Vaishno Devi Temple Travel Guide Jammu
The Holy Shrine of Vaishno Devi is located at an altitude of 5,200 feet on the Trikuta Mountains. The town Katra is the base camp to start for the Vaishno Devi Yatra from where devotees need to trek about 13 km uphill to the Holy Bhawan where the Holy Cave is situated. Devotees reach the holy cave either by walking on foot or by other facilities like ponies, palkis or coolies.
After the takeover of the Holy Shrine by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, the entire track from Katra has been reconstructed, widened, and cemented. More than 5 km of the track is covered with rain shelters to protect the pilgrims against any kind of change in weather. The road now has lamps, thus the pilgrimage is possible at night also.
There are two routes to reach the Holy Cave of Vaishno Devi
1. Main Route
2. Alternative Route (it is 500m shorter than the main route)
Katra to Vaishno Devi Distance by Road
Katra – Ban Ganga – Charan Paduka – Adhkuwari – Himkoti – Sanjhichhat – Bhawan
Darshani Darwaza (Katra)
Darshani Darwaza is the entry gate to the journey and is around 1 km from the bus stand. Devotees get a complete view of the Trikuta Mountains from there. This is the first Darshan of the Vaishno Devi Bhawan. One can either walk to the Darshani Darwaza on foot or can hire an auto rickshaw.
Banganga is the first major stop for the pilgrim when he starts his journey from Katra to Bhawan. It is said that the goddess Vaishnavi shot an arrow into the ground and a spring of water came out. It is considered sacred and devotees bathe in it before proceeding further.
Situated at a distance of 1 km from Banganga, the ancient temple of Charan Paduka is the place where the imprints of Mata’s feet are believed to be on a rock slab.
Adhkuwari is situated 6km from the Holy Bhawan, thus it marks the midpoint of the Vaishno Devi Yatra and most pilgrims like to rest here for a while. Vaishnavi meditated and did tapasya for nine long months at a cave known as Garbh Joon.
Himkoti is one of the most beautiful spots on this route with breathtaking scenic views of the entire mountain. There are view point, restaurant including medicare here.
A helipad is also located at this place. This helipad has facilitated the recent introduction of Helicopter Service between Katra and Sanjhichhat.
Mata Ka Bhawan
The Holy Bhawan has the Holy cave which is the final destination of the pilgrims. Inside the Holy Cave, the Goddess has revealed herself in the form of Holy Pindies. A pilgrim can see the glimpse of Bhawan around 1.5 Kms before he actually reaches there.
Bhairon temple is the next stop for the pilgrims after visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi. After beheading Bhairon Nath the Goddess forgave and blessed him that the Darshans of his temple would be the final destination of the Yatra. Thus, yatris need to visit Bhairon temple on their return.