Location: Jammu and Kashmir in North India.
Altitude: 5200 feet.
Best time to Visit: Throughout the Year.
Famous as: Pilgrimage center of Hindus.
Languages: Hindi, English
Distance from Katra to Vaishno Devi temple: 12 km
Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Information
Mata Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers in India. It perched on the Trikuta Mountain at a height of 5, 300 ft. The shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi nestles in a cave of Himalayan Mountains in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This cave temple is at a distance of 61 km from Jammu. The gateway to the temple has a stretch of 13 km that has to be covered on foot by the devotees. The trail turns into a cramped tunnel with a running stream called as ‘Charan Ganga.’ The pilgrim has to pass through the cave to reach the holy sanatorium.
Thousands of devotees pay their devotions throughout the year irrespective of the difficulties taken by them especially during the winter’s seasons when the detour is generally obstructed by snowfall.
Diet of the Goddess Vaishno
The house of worship of Vaishno Devi is dedicated to Vaishno, the manifestation of Goddess Sati. The shrine is the abode to deity Vaishno representing in the configuration
of a five and a half feet tall rock structure and three Pin dies or heads. Legend has it that goddess in order to coalesce with Lord Vishnu to accomplish her destiny was born as Vaishno in the house of Ranker.
The Significance of the Temple
The holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is most sacred and divine as it embodies the holy Indies depicting Mata in her three forms:
Mahal Kali represents Tam Gun: Tam stands for gloominess and unhappiness.
Mahal Lakshmi represents Raj Gun: Raj stands for livelihood, prosperousness, and happiness.
Mahal Saraswati represents Sat VA Gun: Sat VA stands for pureness, righteousness, and honesty.
A unification of these three temperaments forms a distinct Sati known as Mata Vaishno Devi Jim that makes her worshiped throughout the world.
The Pad Yatra/ Divine Journey
The Pad Yatra commence at Kara is a 13km stretch of hard and rough terrain. The pilgrims generally cover the journey by foot or can go for a pony or a horse ride. Ban Ganga is a place where Mata quenched her thirst for 1km from Katra and at the distance of 6km lies the holy cave at Adhkawari. Throughout the journey, devotees are fed with shelters and bhandaras (eating joints) with pure vegetarian food. A facility of coolers for drinking water is available all over the route.
Blankets can also be obtained on refundable deposit for Rs.100.
The Darshan Prasad, Chunri, and Coconuts from the shops located at the entrance of the Bhawan.
The Yatris are issued a token number mentioning the group number and the time for Darshan.
Distance from Katra to Vaishno Devi Temple
- Katra to Ardh Kuari – 6 KM. a). Walk – 3 hours b). Pony – Rs. 380 (as on 20/04/2013)- 1-hour c). Pitthu – for luggage or small babies – Rs. 140 – 3 hours
2. Ardh Kuari to Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan – 6 KM a). Walk – 3 hours b). Pony – Rs. 380 (as on 20/04/2013)- 1-hour c). Pitthu – for luggage or small babies – Rs. 140 – 3 hours d). Electric Vans – Only for elderly people or handicap – Rs. 300 – 30 Minutes
3. Katra to Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan directly – 12 KM a). Helicopter – Rs. 1170 (as on 01/11/2015) one way – 8 Minutes b). Palki – for elderly – approx Rs. 3000 – 6 hours c). Walk – 6 hours d). Pony – Rs. 700(as on 20/04/2013) – 2 hours e). Pitthu – for luggage or small babies – Rs. 260 – 6 hours
4. Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan to Bhairo Baba temple – 2 KM a). Walk – 2 hours b). Pony – Rs. 150 – 45 minutes c). Pitthu – for luggage or small babies – 2 hours
5. On the way back – Similar are the options on the way back. However, on the way back, you can go directly from the Bhairo Baba temple to Ardh Kuari. You don’t need to come back via Bhawan.
The Aarti ritual of the Goddess Vaishnavi is performed twice a day, early morning at sunrise and during evenings at sunset. It usually takes two hours for the Aarti to be completed, during this period the premises are closed for the pilgrims. Only the Pujaris, Sahayaks are permitted in the cave when the Aarti is being performed. Whole shrine echoes with the holy sound of chanting Mantras by the Pujaris accompanied by uttering 108 names of Durga-Ma. Pujaris chant the Pratigyaa Sankalp and they pledge to worship Maha Saraswati, Mata Maha Kali, and Maha Lakshmi Vaishno Mata.
At Katra, Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board, Rest Houses maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department are available at Adhkawari, Sanjichhat, and Darbar. Dharamshala, run by various organizations offer reasonable accommodation to the pilgrims. Free accommodation is also available.
Mode of Transport
Air: The nearest airport 48km from Katra is in Jammu. Helicopter service can also be obtained from the airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning. The ride costs about Rs. 2,000 one way.
Train: The nearest train station is in Jammu.
Road: There are regular buses leaving for the 52 km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road ends at Katra (2 hr).
The gateway to the shrine is situated at 2,800 feet and takes about 2 hours to reach from Jammu by bus. It is 48 km from Jammu, 650 km from Delhi 520 km from Udhampur, 410 km from Chandigarh and 80 km from Patnitop.