India’s most important pilgrimage destination, Vaishno Devi Temple, is one of the reasons why Jammu and Kashmir tourism is most revered in the country. With 10 million devotees visiting annually, Vaishno Devi is the oldest and holiest shrine in the country. Mata Vaishno Devi is a manifestation of three Hindu goddesses: Kali, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. The temple is open to devotees throughout the year but is most populated during the Navratri. If you are planning to make a Vaishno Devi trip with your family, Jammu tourism has excellent packages and offers for various budgets.
However, there are three different ways to make the trip. Choose the ideal one based on your comfort and health.
Vaishno Devi Yatra for Devotees
The Trikuta hill climb, where the holy rock of Vaishno devi is established, is a 12 KM moderate steep ascend. It is situated at the height of 5200 ft. above sea level. The base camp is set at Katra. You’d have to hike from Katra to Ardhkuwari and from there to Bhawan. Let’s check out the possible ways to reach the temple.
The journey starts from the entry gate or checkpoint, Banganga gate. This is a 4-5 km walk, which you can skip by taking an autorickshaw.
Vaishno Devi Trek is one of the most popular treks in Jammu and Kashmir tourism. The scenery around is quite pleasant. It is a 13 Kms trek and must be planned well to avoid health problems. There are two trekking routes from Katra to Ardhkuwari and from Ardhkuwari to Bhawan. Each varies in distance and difficulty level.
An athlete, sportsperson, or avid trekker can complete the trek in 3 hours. It may take a little longer for the rest of us. The trail is clear, with good light and CCTV support. Public toilets are also there. If you choose the trekking option, we advise you to walk or jog regularly for 5-10 kms to boost stamina at least three months prior to the trip.
If you get tired mid-way, there are plenty of places to rest. You can also book a pony ride for the rest of your journey.
By Helicopter Ride
Book a helicopter ride if you’d love a bit of adventure on the way to Vaishno Devi temple. They are fun and exciting and add thrill to the overall experience. However, pilgrims must pre-book the helicopter at least two months in advance. The ride takes only 8 minutes from the base, located at Udhampur Road, 2kms from Katra bus station. Each copter can accommodate six passengers at a time. The helicopter ride fare is decided by the Vaishno Devi trust. The one-way fare from Katra to Sanjhichhat will cost you INR 1800 per person, and the round trip will cost INR 3600 per person.
You will be dropped off at Sanjhichhat point, where you must trek or hitchhike a pony, porter, or palki ride to reach Vaishno Devi Bhawan. This leg of the journey will take half an hour.
By Palkis and Ponies
Ponies and palkis are available aplenty for Vaishno Devi Yatra. Since many pilgrims’ health doesn’t permit them to go through an arduous trek of 13 kms, pony rides, porter, and palki services are provided throughout the trail. The rates are written on the walls. However, people with back and spine problems, such as slipped discs, sciatica, etc., should avoid pony rides.
Notes to Remember
There are a lot of shops for souvenirs, prasad, snacks, juices, dry fruits, and other items. The crowd depends upon Jammu and Kashmir’s weather conditions and Jammu tourism. If anyone gets lost, there are security guards stationed every 100-200 steps. Cellphones, metallic things, footwear, and bags are not allowed 3-kms before the temple. Therefore, you’d have to deposit your belongings in free lockers facilitated by the temple trust. Only prasad and cash are permitted inside. Bhairo Nath Shrine is a few kms uphill. Food and essentials at subsidized rates are available in several outlets at Bhairo Nath shrine.
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