Vaishno Devi is one of the most popular pilgrimage and tourist destinations of India which attracts millions of visitors every year all over the country and abroad. Perches at a height of 5200 feet, the sacred shrine is nestled amidst the mighty Trikuta Mountain in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Shakti whose abode is a 100 feet long and narrow cave. There are the idols of three deities or pindies known as Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati which symbolizes the destructive, preservative and creative nature of the divine power.
The main journey to the shrine begins from the base camp at Katra which is at a distance of about 50 km from Jammu railway station. From Katra, there is an uphill journey of 13 km to the main shrine known as the Bhawan. Most of the devotees cover the entire journey on foot but the travelers can also hire ponies, palkies or taxis for an ease. Now days, a helicopter service has also been started between Katra to Sanjhichat. The entire hilly track to the temple is endowed with a multitude of breathtaking sceneries blessed with natural beauty and panoramic landscapes. As you start your ardent journey from Katra, the very first stop is at Banganga where you can take a holy bath in the sacred waters of the river. Then, after walking 2.5 km from Banganga, there is Charanpadhuka containing the footprints of the goddess. Now 3 km further is the Ardhkumari Temple where you can take a rest for a couple of hours. From Ardhkumari, there is a steep climbing of 4 km to Sanjhichat. It is the high point of the track from where you can enjoy an overwhelming sight of Katra and other idyllic locations nestled in the lap of Mother Nature. Now the downhill journey of about 2.5 km takes you to the main temple or Bhawan of Mata Vaishno Devi where the devotees are blessed with the blessings and spiritual power of the three pindies inside the divine cave.
Vaishno Devi Temple is thus one of the most sacred Hindu shrines located in the beautiful backdrop of the snow capped mountains. The heart throbbing natural landscapes and the enchanting darshan of Vaishno Devi converts this arduous uphill journey into a memorable one and lures the visitors to come again and again to this sacred abode of Mother Goddess.