Holy Pilgrimage – Jammu and Kashmir State –( shankargaurisiva temple, Shivkhori cave shrine and Mata Vaishnodevi Mandir) -4




































Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Jammu and Kashmir State



 



Shankaragaurishvara Temple, J&K

The Shankaragaurishvara temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and located in Patan  (on the road between Srinagar and Baramula ) near Baramulla, India.

 The temple was built by Shankaravarman of Kashmir's Utpala dynasty who ruled between 883-902 C.E. It is presently in a dilapidated condition and worship is no longer conducted. It is built in a style similar to the Shankaracharya temple.

 This general view of the west façade, with a measuring scale and a figure posed in the foreground, is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir,' (1869), in which he wrote, 'The Temple of Sankara Gaureshwara is elaborately carved, and some of the deatails are are as a sharp and clear as when first cut. The degree of elaboration in the porch-like projections and interior carvings...The repetition of the pediments one above the other, together with the highly decorated pillars in the porches, all prove that the style of building practised in Kashmir since the erection of the Jyeshteswara Temple, had in the progress of time followed the natural tendency for greater elaboration.' Modern Patan, located about 27 kms from Srinagar, is the site of Shankarapattana which was founded by Shankaravarman of Kashmir's Utpala dynasty (ruled 883-902) as his capital. By this time Kashmir had become a great centre of the Shaivite religion and philosophy. Like his predessor Avantivarman, Shankaravarman built two temples of which only the ruins remain, the Sankaragaurishwara Temple and the Sugandhesha Temple. Both dedicated to Shiva, they are seen as a late flowering of Kashmiri temple architecture. The former is named after the ruler and the latter is said to be named after his queen. They are built to much the same plan as earlier temples but their stones display a greater refinement and precision of cutting and carving.

 

Baramulla

Baramulla (Urdu: بارامولا) (from Sanskrit: Varahamul वराहमूल, meaning Boar's Molar), known as Varahamula in antiquity, is a city and municipality in Baramulla district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located on the banks of Jhelum river downstream of Srinagar, the capital city of the state.

Origin

The name Baramulla, meaning "Boar's Molar"  is derived from a Sanskrit word Varahamul (वराहमूल) that is a combination of two words Varaha (Boar) and Mul (root or deep). According to Hindu teachings, the valley of Kashmir was once a lake called "Satisaras" (Parvati's Lake in Sanskrit). The ancient Hindu texts state that the lake was occupied by a demon, Jalodbhava (meaning "Originated from water"), until Lord Vishnu, assumed the form of a boar and struck the mountain at Baramulla (ancient Varahamula) creating an opening in the mountain for the water to flow out.

History

Ancient and medieval

The city of Baramulla was founded by Raja Bhimsina in 2306 BCE.
A number of prominent visitors have travelled to Baramulla. These include the famous Chinese visitor Heiun T'Sang and the British historian, Moorcraft. Mughal emperors had special fascination for Baramulla. Being the gateway of the Kashmir Valley, Baramulla was a halting station for them during their visits to the valley. In 1508 CE Emperor Akbar, who entered the valley via Pakhil, spent a few days at Baramulla and, according to "Tarikh-e-Hassan", the city had been decorated like a bride during Akbar's stay. Jahangir also stayed at Baramulla during his visit to Kashmir in 1620 CE.
From the very beginning, Baramulla has enjoyed religious importance. The construction of Hindu Teertha and Buddhist Vihars made the city sacred to Hindus as well as Buddhists. In the 15th century, the place became important to Muslims also, as the famous Muslim saint, Syed Janbaz Wali, who visited the valley along with his companions in 1421 CE, chose Baramulla as the centre of his mission and was buried here after death. His shrine attracts pilgrims from all over the Valley. In 1894, the sixth Sikh Guru Shri Hargobind visited the city. Baramulla thus became an abode of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs living in harmony and contributing to a rich composite culture.
It was the oldest and the most important town in north of princely state of Kashmir and Jammu and the 'Gateway of Kashmir Valley' by Rawalpindi-Murree-Muzaffarabad-Baramulla Road until 27 October 1947. It acceded to India when the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession on 26 October 1947 which was accepted the next day. It is now the headquarters of Baramulla district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which is now a part of the Republic of India

