Visit Vaishno Devi Temple on Trikuta Hills Near Katra: Places To See and Things To Do In Vaishno Devi (2022)
Vaishno Devi is a town in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that is famous for the temple known by the name Vaishno Devi Mandir. It is also popularly known by people as Mata Rani, Vaishnavi, and Trikuta. As per the legend, Vaishno Devi is believed to be the manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Durga. The temple town is located on Trikuta hills which is 13 km from Katra in Jammu and Kashmir. This culturally rich and famous Vaishno Devi temple is visited by millions of devotees every year. You will see Indians as well as foreigners vising the place despite the fact it is a temple. The temple also has a beautiful backdrop of the majestic mountains which makes it even more alluring both for spiritual people and for adventure seekers. It is customary to have a daily pooja and aarti at the temple and the maximum rush is seen at the time of aarti at the temple. It is believed that during the pooja and aarti, other Goddesses arrive at the Holy cave to pay their respect to Mata Rani. The devotees believe goddess Durga herself calls the devotees to reach here and no one can arrive here of the own will. The temple is in a cave and you need to walk a few miles to reach the premises. Although there are many other ways to reach the temple premises. The darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi in the holy cave is in the form of three naturally formed rocks which are known as pindies. These pindies manifest the three forms of the goddesses as Maha Kali, Maha Saraswati, and Maha Lakshmi. Image Source
The temple of Vaishno Devi is a well commercialized religious trekking route. It is managed by the Holy shrine board that was formed in 1986. To reach the main temple premises or the holy cave, pilgrims walk about 13km uphill which is among one of the 108 Shakti Peeths. It takes about 6-9 hours to reach the cave although it depends on the weather and pace of the person. There are ponies and palanquins available for people who do not wish to walk and there is a helicopter service available by various vendors to take people up to the main temple. There are many shops on the way from Katra which is the starting point of the trek. You will find many vendors selling snacks, food, and religious goods.
Places To See and Things To Do In Vaishno Devi
- Vaishno Devi Mandir: The main temple is called Vaishno Devi Temple and is located in Trikuta Hills which is 13 km from Katra. It is a Hindu temple that is dedicated to Goddess Vaishno Devi. It is also popularly known as Trikuta, Mata Rani, and Vaishnavi by people. Goddess Vaishno Devi is believed to be the manifestation of Goddess Durga. The temple is visited by millions of tourists around the year. The legend says that you cannot visit the place on your own accord, but it is the goddess who calls you to visit the temple. It is only then you get the motivation to seek blessings of the goddess at the Holy cave. It is also a popular belief that the goddess fulfills all your wishes that you ask for at the temple complex. To reach the main temple complex, pilgrims walk about 13km uphill to reach the beautiful and endearing holy caves that are among one of the 108 Shakti Peetha. It takes about 6-9 hours depending on the weather, your pace, and your physical fitness levels.
- Ardhkuwari: Ardhkuwari is located halfway from the main temple complex i.e: Mata Vaishno Devi temple. The legend says that the goddess meditated in the Ardhkuwari cave for 9 months before she beheaded the demon Bhairavnath. It is believed that when Bhairavnath was beheaded his head flew to the valley but his body stayed here in this cave. It is a 52ft long cave that is also known by the name Garbajoon Cave. This name is derived from the fact that the shape of the cave resembles a mother’s womb. People with some level of fitness and mobility can go into the cave as you need to crawl on your knees to reach the other side of the cave. Once you reach the other side of the cave, you can see a large shrine that is built dedicated to the three Goddesses namely Maha Kali, Maha Laxmi, and Maha Saraswati. The darshan route to this shrine is semicircular so that you exit from a different opening at a small distance from the entry route else it gets very congested inside the cave and creates chaos.
