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akhila Katra - A travel report by akhila
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Katra,  India - flag India
5428 readers

akhila's travel reports

The memorable Yatra[journey] of Vaishno Devi

  25 votes
The shrine of Mata(mother) Vaishno Devi is situated in Katra (61 kms from Jammu)at a height of 5, 300 ft. on the Trikuta Bhagavati hill which is part of the lower himalayas.The actual shrine is situated 13km from the foot hills and can be reached by trek.


Indian Spiritual tradition has propounded four objectives of a human life. These are - Dharm (Righteousness), Arth (Material Pursuits), Kaam (Contentment) and Moksh (Enlightenment). Mata Vaishno Devi is believed to grant all the four boons to those who visit Her Holy Shrine. She is considered to fulfill anything and everything that a person wishes for in life, in a righteous way. It is an experience of all, that no one goes empty handed from Her Great Pilgrimage. The journey to the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is an enchanting journey of the places where Mata Vaishnavi had spent some time while observing various spiritual disciplines and penances. The culmination of this journey is at the Holy Cave where She merged Her Human form with the astral form of Her creators, the three Supreme Energies. This is the only shrine in India where the 3 forms of power (godesses Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati) are worshipped in the same sanctum. Unlike the numerous other elaborate temples in India - the actual dieties we are looking at here are just 3 pindis*** on a rock inside the cave. This place is extremely interesting because of the religious significance, the extra ordinary trek and proximity to the LOC** It is said that a person can visit this shrine ONLY if he/she has been invited by The Mother(the godess that dwells in the cave)
Our journey began at Kanpur:We had plans of making it to Haridwar/Rishikesh from Kanpur and ended up missing our train(that was unsually on-time that day) - thanks to some political leaders that were visiting Kanpur on that eventful day. We decided to take a bus to Delhi at midnight and reach Haridwar from there. We reached Delhi early morning, and guess what... we figured that the next bus departing from the depot was to Jammu - so we hopped on to the bus. I guess we DID have the invitation from Mataji. At the end of a long bus journey, numerous inspections by security in Kashmir, we reached Katra from Jammu early next morning.

Favourite spots:
Banganga - the place where the journey to the cave begins is also a security checkpost. Only pilgrims that have a valid slip for the Yatra are permitted through this.
Charan Paduka - situated 2.5 kms from Banganga is a small temple, builts around a rock that has the impression of the feet of the Mata. There is a first aid center located here.
Ardhkumari - situated half way at 6.5 kms from the start of the journey at 4200 feet above sea level is a temple built, right next to one of the most extraordinary cave. The cave, known as Garbh Joon (Womb) is shaped as a womb and is significant because the Mata had spent 9 months in this cave, hiding from a demon. Passing through this cave is significant of rebirth and a redemption of all sins. This cave is very narrow and only around 1.5 feet wide in several places, surprisingly, people of all sizes, still make it through the cave. The journey through the cave is litreally a crawl.

What's really great:
The place is very well mantained. There are 2 paths for the ascent. One is a set of steps and the other is a path. Steps are much faster but because the terrain is very steep, it gets pretty tiring after a while.The entire path is well lit throughout the night for Yatris. Vegetarian food is available at several places throughout the journey.
The enthusiasm and the constant chanting and singing of devotional songs through out the journey make the entire trip a pleasant and non tiring experience.
Another memorable experience for us was that me and my sister got seperated from the rest of the group. It rained ice all night In the peak of summer (in May) and temperatures were around 2-3 C that night. My sister and me spent the entire night sharing the space at the door step in the Dharamsala at Ardhkumari. The place was fully booked because of the rains. We deposited the only 150Rs we luckily had, to get a blanket that we shared to fight the unanticipated chill that night.

Sights:
Sanjhi Chath - situated at 2.5 kms from Ardhkumari, at an altitude of 5800 feet above sea level, is a little plateau which gives a panoramic view of the Pir Panjal Range and the Chenab river that flows into Pakistan. This also offers a great view of the town of Katra and the place where the Yatra begins.
Bhawan - 2.5 kms from Sanji Chat, is the holy shrine, the pindis are inside a cave. The journey from Sanjhi Chat to Bhawan is actually not a climb, we had to walk over a flat stretch for around 2 kms before we begin descending for the Darshan into the Bhawan. At the Bhawan, the total length of the holy Cave is about ninety eight feet. Here you can see symbols of a large number of Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.Water(Charan Ganga) gushes out of the base of the holy Pindies and flows out of the holy Cave. Charan Ganga is collected in small containers by the devotees and is taken home.

