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Things To Do In Vaishno Devi
The journey to Vaishno Devi is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages in the country. The Mata is an extremely revered Goddess who is popular as the one who fulfils all desires of her children. Embarking upon this journey is an experience by itself. Nestled in the mountains at an altitude of 5200 ft, the temple is the primary attraction. There are a number of things tourists can indulge in while in Vaishno Devi.
The real journey to Vaishno Devi starts from Katra. It is a 13 km trek up to the temple. It is a fascinating journey through the stunning locales and amazing landscape. The trek trail begins at Katra via Ban Ganga, Paduka, Adhukuwari, Himkoti, Sanjhchhat to Mata Ka Bhawan. If you want to make this trek a memorable, once in a lifetime experience, attempt a night trek to Vaishno Devi. With the night’s lights shimmering in the hills, the surrounding regions look ethereal.
Visiting Religious Centers
Vaishno Devi and the journey en route to the temple is dotted with sacred places which have a religious significance. There is the Bhairavnath temple which is a 2 km trek from the Bhavan. No visit to the Bhavan is complete without a visit to Bhairavnath Temple. Then there is Charan Paduka where Goddess Durga is believed to have rested, leaving her footprints behind. At Ban Ganga, Godess Durga made a stop where she found Langoor Vir extremely thirsty. She shot an arrow to a stone and out sprang a spring of water which is now known as Ban Ganga. Charan Ganga flows from Mata’s feet into the cave and then into the bathing ghat where people take a holy dip. The water is extremely sacred, referred to as ‘Charanamrit’ which people carry back home to purify their homes.
If you have never been on a helicopter this is the opportunity to fulfil your wish. Instead of taking the 13 km trek from Katra you can avail of the helicopter services that operate from Katra. It is a fantastic ride through the mountains and you get treated to an aerial view of the charming landscape. The helicopter will transfer you to Sanjhchhat from where it is a 5 km trek to Mata Ka Bhavan.
Take a Wildlife Tour
If you are a wildlife enthusiast, make the most of the journey to experience the rich ecology of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. You can visit the Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary that lies on the way to Katra from Jammu. Take a short detour to reach the sanctuary. The place is a heaven for birdwatchers and photographers. You will be treated to varied species of birds including great jungle fowl, peafowl, bulbuls, bee-eaters, chakors, babblers etc.
River Water Rafting
While in Katra do not miss the opportunity for white water rafting. Boasting one of the best rafting stretches in the world, measuring 15 km, Katra is the place to be for adventure lovers. Beginners and experts can both indulge in rafting. Do remember however to equip yourself adequately and follow the safety instructions before embarking upon this adventure journey.
Eating in Katra
No journey is complete without a mention of the region’s cuisine. Being close to Mata ka Bhavan and primarily a pilgrimage site, vegetarian food is more popular here with most of the eateries providing shudh vaishnav bhojan without onion or garlic. Some of the popular restaurants in Katra where you can treat yourself to the local cuisine are Manoranjan Dhaba, Ken’s Food Planet, Prem Lahori Vaishno Dhaba, Sagar Ratna, Punjabi Haveli etc.
Shopping in Katra
With large number of tourists and pilgrims thronging the temple all through the year, Katra has emerged as an important tourist spot with attractive shopping centres to cater to the tourists. The Lavanya Shopping Complex is an important shopping centre. From Pashmina stoles and shawls to Kashmiri handicrafts and walnut wood carvings, there is much the tourists can pick up as souvenirs of their trip.