“Religion is essentially the art and the theory of the remaking of man.” Indeed, what morals and ethics a person beholds is all intimated through his religious preaching and his pious beliefs. After all, “Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thoughts and one such marvelous creation of our beloved is a beauteous and a highly celestial place named Vaishno Devi. Located near the beautiful heavenly place of the world, Jammu and Kashmir, this exotic and devoted place is greatly profound for its rich meticulous aura and essence that fills every person coming here with loads of dutifulness and piousness. “Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father or Mother. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God’s purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable.” With such an holistic belief our mythological past has left behind its residues in the form of many religious places and one of them is the munificent place of Vaishno Devi which is also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. The words “maa” and “mata” are commonly used in India for “mother”, and thus are often used in connection with Vaishno Devi.
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 the Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of people visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.
Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the holy Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti, located at the Trikuta Mountains within the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Vaishno Devi Temple is near the town of Katra, Jammu and Kashmir; in the Reasi district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the most revered places of worship in India. About 8 million pilgrims visit the temple every year and it is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board maintains the shrine. A rail link from Udhampur to Katra is recently completed to facilitate pilgrimage. The nearest airport is Jammu Airport which has very high flight frequency, and is served by all leading domestic airlines. This place contains three idols of Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Kali, which are all images of Vaishno Devi.
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 devotees are blessed with the Darshans 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 history of the place and Mata Vaishno Devi is quite significant and intrinsic in its own sense. Vaishnavi, in the form of a five-and-a-half-foot-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. With lakhs of devotees visiting the place every year, this holy region brings in the flavor of reverence and beliefs throughout the long years. Maa Vaishno Devi temple can be reached from Katra. Katra is a small but bustling town around 45 km. from Jammu. From Katra, after getting the ‘Yatra Parchi’ (Journey Slip) for darshan, devotees can proceed to the Bhavan.
The way to Bhavan is steep and requires a long walk up hill. Alternatively ponies and palanquins are also available. Helicopter service can also be taken for a large part of the trip. The Trust offers comfortable stay for pilgrims.Seeing the huge devout amongst people, the Indian Railways will start rail services up to Katra from March 2014 tentatively. They are in communication with the Jammu and Kashmir Government to integrate permit slips for Vaishno Devi Darshan with the train ticket so as to ease the access to the place.
Religions are a part of a person’s life and pilgrimages are lamps to bring out the darkness of different religions all together thus leading to the binding of the humanity and mankind in a loop as a whole. Vaishno-Devi is one such converging point in this mother earth.