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Holy Destinations of India

Vaishno Devi

Vaishno Devi Mata Vaishno Devi

Vaishno Devi Bhawan Photos

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the oldest shrine of India, located at a height of 5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The Holy cave is 13 Kms from the Base Camp Katra. The Town Katra is 50 Kms away from Jammu and 35 Kms from District HQ Udhampur and is linked by road. The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the most popular Shrines of India.

The Goddess Mata Vaishno Devi's abode is in 100 feet long cave with a narrow opening. The holy cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata's "Pindian". There are three natural pindies representing Maha Sarswati, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, which represent creative, preservative, and destructive aspects of the Super Power. It is an ancient shrine whose reference is found in the Vedas and ancient scriptures.

Vaishno Devi Shrine (Vaishno Devi temple at katra jammu) Yatra: Everyday of the year a mass of humanity surges up steep pathways that cut across the hillside for mile after mile. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to her abode to ask for a boon rarely goes back disappointed. There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their faith or belief, creed or class, caste or religion, for Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such barriers.

As the legend goes, more than 700 years ago Vaishno Devi a devotee of Lord Vishnu, used to pray to Lord Rama and had taken vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric (demon-God) tried to behold Her. Making use of his tantric powers, Bhairon Nath was able to see Her going towards the Trikuta mountains and gave chase. The Goddess felt thirsty at Banganga and shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of Her feet, is the place where she rested. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari (Ardh-kawari). It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate Her, the reason why the cave is known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with Her Trident when the demon-God located Her.

On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar (Bhavan [Bhawan]), she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located. The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.

Location of Vaishno Devi Shrine

Mata's cave shrine is nestled in the mighty Trikuta mountain 61 kilometres north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India.

Appropriate Season to visit Vaishno Devi Shrine at Katra (Jammu)

The shrine is visited and accessible all through the year, but the path & climate is little difficult during the winters due to snowfall. Now the whole path from Katra to Vaishno Devi Shrine is covered with metal roof hence there is very limited snow on the path. You might also find main enterance of Shrine Cave open during winter season due to less number of pilgrims visiting shrine in winter.

How to Reach Vaishno Devi Shrine

Airway (By Air): Nearest airport - Jammu (48 km from Katra [Distance of Jammu from Katra is 48 km]). Daily Flights are available from Delhi and Srinagar. These flights (Indian Airlines) connect Chandigarh & Amritsar on some days of the week.

Railway (By Rail): Nearest Railway Station - Jammu By rail, Jammu is directly connected cities like Calcutta, Delhi and Kanyakumari. Besides, it is connected with other major cities of the country.

Roadways (By Road): Jammu is the terminus of a large number of Inter State Bus Services.

 

Jammu to Katra

Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. During rush periods, additional buses are also pressed into service between Jammu and Katra.

Private Taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra. These can be hired from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station and the Tourist Reception Centre at Jammu.

Where to stay in Jammu and Katra

Jammu: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board. Various private hotels, the room rent ranging from Rs.300/- per day to Rs.3000/- per day.

Katra: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board, Rest Houses maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, other hotels.

Sarais, managed by the Shrine Board offer free accomodation at Adhkawari, Sanjichhat and Darbar. Dharamshala, run by various organisations offer reasonable accommodation to the pilgrims. Yatris are however advised to keep themselves away from touts promising free Dharamshala accomodation.

Vaishno Devi Yatra (Registration and other Information)

Yatra Registeration is also possible online.

The Vaishno Devi Shrine Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on foot to reach the Darbar. One kilometer away from Katra, you would find Banganga, place where Mata quenched her thirst and at 6 km., the holy cave at Adhkawari.

Yatris are advised to obtain a yatra slip only from the Yatra Registration Counter (Yatra Ticket Registration at Katra is Mandatory) at the Tourism Reception Centre, Katra Bus Stand and nowhere else. Without an authentic yatra slip, crossing of Banganga (Ban-Ganga) checkpost will not be allowed. The Yatra Slip is absolutely free but is necessary to commence the Yatra.

Important: - One Yatra Slip is issued for a maximum of 9 family members. For more members, more than one Yatra slip can be taken. In case of yatries in large groups, a separate yatra Slip should be taken for each family.

Waiting Slip: - Since the carrying capacity of the Holy Trikuta Mountain is limited, the maximum numbers of yatries who can have Darshans in a single day are about 23,000-24,000. However, during the peak rush periods, the number of yatri arrivals is far in excess of this number. In such a situation, the yatries are then asked to wait at Katra itself. This phenomenon is called Waiting and no yatra slips are issued during waiting. Instead red/pink waiting slips are issued. These have to be validated at the YRC, the following morning or whenever “Waiting” is called off. Then the waiting slips are taken back and the original yatra slips are issued following which yatries can begin the Holy journey. The phenomenon of waiting is inconvenient but is necessary owing to the geographical limitation of the Holy Hill. Yatries are advised to check out the yatra status from this website before embarking on the yatra. As a thumb rule, weekends during May, June and the second half of December or any other block of school/college/office holidays invariably witness heavy rush thereby necessitating “Waiting”.

