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"Shri Mata Vaishno Devi"
The Holy Cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine is situated at a distance of 48 kms north of Jammu city and at an altitude of 5200 feet on Trikuta hills. A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages. The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.
Katra town, the base for the pilgrims, is a small town surrounded by green Trikuta hills. From Jammu the devotees reach Katra by bus and other private vehicles by road. Jammu and Udhampur are the nearest rail links to the Katra town with the rest of India. After reaching Katra town, the pilgrims have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the pilgrims are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave and the Yatra is open all around the year.
|Area||1.5 sq. kms|
|Average Rainfall||1206 mm|
|Best Season||March till November|
|Clothing||Summer: Light Cottons. Winter: Woolens|
|Population||9,008(as per Census 2011)|
|Languages||Urdu, Hindi & English|
Bhawan of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji
At a distance of two and half kilometer from Sanji Chhat and twelve kilometers from the Darshani Darwaza, lies the holy Shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi Ji. The Bhawan is located at an altitude of 5200 feet above sea level. There are large numbers of Dharamshalas at VaishnoDevi Ji, which provide free accommodation to the pilgrims. Blankets are also available for the pilgrims free of cost. Security is to be deposited for hiring the blankets. The Shrine Board also provides rooms on rent to the pilgrims at Bhawan. The Shrine is open for darshan round the clock every day except for two hours in the morning (6 A.M. to 8 A.M.) and for two hours in the evening (from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M) when ARTI is performed.
Returning from the cave, pilgrims have to climb up a steep hillside to ‘Bhairo Ghati’ and then join at Sanji Chhat and back down wards along the same path to Katra.
DarshansOnce inside the Holy cave, the pilgrims are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess. These darshans are the shape of the natural rock formations called Pindies. The Pindi to the extreme right of the devotee is distinctly dark in shape and represents Mata Maha Kali ji. The Pindi in the centre with a reddish tinge represents Mata Maha Lakshmi ji and the distinctly Pindi to the extreme left represents the Goddess Mata Maha Saraswati Ji. Ther are no whitish statues or idols inside the cave. Darshans are open for the Yatries throughout the year.
What to buyTourists/ Pilgrims can buy local handicraft and handloom items like, Pashmina Shawls, Souvenirs, Rajmahas, Anardaana and local rice which is of high quality. They can also buy religious items/souvenirs like- sarees, bangles, Photos, lockets, key chains etc. with cravings Mata Viashnodevi paintings.
Where to buyThere are number of shops at Katra and Bhawan from where the pilgrims can buy the items for pooja. Ther are shops established and run by the Shrine Board , which sell pooja items(bhaints) at cheaper rates for the convience of the pilgrims. In addition to it Shrine board may run such shops for selling souvenirs and pooja items for the pilgrims. Pilgrims can buy local craft and handloom items from the Govt. Emporiums situated at the bus stand at Katra town.
What to see in KatraOne can visit the near by Shalimar Park, Raghunath Temple, Mahalakshmi mandir, Chinta Mani Temple, Kalika Temple and Bhumika Mandir, which have the historical importance and are places of Tourist interests around Katra.
Shiv KhoriThe devotees coming for the darshans of the deity can club their pilgrimage with the visit of these places. Specially during the rush time when there is a waiting at Katra.
Baba DhansarThis Temple of Lord Shiva is located at a distance of about 15 Kms. from Katra on way to Salal Dam. Here, a huge spring emerges from the rocks in a thick grove of trees and forms a number of small cascading waterfalls.
From Darshani Darwaza to BangangaFrom this area on-ward the pilgrims have to go forward either on foot or on a pony, a palki and dandi (Palanquin). The holy Shrine is located at a distance of twelve kilometers from Darshani Darwaza. Ponies and palkies are available for hire at Banganga on rates fixed by the state government. The yatra parchi is checked and stamped at the Banganga check post. This is done to prevent people who do not possess a yatra parchi from proceeding for the yatra.
