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INTRODUCTION Nestled between the folds of the Trikuta Hills, 56 kms. to the north of Jammu, the Shrine of Vaishno Devi Ji has been an abode of worship for the pilgrims since ages. The holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is unique as it contains the holiest of holy Pindis manifesting Mata in her three forms i.e. Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati. Each form represents a particular attribute. To reach this hilly abode of Durga, a devotee has to make his first halt at Katra,a town situated at foothill around 1,700 feet above the sea level. Katra is the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir and is 50Kms. away from Jammu. From this halt, a devotee has to traverse a distance of 13 Kms. covering a vertical height of 3,500 feet to reach to the Mata Vaishno Devi's cave temple either on foot or on horseback or in palanquines. MAHA KALI represents Tam Guna, Tam Guna means darkness. In her manifestation of Kali, the goddess inspires her devotees to constantly fight the darkness and never to give up the path of righteousness. MAHA LAKSHMI represents Raj Guna, Raj means prosperity. In this manifestation, the goddess blesses her devotees with wealth and prosperity for their better life. MAHA SARASWATI represents Stava Guna, Stava means wisdom and knowledge. This manifestation of the goddess enables her devotees to distinguish between good and bad and help them to adopt the right path in life. Combination of these three attributes in a single Shakti is known as MATA VAISHNO DEVI JI and this

unique combination is what makes it revered all over the world and the pilgrims flock around to seek these divine blessings. The Total length of the holy cave is about ninety eight feet. The symbols of a large number of Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu Pantheon can be seen in the holy Cave. At the mouth of the original tunnel to the holy cave can be seen the Vakra Tunda Ganesha on the left hand side of the rock face.

Adjacent to Lord Ganesha can be seen the depiction of Lord Surya and Lord Chandra. When one crawls into the holy cave through the natural tunnel one crosses over the boulder symbolising the body of Bhairo Nath who was beheaded by the Goddess at the entry point to the holy cave. The boulder is fourteen feet long. After this can be seen the image of Lord Hanuman called Veer Langur who said to have faught with Bhairo nath. The pilgrims have to wade through water beyond the Veer Langura point. Twenty three feet beyond Veer Langur, on the left upper hand side, the roof of the cave flares out and the weight of this over hang appears as if resting on the innumerable heads of the Shesh Nag. Immediately below the Shesh Nag can be seen the symbols of Shankh, Chakra, Gada and Padma. Higher up, almost touching the ceiling of the cave are the images of the five Pandavas, the Sapta Rishi, the image of the divine cowKamdhenu, Brahma and Vishnu and Shiva and Parvati. Three feet further, on an elevation some what below Shiva and Parvati, can be seen the Khamba. Diagonally below this, at the water level can be seen the Yantra with innumerable mystical signs and symbols inscribed on it. Twenty two feet beyond this point is located the Sher Ka Panja symbolizing the lion which is the mount of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. The distance from the entry point to the Sher Ka Panja is fifty-nine feet. Thirteen feet beyond this, immediately above the head of the worshipper, is Hood of Shesh Nag which appears as if bearing the weight of the roof of

