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Location : 20 km from Katra Dedicated to : Vaishno Mata
Altitude : 1,600 metres above sea level
Opened on : January 15th Closing on : Open throughout the Year
Situated high on top of a mountain and surrounded by incredible lush greenery this has to be one of the holiest pilgrimage shrines in India. Dedicated to a manifestation of goddess Durga, Mata Vaishno Devi, this iconic place which is steeped in amazing historical as well as mythological account of Mata Rani who resides inside a holy cave here in Jammu.
There are several historical and mythological legends related to Vaishno Devi some of them are:
This is one of the most powerful and significant Shaktipeeth in India which is believed to house the eternal and forever abode of goddess Vaishno Mata. It is said that the skull i.e. the head part of the goddess fell here. While some other believe that the goddess's right arm had fallen here nevertheless, within this holy cave one can find Verad Hast here which is the hand that grants various boons and blessings to the devotees.
One of the oldest references to the holy cave temple is that Guru Gobind Singh had gone here via Purmandal. He is said to have stayed here for a while before heading on to his destination which makes this place extremely holy and sacred.
Other legend and historical account is found in the great epic Mahabharata where the Pandava brothers are said to have been the 1st ones to have built the temples in Kol Kandoli and Bhawan as a mark of gratitude and respect towards the holy mother goddess. five stone structures have been excavated on the mountain which is situated right on the opposite end of the Trikuta Hills that is believed to have been built by the Pandava brothers and whose mention have been found in the holy book of Mahabharata.
Just like every holy pilgrimage temple it is not easy to pin point a time as to when the pilgrimage had commenced officially. Although a complete geological study of the cave showcases that this holy shrine can be dated back to as far as a million years. The Trikuta hills have also found its mention in the Vedic literature which is the oldest of all the Vedas.
It is believed that whoever makes this journey to the holy cave shrine has their wishes fulfilled and must be undertaken at least once in a lifetime. Every year millions of devotees no matter what their age make this legendary pilgrimage depicting unnerving faith and devotion to the goddess. the idol is places on an elevation of around 1,700 metres above sea level within the gently rolling folds of the Trikoot mountains it can be reached by following a paved path lined with places to stay, shops offering puja items, holy souvenirs and the people can be seen continuously chanting the name of Mata rani in complete vigour to keep their spirits alive and unflinched.
By Air – Jammu is very well connected to various parts of India via flights from Indian airlines etc. from New Delhi the flight journey to Jammu is of around 80 minutes and is one of the most preferable methods of getting to Vaishno Devi especially if you are running short of time.
By Train – Katra is easily reachable by rail that connects to various parts of the country. This way of travelling is mostly preferred by people travelling on a budget, although it may take some time but it will definitely suit your budget. Special superfast trains have also been introduced to help the Yatris commute in a more convenient manner. One can even reach Jammu / Katra from Delhi via an overnight journey.
By Road – roads leading up to Jammu / Katra are well maintained and well connected via the national highway 1A. Buses also ply on a regular basis from all the major cities in north India. These buses range from Volvo and private bus services to state road transport. The connectivity of these network of roads are one of the most dependable and preferable ways of getting to the holy shrine of Vaishno Mata.
Summer Season (April - May) – The summer months on the hills of Jammu are quiet pleasant but may get even hotter to the temperature touching as high as 45 degree Celsius. This is the time when tourism is low yet it is still there for people looking to escape the scorching heat of the northern plains.
Monsoon Season (June - August) – The region experiences moderate to heavy rainfall during these monsoon months. The atmosphere here remains pleasant but it is not considered to be safe to make the journey due to the fear of unexpected landslides and mudslides.
Autumn Season (September - November) - This is probably one of the most preferred and an ideal time to visit Vaishno Mata Ke Darbar since the weather is extremely pleasant and cool. The tourism is also high during this time so make sure to complete your bookings procedure for transportation and accommodation.
Winter (December - March) - The winter time in Vaishno Devi is cold and freezing with temperature falling below 0 and some regions may even experience heavy snowfall which is a common occurrence.
Best Time to Visit - The months of February to March and September to November are considered to be the best time for you to visit Vaishno Mata shrine. Jammu experiences a typical tropical climatic condition due to its proximity to the river Tawi making the above mentioned months the best time to go on the holy Darshan.