Recent years

Roads have been improved and road network has grown considerably in Baramulla town since 1947. New schools and colleges have started and better facilities for education have been created. More bridges on Jhelum river have been constructed or planned to connect the old town on the north bank of the river with the new town on the south bank. Decongestion of the old town has been attempted by moving some residents to houses in the new town.
The most recent development has been creation of railway connectivity with Srinagar, Anantnag and Qazigund and the planned connectivity with Banihal and Jammu.
Baramulla city is located on the banks of Jhelum river at the highest point of the river. The old town lies on the north (right) bank of the river and the new town lies on the south (left) bank. They are connected by five bridges including a suspension bridge connecting Gulnar park with Dewan Bagh. Five more bridges are being constructed or planned. A new bridge will connect Khanpora and Drangbal areas of the City.
The old town is congested and much smaller than the new town. Government offices, civil hospital, district hospital, bus station and most other facilities are situated in the new town. The railway station is on the eastern end of the new town on left bank of the river.

Climate

Baramulla has severe cold climate in winter and a pleasant weather in summer. It experiences snowfall during winter. The city is known for its pleasant summer climate.

Transport

Access to Baramulla

From Srinagar

Baramulla town is located about 55 km (34 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu & Kashmir state. National Highway NH-1A connects the town to the rest of the country. Taxis and buses to the town are available from Srinagar and Jammu. The nearest airport is at Srinagar. The nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi, about 360 km (220 mi) to the south.

From Uri and Muzaffarabad

The 123 km (76 mi) road from Muzaffarabad to Baramulla is along Jhelum river. It crosses the actual line of conrol and then passes through Uri town, 45 km (28 mi) to the west of Baramulla town. The first 5 km of the road from Uri to Baramulla is not along the river but the remaining 40 km (25 mi) is along the river and passes through fine scenery of wooded mountain-slopes broken by cliffs that rise to great heights above the path while below it the river either flows in narrow paths or roars over ledges and other obstacles.

Air

Srinagar is the nearest airport, 50 km (31 mi) to the southeast. Jammu, the summer capital of the state also has an airport.

Road

Baramulla is connected to Pattan, Uri, Sopore, Gulmarg, Tangmarg and other towns in Baramuula district by road. It is also connected to Srinagar and other towns in Kashmir by road. It is also connected to Muzaffarabad across the actual line of conrol by 123 km (76 mi) road that was closed in October 1947 after invasion by Pakistani tribals. The road was reopened in 2005 but the travel across the line of control is highly restricted and controlled.

Railway

Baramulla is the last station on the 119 km (74 mi) long Kashmir railway that started in October 2009 and connects Baramulla to Srinagar and Qazigund. The railway track will connect to Banihal across the Pir Panjal mountains through the newly constructed 11 km long Banihal railway tunnel in 2013 and finally to Indian railway network after a few years.

Language

The commonly used language is Kashmiri, followed by Gujari, Urdu / Hindi and Punjabi

 

Shivkhori Cave Shrine, J&K

 

Shivkhori is a famous cave shrine of Hindus devoted to lord Shiva, situated in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir state in India

Location

In Reasi district, there are many shrines such as Mata Vaishno Devi, Merhada Mata, Baba Dhansar, Siad Baba. Shiv Khori is one of them located in Ransoo a village in the Pouni block in Reasi district, which attracts lakhs of devotees annually. Shiv Khori is situated in between the hillocks about 140 km north of Jammu, 120 km from Udhampur and 80 km from Katra. Buses and light vehicles go up to Ransoo, the base camp of pilgrimage. People have to traverse about 3 km on foot on a track recently constructed by the Shiv Khori Shrine Board, Ransoo duly headed by the District Development Commissioner, Udhampur as chairman and Sub Divisional Magistrate, Reasi as Member Secretary.