Need and Importance of Registration

Registration at YRC is important because of the following reasons:-

  • All Devotees, once they get registered at the YRC for their trek are automatically and compulsorily insured against any accidental causality (a rare possibility) on their way to the Holy Shrine. This is a free insurance to all those who undertake this holy pilgrimage. The amount of insurance is Rs.1,00,000/- for majors and Rs 25,000/- for minors and is valid only in case of accidental deaths. For cases of natural deaths including heart attacks, this insurance package is not applicable.
     
  • Unlike other major pilgrim spots, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is located deep in the mountains. Though a lot of development has taken place all along the way from Katra to Bhawan, the Holy Mountain has its own limitations and saturation levels as regards its capacity to hold and sustain large crowds. Besides, the resources available to provide various services and facilities to the Devotees are also limited. This is because, in the absence of a road, even the most basic and essential items have to be carried either on ponies or by humans.
     
  • Further, since the Holy Pindies are situated in a narrow Cave, group visits for Darshans are not possible. The system of Darshans is thus through a continuously moving queue, round the clock. Thus only a limited number of pilgrims can have Darshans everyday.

You can obtain caps, canvas shoes, sticks etc. on hire for the Yatra. Pithus (people who carry weight on their backs) can be hired for carrying your luggage.

Those who have problems in climbing on the mountains, can hire the services of a pony or dandi (palenquin). Pithus can be hired for carrying the children on shoulders. It is advised that you should avail of the services of only registered people be it the pithu, pony or the dandiwalla and keep his token for the period he is engaged. Now battery operated vehicles also available from Ardhkawari (Adhkawari) which play on the new route created from adhkawari (ardhkawari) till Vaishno Devi Shrine.

The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled and is covered with a metal roof. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night by powerful sodium vapour lamps. The whole route is swept and cleaned from time to time throughout the day. Yatris are requested to keep the path clean. Shelter cum sheds and shelter cum cafeterias are setup throughout the route. Pure vegetarian food is available at these outlets. Price charts are exhibited at all these outlets prominently.

Drinking water has been made available all along the route, with water coolers and storage facilities. Public utilities with automatic flushing systems along the track and at the Bhawan.

After 6 km. of trekking, you would reach Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months. Do visit the cave. After 9.5 km., you would reach Sanji Chhat (Sanjhi Chhat) where you can rest for sometime. Accommodation is also available at this place. Bhawan is just 3.5 km. away.

On reaching Bhawan, show your Yatra Slip at the Registration Office and obtain the Batch no. provided on the slip. This number is important as it will determine your place in the queue for darshan.

On reaching Bhawan, have a bath and change your clothes. Be sure to get your luggage and leather items booked in the cloak rooms and obtain the receipt. Book the valuables separately and obtain the receipt.

You can also get blankets on refundable deposit for Rs.100.

Temple - Vaishno Devi Bhavan

On reaching Bhavan, buy prasad and other offerings. Show the Yatra Ticket at the office and collect the Token No., and check the group No. and time for your turn. Have a bath and change clothes before the darshan. Deposit your belongings in the cloak room and Stand in the queue for darshan according to your Group No. at gate No. 2. Keep chanting Jai Mata Di.

In case of overcrowding, it may take sometime in the queue. Please wait patiently.

You would not be allowed to carry the Cocunut in the cave. Before entering the cave, deposit the coconut and collect a token for each of such coconuts deposited. When you come out, be sure to collect an offered coconut from the other side by depositing the coconut. Do not lose the token.

Keep the prasad in your hands, and chant Jai Matadi inside the cave. While inside the cave, please concentrate on the darshan of mother goddess in her three pindi forms - Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati.


The holy cave entrance
The holy water coming from the feet of the mata can be collected while you come out near the exit gate.

Deposit the token and collect your coconut from the counter near the exit.

It is believed that the Yatra is complete only after visiting the shrine of Bhairon while returning. Bhairon's Shrine is 2.5 km. from Bhavan. Please collect your belongings before going to the shrine, as the path of return is different.

The return path is just 13 km. as the return path from the Bhairon Shrine joins the main path at Sanjhi Chhat.

Darshan

High, High to the north, amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. Our journey takes you to this awesome wilderness, a place so holy and sacred, a place of mystery and adventure scarcely known to most in modern world. The Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims cover 13km of terrain on foot to reach the holy Darbar. There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a 'Call' to her devotees: and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. Howsoever difficult the passage may be: the difficult ascents, with innumerable stairs, are accomplished on foot by those who had never walked even small distances at their homes. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting 'Prem se bolo, JAI MATA DI' The Holy Cave Shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi is situated in a beautiful recess of the Holy Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas as in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. There are images of three deities - The Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi.

