There are no proofs available to ascertain when exactly the pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine has started. A geological study of the Holy Cave has indicated its age to be nearly a million years. The mountain Trikuta does find its mention in Rig-Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas The practice of worshipping Shakti, largely started in the Puranic period. It is 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 oldest reference of the visit of a historical figure to the Holy Cave is that of Guru Gobind Singh who is said to have gone there via Purmandal. The old foot track to the Holy Cave passed through this well-known pilgrimage centre. Some traditions believe this Shrine is to be the holiest of all Shaktipeeths (a place where the Mother Goddess, the Eternal Energy has her abode).In the Holy Cave of Shri Mata Vaishnoi Deviji, one does find stone remains of a human hand, popularly known as Varad Hast (the hand that grants boons and blessings).
It is believed that the hand of Mother Sati has fallen in this place.
While various versions of the origin and legend of Shri Mata Vaishnoi Deviji are prevalent, there seems to be a unanimity regarding the discovery of Shrine around 700 years back by Pundit Sridhar who was an ardent devotee of Mata Vaishnoi Deviji and he lived in the village of Hansali situated at the foot of Trikuta Mountain, adjacent to modern day Katra Town at whose place Mata had helped him to organize a Bhandaara (Community meal). When she left amidst the Bhandaara to escape Bhairon Nath, Pundit Sridhar is said to have felt as if he had lost everything in his life.
He felt immense grief and gave up the intake of food or even water and closed himself in a room of his house, fervently praying to Vaishnoi Deviji to reappear. It is then that Mata Vaishnoi Deviji appeared in his dream and told him that she is performing penance in the Holy Cave situated amidst the folds of the Trikuta Mountain. She showed him the way to the Holy Cave and insisted him to break his fast. Pundit Sridhar then went on to discover the Holy Cave in the mountains. Every time he seemed to lose the way, the vision of his dreams reappeared before his eyes and finally he reached the destination. Upon entering the Cave he found a rock form with three heads atop it. Mata Vaishnoi Devi appeared before him in all her glory and blessed him and introduced him to the three heads (now known as the Holy Pindies) of the rock form along with various other identification marks in the Holy Cave. Pundit Sridhar then spent his remaining life in the service of Mata Vaishnoi Deviji at the Holy Cave.