Vaishno Devi Travel Guide– Vaishno Devi Temple is the most revered Hindu temple and one of the sacred places in India. The temple is famous for its grandeur and spaciousness due to its location on Trikuta Hills.

It is recognized as a Shakti Peeth dedicated to a major deity in Hinduism Durga worshipped as Vaishno Devi. Here, Hindu deities Parvati, Saraswati and Lakshmi together create a wonderful power, which we call Mata Vaishno Devi.

About Vaishno Devi Temple

Vaishno Devi Temple is located at the height of around 60 km from Jammu city centre and 12 km from Katra, a popularly known small town in Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir.

It is one of the holy shrines in India, where thousands of pilgrims are come from all across the world to take the blessings of Vaishno Devi (also known as Mata Rani, Jagdamba, Sherawali, Vaishnavi, Ambe or Durga)

If you are thinking to make a trip to Vaishno Devi Temple with your family or friends, or even as a solo traveller, this write-up may definitely help you in designing a perfect itinerary. Let’s start.

How to Reach

In order to visit Maa Vaishno Devi Temple, first, you have to reach Katra, located around 50 km from Jammu. Jammu is the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir and is well-connected to all the major cities of India.

By Air

The nearest airport to Katra is Jammu Airport (50 km), officially known as Jammu Civil Enclave. Jammu is connected with major airports in India like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. Regular services of cab and taxi are easily available to or from the airport.

By Train

A number of trains to Jammu/Katra are available from almost every major city in India. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station and Udhampur Railway Station are the nearest if your train goes here otherwise Jammu Tawi Railway Station is the best option to choose.

The distance between Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Railway Station to Katra is 1.5 km and from Jammu Tawi Railway Station to Katra is around 51 km. You may easily find transportation to and from these railway stations to Katra.

By Bus

Jammu & Kashmir Road Transport Corporation as well as private companies operate buses to and from Jammu to Katra at regular intervals. Air-conditioned private deluxe buses and taxis are available at very affordable rates from all parts of India to Jammu.

Click here to see the road map of Jammu and Katra: https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/roadmap.aspx

For more information: https://www.jksrtc.co.in/

Weather in Katra Vaishno Devi

Weather
Cloud in Vaishno Devi Yatra (Photo by Narinder Pal)

Katra is at an altitude of 2500 ft above sea level while Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan is at an altitude of 5200 ft above sea level. Due to the difference between these two places, it is natural that there will be a difference in the temperature of both the places.

At the same time, the temperature of the Bhawan will be cooler compared to Katra.

Best Time to Visit

Vaishno Devi Temple remains open 24/7 365 days and, in my experience, the best time to visit the temple is every time.

Sunset from Vaishno Devi Temple
Sunset from Vaishno Devi Temple (Photo by Piyush Tripathi)

March to mid-July is the peak month when there is a huge crowd of devotees. Due to holidays in schools & colleges, the month of May-June gets more crowded, people come with their families for Darshan.

According to the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, the normal capacity of Yatra per day is 50000.

In any case, if you are above the capacity which depends on the situation, you will be put on the waiting list. In order to avoid a massive crowd of pilgrims, we suggest you kindly plan your trip accordingly.

Mid-July to September – Katra receives heavy rainfall in these months, so it becomes difficult to travel to Vaishno Devi because of the risk of sudden mudslides, frequent landslides, and road blockages. Yeah, it is off-season here but people, who look for budget trips and heavy discounts on accommodation, prefer visiting at this time.

In the month of October, due to the festival of Navaratri, a lot of pilgrims from all over the country and abroad, visit the temple. During and after Diwali, which will be celebrated on October 24, 2022, the crowd starts thinning.

Choose mid-November or December to January for your trip if you are physically fit. At this time, the temperature reaches sub-zero levels, and you may experience heavy snowfall. Despite this weather, pilgrims plan and visit the temple for a unique mystical experience and if you love photography, you should not miss your visit these days.

Avoid visiting the temple on 31st December and 1st January due to uncontrollable crowds.

Also, prefer your visit during weekdays (any day from Monday to Friday) to enjoy the facilities of palanquins (or Palkis), Ponies, and porters (also known as Pithoos or Pithus) because local people go out for darshan on weekends and the place becomes crowded.

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.

Vaishno Devi Yatra Guide Map

Vaishno Devi Yatra Guide Map (Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Official Website)

Vaishno Devi Yatra Route

Whether you are by bus, train, or aeroplane, you will have to reach Katra or Katra Chowk. The journey takes 5 to 8 hours from Katra to Vaishno Devi Bhawan and about 3-6 hours descend. The journey starts from Katra, and we recommend you kindly visit Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/contact_us.aspx) near the Katra bus stand to collect some updated information for your trip.

