Situated at the foothills of Trikuta mountains in Jammu and Kashmir, the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is one of the most popular pilgrimages in India.
The Vaishno Devi temple sits at an altitude of 5200 feet above the sea level and the journey to the shrine involves a 12 kilometre-trek from the base camp at Katra. Despite the arduous journey, millions of devotees visit the shrine of Vaishno Devi every year amidst reverberating chorus of ‘Jai Mata Di’.
If you are planning a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi temple this summer, here is a guide that you can use to plan your journey:
How to reach
Located 50 kilometres from Jammu, Katra, a small town, serves as the base camp for the Vaishno Devi yatra. Cars and buses ply from the Jammu airport and you can reach this base camp without much of a hassle. You can also take a train from Delhi to Katra railway station or hire a bus from Delhi to Katra bus stand.
Before setting foot on the journey, remember to collect the ‘Yatra Parchi’ (registration card) from the Yatra Registration Counter. This registration pass is important, considering you’d have to present it at multiple security check-points to finally get into the inner sanctum of the temple. You can also collect the Yatra Parchi online from the official website of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB).
From Katra, the 12 km climb to Vaishno Devi temple is along a well-paved road with a gentle slope. Should you decide to undertake the journey on foot, you’d be able to soak in the beauty of the valley.
You can also avail a chopper from Katra to Sanji Chhat, located a mere 2.5 kilometre from the temple. You can book your tickets online from the official website of SMVDSB.
Key landmarks on the way to Vaishno Devi temple
Situated at an altitude of around 2800 feet above the sea level, this is the main entry gate from where the Vaishno Devi yatra starts.
The second stop en route Vaishno Devi, the sacred Charan Paduka temple – at an altitude of 3380 feet above the sea level – is situated around 1.5 kilometre from Banganga.
At an altitude of 4800 feet above the sea level stands Adhkuwari, an almost half-way stop to the Vaishno Devi temple. It is here that you’d be able to hear the continuous announcements and see the fluttering flag that marks the temple site. Here, you’d have to pass through a womb-shaped cave – Garbha Joon – to continue your journey towards the temple.
Further at a distance of 2.75 kilometre from Adhkuwari is Himkoti, situated at an altitude of 5120 feet above the sea level. It is one of the most beautiful spots on the way to the Vaishno Devi temple and gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire valley.
Situated at an altitude of 5200 feet, Bhawan houses the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi. However, don’t expect to find the idol yet. Rather, Bhawan shelters the Goddess’s manifestation in the form of three Pindis (rock formations), representing Goddess Kali on the right, Saraswati on the left and Lakshmi at the centre.
Situated at an altitude of 6619 feet, this temple is the last link to the Vaishno Devi pilgrimage.
It is the highest point in the entire Vaishno Devi trek, situated at an altitude of 6200 feet. Pilgrims can rest here before starting their descent to Katra.
Bajaj Finserv offers Vaishno Devi Temple Pilgrimage Cover which provides coverage up to Rs.3 lakh at affordable premiums. With this policy that is specifically designed to cater to the Vaishno Devi yatra, you’d be able to block stolen/lost debit and credit cards with just a single call, get emergency travel and hotel assistance, and avail emergency medical evacuation instantly.
Electronic equipment such as mobile phones and video cameras are not allowed beyond the Banganga check-post. Thus, it is advisable that you leave them behind at Katra and travel as light as possible. However, do not leave behind your travel insurance as that is the only cover you’d have in the face of adversities – starting from loss of baggage to expenditure incurred towards availing medical intervention.