THE KIKI STUDIO - BLOG
Among India’s most sacred and religious places is the holy temple of Goddess Vaishnodevi. Everybody would surely once like to have an up-close darshan of Mata Rani in Vaishnodevi, as her blessings are highly esteemed. It is located in the Trikuta Mountains, and the view from the temple is stunning. For Vaishnodevi, you must reach Katra at first. Katra is 90 km from Jammu, and you can get there via road or train. You can also take a flight up to Jammu and then reach Katra via road. People coming from Delhi can take the Uttar Kranti train that leaves from Delhi at 8-00 at night and reach 7-00/7-30 at Katra station. Katra station is very beautiful and clean. Once you cross the station, you will see lots of stalls and shops where you can have morning breakfast.
One thing to remember is that your normal prepaid sim won’t work in Jammu and Kashmir. So you can buy a temporary sim outside the station for just Rs 300/400. But you do not need a temporary connection if you have a postpaid connection.
A day in Katra
It is advisable to book hotels before if you want to freshen up or stay in Katra. To go over a kilometer by auto would cost more than Rs 110, a fixed charge. Thus it is advisable to book a hotel near to the railway station where you can walk and reach. Exploring Katra is a very good option after you take some rest. There you can see several items available at the majority of shops like dry fruits, jelly, handmade mala, jewelry, etc. Various local vendors provide personalized key chains with Mata Vaishnodevi’s photo in it. You can personalize it the way you want it on the wooden keychain and take it back as a souvenir. It is a very nominal cost of Rs 40/50.
You can visit the registration office at Katra, opposite the Katra bus stand. Patnitop and Shivkhori are among the famous tourist spots near Katra that can be included in your trip to Vaishnodevi. The government has opened Maa Vaishnodevi Shrines in Katra in the Niharika complex. It is right opposite to the registration office, but it needs to be pre-booked. Then you can hop onto hot street delicacies in Katra market. Do try a special thali at the Madhuban hotel in Katra.
Moving from Katra to Vaishnodevi Temple
You can take an auto from your hotel, which can lead you first to the registration office and then to the main entrance gate towards Vaishnodevi temple. You need to have an ID card known as Yatra Parchi that is obtained for free by govt for identification. It can be received via two mediums: first, login to the website of www.maavaishnodevi.org and register over there or offline via the registration office in Katra. Weekends have more rush, so in the offline medium, you may find huge queues to obtain the Yatra Parchi.
Every year over 1 Crore people come to seek blessings from the Mata. It is said that the month of June sees the highest number of devotees climbing up to reach the temple. The entrance gate is around 2 km from the registration office. Check-in is done at the entrance gate of your luggage and Yatra Parchi then; only you would be allowed to go. You can visit Mata Vaishnodevi Mandir at any time of the day or night. There is no risk of walking at any time due to safe roads.
Transportation to the main Vaishnodevi Temple
You can visit the temple through road medium in two ways. One is the regular track that has been there for years, and the other is the new track called Tarakote marg.
The next option is horses, and there is a fixed charge by the horse owners to take you to the temple and come back. It is set by the government at Rs 2900. You can also take a palki apart from horses.
The third option is the helicopter one. You need to reach at Katra airport and take a pre-booked helicopter. The helicopter ride takes around 8 mins to reach Sanjhi Chath. It is the helipad just before the main temple. From Sanjhi Chath, Mata Vaishnodevi temple is very near and can reach with little walking. The cost per person for a helicopter ride is Rs 3500 for a roundtrip.
Moving forward through the route
You can witness a Late Gulshan Kumar langar while you start the trip, hardly at a distance of 200 mts from the entrance gate. Free food service is provided every day in the morning from 9-00 to 3-00 and in the evening from 6-00 to 9-00 p.m. Moving forward a 1 km, you would see Baan Ganga. It is river Ganga flowing under a bridge connected to Mata Vaishnodevi. It is formed from two words, Baan and Ganga. It is said that when Ganga was going to play Holi, she threw an arrow at the mountains and formed the Ganga Jal. Many of devotees take a holy dip in the Ganges water before moving ahead.
