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Vaishno Devi Tourism And Travel Guide
22° C / 71.6° F
March to June
2 to 3 Days
Sarwari Airport (48 kms)
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station (13 kms)
Tucked away in the Trikuta Hills in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, 13 km from Katra is the sacred pilgrimage site of Vaishno Devi which also attracts great tourism. Situated at a high altitude, the trip to the temple or Mata Ka Bhavan is a journey of faith through rugged and difficult terrain. As you move up you are treated to amazing sights of the landscape, the towering peaks and valleys. The ‘Yatra’ itself is an experience. Apart from the temple there are few places in the near vicinity that tourists can explore. Here is a snippet of travel guide to see in Vaishno Devi.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to Katra is Sarwari Airport in Jammu. It is well connected by flights with most major cities of the country. From Jammu Katra is a 48 km ride and tourists can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach their destination. Katra serves as the base camp for Vaishno Devi. From here people can either trek 13 km up to Mata ka Bhavan or avail of helicopter services.
The Katra Railway Station is the closest railhead to Vaishno Devi. It has developed good rail connectivity with major cities of the country. From Katra tourists can either trek up 13 km to the temple or opt for helicopters to Sanjhchhat.
Katra is well connected by road and has buses regularly plying between other neighbouring cities like Delhi, Amritsar, Jammu Tawi etc. After reaching Katra by bus, pilgrims can walk up the 13 km trekking trail or get transported by helicopters.
Given the altitude and terrain, for moving around in Vaishno Devi people have to either walk or depend upon palanquins, mountain horses or ponies.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Summer (March to June):
The best time to visit Vaishno Devi is during summers. The climate is pleasant and while the days tend to be quite warm, they cool off considerably by evening. Since the Yatra commences only in October and November, the place is not as crowded and hence an ideal time to explore peacefully.
Autumn (October & November):
Autumn is the peak season as the Yatra commences during these months. With Navratri and Dussehra round the corner, there is a rush for pilgrims to catch a glimpse of the Mata. Chants of ‘Jai Mata Di’ fill the air, as the crowd surges on towards their destination.
Monsoon (July to September):
This is the ideal time to witness the beauty of the landscape. There is lush greenery all around with cascading waterfalls. However, the journey is a tricky one as heavy rainfall often leads to sudden mudslides.
Winter (December to February):
Though the cave remains open for darshan, winter is the least favourable time for a visit to Vaishno Devi. Owing to its high altitude, Vaishno Devi experiences heavy snowfall that can make a journey up to the temple extremely difficult and risky.
Things to Do
A trip to Vaishno Devi offers a lucrative opportunity for trekking. From Katra there is no serviceable mortorway leading to the temple. People have to trek the 13 km journey upwards through stunning locales. The trek begins at Katra and reaches Vaihno Devi via Ban Ganga, Paduka, Adhukuwari, Himkoti and Sanjhchhat. Night trek to Vaishno Devi is also undertaken for the thrill of it and it is an amazing experience.
Visit Religious Centres:
Apart from Mata Ka Bhavan pilgrims can also visit some other sites which have much religious significance. On the way up from Katra, pilgrims can visit Charan Paduka, Ban Ganga, Charan Ganga and Bhairavnath Temple. Pilgrims embark upon a once in a lifetime religious trip and carry back blessings and lifelong memories to cherish.
Take Helicopter Ride:
For all those who are yet to experience a helicopter ride can avail of the chopper services at Katra and fly till Sanjhchhat from where only a trek of 5 km remains. The helicopter ride gives an amazing aerial view of the surrounding landscape and valleys.
Take a Wildlife Tour:
For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to Nandinin Wildlife Sanctuary is high recommended. It is an opportunity to experience the rich ecology of the state. The sanctuary is a birdwatchers’ paradise and boasts of a fair number of species of birds like chakors, babblers, great jungle owl etc.
A trip to Vaishno Devi presents a lucrative opportunity to go river water rafting for the more adventure inclined individuals. Katra boasts of one of the best rafting stretches in the world and both beginners and experts can indulge themselves in this adventure sport as long as they are well equipped.
Eating in Katra
A visit to a new place without a taste of the local cuisine is an incomplete trip. Every place boasts of something special in terms of food. Katra is no exception. Being close to a pilgrimage site, the food in Katra is primarily vegetarian. The eateries provide shudh vaishnav bhojan, that is, without onion and garlic. But the food is delicious with loads of options to choose from. Treat yourself to the local flavours in restaurants like Manoranjan Dhaba, Prem Lahori Vaishno Dhaba, Sagar Ratna, Ken’s Food Planet and Punjabi Haveli.
Shopping in Katra
Vaishno Devi experiences heavy footfall of tourists every year. It is one of the most sought after pilgrim sites in the country. As a virtue of increasing number of tourists, Katra has emerged as a popular and important shopping destination. From Kashmiri handicrafts to Pashmina stoles, woollens and wood carvings, Katra has everything that Jammu & Kashmir is popular for. Drop in at Lavanya Shopping Complex and pick up a souvenir or a world famous Pashmina shawl to take back home.