|Yatra to Bhawan|
BANGANGA - The First Point
Pilgrims (Yatris) generally reach Banganga by Auto-Rickshaw that is easy available from Katra Bus Stand. The fare of Auto-Rickshaw from Katra to Bangaga is around Rs. 50 per family.
Pilgrims are required to cross the first Check Post at Banganga (1.5 KM. from Katra) within 6 hours of the issue of the slip, (Yatra Parchi) failing which the Yatra Parchi is cancelled at the Check Post and is required to take a fresh slip from Katra The entire Yatra Registration process is fully computerized, to make it convenient, efficient and smooth. Yatries who proceed without this slip/Parchi are turned back from Banganga check post and not allowed to proceed further. In the rare case of any yatri being found at Bhawan/en-route without the yatra slip, he/she shall not only be turned back but disciplinary action shall also be taken against him/her.
As per the legends, Mata while turning down the advances of Bhairon nath a great Tantrik and disciple of Gorakhnath ran towards Trikuta hills. Mata was accompanied by Langoor – Veer. and was praying to Lord Rama but Bhairon gave her a hot pursuit. At the site of Banganga, Mata Vaishno Devi shot an arrow into the ground to quench the thirst of Langoor Veer. Water gushed out in the form of a spring which they drank. The pilgrims take a holy dip here before proceeding further to the Shrine.
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.
Mata Vaishno meditated upon Lord Shiva for 9 long months at this place. She stayed in a 15 foot long cave known as Garbh Joon. 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 very narrow and only a single person can pass through it at a time.
Cloak Room at Adhkuwari : At Adhkuwari, there is a Cloak Room where yatris can place their luggage and move towards Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan.
Many Pilgirms take refreshment and rest at Adhkuwari and move forward for the Darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan. A number of restaurants are there at Adhkuwari for the pilgrims.
Enquiry and Announcements : Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has given the facility to the pilgrims to announce any message to their friends or family members. This service of Free of Cost. If any person is lost from the family or group, they can contact Enquiry Counter so that they can be called by announcement.
HIMKOTI (New Route to Holy Cave)
A new route is developed by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board that is 0.5 KM less than the other route. If the pilgrims follow this new route, then after a trek of around 2.75 kms from Adkuwari pilgrims reach Himkoti. Himkoti is very clean and offers some breathtaking views of the entire valley. Many pilgrims take a route via Himkoti instead of going through Ardkuwari as it is short and very beautiful. Moreover, this path is less steep and there are no horses in the way. Pilgrims can move towards Holy Cave via this way. Yatra to Bhawan (Holy Cave) is beautiful during day than night if weather is good.
BHAWAN (PAVITRA GUFA MEIN MAA KE BHAVYA DARSHAN)
After leaving the Garbh Joon cave at Adhkawari, where Bhairon Nath had located her, Maa Vaishnavi started ascending uphill till the time She reached the Holy Cave. Bhairon Nath who was pursuing Maa Vaishnavi, located her again inside the cave and started challenging her. Finally the Goddess assumed Her Divine Form and severed the head of Bhairon Nath. There was so much power behind the blow of Her sword, that Bhairon Nath's head flew away and fell on another spur of the mountain about One & a half Kilometer away, (the site of modern day Bhairon Temple) while his torso was left lying at the Mouth of the Holy Cave. The Goddess then immersed Herself into deep meditation inside the Sanctum Sanctorum where lies Her manifestation in the petrified form
Bhairon Temple is at a distance of 2.5 kms from the holy cave. It stands at a place where his head was once knocked down. The area around is known as Bhairon Ghati. It is considered that without visiting and having Darshan of Bhairon Temple, the Yatra to Maa Vaishno Devi is not complete.