Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

Monday, 5 June 2000

Vaishno Devi

Google Maps: Vaishno Devi Temple Hill, Himachal Pradesh, India
  • Plan for two days. Trains go up to Katra from where it is a 6 hour trek most of which is moderate gradient. Eat light before you start your trek.
  • There are plenty of accommodation options at the top. Stay, refresh yourself and then go for the holy place. Expect a couple hour queue during peak season, thats May-June.
  • Eat Rajma Rice. Take a nap. Start early morning for Bhaironath which is an hour uphill, then the trek goes down all the way back to Katra. 
I have been to Vaishno Devi couple of times. It has lately become more of a picnic-trek rather a religious trip, thanks to the cash rich Vaishno Devi Trust which has created kiosks all the way to the top. The trek takes around 6 hours from Katra. In peak season, more than 30,000 visit everyday so crowd is a given. One thing is sure when you plan this - the more the merrier.

Me @ Vaishno Devi

We reached Jammu early morning by train and took a bus to Katra. I hear now there is a train line as well to Katra. Taking light brunch we started uphill earlier than planned which was good. Numerous vendors on both sides in the first mile will make you feel anything but a trekker. Ardhkumari is right in the middle and a milestone. We took left from here which is direct route to Mata Mandir.

Me & Vaishno Devi

The path from here is quite plain and easy. Even small electric vehicles run on this which takes you to the temple in less than 20 minutes. Temple complex buzzes with worshipers and vendors. There are dormitories and hotels available. We booked few beds and refreshed ourselves for the Darshan. Queue within Temple may stretch to couple hours.

Vaishno Devi

The temple is scenic and rings with devotional chants bringing out the most religious in you. We returned to our hotel and has plateful of the famous Rajma Rice of Jammu. It was time to take rest. Early morning we started in dark for Bhairo Mandir. It is at the pinnacle of this route. From here the path takes downturn and meets at Ardhkumari.

Ardhkumari is a cave where once the goddess stayed while dodging a demon. The cave is narrow and takes time for one person to cross. Hence there is a maddening 24 hour queue. Our plan was to move quickly and visit Patni Top the same day before taking train from the newly inaugurated Udhampur station.

Track from Katra to Jammu has been laid with utmost pain by Indian Railways. Its breathtaking. Tunnels and bridges come and go at tandem and you feel blessed viewing the natural landscape at its best. We were lucky to see this and it was one of the most wholesome trip for me with my huge family.