Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra
Mata Vaishno Devi temple lies in the holy town of Katra which lies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Katra town lies at an altitude of 2500 feet from the sea level and Mata Vaishno Devi temple lies at an altitude of 5300 feet from the sea level on the Trikut mountain.
To start your journey for the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi, you have to first reach Jammu district. You can reach Jammu either by flight or you can catch a train from various stations of North India. After reaching Jammu you have to book a taxi for Katra town. The distance between Jammu and Katra is around 50 kms. The government has started building a tunnel which will pass through a big mountain. This will reduce the distance between Jammu and Katra to around 30 kms, thus saving time of all devotees. The Indian Railway has also started the work on extending the railway line to Katra which is going to be completed soon. So, devotees who travel by train can directly get down at the Katra station. The work on this track has been completed and as per Indian Railways, this track will be opened from August 2013.
After reaching Katra, lots of hotel rooms are available. There you can take some rest and can start your journey. It is up to you whether you want to start your journey in the day time or night time. Although, I prefer to travel in the day time but lots of people also travel in the night time also so as to avoid the heat in the summer season.
Before you start your journey, please note that it is mandatory to register yourself for the yatra(journey). Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board has opened a Yatra Registration Counter at the Katra bus stand. Before proceeding for the yatra, don’t forget to take your slip/parchi from this counter. This slip is totally free of cost for all devotees.
After crossing the entrance/dwar of the journey, you can find Baan Ganga river. This river is full of water during the monsoon season. Lots of devotees prefer to take bath in this river and then start their journey. From here you can also get ponies, horses, pithu (a term used for the man who carries a small child or your luggage on his back) and palanquins if you are unable to trek so long. Even helicopter services are also available for the devotees. The distance between Katra and Mata’s bhawan is around 12 kms. After you start your journey from here, you will find lots of shops in between your journey. Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board has provided lots of services for the devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi. You will have drinking water available after every small distance. Lots of tea and coffee shops are also available on the way. Restaurants are also provided by the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board. The food provided is of very good and is available at a very reasonable rate. Although you have to trek to the mountain but you reach there easily by singing the chants of ‘Jai Mata Di’.
After covering a distance of around 7 kms you will reach Adhkawari, the place where Mata attained spiritual powers after meditating for 9 months. You can see the cave here where Mata had meditated. After visiting Adhkawari, you can proceed your journey to Mata’s Bhawan. From here you have to cover a distance of around 5 kms to reach Mata’s darbar. Although the earlier trek to reach darbar is said to be difficult but still lots of people uses that trek. Sri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board has build a new trek which is easy to trek and covered with iron sheets shed to protect you from sunlight and rains. From Adhkawari, you can also get an electric auto rickshaw to reach darbar. Although it saves time but it is costly. It is said that Sri Mata Vaishno Devi trust is soon going to start the electric auto rickshaw from Katra to darbar . At the darbar, you can either stay at the dharamshala or dormatories. Sri Mata Vaishno Devi trust also provides room for a pleasant stay which can be booked from the Sri Mata Vaishno Devi’s shrine board site.
After reaching Mata’s Bhawan, you can do Maa’s darshan in the shape of a rock with three Pindis(heads). After having darshan of Maa’s pindis you will feel that all your tiredness has vanishned. At a distance of around 2.5 kms from Mata’s bhawan lies the temple of Baba Bhairav Nath. It is believed that your journey will not complete until you visit Baba Bhairav’s temple.
May Mata Rani fulfill all your wishes.