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Vaishno Devi Yatra

The Vaishno Devi shrine is located in a cave towards the top of the Trikuta Mountains in Jammu-Kashmir. There are three pindies for Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. Vaishno Devi is mostly identified with Mahalakshmi although She is the combined shakti's of all three. This is believed to be the only place where these three Devi's are found in one temple as natural pindies. The yatra, on foot, starts from Katra and continues up the mountain for around 12 kilometers. The yatra follows the path Vaishno Devi took when fleeing from Bhairon. Thousands of devotees make the climb daily to have darshan. It is believed that Vaishno Devi is the elder sister of the other seven Devi Mata's (Kangra, Jwalaji, Chamunda, Chintapurni, Naina and Mansa).

The Legend

During the Treta yuga powerful and evil forces had taken control of the world. The combined cries of devotees inspired a divine solution. Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati combined their shanti's (powers) to produce a Devi powerful enough to free the people of their suffering. That powerful Goddess that they produced is Vaishno Devi.

Vaishno Mata quickly disposed of an evil demon who was preventing devotees from their religious practices. She took a birth in South India so that She could continue with Her divine mission here on earth. After some time She left home to perform austerities and meditate on Lord Rama. At that time Lord Rama was searching for his wife Sita who had been abducted by the evil Ravana. Rama appeared before Vaishno Devi. She asked to be his wife. Rama refused saying that he was already married but if Vaishno Devi could recognize him when he returned next then he would agree to marry her.

After killing Ravana and rescuing Sita Rama returned to Vaishno Devi's hermitage disguised as an old sadhu. To her disappointment Vaishno Devi did not recognize him. He consoled her saying that he would again take a birth in Kali Yuga (the present age) and then they would get married. Lord Rama told Vaishno Devi to stay in a cave in the Trikuta hills where Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati were staying. There many devotees would come for Her darshan and she would fulfill their desires. He also sent Hanuman to serve Her. Since that time Vaishno Devi has been there, serving the world, and waiting for Lord Rama to return.