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         Vaishno Devi Yatra Pilgrim

The legend goes that more than 700 years ago, Vaishno Devi, a devotee of Lord Vishnu, used to pray to Lord Rama and had taken vow of celibacy. One day, Bhairon Nath, a demon-God, saw her and gave chase. The Goddess felt thirsty at Banganga and shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of her feet, is the place where she rested. She then meditated in the cave at Ardhkanwari.


Nestling on top of the Trikuta Hills at a height of 1,700 mts is the sacred cave shrine of Vaishno Devi, the mother goddess. At a distance of 61 kms from Jammu, the cave is 30 meters long and just one-and-a half mts high. At the end of the cave are shrines dedicated to the three forms of the mother goddess � Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasarasvati. Pilgrims have to enter in small groups through a narrow opening and walk through ice-cold waters to reach the shrines. According to legend, the mother goddess hid in the cave while escaping a demon, whom she ultimately killed.


The shrine of Vaishno Devi is approached through Katra, which lies 13 kms from the shrine and is the base for the pilgrimage. From Katra, pilgrims climb one km to Banganga, where the goddess is believed to have stopped to drink water; six km further is the cave shrine of Ardhkunwari, where it is believed she meditated for nine months.

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