Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the holy Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti, located in the hills of Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir, India. In Hinduism, Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. The temple is near the town of Katra, in the Reasi district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is one of the most revered places of worship in India. The shrine is at an altitude of 5300 feet and a distance of approximately 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from Katra. Approximately 8 million pilgrims (yatris) 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 being built to facilitate pilgrimage. The nearest airport is Jammu Airport which has very high flight frequency. All leading domestic airlines have their services to Jammu Airport.
Banganga is located just after the police check post and Yatra Parchi Check Post. This river is said to be associated with the miracles and legends of Mata Vaishno Devi. Water remains in the river throughout the year except when there is an acute shortage in rainfall or snow during monsoon and winter seasons.
It is believed that Mata Vaishno Devi on her way to holy cave created this river with an arrow from her quiver. Being sacred, devotees take a dip into this holy water before proceeding their journey. For this purpose, two ghats have been built.
Charan paduka is 2.5 KM from Katra and a 1.5 KM from the Banganga River. There is an ancient but small temple at Charan paduka which is built over the rock and bears the holy foot print of the Mata. As per the the legend, the place got its name as Ma Vaishnavi stopped at this place for some time to check whether the evil minded Bhairon is still chasing her or not .
As Mata rested on the rock her foot prints got engraved on it permanently. The place is very serene with devotees taking their turns in symbolically Touching the feet of the mother and taking her blessings for the onward journey.
Adhkwari, Adhkuwari, Ardhkumari or Adkuwari are the same places meaning eternal virgin. Adhkuwari is around 6 kilometers from Katra, 4.5 km from Charan Paduka.There are two routes for pilgrims to reach Bhawan from Adhkwari. Adhkuwari is in the Mid of the way to Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan. The cave is shaped like a womb and hence the name is GarbhaJoon.
Devi’s meditation got disturbed as Bhairon searching her reached this place also. Maa showing pity towards Bhairon exited this cave by making an opening at the other end with her Trident and went further on the hill. The cave is very narrow and only a single person can pass through it at a time.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Journey is not considered complete without Darshans at Bhairon Temple. The Bhairon Temple is located at a distance of 1.42 kilometers from Bhawan.
It is situated atop an adjacent hill and again involves a steep climb, which can be undertaken either on foot or on ponies or palanquins. It is situated at an altitude of 6619 feet.
Legend says that Bhairon was killed by Mata and later upon seeking an apology was granted the boon of being the final link of the Great Pilgrimage.
At an altitude of 6200 feet above sea-level, Sanjhi Chhat is the highest point in the Yatra,and the Holy Cave is just about 2.75 Kms away from this point. And, since the downhill slope starts from the SanjhiChhat, the remaining yatra does not take much time. SanjhiChhat provides scenic view of the mountains and valleys.
And this is also the point where Shrine Board provides a lot of facilites including a medical facility, Accomodation, Food Joint and Souvenir shops. A helipad also exists at the Sanjhi Chhat and those who undertake the Helicopter journey from Katra to Sanjhi Chhat.