Vaishno Devi Yatra Detailed Route Map (Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Official Website)

There are two routes diverted from Katra Chowk: the old route and the new route.

Old Route

  1. From Katra Chowk through the main market, you will reach the Yatra Gate. The distance between Katra Chowk to Yatra Gate is around 1 kilometre. Yatra Gate is also known as Darshani Deodi (entrance) or Darshani Darwaza (gate) because from this point you witness a complete view of the Trikuta Parvat (mountain), a sacred place in Katra.
  2. The distance from Yatra Gate to Banganga is less than 1 km. On this route, pilgrims get the langar (Bhandara) of the late Gulshan Kumar who was the founder of T-Series in the 1980s.

Note: While heading to Banganga from Yatra Gate, there is a point which connects you to the Tarakote Marg (1.5 km).

  1. Now, there are two options to reach Charan Paduka from Banganga (approx. 1.5 km), by stairs or on foot. If you go up the stairs, you may get tired soon, so kindly avoid stairs if you’re old or feeling unfit.
  2. The distance from Charan Paduka to Adhkuwari is 3.5 km and from Katra Chowk is around 6 km.
  3. From Adhkuwari, the old route goes to Vaishno Devi Bhawan via Hathi Mattha (Hathi means elephant, Mathha means forehead so named because of the steep climb) and Sanjichhat (situated at the height of about 6,200 feet above the sea level). The distance from Adhkuwari to Sanjichhat is around 3.5 km and from Katra is 9.5 km.
  4. Sanjichhat to Bhawan is around 3.5 km and it is a downhill walk. In case, you decide to reach Bhawan after visiting Bhairon Ghati, it will be 5 km. Please see the guide map to understand it well.

OLD ROUTE

Katra -> Banganga -> Charan Paduka -> Adhkuwari -> Hathi Mattha Marg -> Sanjichhat -> Bhairon Ghati (optional) -> Vaishno Devi Bhawan

New Route (TARAKOTE ROUTE)

Inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 19th, 2018

  1. Tarakote Marg Gate is located around 2.5 km from Katra Chowk, and you may take an autorickshaw to reach here. Through this new route, the distance from Tarakote Marg Gate to Adhkuwari is 7 km but better than the 6-km old route due to its cleanliness, unavailability of palanquins, ponies & Pithoos and this route is not crowdy.

Note: Like two routes from Katra Chowk to Adhkuwari, there are also two routes from Adhkuwari to Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan.

  1. The new route takes you to Bhawan via Himkoti. The distance between Adhkuwari to Bhawan is around 2.5 km and this track offers the facility of battery-operated vehicles.
  2. Unlike the old route, you may not find palanquins, ponies & Pithoos here. You will see a very limited number of shops on this route.

NEW ROUTE

Katra -> Banganga -> Charan Paduka -> Adhkuwari -> Himkoti Marg -> Vaishno Devi Bhawan

Vaishno Devi Track
Trek Route to Vaishno Devi Shrine (Photo by Piyush Tripathi)

Yatra Registration – Mandatory for All   

Getting yourself registered is the most important activity and mandatory for all pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi. Either you can get registered offline at Yatra Registration Counter (YTC) located at Katra Chowk (opens 24/7) or online registration through its official website and mobile application “MATA VAISHNODEVI APP (10MB). Follow these steps for free, official online registration:

  1. Visit Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s official website (www.maavaishnodevi.org) and click ‘Online Yatra Parchi’.
  2. Read all the terms and conditions which apply for Yatra and tick the box at the bottom to accept these instructions.
  3. If a registered user, enter your username and password.
  4. If not registered, sign up. As you entered the required details, you will receive Devotee Registration Details on your registered email address immediately.
  5. Click on ‘Yatra Parchi’.
  6. Select the number of devotees (maximum 5 at once) and Yatra date to get the availability.
  7. Fill in your details in the next step and proceed to book. Click on ‘Generate Yatra Parchi’ and take a printout.
  8. Please show this Yatra Slip at Yatra Check Post, Banganga and at Bhawan for the group number.
  9. This Reservation slip will be valid with an original ID proof mentioned at the time of booking by the devotee(s).

