Shri Mata Vaishno Devi’s Yatra is among the most famous and one of the major spots of visit for Hindu devotees to see a glimpse of goddess Parvati, Laxmi, and Saraswati whose temple is built in the widely spread Trikuta Parvat. The history of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi goes many years before the age of modern humans when the goddess Parvati spent years on this auspicious mountain meditating and attaining power for the destruction of evil on earth.
In this blog post, we will guide you through every minute detail of how you can plan a trip to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, the route, rates, paths, things to consider, and much more.
How to reach Katra ( Vaishno Devi)?
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The temple of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is situated at the Trikuta Parvat which is located in a small city called Katra located in the State of Jammu. One can reach Katra by train or bus at their convenience. You can take a train from your city to the “Jammu Tawi” railway station. From Jammu Tawi, one can take a bus or train directly to Katra. Although if available prefer taking a train from your city directly to Katra as it will be much more convenient and time-saving. The approximate rate of the train or bus are as mentioned:
Delhi -> Katra (Railway Station): Rs 1300 (3rd AC) Delhi -> Jammu Tawi (Railway Station): Rs 910 (3rd AC) Jammu Tawi -> Katra (By Bus): Rs 60
Yatra Parchi Registration Vaishno Devi
After you have successfully reached the city of Katra which is also known as “Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra” (SMVD), the next thing you need to do is register yourself for the darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi. Whether you reach Katra by Bus or Train, at both places you can find the registration counter for Mata Vaishno Devi Darshan.
Queue up yourself and get yourself registered.
Note: Every individual needs to stand in the queue for registration and one person cannot register on behalf of any other family member.
At the registration counter, you will have to tell your name, city, and ZIP Code to get yourself registered successfully. Take the registration card and carefully keep it with you.
Rooms and Lodging in Katra ( Vaishno Devi)
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The Katra Railway station has been built only a few years back and thus has almost all the services needed by a tourist. The station consists of rooms at cheap costs, a canteen and well-furnished washrooms. You can take a room provided by IRCTC if available otherwise it is also convenient to book rooms near the Katra main chowk.
The rates of rooms at Katra railway station can vary from Rs 500 to Rs 2600 as per your choice.
Although, if you are planning a budget-friendly trip, low-cost rooms are advised to be taken since you don’t have to spend much time in them.
Katra Railway Station to Katra Bus Stand
If you are someone who has reached Katra via Bus, then the spot to begin your journey towards the temple is nearby, but the people who reach Katra by train, need to take an auto rickshaw from Katra Railway station to Katra Bus Stand. The cost of an auto rickshaw from the railway station to the bus stand is Rs 110. If you haven’t already booked a room at Katra railway station you can look for rooms near Katra Bus Stand.
The cost of the room near the bus stand can vary from Rs 500 to Rs 1000 as per your choice.
Note: If you are planning a budget trip, you can also rent a room for 2-3 hours to refresh yourself and then in the same hotel you can submit your bags in the lockers. This will help you save the complete cost of the room and also provide you with free lockers to drop off your luggage.
Starting the Yatra of Vaishno Devi
The trek of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple is 13 Km long adding 2 km more situated the Temple of Bhairon Ji. After reaching Katra Bus Stand, the Katra main chowk is just a few steps ahead. From Katra main chowk, one needs to go to the
“Banganga Check Post” where the checking procedure is done and the trek starts.
The distance of Banganga Check Post from Katra main chowk is approximately 1 km and you can also rent an auto till there. If you wish you cover the distance on foot, you can simply follow up on the way.
The cost of an auto rickshaw from Katra main chowk to Banganga Check Post is Rs 200.
It is also suggested to eat something light from the Katra main chowk before starting the trek.
Things to carry in your Bag pack
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Leaving your luggage behind, you need to carry a small bag to take essential things with you on the trek.
The Yatra of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi can be completed in 12 hours or it can also be done in two days as per your wish.
The main essentials which must be included in your bag are a water bottle (even an empty bottle will work since there are many water points during the trek), light meals including fruits and snacks, refreshments, basic first aid, and medicines.
