Vaishno Devi

Mata Rani, Vaishnavi, or Vaishno Devī is the manifestation of the goddess Shakti (Viswanathan, 2012). The entity of Vaishno Devī is recognized by both name and locale.


“Vaishno Devi”

Worship of the Goddess dates back to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 B.C.E. (Chander, 2009). Historical legend indicates that Pandit Shridhar first discovered the holy shrine of Vaishno Devī around a thousand years ago (Chander, 2009). It is said that one night, Vaishno Devī came to a man named Shridhar who was an enthusiastic follower of her (Viswanathan, 2012). She entered his dreams and identified herself to him, also showing him the location of her cave (Viswanathan, 2012). He immediately began his search and was assisted in his dreams by the Goddess, eventually finding the site (Viswanathan, 2012).

Spiritual legends state that Vaishno Devi was born in the Southern part of India to Ratnakar Sagar (Viswanathan, 2012). She was named Trikuta but later called Vaishnavi because of her future relation to Lord Vishnu (Viswanathan, 2012). When she was 9 years old, she prayed to Lord Rama on the seashore (Viswanathan, 2012). Instantly, Lord Rama passed her, in search of Goddess Sita, but Trikuta vowed to take him as her husband (Viswanathan, 2012). He, already having Sita, promised that he would take an avatar of Kalki and then marry her (Viswanathan, 2012). He also instructed Trikuta to meditate in a particular cave found in the Trikuta Range of Manik Mountains, located in northern India (Viswanathan, 2012). It is due to Rama’s blessings that Vaishno Devi gained yearly influx of worshippers and immortality (Viswanathan, 2012).

There are other gods who have stepped foot on the site as well. According to local spiritual legend, Bhairava wanted her hand in marriage greatly and perused her endlessly, and so she beheaded him (Eck, 282). His head proceded to roll down the hill where he is honored as a guardian of the goddess (Eck, 282). It is also said that Sati’s arms fell down to the shrine (Eck, 294).

Bhat, Chander M. 2009. “Shri Mata Vaishno Devi: The Shrine”. Kashmir News Network.

“Shri Mata Vaishno Devi: The Shrine” The Three Pindis.

Physical Features:

There was originally only one natural tunnel for entering and exiting the cave, but a second tunnel was opened for the public in 1977 and a third was created in 1998 (Chander, 2009). In the shrine, a smooth stone, or svarūpa, is a physical manifestation of the Goddess (Eck, 22). Mahālakshmī, Mahāsarasvatī, and Mahākālī, the three aspects of the goddess, are manifested there as well in three stone lumps called pindis (Eck, 267).

The cave itself is almost one hundred feet long and 5200 feet above sea level (Chander, 2009). Many symbols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses fill the cave and pilgrims are greeted and surrounded with them as they enter (Chander, 2009). After passing by these dedications and wading through a pool of water, they reach the pindis, the climax of the pilgrimage and site. Water flows out of the pindis and out of the cave (Chander, 2009).


On the thirtieth of August 1986, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Jagmohan passed the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Act and management and administration of the shrine was taken over by a statutory board called Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (Chanter, 2009). Donations are accepted by this board through the internet.

“Old Track”

The formal pilgrimage begins in the beginning of autumn, but devotees visit the shrine throughout the year. It is recorded that close to 8 million yatris, or pilgrims visit the temple each year, from all over the world, making it the second most visited religious shrine in India (Viswanathan, 2012). No matter the age, young or old, sick or healthy, people overcome all odds to receive the blessing of the Goddess through visitation (Amit, 2009). No complaints or protests are heard as people enjoy the struggle to reach the sacred shrine (Amit, 2009). Even Guru Nanak and Nam Dev are believed to have visited the site (Chanter, 2009). 


Fifty kilometers from Jammu, pilgrims from all over India can trek on foot from Katra for about twelve miles, crossing Banganga, Charan Paduka, Adhkwari, and Sanji Chhat before reaching the holy cave (Chander, 2009). They hike up the Goddess’ hill and then squeeze, sometimes ten to twelve at a time, through her cave to where her triple image may be seen (Eck, 282). This ritual crawl symbolizes gestation and birth, although the goddess is known to be a virgin (Eck, 282). This climbing and challenge is part of the sacredness of the pilgrimage. Pilgrims also collect the water that rushes out of the base of the pindis in small containers and bring them home. The same water is used for the bathing ghat and devotees bathe in this water before joining the queue for darshan of the holy pindis (Chander, 2009).

The chant for Vaishno Devi is jai mata di and can be heard and seen throughout anyone’s visit to the Goddess (Chander, 2009).


It is said that the goddess hollowed out the cave with her trident (Eck, 282). Pilgrimage literature claims that Vaishno Devī is the only place where one can worship Mahālakshmī, Mahāsarasvatī, and Mahākālī, the three aspects of the goddess, at the same time (Eck, 267).

(Deepak, 1995)

“Vaishno Devi Bhawan Darbar” Shrine Complex

Although a virgin goddess, Vaishno Devī is worshipped as a mother to all pilgrims (Eck, 282). She is believed to give strength to the weak, sight to the blind, wealth to the poor and children to the infertile (Viswanathan, 2012). In short, she is believed to be able to grant any devotees wish. This is why so many people choose to make the arduous pilgrimage. The shrine is packed all year long, but the best time to visit is during Navaratras because it is said that during this time, devotees attain more nearness to heaven (Viswanathan, 2012).


Official website of Vaishno Devī


  1. Eck, D.L. 2012. India: A Sacred Geography. 1st ed. New York: Three Rivers Press.
  2. Singh, Amit. Twist & Turn to the Religious Trip of Vaishno Devi. The Economic Times. 2009.
  3. Bhat, Chander M. 2009. “Shri Mata Vaishno Devi: The Shrine”. Kashmir News Network.
  4. Dolls of India. 2012. Priya Viswanathan.