sadhvi'she always carried bow and arrows with her, and was always surrounded by langoors (apes) and a ferocious looking lion. Bhairon Nath was enamored by Vaishnavi's extraordinary beauty, and losing all good sense he began to pester Vaishnavi to marry him. Meanwhile a staunch devotee of Vaiashnavi, Mata Sridhar organised a Bhandara (Community meal)in which the whole village and Guru Gorakh Nath along with all his followers including Bhairon were invited. During the course of Bhandara Bhairon Nath attempted to grab Vaishnavi but she tried her best to daunt him. On failing to do so, Vaishnavi decided to flee away into the mountains to continue her Tapasaya undisturbed. Bhairon Nath however chased her to her destination.

The goddess after halting at (present day) Banganga, Charan Paduka, and Adhkwari, finally reached the holy cave Shrine. When Bhairon Nath continued to follow her despite the goddess trying to avoid a confrontation, the goddess was compelled to kill him. Bhairon Nath met his ultimate fate when the goddess, just outside the mouth of the cave, beheaded him. The severed head of Bhairon fell with a force at a distant hilltop. Bhairon Nath upon death realised the futility of his mission and prayed to the deity to forgive him. The almighty Mata( Mother Goddess) had mercy on Bhairon and gave him a boon that every devotee of the goddess would have to have the Darshans of Bhairon after having the Darshans of the Goddess and only then would the yatra of a devotee be complete. Meanwhile, Vaishnavi decided to shed off her human form and assuming the face of a rock she immersed her self into meditation forever. Thus Vaishnavi, in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock with three heads or the Pindies on the top is the ultimate destination of a devotee. These Pindies constitute the Sanctum Sanctorum of the holy cave known as the shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, which is revered by one and all.

Discovery of Shrine

Aarti

The'Aarti' of the Goddess is performed twice a day first time in the morning just before the sunrise and second time in the evening immediately after the sunset.

The procedure of 'Aarti' is a very sacred and lengthy one. The Pujaris perform 'Aarti' before the holy deity first inside the sanctum- sanctorum and than outside the cave. Before the commencement of 'Aarti', the Pujaris perform 'Aatam pujan' i,e self-purification. Then the Goddess is bathed in water, milk, ghee(Clarified butter), honey and sugar. Thereafter the goddess is dressed-up in a saree, chola and chuni and ornaments are endowed upon her. The whole process takes place amidst the enchantment of various shlokas and Mantras. Thereafter Tilak is placed on the forehead of the deity and Navied (prashad) is offered to her. The Pujaris perform puja of various Gods and Goddesses, as it is a believed that during the Aarti time, all the Gods and Goddesses are present inside the sanctum Sanctorum. The Jyoti (divine lamp) is lightened and then the 'Aarti' of the goddess is performed. After the whole procedure, the thaal which contains the lamp and various other items used in the 'Aarti', is brought outside the mouth of the holy cave, where 'Aarti' of the goddess is performed in the presence of yatris. The yatris who remain seated outside the holy cave during the time when the Aarti is performed inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, keep listening to the Pravachans of head Pandit. After the Aarti outside the holy cave is over, the pujari distributes Prasadam and the charanamrit (the holy water) to the devotees.

This whole procedure of 'Aarti' takes nearly two hours during which time the darshans remain suspended. All the maintenance works required inside the cave are carried out during this time only.

How to reach the Shrine

In order to visit the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, one has to reach Katra, a small town situated around 50 kms. from Jammu, the winter capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Katra serves as the base camp for the yatra. Katra is well connected to Jammu and Jammu, in turn, is well connected to the rest of the country by Air, Rail, and Road.

By Air

Jammu is well connected to the rest of India by air. Both Indian Airlines and Jet Airways operate daily flights to Jammu. The average flying time from New Delhi is about 80 minutes.