Although, the availability of every basic need is provided in the way it is best to carry your things.
No network Availability
As soon as you enter the state of Jammu, none of your SIM cards will work. The network will be unavailable no matter what the SIM might be. So to stay connected and use the internet, you can buy a new SIM card for yourself which will be available at many shops during the trek.
The cost of the SIM card is Rs 250 and you will get unlimited calling and 1 GB/day of data (Jio).
Postpaid SIM cards will also work in Jammu, so if you don’t need to buy a new SIM if you already have a postpaid one. You can also buy a new postpaid SIM for permanent use. The recharge of postpaid SIM card starts with Rs 399 in most SIM card providers.
If you don’t wish to buy a new SIM card, you can make use of the PCO facility which is available at several spots during the trek.
The cost of calling the PCO booths is Rs 5/min.
Reaching BanGanga Check Post
After reaching the Banganga check post, you can show your registration card/parchi and start your trek. At the Banganga check post flows the small and auspicious banganga river. People often take a bath here and then continue the journey ahead.
If you are planning to take a bath in the Banganga there are bathing spots available as soon as you cross the Banganga check post.
Now the main trek of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi has started. To make your journey slightly easy you can take sticks or dandi or lathi to act as a support during the trek. The cost of the Lathi/Dandi/stick is Rs 20 from which Rs 10 is refunded when you return it. Remember to return the stick at the same shop where you bought it
otherwise shopkeepers don’t accept it.
Pony/Horses and Palki
The trek of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is a tough one and thus there are the availability of Ponies/Horses and Palki for people. It is also suggested to take the old routed (Purana marg) to reach the temple. The new Tarakot Marg is under construction and is not chosen by people as of now.
Ponies/Horses: Rs 1000 per person (till Bhawan)
The cost of Palki is slightly more as compared to Ponies/Horses. Though the cost of these services varies from spot to spot.
About the Trek (First Darshan)
On your way during the trek, you will witness many small and beautiful temples. There are shops and eating joints where you can refresh yourself by buying drinks like lemon juice, lassi, etc.
There are many shortcuts through stairs on the whole trek which can be taken to save time. But it is not advised to old people or heart patients to go through stairs as it will tire you up a lot.
In the beginning, you will also see shops where you can get a photo clicked with an idol of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. The cost to get a photo is approximately Rs 30 and it can vary as per the size. There are also sofa massage shops where you can give some relief to your legs for just Rs 30 for fifteen minutes. Other shops on the way include dry fruit shops, candy shops, fruit shops, etc.
The first major darshan is done at the “Charan Paduka” temple which lies after about one hour of the trek, nearly 3 km from the Banganga check post. The temple is generally crowd-free and thus you can quickly see the auspicious charan padukas of Mata Vaishno Devi.
Way to Ardkuari Ji
After the Charan Paduka temple, you will further move on to the next destination called “Ardkuari Mandir”. On your way on the trek, you can make use of the PCO
calling booths if you haven’t bought a sim card. After covering a journey of around 7 km, you will reach your next destination at the Ardhkuari Mandir.
There is a lot of waiting at the Mandir, so you need to take a parchi and get yourself allotted to a group to witness “Garbh Joon” the main cave of Ardhkuari. After this, there is a waiting period of a maximum of 15 hours before you can do the darshan of Ardkuari Ji. So, it is wise to move forward with your yatra towards Bhavan, and on the way back you can get the darshan of Ardhkuari Ji (till then your group number would have come).
If you are planning to spend a night at Ardkuari Ji by any chance, there is a facility of Blankets (although there is a lot of rush to get one), double bedrooms are available at Rs 700 and dormitories are available at Rs 120/person.
Way to Bhawan (Shri Mata Vaishno Devi main temple)
From Ardhkuari, there is also the facility to take electricity-powered minivans to reach Bhawan (the main temple). The cost of these vans is:
From Ardkuari to Bhawan: Rs 356/person From Bhawan to Ardkuari: Rs 236/person.
After the trek of almost 6 km, you will see the auspicious temple of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi which is also called Bhawan. On your way from Ardkuari to Bhawan, you will see many monkeys of whom one needs to be aware. They snatch things, especially edible items.