Vaishno Devi Travel Tips

  1. Avoid getting extremely religious in case you feel physically unfit but still want to go on foot. You may opt for facilities of palanquin, ponies, and battery-operated vehicles.
  2. Go hassle-free with online Yatra registration. Go to the section ‘Yatra Registration – Mandatory for All’ for a step-by-step process to get yourself registered. No pilgrim is allowed without registration.
  3. For a comfortable darshan to Vaishno Devi Temple, we advise you to avoid the peak season rush. Additionally, choose the Tarakote route to reach Bhawan for a comfortable journey.
  4. A good pair of shoes can make all the difference during the Vaishno Devi Trip. Click here to buy a pair of breathable shoes: https://www.decathlon.in/
  5. Keep moving and keep the environment clean. If you did not understand, how it’s a travel tip, ask us in the comment box below.
  6. Strictly avoid using stairs if you feel unhealthy or have any medical problems during the journey.
  7. During Vaishno Devi Yatra, do not encourage begging. Kindly understand that a beggar always remains a beggar.
  8. If you have not experienced ropeway yet, do not miss the opportunity to enjoy ropeway service which runs from the Bhawan to Bhairon Ghati (3 to 5 minutes) and costs Rs.100 per person.
  9. Only vegetarian food is available here, and alcohol is strictly banned.
  10. Food, water, blankets, and other essentials are available en route so travel light.
  11. The rates for the services of porters, ponies and palanquins are fixed by the shrine board so act accordingly.
  12. Carry woollen clothes for winters, even for summers too. See weather information here: https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/weather.aspx
  13. Buy Prasad from shops near the Bhawan, not from Katra otherwise, you have to carry it up all the time.
  14. It is recommended that leave your luggage and unnecessary clothes at Katra.
  15. It is mandatory to carry a valid certificate of COVID-19 Vaccination or RT-PCR negative report taken within 72 hours of arrival time.
  16. Pilgrims are also advised to wear a mask, use sanitiser regularly and maintain social distance.
  17. Only Prasad and cash are allowed inside the Bhawan.
  18. If available, book your seat on a train which goes directly to Katra (Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station) to make your journey more convenient.
  19. Book your accommodation in advance because hotels in Katra and Bhawan are in high demand. Also, for helicopter service, you need to do a reservation in advance.
  20. Keep your original valid Photo ID & Address Proof with you all the time during the journey without which boarding will be denied (Passport/ Aadhaar Card/ Driving License/ Voter ID/ PAN Card).
  21. People, who are suffering from heart disease, asthma, or diabetes, should make sure that they are medically fit to walk. Moreover, they should carry all the necessary medicines with them.

Vaishno Devi Helicopter Services

Helipad at Sanjichhat, Vaishno Devi Dham
Sanjichhat Helipad, Vaishno Devi Yatra (Photo by Piyush Tripathi)

A total of 5-6 people can travel at once in a helicopter operated by Global Vectra and Himalayan. A booking window opens 2 months in advance. See the details below:

Helicopter RouteFare (per person) GST included
Katra – Sanjichhat – KatraRs.3600
Katra – SanjichhatRs.1800
Sanjichhat – KatraRs.1800

Click here for helicopter reservation (login required): https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/

Temples in Vaishno Devi Yatra

Mata Vaishnavi is the epitome of devotion and faith. As you start your journey with the grace of Mata Rani, let us tell you that there is a series of temples and attractions on the way to the final destination. En route, you will also get free medical centres in case of emergency.

Let’s begin so loudly say ‘Jai Mata Di.’

1. Banganga

Three-peaked Trikuta Mountain View on way to Vaishno Devi Temple (Ajay Kumar Jana)
Three-peaked Trikuta Mountain View on way to Vaishno Devi Temple (Photo by Ajay Kumar Jana)

Banganga is the first major point for pilgrims who reach the Bhawan on foot. The Ban means arrow and Ganga is the most sacred river in India. It is believed that when Maa Vaishnav, accompanied by Langoor-Veer/Monkey, was heading towards her abode in Trikuta Hills, he felt thirsty then the goddess shot an arrow here and water gushed out.

2. Charan Paduka Temple

The ancient temple of Charan Paduka is the second point during the trek to Bhawan. According to legend, the goddess Maa Vaishnav stopped here and turned back for the first time to check whether Bhairon Nath is following her or not. Pilgrims witness the footprints of the goddess.

3. Adhkuwari Mata Gufa

It is believed that Maa Vaishnav meditated in a cave for 9 months due to being chased by Bhairon Nath and at the time he entered the cave and found her, the goddess made an opening with her trident and beheaded Bhairon Nath in the form of Mahakali, the fiercest form of the goddess. Then, Maa Vaishnav finally reached Bhawan which is now known as her home.

Adhkuwari is located halfway to the Vaishno Devi Temple.

4. Vaishno Devi Temple

Situated at the height of 5200 feet, Vaishno Devi Temple is a divine and widely revered Hindu Temple dedicated to Maa Durga, a major deity in Hinduism. It is one of the richest temples in India. The Bhawan has a holy cave which is the ultimate destination for pilgrims.

5. Bhairon Baba Temple

View from Bhairon Nath Temple
A view from Bhairon Nath Temple (Photo by Piyush Tripathi)

After beheading Bhairon Nath, his body held at the Bhawan, and his head landed further up the mountain which is now known as Bhairon Nath temple.