Accommodations:
At Jammu: Yatri Niwas, Vaishnavi Dham located near the Railway Station. Dormitory accommodation is available. Double bedded A.C. rooms and A.C.suite accommodation is also available.
At Katra :Niharika/Vishram Ghar complex of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Following types of accommodation are available. Double Bedded (Non-carpeted) Double Bedded (carpeted) Four Bedded (Non-carpeted) Four Bedded (carpeted). Dormitory 8 bedded and 10 Bedded are also available.
At Bhavan/Ardhkumari:Rented Rooms/Dormitories and free dormitory accommodation is available at Bhawan and various locations en route.

Nightlife:
I do not know if there are any clubs in Katra. It is a pilgrim center. .

Hangouts:
NA

Restaurants:
Vegetarian food is available throughout the path at nominal rates.

Other recommendations:
The best time to visit is between March and July when temperatures are moderate. Carry light wooled clothing even during summer months.It is best to complete all Yatra during day time. Even though the path is fully lit, there are times at night when the lights go off and it is not quite as fun with the trek. There are other places that one might want to visit while in Katra:Bhairav Nath: A temple located at around 2.5 kms from the Bhawan, at an altitude of 6700 feet. The Yatra is considered complete only after a visit to this temple.There is an ISKCON temple in Katra. The deities are said to be self-manifested.
The best part of my journey was the descent - a sense of achievement after completing the spiritual journey and a fresh perspective to begin the Yatra of the rest of my life filled my mind and heart whilst I saw the thousands of new enthusiastic devotees climb up the path.
JAI MATA DI (Praise the Mother

Published on Friday September 30th, 2005


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Sat, Jan 13 2007 - 11:48 PM rating by mrscanada

Thank you for explaing your spiritual traditions.

Fri, Dec 30 2005 - 12:47 PM rating by horourke

I love the sense of pilgrimage and the very different nature of this journey from any purely tourist attraction.

Fri, Oct 14 2005 - 11:22 AM rating by adisidh

Dear Akhila
Nice report, picture are missing.

Tue, Oct 04 2005 - 08:45 AM rating by bhairavee

Heloo Akhila,
Its a very nice report,why dont you think of adding some pictures of Jammu ,Katra etc.
BR

Sun, Oct 02 2005 - 06:17 AM rating by kandath

Akhila,
Your report is a gold mine of information and facts of an amazing place. Even if it lacks pictures it surely makes up in text. Well done. As far as I am concerned it deserves *****. Take care,
Cheers,
Kris Kandath

Sat, Oct 01 2005 - 10:05 PM rating by gloriajames

Hiya Akhila
Nice report but only drawback, it lacks the pics to entice us.
Perhaps u could edit it some time soon.
Regards
Gloria

Sat, Oct 01 2005 - 11:51 AM rating by isaacmolina

Original report

Fri, Sep 30 2005 - 09:01 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Here are my results:
originality *****
style (of writing) ****
grammar: OK, because you are Indian
length ***
use of headings: OK because it does not matter much. The headings have to be adapted to the report and not the report to the headings.
useful tips ****
pictures: 0
Average: ****
----------------------------------------------------------------------
AVERAGE: (63% 3, 14) *** GOOD!

Fri, Sep 30 2005 - 08:53 PM rating by eirekay

Akhila, I so enjoy your description of the Spiritual Journey. Mataji must have called you!
Eire

Fri, Sep 30 2005 - 06:54 PM rating by rangutan

Below is my rating and notes, not all members rate like this, just personal views:
originality **** (unusally hard trip needing a lot of enthusiasm)
style (of writing) **** (good)
grammar **** (few errors)
length ** (bit short, but OK for a very specific small place)
use of headings *** (good)
usefull tips **** (many)
pictures * (non, wish atleast one?)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
AVERAGE: (63% 3,14) *** GOOD!
----------------------------------------------------------------------
An amazing place and customs. I like the adventure getting there too.

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