the cave at this point. The length of the cave up to the main hood of Shesh Nag is seventy two feet. Six feet further, on the left hand side, are the images of Shankar and Gouri. Thirteen feet beyond it are located the holy Pindies of "Mata Maha Kali Ji", "Mata Maha Lakshmi Vaishno Devi Ji," and "Mata Maha Saraswati Ji". The length of the Cave up to this point is ninety one feet. To the right of the holy Pindis on the upper side are the depictions of Ganesha, Surya, Chandra and Goddess Annapurna. Slightly behind the holy Pindis, on the right hand side can be seen the symbol of the seated Sinha Raj. A little ahead of it can be seen the full hand of the Goddess raised in the Varad Hast or the boon granting pose. Immediately opposite the Holy Pindis is the natural image of Lord Pashupati Nath. Water gushes out of the base of the holy Pindis and flows out of the holy Cave. It is known as Charan Ganga and this water is collected in small containers by the devotees and taken home. The same water is also channelised to the bathing ghat and the devotees take a bath in this water before they join the queue for Darshan of the holy Pindis.The holy Pindis though depicted in its three manifestations at the upper most part is basically one petrified rock at the bottom which is 5'-6" tall. Puja Schedule The 'Aarti' of the Goddess is performed twice a day first time in the morning before the sunrise and second time in the evening after the sunset. During the ''Aarti'' only the Pujaris, Pandits and security staff besides senior most functionaries of the Board at Bhawan are allowed inside the sanctum- sanctorum. The procedure of 'Aarti' is a very sacred and lengthy one. The Pujaris perform 'Aarti' before the deity first inside the sanctum- sanctorum and than outside the cave. Before the commencement of 'Aarti', the Pujaris perform 'Aatma pujan' i,e selfpurification. Then the Goddess is bathed in water, milk, ghee (Clarified butter), honey and sugar, which is called Panchamrita Puja. Thereafter the

goddess is dressed-up in a saree, chola and chunari and adorned with ornaments. The whole process takes place along with the enchantment of various shlokas and Mantras. Thereafter Tilak (sacred mark)is placed on the forehead of the deity and Naivedya (prasad) is offered to her. The Pujaris perform pujas for various Gods and Goddesses, as it is a believed that during the Aarti time, all the Gods and Goddesses reside in the sanctum Sanctorum. The Jyoti (divine lamp) is lighted and then the 'Aarti' of the goddess is performed. After the whole procedure, the thaal which contains the lamp and various other items used in the 'Aarti', is brought outside the mouth of the holy cave, where 'Aarti' of the goddess is performed in the presence of yatris. The yatris who remain seated outside the holy cave during the time when the Aarti is performed inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, keep listening to the Pravachans of head Pandit. After the Aarti outside the holy cave gets over, the pujari distributes Prasadam and the charanamrit (the holy water) to the devotees. The whole Aarati process takes nearly two hours during which, new entries of devotees are suspended. All the required maintenance work inside the cave is carried out during this time only. The Track-from Katra to Vaishnodevi

The track from Katra to Adhkawari and from Adhkawari to Vaishno Devi took one year to complete and another eight months more to attain a minimum width of 18-20 feet.

Objectives of the tour To help the old community members to visit vaishno devi To help them information of social network among themselves. Places of the Tour Vaishno Devi- Shimla Manali Destinations Covered:Jammu>Katra> >Shimla > Chandigarh Tour Program Days Day 01 Tour Program Arrival at Jammu & Transfer to Katra On arrival at Jammu railway station, next destination is KatraVaishno Devi. Overnight at hotel in Katra. Darshan Mata Vaishno Devi Dharamshala > Manali

Day 02

This morning take a morning 10 minutes flight by helicopter to reach Vaishno Devi Temple, we did Darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi. After having Prasad we proceeded to Bhairo Baba Temple by horse and reach the helipad by horse to fly down to Katra. Rest of the day all relaxed in the hotel. Overnight we enjoyed at hotel in Katra. Day 03 Katra To Dharmshala

This morning after breakfast we drived to Dharmshala a city of Monks, surrounded by green pastures and snow capped mountains. On arrival we stayed at hotel and rest of the day was at leisure.


Sr. No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Name Ram Lal Sankuntla Devi Rama Devi Sita devi Roshan Lal Luxman Sanju Ram vikash Age 62 yrs 55 yrs 58 yrs 60 yrs 65 yrs 53 yrs 50 yrs 45 yrs Address Vill sakoh PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill Lagyar PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill Lagyar PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill Lagyar PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill sakota PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill sakota PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill manoh PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi Vill manoh PO Tihra Sarkaghat, Mandi

IMPACT OF TOUR ON THE PARTICIPANTS They all enjoyed the tour. They form their soial network during this tour. They share their joy and pain during the tour. They felt that after a long time they visited in a group. It was a sweet experience for all.