Katra Tourism & City Guide
Katra never sleeps” - A popular Saying
The temple town of Katra aka Katra Vaishno Devi is situated on the foothills of the Trikuta Hills, the holy abode of Mata Vaishno Devi. Part of the state of J& K, it serves as the base camp for those visiting the holy cave shrine. One has to be in Katra to understand the spirit of this place to see thousands of devotees from all across and outside thronging this place day and night. Devotees cutting across religious identities have just only one thing running on their mind and that is to have a glimpse of their beloved holy mother. Vaishno Devi, it is believed never lets her children go empty handed from her Durbar.
Mind you Katra has its own charm. It is not just a mere transit point for pilgrims going to or returning from Vaisno Devi. It is a bustling city on the main Jammu Srinagar National Highway.
You can Reach Katra by taking Buses (both state run and private), hired private vehicles or on your own. Accommodation is generally not a problem provided you are not coming on the peak seasons such as during Navratras. For food you don’t need to worry there are plenty of restaurants, small eateries serving100 % vegetarian food.
To help you on this sacred pilgrimage to Mata’s Darbar is the Katra City Guide. The Katra Travel Guide is designed exclusively with exhaustive sections on accommodation, attractions, excursions, shopping to make your journey a truly memorable experience.
How to Reach Katra (Vaishno Devi)
Katra which is about 50 kilometers from Jammu is well connected to important destinations via Jammu. Jammu is well connected to cities across India through air, rail and road.
For convenience of the devotees these three modes of transport is explained in detail here.
How to Reach Katra by Airways: The nearest Airport to Katra is at Jammu which is 55 kilometers away. Almost all the major airways operate its flight to Jammu.
How to Reach Katra by Road: Katra is well connected to Jammu by National Highway which is in turn connected to the rest of India.
How to Reach Katra by Railways: The nearest Railway station to Katra is at Jammu 50 kilometers away. Trains from all across India are connected to Jammu.
Katra Quick Guide
Once you reach Katra the most difficult yet the most fulfilling journey of your life starts beckoning. For just 13.5 kilometres remain between you and the shrine cave of Maa Vaishno Devi. The holy cave is situated in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta Mountains that forms part of the lower Himalayas.
There is an interesting and popular belief among the “bhaktas” that without the call of the goddess it is impossible to make a visit to the holy shrine. It has happened many times that people have returned disappointed from the foothill without “Darshan” due to several reasons. But whoever has received the call will make it irrespective of his/her physical conditions and the extreme conditions. Such is the Mother’s “lila”. The steep and innumerable stairs, difficult ascents, nothing seems to deter the determined child on mission to pay obeisance to his her beloved e mother.
The holy cave is situated at a height of about 5200 feet above see level in the Shivalik range and houses the Sanctum Sanctorum of the mother.
Facilities of every type are available for Yatris at Bhawan. These include medical, free toilets, drinking water, enquiry and announcement, STD and PCOs, bank branches, police station and a post office too. There is a small market complex where you can locate Fair price Bhaint shops and Souvenir shops.
Approaching Vaishno Devi
How to reach: The journey to the Vaishno devi is an eclectic mix of adventure, positive determination, arduousness, faith and patience. You can trek, ride, fly and take a drive depending upon your stamina and budget. Your journey on the quest to seek the blessing of Ma Vaishno Devi really starts from a point called Darshani Deodhi or Darshani Darwaza just 1 kilometre from Katra Bus stand. Read More about How To Reach Katra...
Inside the Sanctum sanctorum: As you reach Bhawan, you have to cross first a patio like structure. On your right is the way to the original cave. Read More
Accommodation: In the Bhawan complex accommodation is provided by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Read More
Legend of Vaishno Devi: There are many stories associated with the legend of Mata Vaishno Devi some of which can be traced to the two most holy text of Hindus the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Read More about vaishno devi legend...
On way Attractions: There are some beautiful places that falls on the way while journeying to the Holy mother’s cave. These places are no less significant than the holy shrine. Read More
The Yatra slip: This is the most important part of the pilgrimage. No body is allowed to have a darshan without this compulsory slip issued by the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Read More...
Group Number: After you have reached the Bhawan you need to revalidate the Yatra Parchi stamped at the Check post to get the Group number. This is a very important task. Read More
Useful Facts: For a successful darshan of Mata it is essential that pilgrims follow certain guidelines to save them from any problem on way or later on. Read More...
Useful Address: This section lists out important addresses and phone numbers which you can use. Read More...
Katra Attractions & Tourist Places
- Jammu-Vaishno Deviji
- Patnitop-Gouri Kund
- Sud Mahadev
- Mantali extending upto Latti-Dhuna
There are a large number of places around Katra where you can visit besides doing the darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi. Sometimes due to tremendous rush, there is a restriction to the number of devotees going to the top to the Bhawan. In such situations instead of wasting time the best way is to move out from Katra and visit the nearby places. These places near Katra are an ideal blend of religion and adventure. You can find temples, hill resorts, picnic spots to suit your test and temperament.