Description

Khori means cave (Guffa) and Shiv Khori thus denotes Shiva's cave. This natural cave is about 200 metres long, one metre wide and two to three metres high and contains a self made lingam, which according to the people is unending. The first entrance of the cave is so wide that 300 devotees can be accommodated at a time. Its cavern is spacious to accommodate large number of people. The inner chamber of the cave is smaller.
The passage from outer to the inner chamber is low and small, at one spot it divides itself into two parts. One of these is believed to have led to Kashmir where Swami Amarnath  cave is located. It is now closed as some sadhus who dared to go ahead never returned.  To reach the sanctum sanctorum, one has to stoop low, crawl or adjust his body sideward. Inside a naturally created image of Lord Shiva, about 4 metres high, is visible. The cave abounds with a number of other natural objects having resemblance with Goddess Parvati, Ganesha and Nandigan. The cave roof is etched with snake formations, the water trickles through these on Shiva Lingam. Pigeons are also seen here like Swami Amar Nath cave which presents good omens for pilgrimages.

Legend

A number of legends have propounded about the discovery of this holy cave. One of the most important legends among them is that a demon named Bhasmasura after a long meditation of Lord Shiva obtained blessing to end the life of any one with that blessing. After obtaining it, the said devil tried to end the Lord Shiva-On seeing the evil design of the demon, the Lord Shiva run to save himself from the power of the demon and entered in this cave which is presently known as Shiv Khori. After this, Lord Vishnu in the guise of Mohini came forward and asked the demon to dance with her according to her tune. As and when the demon started dancing as per the actions of Mohini, the said demon took his hand at his head and with his own power, he was himself destroyed. As per the legend, 33 crores deities exist in this cave in shape of pindis and natural milky water is falling on them from the top of the cave. In this cave there is also a cave which directly go to amarnathji according to a saint who lived there named as bababa ramesgirigi
As per the other legend regarding discovery of this cave is that the historic Shiv Khori cave is believed to be discovered by a Muslim shepherd. He was in fact in search of his missing goat and went by chance inside the cave to find the same. However he was very much startled to see a number of saints inside the cave, who were impressed by Lord Shiva's divine power and he too started pooja there. Later on the shepherd disclosed this to a number of other people in spite of his promise made with the saints not to disclose about them or this cave. It is said that the shepherd after narrating it to other people had died. According to the legends it is believed that a number of famous saints have been closely associated with this cave, who had spent decades inside this cave for spiritual attainment and meditation.

Other details

About 40 to 50 year ago, only a few people knew about the Shiv Khori shrine but it has gained much popularity during decades. In earlier times the number of yatries was just in thousands but after the constitution of Shiv Khori Shrine Board during December 2003, the number of devotees has superseded previous records as the number of devotees in year 2005 crossed 3 lakhs (300 thousands). This year it is expected to cross 5 lakh tourists. 30 percent devotees reach the shrine from within the state and 70 percent from different states of the country like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, U.P., MP, Bihar, Gujrat and Rajasthan, etc.
A 3-day Shiv Khori mela takes places annually on Maha Shivratri and thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the state and outside visit this cave shrine to seek blessings of Lord Shiva. Maha Shivratri festival is usually held in the month of February or during first week of March every year. Keeping in view the increasing rush of pilgrims to the holy cave shrine, the Shiv Khori Shrine Board has taken up a number of steps to develop this spot in a bid to provide more and more facilities to the devotees, like construction of Shrine Guest House at a cost of Rs.19 lakh at village Ransoo, the base camp of yatra, Reception Centre and Pony shed at an estimated cost of Rs.79.59 lakh, tile work of entire 3-km long track is nearing completion, plantation of ornamental and medicinal plants on track and development of parks etc. Other arrangements like electrification of the cave with modern techniques, provision of oxygen and electric generators, exhaust fans, construction of shelter sheds for yatris with toilet facilities near the cave site, 15 shelter sheds en route Ransoo to cave shrine, railing from the base camp to cave, additional facility of 15,000/EfnrKing water reservoir, proper sanitation, provision of 25 KV capacity electric transformer, clock room, starting of permanent bus services from Katra, Udhampur and Jammu, Police post and Dispensary and a STD PCO are under active consideration of the Shiv Khori Shrine Development Board.
To meet the ever growing rush of devotees in having smooth darshans of the Lord Shiva, an exit tunnel has been constructed by the shri Shivkhori Shrine Board this year in February.
Recently, the management and development of the Shiv Khori has been taken over by Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board who is looking after VaishnoDevi pilgrimage.