By Train

One can also reach Jammu by rail. Jammu is connected to other parts of country on broad gauge and numerous passenger trains ply from various parts of the country to Jammu. In the peak season of summer and other holidays, the Railways introduce special trains for Jammu for the comfort of the Yatris. Many superfast trains also ply on this route and one can reach Jammu overnight from New Delhi.

A list of trains, their schedules and booking status could be seen at the Indian Railways website. You can even book tickets online if you are planning to travel in the near future.

By Road

Jammu is well connected through road also to rest of India. National Highway No. 1A passes through Jammu towards Srinagar. Regular bus services from all major North Indian cities are available for Jammu as well as Katra. Many standard and deluxe buses of various State Road Transport Corporations as well as private operators connect Jammu with important cities and towns of North India.

Passengers using Air or Rail as a mode of travel have necessarily to break their journey at Jammu and from thereon select an alternative mode of transport. However for passengers traveling by road, either through public or own transport, there is an option of taking a by-pass from Kunjwani, nearly 10 kms. off Jammu and heading straight for the base camp i.e Katra. The option of a halt at Jammu is thus entirely with the yatri although many yatries would like to spend more time in Jammu and visit the temples and other landmarks there.

Jammu to Katra

Passengers using Air or Rail as a mode of travel have necessarily to break their journey at Jammu and from thereon select an alternative mode of transport. However for passengers traveling by road, either through public or own transport, there is an option of taking a by-pass from Kunjwani, nearly 10 kms. off Jammu and heading straight for the base camp i.e Katra.

The option of a halt at Jammu is thus entirely with the yatri although many yatries would like to spend more time in Jammu and visit the temples and other landmarks there.

If one is coming by his own vehicle and does not wish to halt at Jammu, he can head straight on National Highway No.1A. At a point nearly 35 kms. from Jammu, called Domel, the road branches off intotwo; while one road heads towards Srinagar the other leads to Katra. At the moment no train services are available between Jammu and Katra. However, work on the Jammu-Katra rail link is underway and Katra is likely to emerge on the rail map shortly.

The distance between Jammu and Katra is approximately 50 km. Ordinary and luxury buses are available from Jammu to Katra at a frequency of 10-15 minutes. While ordinary buses can be boarded from the State Road Transport Bus Stand around 1 km from Jammu Railway Station, luxury buses are available from just outside the Railway Station. It takes around 2 hours to cover the 50 km stretch from Jammu to Katra. The terrain is hilly and winding and passengers often experience nausea and vomiting.

Private Taxies for Katra are available from the Jammu Tawi Railway Station and Jammu Airport. The official rates range between Rs. 500-800 for one way travel depending upon the make of the vehicle. For Cars or Vehicles with a sitting capacity of 4-5 persons, the rates are around Rs.500-650 while larger vehicles like Jeeps, Vans etc. having larger sitting capacity charge in the range of Rs.650-800. Many operators also offer taxies on a per seat basis. As with many other tourist destinations, it is not uncommon for passengers to be accosted at the Airport or the Railway station by taxi drivers. It is advisable to check the officially approved rate (the same is subject to periodic revisions) and insist on paying only the approved rate. A taxi would normally take 70-80 minutes to reach Katra from Jammu.

Vehicles are usually stopped on the way by security personnel for security checks. All visitors are therefore requested to cooperate with the authorities and comply with the security formalities.

Katra town

Located at an altitude of about 2500 feet above sea level, Katra is the base camp for the Yatra to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. This is the last point uptill which any type of modern transport can go (except the recently started Helicopter service, which takes the pilgrims right till Sanjichhat, just a couple of kilometers from the Holy Shrine).Therefore, for all practical purposes, Katra serves as the base camp. From here a trek of around 12 kms takes a pilgrim to the Holy Shrine. One can undertake this trek on foot or on horses/ponies or on palanquins (palkies or dolies). While most of the pilgrims prefer to go on foot, some who find it difficult to negotiate the climb hire a pony or a palanquin.

