At about 2 kms from Katra, from where we start our Yatra today, is situated an old village, Hansal, also called (Hansalli).
Around 700 years ago,there lived a very poor priest named Pandit Shirdhar,who was very heartily devoted to Maa Vaishnodevi.He used to sing his daily prayers and performed Puja daily. He also used to worship little girls (called Kanya Pujan) regularly.And as faith was, he was childless and had no children of his own. His daily Puja and Prayers for Maa Vaishnodevi went on for many years. At last seeing his firm-faith and the true devotion, Maa Vaishnodevi one day came to Panditji, in the form of a little innocent girl.
Pandit Shridhar had been busy in his daily preparation of Kanya Pujan, where, some little girls were present before him. Maa Vaishnodevi manifested herself in those little-girls. As per the Hindu tradition, while Pt. Shirdhar had been washing the feet of these little girls, his sight fell on Maa Vaishno manifested herself in the form of a little girl. Panditji was astonished to see HER celestial beauty in vermilion garbs; SHE wore on HER divine body. He had never seen the little girl before, and SHE did not even seem to belong to his village. Anyway, he worshipped as usual. When the Puja was over, all the girls returned to their homes after getting their offerings from Panditji, except Maa Vaishnodevi who remained seated. Panditji was very much confused and was about to enquire and ask Maa Vaishno that Maa Herself spoke to him and said " I have an important task for you." Panditji was spell bound and was astonished more and more to listen to such a conversation from that little-girl. Maa Vaishno asked Panditji to invite people from neighboring villages for a collective lunch - called Bhandhara. Panditji was very much confused and before he could say anything or ask Maa Vaishno about HER, Maa Vaishno disappeared.
Pt. Shirdhar went on thinking hard - who this little girl was? But was unable to find an answer to it… SHE might be an "Eternal-Girl", or may be Maa Vaishnodevi Herself and the more he thought the more he got confused, and worried for the "Bhandhara", as it was not possible for him to keep such a huge Bhandhara. He could not think of anything, and in the end, he decided to obey the Divine Girl and went to tell and invite the people in the neighboring villages. He went on to invite people from one village to another. On his way, he came across a group of saints. He very humbly bowed before them, and with his folded hands, extended an invitation to them also to attend Bhandhara, the next day. Gorakhnath - the leader of the group of saints - told him that he was mistaking in inviting them at home, as even Lord Indra had not been able to satisfy them. Pt. Shridhar got afraid and related them the event and told them of the Divine-Girl. Gorakhnath in his anxiety accepted Panditji's invitation. He also wanted to see, such a girl, who could prepare food for so many peoples and was very curious to find who this Girl was? Panditji was fully exhausted when he returned home, and so he went fast asleep immediately on returning home. The next morning, once again, he started worrying about the arrangements for Bhandhara. He just sat in his home, thinking, when people began to gather outside his small hut. Gorakhnath and Bhairavnath, a disciple of Gorakhnath, also arrived along with their disciples. Panditji was not able to understand what was going on, and to his surprise, all of a sudden Maa Vaishnodevi - The Divine Girl, entered into the little hut. No one could know - which way SHE had come! How and when did SHE arrive? Maa Vaishno told Panditji, "Don't worry, and get up! Everything will be arranged very soon. Tell your guests to come in and sit in the hut." Pt. Shirdhar, immediately got up, and came out to the eagerly awaiting crowd. He invited them to come inside the hut and have food. Gorakhanth then asked - How can we sit in your hut? It does not have a sufficient space for all of us. Panditji folded his hands and said. No problem - please come in.... All people who were invited began to enter one by one in the hut. All of them were astonished to see, that all of them had entered and sat inside the hut and still a small space was left in the corner of the same hut, which was very small!!
Maa Vaishno began to serve food from a small vessel in HER little hands. The foods of their respective choice and likings! Everyone was surprised and Maa Vaishno's devotee Pt. Shirdhar was overwhelmed with joy.
Gorakhnath and his senior disciple Bhairavnath were very much amazed and began to consult between themselves - and said SHE seems to be an Eternal Power. Who SHE was? And when Maa Vaishno reached Bhairavnath to serve him the foods, he asked, "Shall I get the food of my choice?". "What do you want?" Maa Vaishno asked him politely. Bhairavnath asked for meat and wine. Maa Vaishno very gently told him that he was sitting in the hut of a pious Vaishnav Brahmin, and that only vegetarian food will be served.
Bhairavnath turned deaf ears to the words, as he wanted to cross-examine the Girl. Nevertheless, Maa Vaishno knew his evil desires and as soon as, Bhairavnath could rose up with some seditious thinking and tried to catch hold of Maa Vaishno's hand and Maa disappeared.
