Our mesmerizing journey to Mata Vaishno Devi started from holy Maa Ganga city Haridwar Uttarakhand India. We boarded the train named Hemkunt Express from Haridwar to Katra via Jammu. Its better to reach station before 30 mins of departure to search your platform number. The joy of the journey will start as soon as you enter the train. As the final destination of the train is katra, so many people you will come across are going to Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine, The atmosphere of the train itself is religious. People recite bhajans and aarti. Not only people from neighbour places visit the shrine but from far-most places come to visit the shrine. If you board train around 18:15 you will reach Katra around morning 07:00.
Starting point of mata vaishno devi journey
Once you arrived at Katra railway station you can go nearby hotel or lodge to keep your luggage and take rest a bit on a journey to Maa Vaishno Devi.You need to hire the auto for the basecamp after which no vehicles are allowed. On the way to base camp, you have to register your journey in Yatra registration office. For registration, you must have one Id proof which can be either Aadhar card, Passport, Voter ID or Driving license. There are many shops for prasad around but my recommendation is please buy prasad at basecamp where you start your journey or best option is to buy prasad at the fair shop at the top near the Maata Rani Bhawan.Mata Vaishno devi website link for reference
Special notice heading up to mata vaishno devi
Please keep your Yatra registration receipt with your in the whole journey, there are 2-3 checkpoints where you need to show your registration receipt. Please have breakfast before you start your journey. There are many restaurants around basecamp including Gulshan Kumar langar.
Transport for Mata Vaishno Devi temple
For healthy people I recommend to do the entire journey on foot around 15 -1 8 Kms and off-course I and my mom are one of them, But for other people, there is another option too.
1- You can take horse ride which cost you 600 to 800 INR for one way and 1700 – 2000 INR for round trip.
2- You can take palanquin( Paalki ) which cost you 2500-3000 INR for one way and 5000-6000 INR for round trip.
3- I have seen electronic auto running around Maa Ardhkumari temple ( 1/2 way of the journey ) but I don’t know how to book those auto and where to book. You can ask some person or search on the net if you interested in this option.
4- Helicopter is another option you have with1300 INR for one way and 2500 INR for round trip
Special Note => You need to book helicopter tickets 2- 3 months prior to the journey.
After having breakfast on the bank of Banganga we started our journey.The whole environment around you is so cheerful.It boost your enthusiasm to track and walk along with the crowd. There is no need to stuff the eatable in your bag because of many shops around the way.
Best route to reach Mata Vaishno Devi temple
There are two ways to go on barefoot, one is the staircase which is only for healthy people you can see the number of stairs before heading up. The second way is the road which takes a bit more time then staircase but good for all people. While riding the roads I have noticed that horse riders will create inconvenience for the pedestrians as there is no separate route for horse riders. You can have rested on every point when you feel tired as there are chairs available at every point for taking rest also washroom facility even water coolers are available.
We tried both via road and staircase. What my experience is while you are taking staircase it’s shorter than road but climbing several staircases can cause some knee pain so better option is sometimes to take staircase and when you feel tired take the longer route of the road. We had coffee, juice and water on time-intervals to keep our body energetic as well as hydrated. We travelled on September 20th so that time it was neither hot nor cold.
Once you reach near Ardhkumari temple you will find two separate routes to get Mata Rani Bhawan temple
1- Bhawan via Himkoti (5.5 KM)
2- Bhawan via adhkumari (6.5 KM)
Registration for Adhkumari Darsan in Mata Vaishno Devi temple
Before proceeding any route here you have to note that first register your self for Adhkumari Darsan. There is a cave called garbh grah in the temple which you must see. Once you register yourself with garbh grah darsan, depends on crowd you will get your number on the same night or after 1 or 2 days.. Go ahead to Bhawan via Himkoti (5.5 KM) and return having darsana from Bhairon Mandir to adhkumari (6.5 KM).
Mata Vaishno Devi Mandir darshan
Once you reach Bhawan after 5.5 KM scenic root, keep your belonging in the locker and take the bath you want. You can not get the entry for darshan with your belonging especially leather made goods so keep those too in lockers. Now proceed to darsana stay in queue and wait for your turn. Once you reach inside cave you will hardly get 20-30 seconds for darsan so keep concentration to see pind ( There are three pinds in the cave covered with ornament ) and avoid looking here and there like panditji and policeman etc. Go to the shiv mandir after having darsana. Now you can relax with some snacks and get ready to climb another 2 KM for Bhairon mandir. It is saying that without Bhairon mandir darsan, Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra is not successful.
Bhairon mandir after Mata Vaishno Devi darshan
So proceed for Bhairon mandir at the top and you will find that its worth to be there. You will find yourself in clouds like heaven surrounded by mountains. If you have time you can stay in Adh kwari to get your turn to see Garbh grah. There are many lodges where you can easily find dormitory with 200INR. It might be evening 20:00 or 21:00 when you are in Adh kwari you can see city panoramic night view which is really Wonderfull.In case you are hungry, take dinner near Banganga market where you can find many shops running full night and restaurants too.
Getting back from Mata Vaishno Devi darshan
Finally, take the auto and come back to your hotel room. Next day we had a small tour around Jammu market having fast foods and then back to Haridwar via overnight train.The whole 3 days trip was hectic but worth as per our tight schedule with companions.
- Try to visit shrine out of Navratra days and summer holiday to avoid the rush.
- If you want to travel from Dehradun you have one more option Dehradun => Katra Volvo and vice versa.
- From Delhi, Chandigarh its easier as there are many direct bus and trains to Katra and vice versa.
Please feel free to ask any question or tips if somebody is planning to go for yatra. Jai Mata Di…..!!!