Festival

Shiv Khori Festival is celebrated on the eve of Maha Shivratri every year. Lakhs of pilgrims from different parts of the country visit this Cave Shrine to seek blessings of Lord Shiva.
Dedicated to the Lord Shiva, the Shiv Khori Shrine is situated on a hillock in Ransoo village of Tehsil Reasi of the Udhampur District in Jammu region of the Jammu & Kashmir state. Vehicles go up to village Ransoo, surrounded by lush green mountains. Pilgrims have to traverse about 3 kms track from Ransoo by foot. The Shiv Khori Shrine can be approached by road from Katra, Udhampur and Jammu. The Road Distance of Village Ransoo is approximately 130 Kilometers from Jammu and approximately 80 Kilometers from Katra (the base camp of Mata Vaishno Deviji)
In view of the increasing number of pilgrims during the Maha Shivratri Mela, the Shiv Khori Shrine Board has taken up a number of steps to provide more and more facilities to the devotees. The state government administration takes up this task every year to ensure the smooth conduct of the Yatra. The administration keeps a regular check on the langers operating during the festival days for ensuring better eating facilities to the pilgrims and proper security arrangements for the pilgrims coming to take part in Shiv Khori Festival

Important places near Shivkhori

 

Transport

To reach the Holy Cave Shrine of Shiv Khori one has to track a distance of 3.5 KMs from Ramsoo, the base camp. Ransoo is connected via Road with Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir. And Jammu is well connected with the rest of India via Air, Rail & Road.
 
By Air – The nearest Airport to reach Shiv Khori is located at a distance of 130 KMS in Jammu. A number of airlines operate daily flights from Jammu Airport like Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Deccan Aviation, Air Sahara, Spicejet.
Helicopter Service to Shiv Khori Shrine Launched - Reasi (Jammu), October, 13 - Divisional Commissioner, Jammu who is also the Chairman of Shri Shivkhori Shrine Board (SSKSB) Dr. Pawan Kotwal inaugurated the Helicopter Service for pilgrims to Shri Shiv Khori Shrine   
By Train – The convenient option for people coming from outside Jammu & Kashmir would be to reach Railway Station in Jammu, as Jammu is well connected to other parts of India through Indian Railways.
Taxis and buses are available from Jammu to reach Ransoo. Another option is to reach Udhampur by Train and then take road journey from Udhamur to Ransoo.
 
By Road - Ransoo is located on the Reasi-Rajouri Road and is well connected with Katra, Jammu and other cities of Jammu & Kashmir. Katra is the nearest tourist hub and is famous for the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. Regular Bus Services from all major cities of Northern India are available for Katra and Jammu.
Taxies are also available from Katra, Udhampur and Jammu. J&K Tourism Development Corporation also runs tourist cabs/ van/ tempo traveler to Shiv Khori from Jammu and Katra.
The pilgrims coming to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi can easily club their visit with Shiv Khori.