- Bhairavnath Temple Vaishno Devi: This temple is dedicated to Bhairavnath, the demon that was beheaded by goddess Durga. The legend says that a visit to Vaishno Devi is incomplete without visiting the Bhairavnath temple. It is also a cave temple like the others stated above. According to popular belief, this temple is dedicated to the demon also known as Baba Bhairavnath because he repented his sins while he was taking his last breath. This made the goddess happy and she forgives him. She declared that no visit to Vaishno Devi will be complete without visiting Bhairavnath Temple. The temple is constructed at the site where Baba Bhairavnath took his last breath. It is quite tiresome to reach this temple as it required a steep 3km climb before one reaches the Bhairavnath cave or temple. However, there are other ways to reach the temple complex. Ponies are available for the return journey in case you cannot climb the steep stairs. There is also a ropeway from Vaishno Devi Temple to Bhairavnath Temple that is available at a minimal cost. The temple provides picturesque views of the majestic mountains and is a must-visit for everyone.
- Katra: Katra is a small town in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also called the base of the holy Vaishno Devi temple as the walking journey to the temple starts from Katra. It is located in the foothills of the Trikuta mountains and is also known as Katra Vaishno Devi since the major attraction of this town is the holy temple. You can get your ride like ponies etc. to the temple complex from Katra. You will find everything necessary for your stay and decent accommodations for people visiting the temple at Katra. Besides being a base to the temple, there are many beautiful tourist attractions around the town. You can visit Banganga, the Chenab river, and the surrounding beautiful hills are the perfect places for mountain climbing and family outings. Take some time out to have some fun around the town while being on a spiritual getaway.
- Dera Baba Banda Sahib: Dera Baba Banda Sahib is a popular gurudwara and a Sikh pilgrimage. The Gurudwara is said to be 300 years old and is visited by millions of people every year. The Gurudwara is dedicated to Baba Banda Bahadur who was the commanding soldier of Guru Gobind Singh’s army. The Gurudwara also houses his arrow and a huge sword used by him during wars. It is also renowned for housing the ashes of Baba Banda Bahadur. There is a huge and famous Vaisakhi Mela held here every year which attracts many tourists or seekers to the place. The architecture of the Gurudwara is stunning with the interior walls glinting in the textures of golden shade and a place worth visiting for all.
- Shopping in Vaishno Devi: Despite being a spiritual and cultural hub and housing the famous temple complex, Vaishno Devi is a shopping hub as well. It is an unlikely shopping destination where most of the shoppers are pilgrims who want to take a token from the holy place back to their homes for their friends and relatives. Many shops sell prasad that you take to the main temple complex to offer her and seek blessings. This prasad is then distributed to friends and family. Many shops sell clothes including beautiful sarees and the famous Pashmina shawls. People like to buy collectibles from this market since it adds a special spiritual value to their things. Gold and silver coins embossed with the images of the goddess are also sold here. Other goods that find a place here include bangles, embroidered fabrics, and suits which are quite popular among women. The Katra Main Bazaar is the main shopping complex or area in the place. You can find everything you need in this market. You can buy good quality native fruits and dry fruits from the market such as walnuts, almonds, berries, and dried apples. There is another market popularly known as the Bhawan market in Katra. This market offers traditional goods that are offered to goddess in the temple. The Sanjhi Chhat market of Vaishno has a wide collection of traditional fabrics, shawls, and Kashmiri motifs. You have the option to shop your heart out from these markets.
Places to Stay in Vaishno Devi
There are many comfortable and luxurious resorts in Vaishno Devi for you to enjoy the beauty of the hills in the area and to have a comfortable stay while planning to visit the holy temple. These luxurious resorts offer a panoramic view of the valley and have all the necessary services available for you to treat your senses. You can also find many homestays these days in Katra which are quite famous among families as well as young people and adventure seekers as you can have the entire area to yourself and enjoy there as per your comfort. And if you are staying with a landlord at your homestay, you get to enjoy the local and homecooked Kashmiri food in addition to getting to know the local folk stories around the temple. There are many decent hotels available at decent prices near the railway station for you to travel minimally in the town. Some of the famous resorts around the area are Rama Trident, Katra, Country Resort by AHRPL, Hotel Asia, KC Residency, Vaishno Devi Heights, Katra Heights among the few. You can choose to book your place depending on your needs and budget.