Bhairav Mandir (Temple)

The girl goddess went ahead and Bhairav followed her. She kept 'Veer-Langur' on guard outside the cave and asked him not to allow Bhairav to enter the cave. When the goddess entered the cave, the Bhairav also tried to enter. Veer-Langur forbade him and terrific battle started. There after Devi took the form of goddess 'Chandi' and killed Bhairav. The head flew to a place, presently called Bhairav Ghati. The temple has been constructed at the same spot. The body of Bhairav remained near the cave and the huge stone, outside the cave is the symbol of Bhairav's body.

Although the sword of goddess cut the head of Bharav (Bhairav), yet Bhairav prayed to mother for mercy. He said, "Mother, I am not mourning my death as I have died at the hands of mother creator. But I pray you gracious mother to pardon me. I did not know you in the girl form. Mother if you do not forgive my sins then the whole world may hate me." On hearing the cry of a child addressed to the mother again and again, mother took pity on Bhairav and gave him a boon of liberation. She said, "My devotees will visit your place after having my 'Darshan'. The desires of devotees will be fulfilled, if they visit your place." Accordingly the pilgrims visit Bhairav temple after offering prayers at mother's abode in the cave. Thus, it is believed that the journey to Mata's shrine is not complete unless the devotee visits the temple of Bhairav.

Accommodation / Where to Stay

For the benefit of the pilgrims, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board provides clean, well maintained and very economical accommodation. This accommodation is available at Jammu (at Vaishnavi Dham and Saraswati Dham near Railway Station), at Katra (at Niharika Yatri Niwas and Shakti Bhawan situated at the Bus stand) Katra. Another 500 bedded accommodation, Sarai building, Katra is under construction near the 2nd Yatra counter (YRC II) and is expected to be available shortly. Accommodation is available at Adkuwari, Sajichatt and at main Bhawan also.

The available accommodation is in the form of rooms of various types, huts , suites and beds (dormitory accommodation). Rooms, both air conditioned and Non air conditioned are available. Dormitory accommodation is available @ Rs. 60/- per bed at Katra and @ Rs.80/- per bed at Bhawan. In all the accommodation units provided by Shrine Board, there is an additional facility of a hygienic, no profit no loss Bhojanalaya besides a Souvenir Shop and a free cloak room. Free parking of private vehicles is also allowed.

Accommodation for all Shrine Board Guest houses/dormitories can be booked (subject to availability) at the reception of these guest houses or at the Enquiry and Reservation counter at Niharika complex. Advance reservation is possible by sending a demand draft of the required amount to the Chief Executive Officer/Dy, Manager (E&R) payable at Katra. Online booking is also possible through this website.For maximum chances of obtaining confirmed room reservations at various locations devotees are advised to make the necessary bookings well in advance. In addition, since heavy rush is experienced on weekends and holidays, pilgrims are advised to plan their Yatra on weekdays.
 

Address for making accommodation reservations:

Dy. Manager (Enquiry & Reservation),
Shakti Bhawan, Niharika Complex (Near Bus Stand),
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board,
Katra, J&K
Pin Code - 182301

Tel: 01991-232125 (EPABX), 234053

 

Pilgrims are also informed that the mere sending of a draft does not necessarily ensure confirmed reservation which is, of course, subject to availabilty.

The Room Tariff Structure for Jammu, Katra, Adhkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan is as under:

LOCATION COMPLEX ROOM TYPE TARIFF(Rs.)
       
Jammu Vaishnavi Dham Double Bedded, AC, Carpetted Rs. 650/-
    Suite, AC Carpetted Rs. 900/-
    Dormitory (Per Bed Basis) Rs. 60/-
  Saraswati Dham Dormitory Rs. 60/-
Katra Niharika Phase - I Double Bedded Non-AC, Non-Carpetted Rs. 500/-
    Four Bedded, Non-AC, Non-Carpetted Rs. 650/-
  Niharika Phase - II Double Bedded, AC, Carpetted Rs. 700/-
    Four Bedded, AC, Carpetted Rs. 900/-
  Shakti Bhawan Dormitory (Per Bed Basis) Rs. 60/-
Adhkuwari Sharda Bhawan Double Bedded Rs. 400/-
Sanjichhat Mangla Bhawan Double Bedded Rs. 400/-
    Full Dormitory (10 Bedded) Rs. 600/-
Bhawan Main Bhawan Complex Double Bedded Rs. 800/-
    Four Bedded Rs. 1200/-
  Vaishnavi & Gouri Bhawan Double Bedded Rs. 500/-
    Four Bedded Rs. 750/-
    Six Bedded Hut Rs. 1000/-
  Manokamana Bhawan Dormitories ( Beds) Rs. 80/-


Devotees are requested to send their demand draft by Registered or Speed Post only since courier services are currently not available at Katra.

       

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