Banganga to Charan PadukaAt a distance of two and half kilometer from the Darshani Darwaza at a height of 3200 feet above sea level is the place known as Charan Paduka.Here is an impression of Mata’s feet on a rock at Charan Paduka. A small temple has been constructed over the rock at Charan Paduka.
Charan Paduka to AdhkuwariSix kilometer from the Darshani Darwaza at height of 4200 feet is the place known as Adhkuwari. The Shrine Board has constructed a large complex at Adhkawari comprising Dharamshalas, medical dispensary, a chemist shop, a bank, a pony stand and a large number of Bhojanalya at Adhkawari which is open for twenty four hours. Pilgrims first go to the temple at Adhkuwari and then enter the narrow cave called as Garbh Joon.
Ardh Kuwari Cave ( Garbh Joon)
Pilgrims first go to the temple at Adhkawari and then enter the narrow cave of 15 ft known as Garbha Joon. At most places the cave is not more than two feet wide. In spite of this people of all sixes are able to crawl though it. This cave is believed to be symbolic of the womb.
The legend states that Garbha Joon where the Goddess hid herself for nine months and showed her self to a saint. The cave is narrow, and you have to almost crawl all the way though it. When Bhairo nath entered the cave, the Goddess made a new opening with her trident and ran away. Ardh Kuwari is 4.5-km from Charan Paduka. A few yards from AdhKuwari is the most difficult part of the ascent called ‘Hathi Matha’ i.e; elephant’s forehead and then one reaches Sanji Chhat.
Adhkuwari to Sanji ChhatNine and half kilometers from the Darshani darwaza lies sanji Chhat at an altitude of 5870 feet above sea level. It is a charming little plateau, which affords a panoramic view of the Pir Panchal range and the Chenab River wending its way majestically to Pakistan. Dharamshalas providing free accommodation, a shopping complex and a Bhojanalya of the Shrine Board are available here for the convenience of the pilgrims. Two helipads have also been constructed at Sanji Chhat.
Facilities available for the pilgrimsShri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board , J&K Tourism and JKTDC have constructed a large number of complexes in the form of Pacca Route, Sheds, Resting points ,Dharmshalas, Dak Bungalows, Bhojanalyas and other facilities for the convince of the Pilgrims enroute and at base camp during pilgrimage.
Yatra RouteThe whole trek of 12 kms from Darshani Darwaza to the Bhawan is covered by Cemented tiles for the conveince and comfort of the pilgrims. The trek is well lit with sodium lights. Sheds and resting points are constructed at regular intervals for the comfort of the pilgrims. Sufficient facilities like drinking water and toilets are available.
AccomodationThe Shrine Board and Jammu and Kashmir Tourism development corporation have constructed a large and comfortable accommodation at Jammu, Katra and also along the Holy Track as per the budget of the pilgrims. At Jammu, accommodation is available at Vaishnavi Dham ,Saraswati Dham and JKTDC’s Dak Bungalow. At Katra, accommodation is available in the Niharika complex and tourist Dak Bungalows situated next to the main Bus Stand. Accommodation is also available at Adhkuwari, Sanjhichat and Bhawan. For reservation of rooms the pilgrims can log on to www.maavaishnodevi.org.
Eating PointsSeveral Food points and bhojanalyas are constructed by Shrine Board enroute the yatra track to provide good and hygienic food and other eatables to the pilgrims. Shrine board runs these establishments on no profit base.
Medical FacilitiesThe shrine Board has provided necessary medical services at all the important stopovers enroute the yatra trek. Medical dispancieries are established at Charn Paduka, Himkot, Adhkuwari and Sanji Chat. A dispensary and 24-hr ICU is also available at Bhawan.
Specialized and advanced medical treatment is however available only at Jammu.