Things to Eat in Vaishno Devi
Katra and the entire temple town have their unique tradition. Be it cultural, spiritual, or culinary experiences, this place promised to fulfill all your senses and gives a sense of fulfillment when you visit the place. The distinct cultural traditions have their effect on the food in the area as well. The food is also influenced by the regional Kashmiri food. So, you will find a blend of cultures and traditions in your culinary experience here in the town. Many restaurants serve food without any onion and garlic as some people avoid them in their food. The local specialties and best options to eat in the area include Kaladi Kulcha which is famous street food and a specialty in the area. Other things to try are chocolate burfi, Sund Panjeeri, Patisa, Local Rajma Chawal among the many food options.
Best Time to Visit Vaishno Devi
Vaishno Devi is open for tourists around the year. You can visit Vaishno Devi at any time of the year but the best time to visit this religious abode is between March and October when the temperature is a peasant and a good time to enjoy the surrounding flora and fauna while you are trekking to the holy cave. March to October are the summer months and the temperature does not drop below subzero degrees. It is a nice time for the tourists to get around and to enjoy nature as well us get blessings from goddess Durga. October and November are also good months to visit Vaishno Devi. The original Holy Cave of Vaishno Devi is open during the winters and it is a divine experience of you are visiting during this time. However, from November to February, Vaishno Devi witnesses sub-zero temperature. You need to make sure you are physically fit and a snow enthusiast if you wish to take up to the main temple. In general, the winter season is not recommended for a visit. The weather is pleasant in summers and is considered the ideal time to spend in the lap of the Himalayas.
Many roads to Vaishno Devi are also blocked during the winters and that can create inconvenience for you. At the end of February or at the beginning of March the snow starts melting and is a great time to visit the temple town of Vaishno Devi.
How to Reach Vaishno Devi?
Vaishno Devi is well connected to the nearby major cities. There are several means of transport available to travel to Vaishno Devi. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in the lap of nature to seek blessing from the Goddess and to enrich your adventure enthusiasm.
Air Travel to Vaishno Devi: The nearest domestic airport to Vaishno Devi is Jammu Airport or Sarwari Airport which serves Katra which is the starting point for the trek to Temple. The airport is around 34 km from Vaishno Devi. The local airlines like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and other cities to Chandigarh Airport. You can hire a taxi from any of these airports to go to Chamba or you can go to and take a bus that operates quite frequently on these routes from the major cities and their bus stations. Buses are also available for this route. In Katra, you can also opt for helicopter services that are available to take you to the main Bhawan till Sanjhhi Chat, which is around 5 km from the holy cave.
Rail Travel to Vaishno Devi: The Nearest railway station is in Katra. You can take a train from all major cities to Katra now. All the major trains have a stop at Katra that used to stop at Jammu Tavi earlier. Delhi to Pathankot and then take a bus to reach Pathankot. You can also take a taxi from Katra Railhead to reach your hotel or accommodation. There are many decent and fair priced hotels around the railway station that you can choose to stay in. There are also many luxurious properties in the area that make your stay even more comfortable.
Road Travel to Vaishno Devi: There is a frequent bus service from the major nearby cities in the north that take you to Katra directly. You can a bus from the bus stations in major cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jammu Tavi, etc. Many buses run at a subsidized price from some cities like Delhi to Katra. You can check for availability at the local bus stops to get a ticket for the bus. Alternatively, you can hire a taxi to travel to Vaishno Devi from the major cities which will be a little expensive but worth the money as you will be able to have the journey at your own pace and comfort. You can choose to stop whenever you want to on your way.
Local Transport in Vaishno Devi: Local transport and commuting within the city is not a problem as it is a major tourist and religious destination. Cabs, Autos, Tuktuks are readily available. To reach the Bhawan, you can either choose to trek a 13 km distance from Katra. Other options such as palanquins, ponies, and helicopter rides are also available for you to go to the main temple complex.