Vaishno Devi is one of the most visited and religious place to be. It is situated on the hills of Himalayan range and is quite near to Jammu city (around 100 km). It is a pilgrimage where all religious people go and make their wishes. Near Jammu around 80 km, there is a place called Katra. Katra is the last stoppage where buses leave the visitors. From that place the visitors are supposed to go to the Temple of Vaishno Devi either on foot or they can hire horses for the purpose.
Vaishno Devi’s Temple is around 14 km from Katra. Therefore all the visitors need to walk all the way to the temple on their feet. If the visitors are old enough to walk they can hire horses which can take them from Katra to Vaishno Devi’s Temple. Visit to Devi’s Temple is not considered completed until the visitor goes to Bhairav Ghati. Bhairav Ghati is the place, according to the myths, where the head of mythological villain fell after it was taken off by Maa Vaishno. Although, Bhairav Ghati is just 5 km above Vaishno Devi’s Temple it is very hard to be there because of the crooked and haphazard road. Bhairav Ghati is the highest place on that religious place. Because it is on that height it is full of clouds and it is very cold there.
Bhairav Ghati is, although, a place of mythological villain, however, it is considered as religious because the villain was killed by Vaishno Devi. There is, now-a-days, very good sitting arrangement organized by the government. Also, for the visitors who reach late at night, there is arrangement of accommodation as well. Visitors can reach Bhairav Ghati anything they want and if they are late they can hire a hotel room and can relax. They can also enjoy the site scenes of the place. As it is a hill station also and that too at the highest peak it is really fun to be there.
When you reach Bhairav Ghati you need to go to the temple named as Bhairav Temple which is situated at Bhairav Ghati itself. Once you are in the Temple and you have seen the statue it is considered that you have completed your visit to Vaishno Devi. After this you can return back to the Temple and then back towards Katra. From Katra you can hire a bus back to Jammu and then back to your home town.
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 Charan 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.