BanksMany nationalized and private banks have their branches at Katra . The State Bank of India, Bank of Punjab and J&K Bank also provide ATM facilities at Katra and Bhawan. In addition to the above facilities, a number of other facilities are being provided through the banks. The SMVD Shrine Board in collaboration with ICICI Bank has offered devotees the facility of donating through the ATMs of ICICI Bank. Similarly, devotees abroad and NRIs can donate through the Money2India scheme of ICICI Bank.
Palkies, Ponies, PithoosThe facilities of the palkies, ponies and pithoos are also available at Katra. The Pony, Porter and Palanquin services are managed by the Notified Area Committee (NAC), a municipal committee organizing the local municipal affairs. A Pre-Paid pony/pithu system has recently been started at Chetak Bhawan Katra and at Holy Bhawan for the benefit of the Yatries.
When to Visit
The Yatra to the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is open throughout the year. The summer months of May, June and July and the festival period of Chaitra (spring) and Sharad-Ashwin (Autumn) Navratras and New Year vacations witness peak rush. As a result of this rush, devotees have to often wait for 12-20 hours before having Darshan. It is therefore strongly adviced, that for comfortable, quick and satisfying Darshan, the period of peak rush must be avoided.
Instead the monsoons and winters are good periods to plan a yatra. The original Holy Cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is also open during the winters and Darshans through this cave is a unique mystical experience.
Clothing and accessoriesOne needs to carry heavy woolen clothing during the winters. For the rest of the year, light woolens are needed. Even during hot summers, when the base camp, Katra too turns hot and humid, the main Shrine area, known as Bhawan continues to remain on the cooler side especially in the nights. Blankets are available at plenty free of cost and there is no need to carry them. One may also need canvas shoes for the Yatra. Same are available in the market on sent basis for nominal price.
Do's & Dont's
- Before proceeding for the trek, obtain a Yatra slip from Yatra Registration Counter, near bus stand KatraThe slip is issued free of cost. . No one is allowed to proceed beyond Banganga check post without obtaining the Yatra slip.
- Please uphold the sanctity of the pilgrimage and avoid loud dresses, vulgar language or offensive talk or gestures. The yatra is a journey of faith. Please do not treat it as a picnic or a vacation outing.
- On arrival at Bhawan, obtain the group number at the Yatra slip check post to get into the queue for Darshans.
- Proceed for Darshans only when the Group number is announced and avoid crowding for Darshans at Gate No.1. Abide by the procedure and wait for the turn of Darshans. Do not attempt to jump the queue.
Help & AssitanceFor any kind of help or assistance, contact the functionaries of the Shrine Board and Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department.
DonationsOfferings towards the Shrine can be made either in cash or through demand drafts or cheques. Various counters have been set up by the Shrine Board, so as to facilitate the pilgrims to make donations. These counters are available at Bhawan, Sanjichhat, Adkuwari, Enquiry and Reservation section at Niharika, Katra and also at the Central Office of the Shrine Board at KatraThese donation receipts can be preserved as a souvenir by the devotees. It also enables the devotees to claim Income Donations in cash can also be dropped in the various danpatras located both inside and outside the Holy Cave, but in that case the devotee is unable to get a donation receipt. More than 100 danpatras have been placed at various locations at Katra, en-route and at the Holy Bhawan. These boxes are regularly opened and counting of the contents is organized under careful watch of the senior functionaries of the Board.
Donations towards Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Shrine Board can also be made through Cheques/Demand Draft. The instrument of payment is to be made in favour of "Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Shrine Board, Katra".
Donations through Bank ATMsICICI debit card holders are allowed to donate through ICICI ATMs all over the country. Devotees can go to any ICICI ATM anywhere in the country and select payments from the main menu. Then they need to select services and finally click the offerings button. From there they can select Vaishnodevi Shrine and make an offering of any desired amount. At the moment the service is open only to ICICI Bank cardholders but talks with other banks are on and other cardholders too shall shortly be able to avail of this opportunity.
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Distances from Katra and Altitude
|Katra Town||0 Km||2500|
|Sanji Chhat||9.5 Km||6200|
|Bhairon Temple (Via Bhawan)||14.5 Km||6619|