There are enough places of interest for newly married couples to go for honeymoon. After taking blessings of Mata Rani nothing is like moving to picturesque hilly spots nearby and spend a few days in quietude. Here are a few of those places.
|Jammu||Hill Resorts||Aghar Jitto||Dera Baba Banda|
|Kol Kandholi||Baba Dhansar||Sudh Mahadev Temple||Gauri Kund|
|Mantalai||Jhajjar Kotl||Wildlife Sanctuary||Srinagar|
Other than being the main reaching point for Katra, Jammu is a major tourist attraction. It offers a good mix of history, mythology and scenic beauty. Read More...
Hill Resorts Around Katra
There are quite a few hill resorts around Katra which you can visit before or after Darshan. Read More...
Distance from Katra: 6 KMs
Location: At Reasi on the Katra- Reasi road
Aghar Jitto is named after Baba Jitto the legendary farmer who laid his life to fight oppression by landlords. He was a great devotee of Ma Vaishno and a temple is built here dedicated to him. A three day Aghar Jitto festival is the prime attraction of this place. There’s also spring water that flows in front of the shrine. It is believed that water of this spring is holy. If a pre-natal woman takes a dip here then no harm can be done to the baby. A path from here goes to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine cave.
Dera Baba Banda
Dera Baba Banda is not only a major pilgrimage centre for Sikhs but attracts people from other faiths also. It is around 30 kms from Katra. Read More...
Kol Kandholi should fall on the itinerary of every devotee seeking a darshan of the Mata Vaishno Devi. It is the first darshan of the entire Yatra and is located 14 km from Jammu. Read More...
Baba Dhansar is known for a naturally formed Shivling. The temple is located on the way to Salal Dam and is 15 km from Katra. Read More...
Shiv Khori or “Home of Gods” is famous for the cave shrine of Lord Shiva. It is situated in the Reasi district of the J&K. The road from Jammu to Shiv Khori passes through some very scenic places. It is around 70 km from Jammu. Read More
Sudh Mahadev Temple
The Sudh Mahadev Temple is said to be 2800 years old and with a strong mythological connection. The temple houses a natural black marble lingam and is 120 km from Jammu. Read More...
Gauri Kund is at a very short distance from Sudh Mahadev. It is basically a spring. Legend has it that Goddess Parvati used to bath here daily before paying obeisance to Sudmahadev. This spring gets its name from Parvati.
Mantalai is a place that is few kilometers further from Sudh Mahadev, Mantalai is a picturesque place. It is surrounded by a dense cover of green deodar forests. Legend says it that the marriage of Lord Shiva with the Goddess Parvati took place here.
Distance from Jammu: 35 kms
Location: On the Jammu –Srinagar national highway.
Jajjar Kotli is basically a picnic spot that attracts visitors during summer. There’s a tourist complex, on the banks of Jujjar rivulet. Good facilities are provided here by JKTDC.
Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary
Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary is located just 28 kms from Jammu and is virtually a paradise for lovers of nature and wildlife. Read More...
Srinagar and the areas around provide ample opportunities to the tourists to enjoy unbridled view of the snow clad Himalayan peaks and indulge in some adventurous activities too. Read More...
Katra - Kiomoi Must Dos
We at Kiomoi after thorough research have zeroed on 10 activities that is a must if you happen to travel to Katra and then go up to the Trikuta Hills to have the Mother`s Darshan. These are as follows:
Bath at Banganga
Visit nearby places
Buy Dry fruits
Have Langar food
Trek: A trek to Mata’s Darbar is considered to be one of the most cherished activities. The trek may seem arduous in the beginning, but seeing the exuberance of fellow travelers would surely lift your morals. The devotees with Lal Mata Ki Chuuni wrapped around their heads and chanting “Jai Mata Di” really makes the journey an electrifying experience.
Helicopter Rides: Here at Vaishno Devi you can fulfill your desire to soar in the skies without spending a fortune. The Helicopter rides starts from Katra and takes you upto Sanjhi Chat. From the helicopter you can get a panaromaiuc view of the hills. In our opinion you can take the downward journey by a helicopter.
Savour mouthwatering delicacies: At Katra they do not use onion or garlic and restaurants serve 100 % Sattvik food. Yet the test is excellent. Whether it is crispy Chole Bhatures or Rajma Chaval the taste of the food is going to linger in your mind for a long time. Another excellent item on the menu is the tangy Aonla Ka achar( Indian gooseberry pickle).
Take Bath at Banganga: This is a must, the water of The Banganga is very cold yet taking a bath there on way to the Mata`s cave is an invigorating experience. There are separate sections for ladies and gents.
Navaratra: If you do not mind the crowd and have already booked your train and accommodation then we suggest a visit to Katra during Navaratras especially the Shard Navaratra. The whole Katra gets decked up with flowers and gets erected at many places. There are many cultural festivals organized in a sense the whole city gets immersed in celebrations for the 9 days.
