Vaishno Devi resides in a holy cave at the folds of a three peaked mountain named Trikuta or Trikoot. Mother Goddess in the Holy Cave is in a natural rock form which is one at the base but has three heads at the top known as the Holy Pindies and are worshipped as the revelation of the Mother Goddess. Towards the right of the devotee is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Kali, at the centre is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Lakshmi while to the extreme left is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Saraswati.
Location of Vaishno Devi
The holy temple of Vaishno Devi is located in the Katra town in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir. The temple dedicated to Shakti is one of he holiest places of the Hindus and is located at a height of 5200ft above sea level.
What to see in Vaishno Devi?
The darshan of the holy pindies is the true journey of Vaishno Devi. The Holy Pindi of Maa Kaali is situated towards the right of the devotee and the colour associated with her is black. She represents the Tam Guna- the quality associated with the darker and unknown realms of life, tam meaning darkness. In the centre is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Lakshmi (the Supreme Energy of Maintenance) with a yellowish-red tinge, the colour usually associated with Mata Maha Lakshmi. Wealth and prosperity is represented by the colour of gold, hence yellow. The Pindi to the extreme left is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Saraswati (the Supreme Energy of Creation). Sri Mata Vaishno Devi is considered an incarnation of three Supreme Energies.
Aarti is performed twice- first in the morning before sunrise and the second in the evening, immediately after sunset. It is a very elaborate process and takes about 2 hours for the whole process.
Accomodation selection in Vaishno Devi
You can stay at the Yatri Niwas at Jammu which is managed by the shrine Board. There are various private hotels with room rents ranging from Rs. 200/- to 3500/- per day. At Katra, Yatri Niwas is managed by the shrine Board. There are Rest houses maintained by Jammu & Kashmir Tourist Department.
Best season to visit Vaishno Devi
Vaishno Devi can be visited round the year. Navratras are the best time to visit though heavily crowded. You can also visit Vaishno Devi during winters to avoid rush.
How to reach Vaishno Devi
By Air: The nearest airport is at Jammu. There are daily flights from New Delhi to Srinagar. These flights (IA) connect Chandigarh and Amritsar on some days of the week.
By Rail: Daily trains from New Delhi to Jammu. Besides, it is connected with other major cities of the country.
By Road: Daily bus services are available at short intervals from New Delhi to Jammu in the terminus of a large number of Inter State bus services. The 13kms stretch starts from Katra to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Those who cannot walk can hire pony or dandi (Palanquin). Pithus can be hired for carrying children and luggage on shoulders. It is advisable to avail the services of only registered people and keep their token for the period they are engaged.