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Understanding The Legend Of The Vaishno Devi Temple

Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu and Kashmir

A trip to North India’s most revered places of worship fall short without including the Vaishno Devi Mandir. Mata Rani, Vaishnavi, and Trikuta are names given to goddess Vaishno Devi. She is considered to be the manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Durga/Parvati. The temple is located in Katra, nestled in the snowy Trikuta mountains of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Vaishno Devi temple is one of the most popular sites in India. It has millions of devotees walking up the mountain to pay gratitude and seek the blessings of the goddess. Moreover, the Vaishno Devi temple cave holds idols of over 33 Hindu gods. Vaishno Devi Temple is said to be very powerful and mystical. Hence, there are followers who make it a point to visit the goddess regularly despite the harsh journey to the temple. Different modes or transportation aid the devotees in reaching the Vaishno Devi temple. Electric vehicles, ropeway, palki, and even ponies help ease the journey. Also, there are helicopter services up to Sanjichhat, a town located 9.5 km from the Vaishno Devi temple Jammu.

Vaishno Devi Temple amidst the Trikuta mountains
The Vaishno Devi Temple Nestled Between The Serene Trikuta Mountains

History of Vaishno Devi Temple

The date of establishment of the temple is unknown. On the other hand, geological studies suggest that the temple is almost a million years old. However, the origin of Vaishno Devi is present in several stories in Hindu Mythology. Vaishno Devi temple history is an extensive one with an instance in almost every story in mythology.

Birth and Creation of Vaishno Devi

The story of the creation of Vaishno Devi goes back to a time where the virtuous struggled under the tyranny of Asuras like Ravana, Kumbhkaran, Tadka, Khar Dushan, and others. As a result, the Gods decided to intervene by creating a divine personality in the form of a girl to protect the people. Finally, the gods created Vaishno Devi to reaffirm the spirit of religion and protect the virtuous.

She was born in the home of Ratnakar Sagar in South India and was named Trikuta. Ratnakar and his wife remained childless for several years and yearned to have a child. Finally, one day, he prayed and promised that he would never interfere with what his child wanted to do in the later part of this life. As a result, the very next day, the divine girl was born. Since she was born in Lord Vishnu’s lineage, her name is Vaishno. Eventually, the religion propagated by this divine girl is Vaishno-Dharm.

The story of Vaishno Devi is present throughout history.

Ramayana

Trikuta’s divine power and miracles performed by her spread far and wide across the country and attracted numerous devotees. For instance, the story suggests that after seeking permission from her father, she prayed to Lord Vishnu’s form Rama on the seashore.
Meanwhile, Rama reached the same shore in search of Sita. He was in admiration of the girl who was deep in penance. When asked the reason for the penance, she replied saying she believed Rama to be her husband by heart and mind.

Ram, however, told her that he vowed to be faithful to his wife. But to prevent her penance from becoming unfruitful, he promised to accept her if she recognizes him when he meets her under disguise. There is a belief that he did visit her while returning from Lanka. However, Trikuta failed to recognize him. Firstly, he revealed his identity and assured that he would marry her in Kaliyug where he would appear in the form of Kalki.

Goddess Vaishno's idol
The idol of the Goddess Vaishno Devi

Later, he asked her to meditate in the Trikuta range of the Manik Mountains in North India. Finally, he gave her a bow and arrow, a lion and a small army of monkeys for protection. There is a belief that he was the one to say that Trikuta would become immortal and be called as Vaishno Devi.

The divine mother proceeded to perform Navratra for the victory of Rama in the battle against Ravana. Even today, the story of Ramayana is read by devotees during the Navratri festival.

The Story of Bhairon Nath

A few years later, a Mahayogi called Gorakh Nath had a vision of the dialogue between Vaishno Devi and Lord Ram. Subsequently, to find out more about her spiritual powers, he sent his best disciple Bhairon Nath to find out the truth.

