Location : 45 km from Jammu Altitude : 1560 m The holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located at a height of 5,300 feet in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta mountains, forming a part of the lower Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. The journey here takes you through awesome wilderness amidst snow- capped mountains and sprawling forests, to the shrine, sacred and mystical. Every day of the year scores of devotees ascend steep pathways that cut across the hillside. A common faith among people is that goddess Vaishno Devi sends a 'call' to her devotees; and once heralded, the pilgrim finds himself compelled to march towards the holy shrine of the great goddess. It is believed that a supernatural power seems to draw pilgrims across the mountains, so they climb those great heights, step by step, chanting "prem se bolo, Jai Mata di". Even those who are unused to walking the slightest distances, accomplish the difficult ascent of innumerable stairs. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to Mata Vaishno Devi's abode to ask for a boon does not return disappointed. There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their faith, creed or class, caste or religion, because Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such artificial barriers. Katra, a small town in the foothills of Trikuta, serves as the base camp to the Mata Vaishnodevi Yatris. The shrine is approachable on foot along a 12 km path from Katra. Every year, nearly 6 million pilgrims visit Mata Vaishnodevi. The shrine has been a beacon of faith and fulfillment to millions of devotees. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the trail to the goddess abode rarely goes back disappointed. The holy shrine contains the holiest of holy Pindis, manifesting the Mata in three forms Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati representing Creative, Preservative Destructive aspect of Mata. It is said that a man named Sridhar discovered the cave; he lived nearKatra and was a devotee of Mata. Sridhar had no children and worshiped little girls. One day Mata appeared in his dream and revealed to him her cave abode, goddess blessed him four sons. Sridhar worshiped at the cave and since then his descedants perform as pandits at the holy cave. It is believed that the Yatra is not complete unless the pilgrim visits Bhairon ka Mandir as well (2.6 km from the main shrine). Yatris on reaching Katr need to get a Parchi (registration slip) from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) counters near the Bus Stand. Counter No.1 for 1 to 9 persons & counter No 2 for 10 persons and above. Counters are from 6 am to11 pm. Pithus, palkiwalas and ponywalas registered with the authorities are available from Katra to Banganga. The rates from Katra shrine and back are fixed as per the weight of luggage and yatri. Yatris are advised to check identities hired pithu,palkiwala, ponywala and note their numbers/ names in case of any kind eventuality. After darshan, one must not miss trying maalish (Body Massage) of Katra.The maalishwala will loosen your using different massage methods and a variety of oils For your food taste, Katra is no less than a metro city.The modern Fast Food restaurants fulfil the needs of every yatri-be it Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali,,NRI’s or foreigners. The food at Dhabas and Restaurants is equally tasteful and reasonable. In obeisance to Mata, the entire Katra town and nearby areas declared vegetarian and alcohol free. Katra main bazaar is full of Kashmiri handicraft items, all types of dry bhaints, gift items and other specialities from the region. Places of Interest Shivkhori, Baba Dhansar, Baba Agar Jitto, Nav Pindia, Dera Baba, Reasi Fort, Sihard Baba, Salal Lake, Legend, The Yatra, Bhairon Mandir General Information Accommodation Jammu Yatri Niwas is managed by the Shrine Board. Various private hotels are also available, the room rent ranging from Rs.300/- per day to Rs.3000/- per day Katra At Katra, there are several options: 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 accommodation at Adhkawari, Sanji Chatt and Darbar. Dharamshalas, run by various organisations offer inexpensive accommodation to pilgrims. How to Get There Air? A frequent bus service of SRTC, JKFDC and private luxury coaches from the Railway station are most economical. Most of the northern State road transport buses like , Haryana roadways, Punjab roadways and Delhi Transport Corp. operate from there respective cities directly to Katra . Many transporters have luxury coaches like Volvo and other Air conditioned couches plying from diffirent cities right upto Katra. One can also contact a nearest travel agent for a conducted tour. The journey of 45 km from Jammu to Katra is covered generally in 2 hours. Private taxi can also be hired the railway station or the airport at Air Daily flights are available from Delhi and Srinagar to Jammu. These flights (Indian Airlines) connect Chandigarh and Amritsar on specific days of the week. Jet Airways also flies to Jammu from Delhi via Srinagar. Rail By rail, Jammu is directly connected with most major cities in the country. Bus Jammu is the terminus of a large number of Inter State Bus Services. Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. JKSRTC runs buses and luxury coaches from the Jammu railway station to Katra. Private taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra, from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station
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