He realized and repented for his sins and then the goddess freed him from the cycle of reincarnation. However, she put a condition that the Yatra of pilgrims would not be considered complete without the visit of Baba Bhairon Nath.

Accommodation by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board offers Free as well as Rented accommodation for the convenience of pilgrims.

Free Accommodation – With zero cost, you can stay in halls located at Adhkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan. Pilgrims can spend nights in these halls which have toilet facilities. Blankets are also provided free of cost.

Rented Accommodation – A number of economical stay options are available at Jammu, Katra, Adhkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan. All these accommodations are offered by the Shrine Board which need to be booked in advance due to heavy rush throughout the year.

LOCATIONCOMPLEXROOM TYPETARIFF (Rs.)
JammuVaishnavi DhamDouble Bedded, ACRs.1250/-
Suite, AC CarpetedRs.1700/-
Dormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.100/-
Saraswati DhamDormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.100/-
Kalika DhamDouble Bedded AC RoomRs.1700/-
Dormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.150/-
KatraNiharikaDouble Bedded, ACRs. 1450/-
Four Bedded, ACRs.1700/-
Double Bedded AC DeluxeRs.1800/-
Four Bedded AC DeluxeRs.2150/-
Shakti BhawanDormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.100/-
Trikuta BhawanDormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.100/-
Ashirwad BhawanDormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.110/-
Spiritual Growth CentreDouble Bedded, ACRs.1700/-
SuiteRs.3000/-
Dormitory (AC) (Per Bed Basis)Rs.250/-
AdhkuwariSharda BhawanDouble BeddedRs.700/-
Shailputri BhawanDormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.120/-
SanjichhatMangla BhawanDouble BeddedRs.700/-
Dormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs.100/-
BhawanMain Bhawan ComplexDouble BeddedRs.1600/-
Four BeddedRs.2300/-
Vaishnavi & Gouri BhawanDouble BeddedRs.900/-
Four BeddedRs.1450/-
Six Bedded HutRs.1900/-
Manokamana BhawanDormitory (Per Bed Basis)Rs. 120/-

Click ‘Online Services’ through the link to book your accommodation (login required): https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/

Vaishno Devi Track
Vaishno Devi Yatra Route (Photo by Piyush Tripathi)

Other Stay Options for Pilgrims

We suggest that directly reach Katra and take some rest in a good hotel room before starting your Vaishno Devi Yatra. Also, remember the Yatra date mentioned on Yatra Parchi. Please note that you can also ask your hotel reception for Yatra Registration.

Below is the list of some best budget hotels in Katra:

  1. Saatvik Homestay

Located 1.2 km from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station and 35 km from Jammu Airport, it is neither a hotel nor a guest house, top-rated (8.3/10) on cleanliness, facilities, and location, and offers a parking facility, 24-hour front desk and Wi-Fi. Doubles from Rs.1099; https://www.booking.com/hotel/in/saatvik-homestay-katra1.en-gb.html

  1. Hotel Maha Luxmi Palace

Around 2 km from Katra Railway Station, this property is newly renovated and a best-seller, top-rated (7.8/10) in Katra. Doubles from Rs.1392; https://www.booking.com/hotel/in/maha-luxmi-palace.en-gb.html

  1. The Divine Oak

Rated 8.4 out of 10, this property is situated less than 1 km from Katra Railway Station. It has taken steps to provide more sustainable and environmentally friendly travel. Doubles from Rs.1538; https://www.booking.com/hotel/in/the-divine-oak.en-gb.html

  1. Hotel Today

The property offers Deluxe Quadruple Rooms with Free Wi-Fi and is located around 800 m from Katra Railway Station. Hotel Today has been rated 7.7 by customers. Doubles from Rs.2106; https://www.booking.com/hotel/in/today.en-gb.html

  1. Trimrooms JMC Katra

Doubles from Rs.1124, this property is located at Katra Railway Station and provides cheap but clean rooms and ensures a pleasant stay for all travellers. Rated 6.9 out of 10, it is a travel sustainable property. https://www.booking.com/hotel/in/trimrooms-katra-railway-station.en-gb.html

Vaishno Devi
A place where you can find people,
From different regions, and different religions,
For some reason, in every season.

Hope you know all about Vaishno Devi Yatra, including travel tips and stay options nearby the temple. We wish you a very happy and safe journey! Vaishno Devi Yatra is not just a spiritual journey, but it has a lot to offer in sense of natural beauty.

This holiday season, get ready to take you on the most amazing and peaceful journey to Maa Vaishno Devi and share your experience with us.

A single click on the LIKE button encourages us while sharing the blog motivates a thousand people so don’t deprive us of that, like and share and spread the good word! Jai Mata Di 😊

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