 

Vaishno Devi Mandir, J&K

Vaishno Devi Mandir (Hindi: वैष्णोदेवी मन्दिर) 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.
Vaishno Devi Temple is near the town of Katra, Jammu and Kashmir|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

Significance

According to a Hindu epic, Maa Vaishno Devi was born in the south of India in the home of Ratnakar Sagar. Her worldly parents had remained childless for a long time. Ratnakar had promised, the night before the birth of the Divine child, that he would not interfere with whatever his child desired. Ma Vaishno Devi was called Trikuta as a child. Later She was called Vaishnavi because of Her taking birth from Lord Vishnu's lineage. When Trikuta was 9 years old, She sought her father's permission for doing penance on the seashore. Trikuta prayed to Lord Vishnu in the form of Rama. During Shree Rama's search for Sita, He reached the seashore along with His army. His eyes fell on this Divine Girl in deep meditation. Trikuta told Shree Rama that She had accepted Him as Her husband. Shree Rama told Her that during this Incarnation He had vowed to be faithful to only Sita. However pleased with her devotion, Lord Rama gave her name Vaishnavi (devotee of Lord Rama (Maha Vishnu)and assured Her that in Kaliyuga He would manifest as Kalki and would marry Her.
In the meantime Shree Rama asked Trikuta to meditate in the cave found in the Trikuta Range of Manik Mountains, situated in Northern India.Lord Ram gave her a bow and arrows, army of monkeys and a lion for her protection, Ma decided to observe the 'Navratra' for the Victory of Shree Rama against Ravana. Hence one reads the Ramayana during the 9 days of Navratra, in remembrance of the above connection. Shree Rama promised that the whole world would sing Ma Vaishno Devi's praise. Lord Rama also said Trikuta was to become famous as Vaishno Devi and would become immortal forever.The abode of Maa Vaishno devi is attaining huge pilgrimage attraction due to Lord Rama's blessings to the goddess.
With the passage of time many more stories about the Mother Goddess emerged. One such story is about Shree-Dhar.
Shree-Dhar was an ardent devotee of Ma Vaishno Devi. He resided in a village called Hansali, 2 km away from the present Katra town. Once Ma appeared to him in the form of a young bewitching girl. The young girl asked the humble Pandit to hold a 'Bhandara'. (A feast to feed the mendicants and devotees) The Pandit set out to invite people from the village and near-by places. He also invited 'Bhairav Nath' a selfish tantrik. Bhairav Nath asked Shri-Dhar how he was planning to fulfil the requirements. He reminded him of the bad consequences in case of failure. As Panditji was lost in worry, the Divine girl appeared and told Him not to be despondent as everything had been arranged. She asked that over 360 devotees be seated in the small hut. True to Her word the Bhandara went smoothly with food and place to spare. Bhairav Nath admitted that the girl had supernatural powers and decided to test Her further. He followed the Divine girl to Trikuta Hills. For 9 months Bhairav Nath was searching for the mystic girl in the mountains, whom he believed was an incarnation of the Mother Goddess. While running away from Bhairav, Devi shot an arrow into the Earth from which water gushed out. The resultant river is known as Baanganga. It is believed that by taking a bath in Baanganga (Baan: Arrow), a believer of the Mother Goddess can wash away all his sins. The banks of the river, known as   Paduka, are marked by Devi's foot imprints, which remains intact till date. Vaishno Devi then took shelter in a cave known as Garbh Joon near Adhkawari where she meditated for 9 months attaining spiritual wisdom and powers. Her meditation was cut short when Bhairav located her. Vaishno Devi was then compelled to take the form of Maha Kali when Bhairav tried to kill her. The manifestation of the Mother Goddess took place at the mouth of the Holy cave at Darbar. The Goddess then beheaded Bhairav with such sheer force, that his skull fell at a place known as Bhairav Ghati, 2.5 km from the Holy Cave.
In his dying moments, Bhairav pleaded for forgiveness. The Goddess knew that Bhairav's main intention in attacking her was to achieve salvation. She not only granted Bhairav liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, but also granted him a boon, whereby every devotee, in order to ensure completion of the pilgrimage, had to visit Bhairav Nath's temple near the Holy cave after the darshan of the Goddess.Meanwhile Vaishno Devi assumed the shape of a rock with three pindis (heads) and immersed herself into meditation forever.
Meanwhile, Pandit Shree-Dhar became impatient. He started to march towards Trikuta Mountain on the same path that he had witnessed in a dream. He ultimately reached the cave mouth. He made a daily routine of worshiping the 'Pindis' in several ways. His worship pleased the Goddess. She appeared in front of him and blessed him. Since that day, Shree-Dhar and his descendants have been worshiping the Goddess Mother Vaishno Devi
The way to Bhavan is steep and requires a long walk uphill. 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

 

 

 

How to reach Vaishno Devi

Vaishno Devi by Air
The nearest airport is located in Jammu which is well-connected to the other destinations of India, Delhi, Leh and Srinagar being the major among them. The major domestic airlines operate their flights to and from Jammu.

