The story of Ma Vaishno
About the Shrine
Route to the cave
Information To Pilgrims
How To Get There






Route To The Cave    

The holy cave lies nestled in the folds of the mighty Trikuta mountain fifty kilometers from Jammu, the winter capital of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Jammu is connected with the rest of the country by rail, road and air. From Jammu one has to travel by road up to Katra which is the base camp for the pilgrimage to the holy Shrine.

From Katra onwards the pilgrim has to trek on foot for a distance of twelve kilometers to reach the holy Shrine.

Katra at Night
Enroute the pilgrim crosses Banganga, Charan Paduka, Adhkwari and Sanji Chhat before he reaches the holy cave.

Banganga is a small perennial stream and is considered holy by the pilgrims.
According to the legend, this stream owes its existence
to the Goddess. It is believed that while crossing this ravine on her way to the holy cave on the mountain, the langoors accompanying the Goddess felt thirsty.
However, there was no sign of water any where. Therefore, the Goddess shot an arrow in to the ground. The arrow went deep in to the bowels of the earth and smashed its way to an aquifer of crystal clear water, which jetted out of the earth through the path bored by the arrow. The langoors
Faith Moves Mountains
accompanying the Goddess quenched their thirst. The Goddess also drank some water and the party proceeded ahead. This stream of water has been flowing continuously since then. It is known as Banganga which is a combination of two words- BAN and GANGA. Ban means an arrow and commemorates the legend that the stream gushed out after the earth had been struck by an arrow shot by the Goddess. The word Ganga denotes the purity and the holiness of the water in the stream.

Charan Paduka is a small promontory about one and a half kilometers beyond Banganga. According to the legend the Goddess halted here briefly to catch Her breath and to see if She was being pursued by Bhairo Nath. While She stood here Her feet were imprinted on the rock on which She was standing.

Adhkwari is a corruption of the word ADH KWARI which means the eternal virgin and epitomises the fact that Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is the eternal virgin.

People resting at Adh Kwari

Adhkwari is the name of the place where the Goddess performed Tapasya for nine months before She finally left for Bhawan and the holy cave. Mata performed her Tapasya at Adhkwari in a very narow cave which is known as GARABH JOON. According to the legend, when Mata reached Adhkwari She discovered a narrow cave which was hidden by a dense over growth of bushes and shrubs. She thought it was an excellent place for performing Tapasya because the likelihood of its being discovered by Bhairo Nath was quite remote . Therefore, She entered the cave and went into deep meditation. She remained in this state of meditation for nine long months. Meanwhile, Bhairo Nath who was looking for Her with ferocious doggedness finally discovered the cave and entered it. When Mata realised that Bhairo Nath had not only discovered the cave but also entered it, she smashed another way out of the cave with Her Trishul and swiftly left for the holy cave at Bhawan. Since Mata remained in this cave for nine months and also because of the fact that this cave is extremely narrow and very difficult to crawl through it is equated with the womb of the mother through which every child wriggles out at the time of its birth. Therefore, the cave is called Garabh Joon. The word GARABH


means the womb in which a child is conceived and the word Joon is a corruption of the word YONI or the female genetalia through which a child comes out while taking birth. The Hindus believe that in its journey of transmigration, the soul has to take birth eighty four lakh times or pass through eighty four lakh yonis, before it becomes eligible to take birth as a human being. MOKSHA can be achieved by the soul only in its human form. If, however, a human being commits a heinous sin then the soul again falls to the bottom of the evolutionary ladder and must once again embark on that long journey of eighty four lakh births before it can once again assume the form of a human being. The belief is that if a person crawls through Garabh Joon he literally washes away all his past sins and thus escapes the horrifying prospect of falling to the bottom of the evolutionary ladder and losing the chance of attaining Moksha in this life.

There is no religious connection attached with Sanji Chhat. It is relevant only due to the fact that the uphill journey to the holy Shrine ceases at Sanji Chhat and the track evens out there after. On way to Sanji Chhat, the pilgrim has to negotiate the tough climb of HATHI MATHA which is so named because the climb in this stretch resembles in steepness the fore head of the elephant. The word Hathi means an elephant and the word Matha means the forehead.

Two and a half kilometers beyond Sanji Chhat is located the holy cave which contains the holiest of the holy PINDIS manifesting Mata in Her three forms of MAHA KALI, MAHA LAKSHMI VAISHNO and MAHA SARASWATI. Each form represents a particular attribute. Thus Maha Kali represents TAM GUNA, Maha Lakshmi Vaishno represents RAJ GUNA, and Maha Saraswati represents SATVA GUNA.

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