There was a time the Goddess was busy obliterating the Asuras (demons), she created a divine force in the form of a girl to protect the birth. On being created, the girl asked her for the purpose of her creation. She then took birth in a South Indian household to Ratankar Sagar and his wife as a girl and was named Vaishnavi. The girl had a thirst for knowledge and soon discovered meditation to reach her greater objective. During his period of exile, Lord Rama visited Vaishnavi while she was meditating. She instantly recognized Rama as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and requested him to merge her into him.
Rama on knowing that it was not the right time for this act, politely declined. He told her that he will visit her again in disguise and that if Vaishnavi can recognize him them, he will grant her, her wish. After his exile was over, he visited her in the disguise of an old man and Vaishnavi could not recognize him. He consoled her by saying that in ‘Kalyug’ he would come down as the incarnation of ‘Kalki’ and marry her.
After that Vaishnavi set up to the northern mountains and set up her ashram at the foot of the Trikuta hills. She then started meditating. Soon her glory spread far and wide and she had a large following of her own. After an altercation with Bhairon Nath, she fled deep into the mountains to continue her meditation. After being forced to kill Bhairon Nath who kept persisting on marrying her at the entrance of a deep cave, she decided to leave her human body. She assumed the face of a rock inside the cave and continued meditating and it is believed she continues to do so till date. Thus her rock with three heads is the shrine where hundreds of devotees come to worship her every day.
The holy cave is the main place of worship. The entire body of rock has been immersed in water over the years. The three heads also called the pindis are what the devotees pay their respects to. These three heads depict the three goddesses who created the divine Vaishnavi. In the center is the holy pindi of Goddess Lakshmi, in the right is the holy pindi of Goddess Kali and in the left is the holy pindi of Goddess Saraswati.
The Aarti takes place twice every day – just before the sunrise and immediately after the sunset. Devotees can line up to witness this sacred and long aarti. Other than that, every morning a hawan takes place where individuals can get their poojan done on an individual level. One need not be present there physically either. For a charge, the priests will chant your name during the hawan to help you get blessings from the Goddess.
Vaishno Devi is opened throughout the year though it sees maximum pilgrimage in the months of March and October around the festival of Navratras. The weather also makes it a perfect time to travel. Being a holy place, finding places to stay here is not a problem. A lot of lodges, hotels, and ashrams are here for the convenient stay of the travelers. It is however advised to get the bookings done in advance for the same.