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Mata Ka Bulawa (Mother calling)
Chalo bulawa aaya hai, Tenu maiya ji ne aap bulaya, Sanu chitthi aye hai; All the meanings are same, ma is calling. Whenever its comes in the mind, lets go to vaishnodevi. The journey to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji starts with the Call of Mata. It is not only a belief but also a strong experience of one and all that the Divine Mother sends a call to her children. And once a person receives it, wherever he is, is bound to visit the Mother to receive Her unbounded love and blessings.
Katra Town, lying in the foot of Trikuta Mountains, 50 km from Jammu, serves as the base camp for visiting the famous shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, which is approachable on foot along a 13 kms long well laid footpath. Every year, around 5 million pilgrims pass through Katra on their way to the holy shrine. The cave shrine of Mata Vasihnodeviji or Trikuta Bhagwati (alt: 5,200 ft.) has been a beacon of faith and fulfilment to millions of devotees from all over the world. The pilgrimage to the Shrine holds great significance for the pilgrims.
How to reach
Rest of India to Jammu
In order to visit the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, one has to reach Katra, a small town situated around 50 km from Jammu, the winter capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Katra serves as the base camp for the yatra. Katra is well connected to Jammu which is well connected to the rest of the country by Air, Rail, and Road.
- Jammu is well connected to the rest of India by air.
- The average flying time from New Delhi is about 80 minutes.
- Shri Shakti Express – can now take you direct from Delhi to base camp of Vaishno Devi.
- Daily service facility of Shri Shakti Express train is available, this train depart from new Delhi at 5:30pm and arrive at Katra at 5:10am.
- Jammu is well connected through road also to rest of India.
- Regular bus services from all major North Indian cities are available for Jammu as well as Katra.
- Passengers using Air or Rail as a mode of travel have necessarily to break their journey at Jammu and from thereon select an alternative mode of transport. However for passengers traveling by road, either through public or own transport, there is an option of taking a by-pass from Kunjwani, nearly 10 kms. off Jammu and heading straight for the base camp i.e Katra. The option of a halt at Jammu is thus entirely with the yatri although many yatries would like to spend more time in Jammu and visit the temples and other landmarks there.
Jammu to Katra
Passengers using Air or Rail as a mode of travel have necessarily to break their journey at Jammu and from thereon select an alternative mode of transport. However for passengers traveling by road, either through public or own transport, there is an option of taking a by-pass from Kunjwani, nearly 10 kms. off Jammu and heading straight for the base camp i.e Katra.
The option of a halt at Jammu is thus entirely with the yatri although many yatries would like to spend more time in Jammu and visit the temples and other landmarks there.
Vehicles are usually stopped on the way by security personnel for security checks. All visitors are therefore requested to cooperate with the authorities and comply with the security formalities.
Located at an altitude of about 2500 feet above sea level, Katra is the base camp for the Yatra to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. This is the last point up till which any type of modern transport can go (except the recently started Helicopter service, which takes the pilgrims right till Sanjichhat, just a couple of kilometers from the Holy Shrine). Therefore, for all practical purposes, Katra serves as the base camp.
From here a trek of around 12 kms takes a pilgrim to the Holy Shrine. One can undertake this trek on foot or on horses/ponies or on palanquins (palkies or dolies). While most of the pilgrims prefer to go on foot, some who find it difficult to negotiate the climb hire a pony or a palanquin.
As per the legend, Mata Vaishno Devi met Pandit Shridhar in the form of a girl child at the spot which is today known as the Darshani Darwaza. This spot is also known because Darshani Darwaaza because from here one gets a complete view of Trikuta Mountain.
Holy Track: Old Track
In the earlier days, there used to be an unpaved track and a few flights of stairs that used to lead the way to Bhawan. This track called the old or original track was mostly built on the traditional track of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, which had been used by the pilgrims since hundreds of years. Then, after the takeover of the management of the Holy Shrine by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board in 1986.
Holy Track: New or Alternate Track
The old track is steep and narrow at some places. Therefore it was decided to construct an alternate track to Bhawan that would have a gentler gradient and would be wider and shorter.
Situated on the bank of a small rivulet called Banganga and at a height of 2700 ft., Banganga is the first major station for a yatri when he undertakes his on-foot journey from Katra to Bhawan. As per the legend, the goddess, accompanied by Langoor-Veer was moving to her destined abode in the Trikuta Hills, when Langoor-veer felt thirsty. The goddess shot an arrow into the ground and a spring gushed out.
Charan Paduka The ancient temple of Charun Paduka, situated at a distance of nearly one km from Banganga, is also connected to the legend of goddess Vaishno Devi. As per the Legend, the goddess stopped at this place for a while to look back and check whether Bhairon Nath was still chasing her or not. Due to Her standing there for a while, her footprints got engraved there, hence the name.
The word Adhkuwari means Eternal virgin. At this place the Goddess is believed to have worshiped Lord Shiva in a cave for 9 months and when Bhairo Nath discovered her inside the cave She made an opening in the cave with her trident and proceeded towards Bhawan. Adkuwari also marks the midpoint of the Yatra and most pilgims like to rest here for a while and refresh themselves.
Himkoti is situated at a distance of 2.75 kms from Adkuwari on the new track. Himkoti is one of the most beautiful spots on this track with breathtaking scenic views of the entire valley. Although there is no traditional or religious significance associated with this point, yet the very nature of this spot and its natural splendour envelops the pilgrims in a ethereal and mysterious charm. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has developed a view point, restaurant and a dosa counter here. Packed and cooked food including meals, hot and cold beverages and other important items including medicare and oxygen cylinders, cassettes are available here. There is adequate place to rest and relax and also enjoy the beauty of nature. Himkoti is being developed something more than a view point, with an artificial pond, a garden and a meditation centre.
