Jammu & Kashmir (1,585 m) – Sacred Mountain of Vaishno Devi
Trikuta is actually a mythical mountain of Hindu legend, one of twenty that serve as foothills to the greatest mountain in Hindu cosmology, Meru. As the story goes, Trikuta is inhabited by several gods, and boasts, among other thing, magnificent gardens and lakes, frolicking elephants and triple peaks of iron, silver and gold. It was also home to an unequaled temple dedicated to the deity Ravana, but this building was later removed by a rival god.
For at least a thousand years, a mountain in the province of Jammu & Kashmir has been associated with legendary Trikuta. This mountain, with three peaks (unfortunately not made of precious metals), is home to the shrine of Vaishno Devi and is considered one of the most sacred Hindu places on Earth.
The story of the mountain is long and somewhat convoluted. It involves three manifestations of the goddess Durga (Lakshmi, Kali and Sarasvati) who came together in an effort to create a girl who would uphold righteousness. The experiment involved many subsequent adventures and was a mixed success. But during these Vaishno Devi (Durga) decided that a better way to achieve her goals would be to enter a state of permanent meditation. This she did, becoming part of the mountain in the process.
Today, millions of pilgrims flock to the mountain every year, ascending thousands of feet to reach a sacred cave on the mountain side. This Holy Cave boasts natural rock formations which are said to be manifestations of Lakshmi, Kali and Sarasvati, and are the obects of worship. There are no manmade idols in the cave. Located in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, it is a little over 400 miles north of New Delhi.
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