Vaishno Devi by Rail
Jammu is the main railhead for Vaishno Devi and you can easily get the super fast and express trains for the various destinations of India including Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Vaishno Devi by Road
Road access to Vaishno Devi is very convenient as the region has well-maintained network of state and national highways. The various nearby destinations that connect Jammu, (the nearest transit point of Vaishno Devi) are Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Jallandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jwalaji and Srinagar.

Best Season / Best time to visit Vaishno Devi

 Vaishno Devi shrine can be visited all the year round but the best month to travel is from March to October.
  • Winter (October to February) are characterized by sub-zero level temperature and snowfall is common.
  • Summer (March to July) are cool and pleasant and most of the pilgrims visit the Vaishno Devi during this period.
  • Monsoon (August to September) received medium to heavy rainfall and it is not advisable to go the shrine as mud slides are common. However, natural beauty is at its best.

 

Jammu to Katra

Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. During rush periods, additional buses are also pressed into service between Jammu and Katra.
Private Taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra. These can be hired from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station and the Tourist Reception Centre at Jammu.

Where to stay in Jammu and Katra

Jammu: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board. Various private hotels, the room rent ranging from Rs.300/- per day to Rs.3000/- per day.
Katra: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board, Rest Houses maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, other hotels.
Sarais, managed by the Shrine Board offer free accomodation at Adhkawari, Sanjichhat and Darbar. Dharamshala, run by various organisations offer reasonable accommodation to the pilgrims. Yatris are however advised to keep themselves away from touts promising free Dharamshala accomodation.

Vaishno Devi Yatra

The Vaishno Devi Shrine Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on foot to reach the Darbar. One kilometer away from Katra, you would find Banganga, place where Mata quenched her thirst and at 6 km., the holy cave at Adhkawari.
Yatris are advised to obtain a yatra slip only from the Yatra Registration Counter (Yatra Ticket Registration at Katra is Mandatory) at the Tourism Reception Centre, Katra Bus Stand and nowhere else. Without an authentic yatra slip, crossing of Banganga (Ban-Ganga) checkpost will not be allowed. The Yatra Slip is absolutely free but is necessary to commence the Yatra.
You can obtain caps, canvas shoes, sticks etc. on hire for the Yatra. Pithus (people who carry weight on their backs) can be hired for carrying your luggage.
Those who have problems in climbing on the mountains, can hire the services of a pony or dandi (palenquin). Pithus can be hired for carrying the children on shoulders. It is advised that you should avail of the services of only registered people be it the pithu, pony or the dandiwalla and keep his token for the period he is engaged. Now battery operated vehicles also available from Ardhkawari (Adhkawari) which play on the new route created from adhkawari (ardhkawari) till Vaishno Devi Shrine. Battery vehicle facility is only available at Inderprasth (Adhkuwari) and Manokmana Bhawan for infirm, sick and handicap devotees. The booking of (battery operated vehicle) facility is subject to availability.
The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled and is covered with a metal roof. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night by powerful sodium vapour lamps. The whole route is swept and cleaned from time to time throughout the day. Yatris are requested to keep the path clean. Shelter cum sheds and shelter cum cafeterias are setup throughout the route. Pure vegetarian food is available at these outlets. Price charts are exhibited at all these outlets prominently.
Drinking water has been made available all along the route, with water coolers and storage facilities. Public utilities with automatic flushing systems along the track and at the Bhawan.
After 6 km. of trekking, you would reach Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months. Do visit the cave. After 9.5 km., you would reach Sanji Chhat (Sanjhi Chhat) where you can rest for sometime. Accommodation is also available at this place. Bhawan is just 3.5 km. away.
On reaching Bhawan, show your Yatra Slip at the Registration Office and obtain the Batch no. provided on the slip. This number is important as it will determine your place in the queue for darshan.
On reaching Bhawan, have a bath and change your clothes. Be sure to get your luggage and leather items booked in the cloak rooms and obtain the receipt. Book the valuables separately and obtain the receipt.
You can also get blankets on refundable deposit for Rs.100.