All visitors are required to register themselves before undertaking the trek. This is done at the Yatra Registration Counter (YRC) situated at the Bus Stand where the registered yatris are issued a Yatra Slip, free of cost.This is a mandatory requirement and without a valid Yatra Slip pilgrims are not allowed to proceed beyond Yatra Parchi Check Counter at Banganga. This is necessary to regualte the Yatra at Bhawan and also on the track. This Yatra Slip is to be preserved as the same coveres devotees with an insurance cover against any untoward casualty due to accidents, to the tune of Rs.1,00,000 for majors and Rs. 25,000 for minors.

Facilities at Katra

Katra serves as the base camp for the Yatra. It is also the point where yatries halt for a while and make preparations for the trek to the Holy Shrine. In order to cater to the requirements of the yatries, a wide variety of facilities are available in and around Katra.

Accommodation:- For the benefit of the pilgrims, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board provides clean, well maintained and very economical accommodation at Niharika Yatri Niwas and Shakti Bhawan situated at bus stand, Katra. Rooms, both air conditioned and Non air conditioned are available.In addition, dormitoryaccommodation at Rs. 50/- per bed is available in Shakti Bhawan (Niharika complex). Another 500 bedded accommodation in Sarai building is under construction near the 2nd Yatra counter (YRC II) and is expected to be available shortly. In all the accommodation facilities provided by Shrine Board, there is an additional facility of a hygienic, no profit no loss Bhojanalayas, Souvenir Shop and a free cloak room. Free parking of private vehicles is also allowed.

Accommodation for all Shrine Board Guest houses/dormitories can be booked (subject to availability) at the reception of these guest houses or at the Enquiry and Reservation counter at Niharika complex. Advance reservation is possible by sending a demand draft of the required amount to the Chief Executive Officer/Dy, Manager (E&R) payable at Katra.

Free Accommodation: - In addition to the above facilities provided by Shrine Board on no profit no loss basis, there is also a provision for basic accommodation for yatries on an absolutely FREE basis. This accommodation is available in Niharika complex and near Yatra Parchi counter II (YRC-II). Besides accommodation, blankets are also provided free of cost. During days of rush additional free accommodation is also made available to the Yatries in the Niharika complex itself.

Other Accommodation facilities: - There are various Sarais/Dharamshalas in Katra, which provide good accommodation to the pilgrims, either free of cost or at a nominal price. While some of them do provide facilities to the pilgrims, many of these places have passed in the hands of certain people with vested interests who insist on the pilgrims buying offerings from their own shops located in the premises of these Sarais. Pilgrims should be careful of such elements as they tend to sell items at a price many times higher than their original value.

There are various lodges, Guest Houses, ordinary and luxury hotels, Cottages, Resorts and all types of accommodation facilities available too, which provide accommodation to the devotees. Pilgrims have a wide range to choose from depending upon their taste and budget.

Food and Refreshment: - Katra has all types of vegetarian restaurants and dining places. Being a religious place, almost all these restaurants and catering outlets provide pure vegetarian food to the pilgrims in which even onion and garlic is not used. Pilgrims are also requested to preserve and uphold the sanctity of the Holy place and desist from demanding non vegetarian meals or alcohol from any outlets.

General items of use:-Provision, General and Medical stores are available all over Katra as also at Adkuwari and Bhawan.

Parking of private vehicles: - Sufficient parking spaces are available in and around Katra. Other than the general bus stand, chartered and private buses can be parked at the second bus stand near Yatra Registration Counter No.2 located on Udhampur road. The Shrine Board provides free parking facility in its various complexes. This facility is however open only to bonafide users of the complexes.