Again moving forward, you will witness Ichapuran Mandir, which means all the wishes come true after seeking the blessings from here. Once you start moving again, you will see several shops and stalls along the way, such as eatables, juices, and massages for relaxing the body. With the help of a machine at just Rs 30, they would massage your body. Then after proceeding for another 1.5 km, comes the Charn Paduka temple, which has a foot impression of Maa Vaishnodevi.
Ways to reach the main temple
As said earlier, there are two ways to reach the temple: the old route and the new track. The old route is much crowded. To save time, you can use the steps along the road, and the number of steps is also stated on it. The Tarakote Marg construction started in 1990, and now the route is fully formed and open for devotees. It is a very wide route and less crowded compared to the old route. Horses and palki are not allowed, and only walking people can be seen. Going upward, there are a few battery-operated cars on the new route. If you start at night, avoid the Tarakote marg as it can be a bit risky and feels secluded. There are no stairs in the route, but cleanliness is very well maintained. It is longer than the old route. But at three places, you can switch to the old route. The first is at the main entrance gate itself, the second at Baan Ganga, and the third at Ardh Kuvari, i.e., the center point of the darshan.
Ardh Kuvari is the middle point between the main entrance gate and Maa Vaishnodevi temple. It comes after 6 km of journey. There is a temple over there where Aarti takes place in the morning from 7-8 and evening from 7-8. You can rest at the resting places over there if you are tired or want to take a break. Booking is to be done on the website two days before to be on the safer side due to the large crowd. You can find rooms at just Rs 120 room and free lock rooms. There is a Garbhjoon Gufa where Maa Vaishnodevi did rigorous devotion for nine months. You can witness the aarti in the morning and evening if you want. Apart from that, there are government-run bhojnalaya where you can eat food at very minimal prices.
From Ardh Kuvari, you can book battery-operated cars that will take the Tarakote route to the temple. You can log in to the website and book over there to book these cars. Due to the rush, offline booking might not be available, or you need to stand in a long queue. On that route, you can also view the amazing Himkothi. There are garden and meditation centers opened in beautiful Himkothi. But Himkothi cannot be seen if you are taking the old route. You can see the Sanjhi Chath on the old route. As soon as you climb up, the chills are even more, and you would feel colder. So, wear your woolen clothes, caps, and mufflers to save yourself from the chilly atmosphere. The horse owners do not take you to the main temple but escort you before 200-300 Mts. Then you have to walk a bit from there.
To visit the main temple, you must submit all your belongings to the locker. Nothing is allowed inside. These locker rooms are free of cost, and you can keep the key with you. After all these formalities, you can then visit the holy Mata Vaishnodevi temple. The slogans and chants are at their peak once you enter the temple. It is the most peaceful, satisfied, and serene feeling to seek blessings from Mata.
After finishing the darshan at Mata Vaishnodevi temple, you need to have a 2 km climb to Bhairavnath temple. There is a bhojnalaya over there where you can have food at a cheap rate. It is just opposite Bhairav Mandir. Tea coffee is available for just Rs 6, and Kadhi Chawal is Rs 40. The meal is full and satisfactory, filling your stomach. You can reach Bhairavnath via the old route or by taking a ropeway. The charge for the ropeway is Rs 100 for a round per person. There are several traditional photographers up there in Bhairav Nath. The view and location are amazing from up the hill. You would see snow-clad Trikuta Mountains from there. There is a viewpoint made for scenic viewing and photography for the visitors. . Also, the whole white and red temple of Mata Vaishnodevi can be seen from the eagle eye’s view from the viewpoint.
Soak in the god’s blessings and chant the name while you visit Mata Vaishnodevi temple.
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