Bhairavnath was an expert at the science of meditation and was a tantrik. He closed his eyes for a moment and saw with the help of his yogic-powers that Maa Vaishno had preceded towards the Trikuta Hills, in a subtle form of "Air". Bhairavnath started chasing Devi Maa.
During this chase, Maa Vaishno felt thirsty, and SHE perched an arrow with HER bow on the land and a stream of water flew out. This place is calledBan Ganga.
Maa Vaishno stopped for some time and looked behind at Bhairavnath who was chasing her. - The place where Maa Vaishno rested has marks of the impressions of HER feet and was printed on a stone as SHE stopped here. The foot prints are still visible on the stone, preserved here in the temple. Hence, the place is called"Charan Paduka" i.e. , the holy foot prints.
At a considerable distance from Charan paduka, Maa Vaishno reached a small charming plateau, calledArdhkwari , where a mendicant was practicing his meditations opposite a small tunnel. SHE gave HER divine sight to the mendicant and told him not to tell any thing about HER visit to any one. Thereafter, Maa Vaishno went into the tunnel and took rest for full long nine months, as if the child in the womb of a mother. Maa Vaishno spent the nine months in complete devotion. Hence, the tunnel was called"Garabh Joon".
Searching for Maa Vaishno, Bhairavnath reached here. He asked the mendicant “Have you seen a girl on this plateau?" The old mendicant replied, “SHE is the supreme power in the whole world, whom you think to be an ordinary girl and that she isAdikumari", i.e. A virgin since the very beginning of this earth. He told Bhairavnath either to run away or to beg pardon from HER. The moment universe came into existence since then SHE has maintained virginity better you go back. Bhairavnath again put a deaf ear to the advice and entered into the tunnel. Maa Vaishnodevi was aware of it. Maa Vaishno with HER divine powers made another opening of the cave by strucking a path at the end of the tunnel with the help of HER trident and moved ahead towards the Holy cave at Darbar (Bhavan).
On reaching at the Holy cave at Darbar Maa Vaishno with all HER powers looked MAHA KALI and in the end with her Trishul cut the head of Bhairavnath and threw it with such a force that it went at a distant Mountain. The place at which the head fell is now Bhairav Temple.According to the katha the big rock at the entrance of the Holy cave is the remaining body of Bhairavnath.
Bhairavnath then started pleading and begged to forgive him, for his sins.
Merciful Maa Vaishnodevi forgave Bhairavnath for all his sins and blessed him and granted him a wish that whenever HER bhakts will come to Bhavan for HER Darshan their yatra will not be completed unless on going back after HER Darshan, the devotees pay homage at Bhairavnath temple.
On the other side, Pt. Shirdhar was very much disappointed with the sudden disappearance of Maa Vaishno . He was very much worried about Maa Vaishno , and went on for fasting for many days, even leaving food and water.
Kind hearted Maa Vaishnodevi, again appeared before him, in his dream one night. In his dream, Maa showed him HER shrine - the Holy cave and asked him to follow HER through the route. Panditji followed and reached Pavitra Gufa. Pt. Shirdhar was very happy when he woke up in the morning. All his distortion was removed.
From that very day, Panditji began to search for the Holy cave, which he had seen in his dream. He was very much disturbed and wanted to find Holy cave as soon as possible. He started recounting and following the route as directed and once while climbing up the hills, Panditji was able discovers the Holy cave, the same which he saw in his dream. Panditji entered inside the Holy Cave . And to his astonishment, he got the Holy sight of the abode of Maa Vaishnodevi to the success of his life. He saw,DEVI MAA , represented by three goddesses, viz. Maa Maha Laxmi (the goddess of beauty and wealth),Maa Mahakali (the vanquisher of evil (right)),Maa Maha Saraswati (the muse of art and learning (left) in the form of threePINDIS. Pandit Shirdhar read hymns and verses in praise of Maa Vaishnodevi, with his hands folded before HER, and offered "Aarti", and bowed and prayed by all means. Maa Vaishnodevi was very much pleased with him. SHE granted him a boon of four sons, and said that his descendants will continue to worship HER. Since that day, the descendants of Pt. Shirdhar have been worshipping Maa Vaishnodevi (Pindi Swaroopa), inside the Holy cave (Pavitra Gufa).
Thereafter, Pt. Shirdhar made known to this world of the Holy Cave and existence of Maa Vaishnodevi in the Pavitra Gufa.This is how; we all came to know of our beloved Devi Maa and had been blessed by HER all through these years.