Cloak Room facility: - Considering that many yatries would like to leave behind their excess luggage in Katra before undertaking the Yatra, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has provided for free cloak room facility in all its guest houses/ lodging places. Cloak room facility is also offered by many hotels and lodges. Certain private Sarais, shops and establishments also claim to offer such facilities but yatries are advised to reassure themselves of the credentials of the service provider before entrusting their luggage to them. In particular, video cameras and mobile phones, besides other electronic equipment are not allowed on the track for security reasons. Yatries must make adequate arrangement for the safe keeping of such equipments before embarking on the yatra

Railway Reservation: - A computerized Railway Reservation Counter has been opened in the Niharika complex near the main bus stand. Through this Railway Reservation facility, reservations to and from any railway station can be now availed of at this counter. The infrastructural and logistical support to this Centre is being provided by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

Communication: -STD/ISD/PCO booths function all over Katra, along the track and right uptill Bhawan. A few of them are open for all 24 hours. Post and telegraph facilities are also available at Katra, Adkuwari and Bhawan. Katra also has a Speed Post facility to/from major destinations. A few cyber cafes are also functional.

Souvenirs and Publications: - Those who wish to purchase Souvenirs and momentos may do so from the Souvenir Shops of the Shrine Board, located at Katra. Various kinds of Prashad, cassettes, books, chunnies and cholas are available on no profit basis. Similar outlets are also available at Bhawan, Sanjichhat, Adkuwari and Vaishnavi Dham at Jammu

Police: - There is a Police station at Katra as well as Bhawan, besides police posts at Banganga and Adkuwari.

Banking: - Many nationalized banks have their branches at Katra. The State Bank of India, Bank of Punjab and J&K Bank also provide ATM facilities at Katra. Many more banks including ICICI Bank, UTI Bank are in the process of installing their ATMs here. The J&K Bank and the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) have their branches at Bhawan also.

Medical Facilities: - While no specific medical certificate is needed to undertake the Yatra, those suffering from heart, breathing or similar ailments are advised to proceed with the Yatra only after due medical checkup and advice. Cardiac, asthmatic and orthopedic problems are known to get aggravated due to the strenuous climb. To the medical needs of the yatries there is a block hospital at Katra as well as a 24 hours charitable dispensary run under the aegis of the Shrine Board. Emergency needs can be taken care of by basic medical facilities at Banganga, Adkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan. Oxygen cylinders and emergency drugs are also available. Specialized and advanced medical treatment is however available only at Jammu.

Holy Places Enroute

Darshani Darwaaza

The entry gate to the track is around 1 km from the bus stand at a point known as Darshani Deodhi (meaning entrance) or Darshani Darwaza (meaning gate). Legend says that Mata Vaishno Devi met Pandit Shridhar at this spot in the form of a girl child. This is also known as Darshani Darwaza because from here one gets a complete view of the Trikuta parbat (mountain). The term Darshan stands for view; hence symbolically this is the first Darshan of the Yatra. This spot is at 2800 feet above sea level.

There are two gates at this point; the first or the older gate leads to a flight of stairs; the second or the newer one has been developed by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board as a grand colonnaded porch with adequate parking for private vehicles. The army assistance counter is also located here.

One can either walk up to the Darshani Darwaza on foot or hire an auto rickshaw. The charges are Rs. 5/- per person on a sharing basis and Rs.15-20 for the full rickshaw. If one has his own vehicle one can drive up to the new gate, adjacent to the Darshani Darwaza and leave it parked there. But one is strongly advised to lock it properly and to remove all the valuables before leaving it behind. Parking is at the owner’s risk.

The Shrine Board also runs a free bus service to and fro from the bus stand to Darshani Darwaza. This service runs at a frequency of half an hour. This facility can also be availed of by the pilgrims.

Banganga

After the Police Check Post and Yatra Parchi Check Post, the pilgrims reach a small bridge under which flows Banganga, the legendary river associated with the miracles and legends of Mata. There is water in the river all through the year except when there is an acute shortfall of rain or snow during the monsoon and winter respectively. It is considered sacred and as is normal Hindu tradition, devotees like to bathe in it before proceeding further. In the changed times, many pilgrims prefer to skip the traditional bath, but those having the time or those who are traditionally inclined and wish to follow the legends and traditions, would like to have a dip before proceeding further. There are a couple of Ghats built too, for this purpose. The first one is normally very crowded and the other is comparatively more spacious.

