President Pranab Mukherjee today concluded his maiden two-day visit to Jammu by paying obeisance at the Mata Vaishno Devi cave shrine where he inaugurated two new facilities for pilgrims. Accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, the President performed 'darshan' at the cave shrine this afternoon after inaugurating Shridhar Bhawan Elevator and the Panchi Helipad.
The new Panchi helipad has reduced the distance for pilgrims visiting the cave shrine by air. It is located at distance of 2.8 km from the Bhawan. The previous one was at Sanjichat, five KMs from the shrine. The elevator can be used by the aged and infirm devotees to reach the shrine without having to climb the 127 steps up the mountainous trek. The President was driven to the shrine in a battery car and after performing the 'puja' he interacted with pilgrims who were happy to have the First citizen of the country amongst them.
Like with most old Shrines, it has not been possible to ascertain when exactly the pilgrimage to this shrine, visited by lakhs of people from across the country every year, started.
Vedic literature gives no reference to the worship of any female deity, although the mountain Trikuta does find its mention in Rigveda, the oldest of the four Vedas. The practice of worshipping Shakti, largely started in the Puranic period.
It is also generally believed that the Pandavas were the first to build the temples at Kol Kandoli and Bhawan in reverence and gratitude for the Mother Goddess. On a mountain, just adjacent to the Trikuta Mountain and overlooking the Holy Cave are five stone structures, which are believed to be the rock symbols of the five Pandavas.
The President had arrived in Jammu, the winter capital of the state, yesterday afternoon. He was the Chief Guest at the 14th convocation of the Jammu University yesterday, where 67 degrees and 68 medals were awarded to meritorious students.
The Governor had hosted a 'At Home' function in honour of the President and briefed him about the situation in the state.