Man is a curious being. And with the power to know comes an ability to find out. By that logic, we should know more about the things we do, the places we go and what they mean, like Vaishno Devi for example. A place so rich in every way, Vaishno Devi holds so much information. But do we really know anything worth knowing? Here’s testing your knowledge with 12 interesting facts about Vaishno Devi, one of the most sacred places for the followers of Hinduism.
Vaishno Devi, also Mata Rani to some, is actually a manifestation of Goddess Durga. In fact, the word ‘maa’ or ‘mata’ is commonly used in India as mother, which makes our connection to Her even stronger.
The Origin of Vaishno Devi is a complete mystery, like many of the places in India. No one knows how the caves came to be or what exactly happened there, which means your guess is as good as mine.
Geological investigations into the matter of Vaishno Devi, and some research of the Holy Caves, have yielded the result that it’s been approximately one million years on since the pilgrimages have begun to Vaishno Devi. Betcha you didn’t know that one.
If stories are to be believed, during the battle at Kurukshetra between the Pandavas and the Kauravas in the Mahabharatha, Arjuna was told by Lord Krishna to meditate in front of the Holy Cave to Lord Durga and pray for victory. We all know how that turned out, but who knew this was part of the plan.
Many of the claims that support Vaishno Devi being a place of holiness are strong, but none are as prominent as the late Guru Gobind Singh himself visiting it several years ago. It is his trek which has made Vaishno Devi the pilgrimage centre it is today.
Vaishno Devi is considered the holiest of all the places (also known as Shaktipeeth), which possesses the energy to keep the Mother Goddess safe. Evidence has even been found to observe the Mata Sati falling at this place.
The Vaishno Devi temple can only be reached from Katra. It’s a small town from which one has to receive the Yatra Parchi as a darshan, at Banganga point, before proceeding to the temple.
The highest point in Vaishno Devi is known as Bhavan, which is located at 6218 feet (1906 meters) above sea level. It is said that only the most spiritual and devoted souls make this ascent by foot, which is a startling 13 kms from the town of Katra.
There are three main caves located at Vaishno Devi, of which the main cave remains closed most of the year. Surprisingly, the three caves combined are too long for a single pilgrimage. Hence only the other two caves are open for the flock of people to see.
Life wasn’t always dandelions and daffodils. Earlier, the path to Vaishno Devi was a rocky path which had to be travelled entirely by foot. There were a few flight of stairs but they were even more unsafe than the road, with the stairs being broken and without railings. Now, even helicopters will take you up there, should you have the money.
Early on, in the 1900s, the Yatra route, or the original route to Vaishno Devi, was not wide enough to accommodate the multitudes who flooded it. Hence, in order to make more space, the mountain was split in half to build a new road, at Ardh Kuwari (the halfway point). Beyond this point, it’s all foot or an electric auto up to the temple. So you better be prepared.
A statistic shows that compared to the 10 lakh people who used to visit the shire in the early 80’s, the number has since grown tenfold over the last the last 30 years. In fact, 2014 is reported to be the year which will be making history, as over one crore people will be making their way to one of India’s holiest places. Now that’s what I call dedication!