The name of this river comes from two terms, Ban and Ganga. Ban means Arrow and Ganga stands for the sacred river Ganges. It is believed that Mata Vaishno Devi, while on her way to the Holy Cave, created this water body with an arrow from her quiver, hence the name Banganga. It is also said that she had taken a dip in it and had washed her hair here. Thus some people also prefer to call it Bal Ganga, the term Bal meaning hair in Hindi.

Adhkunwari

Around 500 mtrs. from Inderprastha and located at an altitude of 4800 feet is Adkuwari. One can get a glimpse of the fluttering flag and temple spires and can hear continuous announcements from the announcement booth much before actually reaching there. Adkuwari is the half way mark on the track as it is situated at a distance of nearly 6 kms. from Katra. The Holy Cave is now nearly 6 km. away. Adkuwari is one of the most important Darshans on the visit, second only to the main Darshans at the Holy Cave.

The term Adkuwari is believed to have come from Adi kumari, which means “The Eternal Virgin”. According to the legend, when Vaishnavi, in the form of a small girl, disappeared from the Bhandaara organized by Pandit Shridhar, she halted at Banganga and Charan Paduka. From there she reached Adkuwari, where, in a small womb shaped cave she meditated and observed spiritual discipline (Tapasya) for nine long months. The exact spot where she is believed to have meditated is located at the right hand side inside the cave and is shaped like a womb. Since Vaishnavi had observed spiritual discipline in a womb shaped cave for a period of nine months, this cave has become popular by the name of Garbh Joon, which has come from the term Garbh Yoni meaning the Womb. It is generally believed that by merely passing through this cave, a devotee’s sins are cleansed and his soul becomes pious again.When during her meditation She realized that Bhairon Nath had approached the cave in Her search,She created an exit at the other end with Her trident and proceeded towards the Holy Cave.Since the cave is very narrow, only one person can pass through it at a time. While the entrance is comfortably broad, as one enters further one starts wondering whether it would be possible for him to pass through it or not. A prompt or a nudge from the person waiting behind him, a remembrance of Mata in the hearts and on the lips, and crawl by crawl, one is out of the cave, fully recharged with an energy that definitely belongs to the other world.Due to the narrowness of the cave, it takes hours together for a yatri’s turn to come to pass through this cave. Not more than 4000 pilgrims can pass through this cave in 24 hours. Thus pilgrims reaching Adkuwari who wish to pass through the cave are issued a group number. Pilgrims are required to take their group numbers and wait outside the queue complex till their group number is announced or displayed. Each group consists of 50 pilgrims. Once the first group of 50 is cleared, the next group number is announced and so on. Upon announcement of the group number, one has to proceed to the queue complex and wait in queue for his turn to enter the cave. There is also a small temple just outside the exit route of the Holy Cave and after passing through the cave one gets the Darshans at this temple before proceeding on the onwards journey. Darshans at Adkuwari include Darshans of the three Supreme Energies in an idol form, those of Nav Durga and Bhakt Hanuman. However, yatries who wish to proceed to Bhawan directly need not obtain any group number here. Their main yatri slip is sufficient for the purpose.

Bhairon Ghati

Bhairon temple is the next halt for the pilgrims after visiting the holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. This old temple is significant from the point of view of a holy legend associated with the Shrine. After beheading Bhairon Nath and after his profuse repentance, the Almighty Mother Goddess forgave and blessed him and granted him the boon that the Darshans of his temple would be the final link of Her Great Pilgrimage. Thus, for the full blessings of the journey to Mata Vaisno Deviji, Yatries would have to pay obesiance at Bhairon temple on their return.

 

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