After reaching Bhawan, you can keep your bag, lathi, and any leather item you are carrying in the lockers. Lockers are available free of cost just near Bhawan. After keeping things in the locker, you can buy the Prashad from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Counter.
The cost of Prashad varies depending upon its quantity. The cost can be between Rs 51 to Rs 501. The average Prashad which most people buy is Rs 151.
Phones, mobile cameras, and any digital item is not allowed inside Bhawan and thus it is advised to leave them back in the locker.
As you enter the mandir, you need to walk nearly 100 meters to reach the cave of Mata Vaishno Devi. Here you need to stand in the queue inside a 42 meters long cave. After waiting for a while nearly half an hour, you will be able to do the darshan Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji and further move out of the cave.
Way to Bhairon Ji
After the trek of Bhawan comes to the trek of Bhairon Ji. It is a 2 km trek from Bhawan but is slightly more difficult than the trek to Bhawan. You can also take Ponies/Palki from Bhawan to Bhairon Ji.
There is also the availability of a Ropeway at the Bhawan which will land you directly at the Bhairon Temple. Although, the ropeway is only recommended if you are an old person since it takes a lot of time to buy a ticket and then stand in the queue for your turn to come.
The cost of the ropeway is Rs 100 (including both ways). If you want to take the ropeway for just one side then also the cost remains the same.
The cost of a Pony from Bhawan to Bhairon Ji costs around Rs 350.
If you are a youngster and trekking to Bhairon Ji on foot, it is advised to take the stairs since it will cover a lot of distance in no time.
After a 2 km trek, you will reach the Bhairon Temple where you can buy Prashad and easily do the darshan by waiting in queue for only 10-15 minutes. There is also an open space at the Bhairon temple from where you can enjoy the beautiful view of the mountains and an amazing sunset if you reach it at that time.
Things to know on your way back to Ardhkuari
After doing the auspicious darshan of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and Bhairon Ji it is now time for you to return to Ardhkuari. While on your way back, you can either take the same path you came from or you can also choose to take the “Hathi Matha” route. The “Hathi Matha” route is a much silent, hassle-free, and quick route to go down. This route can be taken by going left to the Bhairon Temple.
On your way back through the Hathi Matha route, you can visit the prasad distribution counter where you can have the Prasad free. Now you can reach Ardhkuari and check out if your group number has come.
Either your group number would be in a queue for some time or it would have already passed out before you reach Ardhkuari.
In case your group number has been passed, don’t panic. Get in the line of the next group and at the entrance let the guard know that your group has passed and they will let you in. This is a daily scenario at the temple and thus the guards are well aware of this situation.
How to book a Helicopter?
If you are someone looking to go to Bhawan via helicopter then this is what you need to do. The helicopter services at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi run from Katra to Sanjhichhat. Sanjhichat is a place near Bhawan where the helipad is made and thus the helicopter leaves you there.
To book a helicopter, you can either do a booking online at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board website or a direct booking is also available when you reach Katra.
The cost of a helicopter is Rs 1045/person. Although it may vary as per the availability of the helicopter.
Trip Budget & Expenses
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The trip to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra is a cheap one. Although there are all kind of luxuries available if you are willing to go for them. But if you are planning a budget trip, then this is the total estimation of how much you would have to spend:
Transportation : Rs 2000 ( Sleeper)
Hotel: :Rs 500 ( 1 Day)
Food : Rs 1500 (1 Day)
Local Transportation : Rs 1000
Prashad : Rs 250 (approx.)
Total : Rs 1250
In a budget, you can easily afford this trip within a maximum of Rs 5000. Although, the expense of other things may include Ponies, palki, more costly hotel rooms and other things.
This is all you need to know to carry out a successful journey of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi.
You can follow this blog to plan your trip and know in advance what challenges you might meet and be prepared for them. Although Shri Mata Vaishno Devi yatra has been given many facilities in the past few years which has made the darshan much easier and quicker.
We hope you have a safe and interesting journey. Feel Free to drop your Comments