And this is how i met the deity..
I was merely 9 years old, it was going to be my debut encounter with the term "Excitement" , the date was March7th, 1998 and as a paradox child my belief on god was weak , so my family planned a trip to Vaishno Devi to strengthen the belief of ours on existence of the omnipotent god.
My dad being a travel buff, planned and organised the whole trip, and I was happy to be rescued from my ongoing class tests. ;) , The approximate time for the whole journey was 5 days including a day stay in New Delhi , we boarded in train on March 7th, 1998 at 8 pm and when I opened my eyes we were at New Delhi railway station and the time was 5 am, we had our tea and boarded the bus for visiting Delhi.
My dad had it all, he knew all the important places and did had all the important information, facts and stories. we visited Zama Masjid, Qutub Minaar, Red Fort, Parliament House , Cannaught Place and had various famous cusine from Delhi including "Khoye puri" in "paranthe wali gali" .
We continued to crave our path to Jammu on the same night to which we reached on the next day and the extreme change in the weather condition played the trick (PS if you are planning for jammu, no matter where you abode, keep warm clothes handy).
We booked a cab to Katra (Around 45 km from Jammu)where we had to start our foot walk to "one of the 108 shakti peetha"
the story of Vaishno Devi is found in Chanddi up-purana. When Vishnu Bhagwan cuts Sati Maa's body into 108 peethas then 52 body parts fell onto earth atmosphere and rest of the 56 fell on other planets. Out of which the "Blessing Hand" of Goddess Sati had fallen on "Planet Venus" or Shukra. Goddess Lakshmi is considered to be the ruling planet of Shukra hence also known as Goddess of Venus.
The scenario of Katra was par excellence and beyond explanation, it was beautiful and I was fascination with the aura, we planned to take rest for the night and start our journey early in the morning .
The next morning i woke up at 5 am and saw my dad n mom already ready, mom insisted me to take bath to which i refused as it was bone chilling cold, She told me a religious story and gave the inference that the power comes from the divine godess and I can take bath and walk barefooted, and some how it worked I took bath and left the hotel, I really felt the charm and the power and we kept walking, the Bhavan is at a height of 6200 feet (1900 meters) and distance from katra to bhavan is around 13 kms.
The Bhairo mandir (Built to give respect to the biggest follower of maa shakti, Bhairo nath (Asur as evil)), is the first stop of the people going for yatra, which is around 6 km walk and 800 meters above the ground level, the temperature goes on decreasing and became below freezing point by end of the day,
We reached the Bhavan at around 7pm in the evening and in general days the dwar(Doors) to the shakti peeth remains close to the general audience.
I witnessed the devine power when we god to know the the PM of that reign MR. HD Devegoda was coming for visit and the dwar were opened for everyone, The eyer were tingled with the aarti and the chants that were being done their, my dad told that it was a place of "Moksha(freedom from earthly affairs)", I witnessed it, the people were chanting, crying with joy, praising the godess and dancing.
We returned to our resort in katra around 11 next day after successful journey to the bhavan and boarded the train to Delhi.
I am not a hardcore religious saint, but the journey help me inculcating the positivity and extreme divine power that lies inside me till now, and give me strength in my downs and the belief that everything is going to get fine.
PS its what you believe, then what exists... :) :)