Bhairon Nath secretly followed her and observed that despite being a sadhvi, Vaishno Devi carried a bow and arrow and was followed by a herd of monkeys and a lion. Eventually falling in love with her, he started forcing her to marry him. When he incessantly followed her and disturbed her penance, she fled to the mountains.

Finally, she reached a cave where she wanted to continue her penance. When he followed her there as well, she lost her patience and beheaded him. Realizing his mistakes, the soul of Bhairon Nath approached the Goddess and prayed for forgiveness.

As a result, the Goddess decided to shed her human form and took the form of a rock to continue her meditation uninterrupted. The Goddess thus appears in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock with three heads on the top. In conclusion, the cave where she is believed to have transformed herself is now the holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. This Vaishno Devi temple story is one of the most popular stories about the Goddess.

The shrine of Goddess Vaishno Devi in Jammu
The Vaishno Devi Shrine

Sikh Roots from Vaishno Devi

The Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh is said to have visited the cave. Also, Sikhs believe the Vaishno Devi shrine to be the holiest of all Shaktipeeths.

The Legend of Pandith Sridhar

In more recent times, there is a belief that the Vaishno Devi shrine was discovered by Pandit Shridhar. Likewise, the legend dictates that the Mata herself appeared in his dreams and asked him to search for her in the holy cave located in the folds of the Trikuta mountain. Once he entered the cave, he found a rock that had three heads. The Goddess herself then appeared before him and blessed him. The Pandit then spent the rest of his life in a cave in service of the Goddess.

Other mentions of Vaishno Devi in Hindu Mythology

The temples of Vaishno Devi, Bhawan and Kol Kandoli are built by the Pandavas as per popular belief.

In Mahabharata, the Goddess was first mentioned by Arjun where he prayed to her for the victory in war.

Moreover, there are scriptures suggesting that Prahalad, the son of Hiranyakashipu, the demon king, undertook the journey to the Vaishno Devi Shrine.

Things To Keep In Mind Before You Begin Your Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra

You can buy your tickets for the darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi at the location itself and also through online sources. Further, the devotees can enter the temple from gate 1 to wait in the queue. In the peak time, devotees might have to wait for 9-10 hours for darshan. Additionally, belts, watches, combs, pencil, purses, pens, electronic gadgets, edibles, and footwear are not allowed inside the temple. You need to leave them at the free cloakroom at gate 1.

The devotees have to go through a tunnel to have the darshan of the idol. However, the darshan is complete only when you do the Bhairon Nath darshan which is 4.6 km from the Vaishno Devi temple.

The Vaishno Devi temple timings are such that, it is open through all days of the week from 5 AM to 12 PM, and 4 PM to 9 PM in the evening.  

The best time to visit Vaishno Devi temple is between the months of March and October. Since the weather is cool and pleasant, it is a suitable time for devotees to plan their trip. The maximum number of visitors to Vaishno Devi temple Jammu Kashmir are however seen during the month of Navratri.

Vaishno Devi Temple entrance
The entrance of the Vaishno Devi Temple

Interesting facts about Vaishno Devi Temple

The route used to reach the temple is not the original entrance as it is an extremely small one. A new one, splitting the mountain in half at Ardhkuwari is present today. As a result, it can accommodate the millions of people who visit the temple every year. The Vaishno Devi temple’s height is 5,200 feet above the sea level.

Legend dictates that Bhairo Nath’s body rests in the Bhairo Valley where he fled after the Goddess beheaded him.

A stream of the river Ganga flows through the cave where devotees cleanse themselves before entering the temple.

The stories say that there is a separate cave at the Ardh Kuwari where the goddess hid herself from Bhairo Nath for 9 months in the position of an unborn child in the mother’s womb. This place subsequently came to be known as Garbhjun. Therefore, there is a belief that those who enter this cave will attain freedom from the reincarnation cycle.

The statistics show that in the early ’80s about 10 lakh people used to visit the temple every year and the numbers have grown over 10 times in the last 30 years. In addition, in 2014, over 1 crore people visited the temple.