Pilgrimage is related to everyone, there is undoubtedly an invisible force which is running this world and that’s the thing which compels millions of devotees to visit the places around the world. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi indeed is a pilgrim which also attracts many devotees towards it and Devotee also love to visit the temple and take blessings from Mata Vaishno Devi despite landslides and chilled weather conditions, especially in Winters. This is indeed the love of Devotee towards the supernatural powers of Mata.
Perched at a height of around 5400 Feets Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is located in a hill cave Trikuta Mountain in Jammu & Kashmir. If you need to visit the shrine you should have immense devotion in Mata Vaishno Devi and Strong Will Power as well.
The base camp for the Vaishno Devi temple is Katra near Jammu, which is around 400 KM from Chandigarh, depending on which route you choose if you are driving your Car. If you are a driving lover, you will love to visit the destination by Car.
Before starting the journey, you should have some things which will be needed or helpful in your journey to Temple.
1) You will need to get “YATRA PARCHI” to get your Yatra started from Katra. There are many places in Katra from where you can get the Yatra Parchi or you can get register to Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Website and get your parchi. After register you will get your password on your email, it takes around 20 minutes time to get confirmation mail about the Register, after that, you can log in and get your Yatra Parchi.
You should get yourself register 1 or 2 days in advance because they only register 5000 Parchis online. If that goes up then you have to take it from Katra Bus Stand of Railway Station, which means 1 Hour will get wasted.
2) You should have “POST-PAID MOBILE NUMBERS”, as soon as you see “Welcome to Jammu & Kashmir” Board, you surely feel joyous, but after 5 KM, you will feel sad if you have “PRE-PAID” phones numbers because in Jammu & Kashmir, all Pre-Paid number stop working, only Post-Paid numbers will continue working as per Rules of J&K Government.
3) You should have a “STICK”, which will help you when you need to reach slight high Altitude. You can buy it from there as well in Rs. 10.
4) “An OLD Bed-sheet”, which you can use to take some when feel tired, there are many places to sit along the length, but you will feel more relaxed when you sit on your bed-sheet with legs straight.
You can start your journey to Mata Vaishno Devi from Chandigarh at any time, but if you want to get most of your journey, you can start your journey around 1 PM so that you can reach Katra by 10 PM.
The Roads are very Well Built Especially in Jammu and Kashmir and you can travel any time without any issues.
The Roads in Punjab is also Good if you take “Jhaldhar – Pathankot highway” as its 4 Lane. If you choose “Hoshiyarpur Road” its single Lane and you will feel tired because Car will not gain proper Speed and you have to breaks. The other disadvantage of “Hoshiarpur Highway” is that you will have to pay 3 Tolls worth Rs. 52 Each and one worth 95 which seems too much when you drive on the Road.
After crossing Pathankot you will enter into “Jammu & Kashmir”. You can have your dinner at any Road Side Dhabas or Hotels.
After having your dinner, you can continue your journey. The Road gets traveled Full nights by Trucks and Devotees, you don’t need to have any kind of Fear, just say “Jai Mata Di” and continue your Journey.
From Jammu-Katra By-Pass, you can slip to Right on the by-pass and continue. By that time you will find the Roads almost empty, so you can get good speed, but don’t break Road Safety Rules. On your way to Katra, you will find many Breath Taking Views of Jammu City from little Height.
After that, you will also find 3 Tunnels which looks amazing. “Please Don’t Honk in Tunnels” it can increase the risk of vibrations in Mountains. You can get out from your car, and get click some photos.
After that, you will Leave Jammu – Srinagar Highway and Turn left to reach Katra. Katra is a place from where the religious journey gets started. You can find many Hotels to stay there as well ranging Rs 500 to 5000.
If you get registered already for “Yatra Parchi” then you can park your car in “Bus Stand Parking” and start your Yatra from there.
You should start your Yatra in Night because firstly the weather is Cold even in Winters so you will not feel Tired Sooner and lastly, you will get enough time to reach the peek called “Bhawan” and take some rest before reaching the Cave of Mata Vaishno Devi.
After that, you can also get some time to take some rest and continue downwards before its too Hot.
Ideally, from base camp, you have to start the journey till top by Foot, but there are many other options as well if you are not OK to go by foot. You can Book “Horse”, “Pithoos”, “Paalkis”, “Autos” or “Helicopter” as well.
On your way to Bhawan, you will find many shops and cafes along the side of the path, there is a proper arrangement of Toilets and Drinking water so you don’t have to Purchase or Take water with you till the top.
After around 6 Kms. you will reach Ardhkuwari Mandir, it’s a place where Mata spent 9 Months and did “Tapyasa”. It’s very low in height and everyone have to be on their knees to get into it. Another saying is for Goddess everyone is like her Child, so we have to be like a child to get close to her. The cave is very tight, but still, no matter how much Fat you are, you can get into it very easily. This is an example or Blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi.
After Visiting Ardhkuwari Caves, you can Rest there for some time and continue your Journey to Bhawan. If you left someone behind you can make announcements from Ardhkuwari. You can see many Dispensaries as well if you need any medical Facility. Near about Bhawan, you have to stand into Row and get the “Group Number” so that you can visit Bhawan. You will also get “FREE Locker System” so that you can place the things which you take till Bhawan.
You can buy “Prasad” near Bhawan. After buying Prasad, you can stand into the main line which will take you too main Cave. In the main cave, you will get to see Mata Live. You can take blessings of Mata. After that, you can get out of the cave and take “Charnamrit”.
After Darshan, you can take some rest and enjoy some food as well. After having food, you can start your journey to “Baba Bhairav Temple”. It is said that your journey didn’t get complete if you don’t visit “Bhairav Temple”. Bhairav Temple is about 3 Km from Bhawan. The path to the temple is very hard, as the footpath has more altitude then Bhawan.
From Bhairav Temple, you will get breathtaking views of surrounding mountains. You can click pictures there and take some rest as well. The view is too relaxing to sit there.
After taking some rest there, you can continue the other part of the journey, i.e. going back downwards.