Sanjhichhat is the highest point for the pilgrims on their trek to the Holy Bhawan. The place is situated at a height of about 6,200 feet above the sea level, and presents a panoramic view of the landscape below. The final destination is about 2 km. away from this point.The Helipad is also located at this point.
Bhairon temple is the next halt for the pilgrims after visiting the holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. This old temple is significant from the point of view of a holy legend associated with the Shrine. After beheading Bhairon Nath and after his profuse repentance, the Almighty Mother Goddess forgave and blessed him and granted him the boon that the Darshans of his temple would be the final link of Her Great Pilgrimage. Thus, for the full blessings of the journey to Mata Vaisno Deviji, Yatries would have to pay obesiance at Bhairon temple on their return.
Katra town is located at an altitude of nearly 2500 ft above sea level while the sanctum sanctorum is located at nearly 5200 ft. above sea level. There is obviously a significant temperature difference between the two locations. search for “weather at Vaishno devi” in internet search engine to get latest temperature, climate details.
Palki, Ponies & Pithoos
The Pony, Porter and Palanquin services are managed by the local/under a municipal committee organizing the local municipal affairs. All these porters, pony owners and palanquin (palki) owners are registered with municipal committee and carry an identity card/token number. Their cards/permits are renewed every year and new cards carrying a fresh validity date are issued. Any card that is outside the scope of this validity date is naturally invalid and hence disqualifies its owners from offering services on the track. Many unregistered Pithus tend to show their old and invalid cards to get work. Yatries are advised to carefully scan the identity card/token of the porter/pony owner and satisfy themselves about its validity. It is also advisable to retain this identity card and handover the same only after satisfactorily reaching the destination.
The rates of all these services are fixed. Information about these rates is available on various sign boards and at the Assistance Centers at Katra, Banganga and other places. The currently prevailing rates must be verified from the Assistance Counters or the sign boards.
One must avoid paying anything over and above the fixed rates. One can always offer them food, refreshment etc. if one wishes to, but it is out of choice and is not mandatory. For any difficulty or information, one may contact the municipal committee counters or the Shrine Board Offices
Rate List of Palki, Ponies & Pithoos. (current rates may vary and request to check the official price list.)
|Ponies||Adult Pilgrim/yatri||Adult pilgrim + child from 3 to 6 years|
|Katra to Bhawan||700.00/-||800.00/-|
|Katra to Adh-kumari or Adh-Kumari to Bhawan||380.00/-||430.00/-|
|Katra to Sanjichhat||600.00/-||675.00/-|
|Bhawan to Katra via Bharion||850.00/-||900.00/-|
|Bhawan to Sanjichhat or Bhawan to Bhairon||275.00/-||300.00/-|
|Bhawan to Adkuwari via Bharion||425.00/-||475.00/-|
|Pithoos||Lugguage upto 25 Kgs or Children upto 6 Years of Age|
|Katra to Bhawan and back||700.00/-|
|Katra to Bhawan||350.00/-|
|Bhawan to Katra via Bhairon||400.00/-|
|Palanquins (Palkis)||Katra to Bhawan & Back to Katra||Katra to Bhawan & Back Via Bhairon||Sanjichat Helipad to Bhawan|
|For a Yatri upto 100 Kgs weight (4 Carriers)||4000/-||4500/-||1250/-|
|For a Yatri above 100 Kgs weight (6 Carriers)||4500/-||5000/-||1400/-|
Obtain a yatra slip only from the yatra registration counter at the Tourist Reception Centre at the Katra bus stand and nowhere else. Without an authentic yatra slip, crossing of the Ban Ganga check post is not permitted.
Take official receipts for all payments made to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board as well as those made to private vendors. Demand to see official rate lists when making payments.
Use only the donation boxes provided by the SMV Devi Shrine Board. In case of donations at the donation counters of the board at Katra (central office), Adhkawari, Sanji Chhat and various points at the Bhawan and obtain a formal receipt for the same.
Donations to the shrine are exempt from income tax under the Income Tax Act. Do contact the central office of the Shrine Board located at Katra, or the Sub Divisional Magistrate or Tehsildar in Room No. 8, Kalika Bhawan, Durbar, or write to the Chief executive Officer, SMV Shrine Board for any suggestions/complaints.
Avoid over straining yourself on the climb. Walk on the paved track, instead of the stairs. Do not relax at points where warning notices are displayed. Do not break traffic discipline or try to over take others at difficult stretches.
Good accommodation, with bedding facilities is provided by the SMV Shrine Board on payment. Facilities for booking of such accommodation fixed rates are available at various offices of the Board.
To maintain the sanctity of the place do not indulge in playing cards, smoking or chewing betel (paan) at Bhawan or enroute. Do not paint, stick posters or disfigure signboards, and also avoid littering the area.
Fellow pilgrims are bound to you by their faith in the Mata. Avoid playing transistors or tape recorders too loudly or creating blockage or hindrances in the passages meant for circulation of the yatris.
Qualified doctors are available at the Primary Health Centre, Katra and at the dispensaries at Adhkawari and Bhawan, round the clock. They are also available at the evening clinic at Katra bus stand; open 2 p.m to 8 p.m. Medical Aid Centres run by the SMV Shrine Board provide necessary assistance to the pilgrims at the Katra bus stand, Banganga and Sanji Chhat.