Temple - Vaishno Devi Bhavan

On reaching Bhavan, buy prasad and other offerings. Show the Yatra Ticket at the office and collect the Token No., and check the group No. and time for your turn. Have a bath and change clothes before the darshan. Deposit your belongings in the cloak room and Stand in the queue for darshan according to your Group No. at gate No. 2. Keep chanting Jai Mata Di.
In case of overcrowding, it may take sometime in the queue. Please wait patiently.
You would not be allowed to carry the Cocunut in the cave. Before entering the cave, deposit the coconut and collect a token for each of such coconuts deposited. When you come out, be sure to collect an offered coconut from the other side by depositing the coconut. Do not lose the token.
Keep the prasad in your hands, and chant Jai Matadi inside the cave. While inside the cave, please concentrate on the darshan of mother goddess in her three pindi forms - Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati.

The holy cave entrance
The holy water coming from the feet of the mata can be collected while you come out near the exit gate.

Deposit the token and collect your coconut from the counter near the exit.
It is believed that the Yatra is complete only after visiting the shrine of Bhairon while returning. Bhairon's Shrine is 2.5 km. from Bhavan. Please collect your belongings before going to the shrine, as the path of return is different.
The return path is just 13 km. as the return path from the Bhairon Shrine joins the main path at Sanjhi Chhat.

Darshan

High, High to the north, amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. Our journey takes you to this awesome wilderness, a place so holy and sacred, a place of mystery and adventure scarcely known to most in modern world. The Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims cover 13km of terrain on foot to reach the holy Darbar. There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a 'Call' to her devotees: and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. Howsoever difficult the passage may be: the difficult ascents, with innumerable stairs, are accomplished on foot by those who had never walked even small distances at their homes. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting 'Prem se bolo, JAI MATA DI' The Holy Cave Shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi is situated in a beautiful recess of the Holy Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas as in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. There are images of three deities - The Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi.

Bhairav Mandir (Temple)

The girl goddess went ahead and Bhairav followed her. She kept 'Veer-Langur' on guard outside the cave and asked him not to allow Bhairav to enter the cave. When the goddess entered the cave, the Bhairav also tried to enter. Veer-Langur forbade him and terrific battle started. There after Devi took the form of goddess 'Chandi' and killed Bhairav. The head flew to a place, presently called Bhairav Ghati. The temple has been constructed at the same spot. The body of Bhairav remained near the cave and the huge stone, outside the cave is the symbol of Bhairav's body.
Although the sword of goddess cut the head of Bharav (Bhairav), yet Bhairav prayed to mother for mercy. He said, "Mother, I am not mourning my death as I have died at the hands of mother creator. But I pray you gracious mother to pardon me. I did not know you in the girl form. Mother if you do not forgive my sins then the whole world may hate me." On hearing the cry of a child addressed to the mother again and again, mother took pity on Bhairav and gave him a boon of liberation. She said, "My devotees will visit your place after having my 'Darshan'. The desires of devotees will be fulfilled, if they visit your place." Accordingly the pilgrims visit Bhairav temple after offering prayers at mother's abode in the cave. Thus, it is believed that the journey to Mata's shrine is not complete unless the devotee visits the temple of Bhairav.

Jai Mata Di

 








Om Tat Sat
                                                        
(Continued...)                                                                                                                              



(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )

2 comments:

About Author said...

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Swathi Manikireddy said...

Wow graet Blog. Thanks for sharing information about the Pilgrimage. I request u to post some photos regarding the temples , then ur blog will look good and useful to who are planning to there. See More information about How To Reach

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