Visit Nearby Places: Many people just do the Darsshan and then come back to Katra and proceed to the home. Katra and Jammu have some amazing places around with Jammu itself being a major tourist attraction. Hills, temples, palaces, adventure sports you are guaranteed to have a nice time provided you are ready to explore with an open mind.
Buy Dry Fruits: At Katra you can buy a whole range of Dry fruits Walnuts and Almonds are a specioality there. If you can bargain a bit be ready for some very good buys. You can even buy your stock for the whole year.
Drink Keva: This is a tea which perhaps you have never taken before. This is a special Kashmiri Tea. Drinking it would make you refreshed and forget all the travails of an arduous journey. You can buy the leaves of this special tea from Jammu.
Have Langar Food: Remember T series songs sung by Gulshan Kumar showing devotees lined up at Langars and eating food. This is one place where there is no discrimination between the rich and the poor, the have`s and the have not’s. Enjoy the piping hot food served by more than eager volunteers at different Langars on the way.
Enjoy Train Journey: The Train journey between Jammu and Udhampur is very scenic with hills and a series of tunnels in between. There are some 158 bridges and 10 tunnels. So buy a ticket and set out on journey to see how the trains pass on some risky terrain.
Katra Driving Directions
Driving Down to Katra is a great option. If you intend to hire a car there is a plethora of options. If you are in Delhi or Delhi NCR you can get private taxis like Indica, Qualis or even luxurious Mercedes Benz that regularly plies between Delhi and Katra or Jammu. They could charge anything between 10,000 to 15,000 Rupees depending upon your choice of luxury and AC or non AC cars. If you intend to hire one get in touch with 0120-4666405, 0120-4666444 and 9958891364.
Driving Direction from Jammu to Katra (54 Kms)
Driving Direction from Delhi to Katra (594 Kms)
Driving Direction from Amritsar to Katra (225 Kms)
Driving Direction from Chandigarh to Katra (388 Kms)
Katra in the Jammu region, is a famous center of pilgrimage for the pilgrims who are the passionate followers of the goddess Vaishnavi. Situated at an higher altitude, this place is visited by thousands of pilgrims on the occasion of Navratras. It is believed that the pilgrim who comes with the full faith to this pilgrimage is said to get his/her wishes fulfilled. This centuries old pilgrimage is flocked by thousands of devotees every year. The Jammu and Kashmir airport is the nearest airport which connects Vaishno Devi. The Jammu Tawi railway station provides a direct link with the major metropolitan cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkota. The grand trunk road, national highways and state highways connects Katra with the different cities of India. The most convenient mode of transport for reaching Katra is either by train, bus or aeroplane.
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Katra Eat n Dine
Katra Eat n Dine offers numerous possibilities to food lovers. As Katra is very near to Vaishno Devi so to respect peoples’ sentiments all the Food Joints, Restaurants serve vegetarian food. At Niharika complex near Bus stand you can get Shrine Board operated Bhojanalay. The food is good and hygienic and surroundings neat. There are a number of other good private restaurants, Punjabi dhabas serving proper food. If you are at Katra you must taste the authentic Rajma Chaval. The spicy Rajma curry and the rich aroma of basmati rice would surely linger on for a long time. Other favorites include Parantha, Chhole masala , Shahi Paneer et al.
Coming to beverages, you must drink Kashmiri Kahwa. It is a spicy tea that is very popular during wintery nights or rainy days. Kashmiri Kawa has a warming effect that is sure to invigorate you. The taste of this exotic tea gets better with honey and dash of lemon. This is best thing to drink while you reach the plains from an arduous trek downhill after Darshan.
According to recent reports released by the government, around 69 lakhs pilgrims visited the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi in the year 2007. What is important here is that almost 70 to 80 % of them had stayed in Katra.
Katra being the base camp people converge here for their onward journey. Accommodation in Katra offers an amazing range of choices. At the one end of the spectrum is option of getting optimum luxury in five star hotel or resort. At the lowest end are the Sarais/Dharamshalas along with modest shanty rooms on offer by the cab drivers and three wheeler owners.
In the middle segment you can find a large number of a luxury hotels, budget hotels, guest houses, lodges along with JKTDC and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board run Yatri niwas. The comfort level offered depends upon the money you are ready to shell out. A word of caution here, during the festival seasons, weekends or school/college vacations things can get awfully bad with heavy rush and over charging at the facilities.
Types of Accommodation in Katra
Hotels: Katra offers a large number of options while it comes to hotels. It would be no exaggeration to say that not many small towns such as Katra in India have so many Hotels. The hotels are located all across the small township. Those near the bus and taxi stand or slip counter are very much in demand. There are more than 80 hotels in Katra, atleast 15 of which offer 3 star+ accommodations. So from 5 star luxury to economy class the choice is really plenty of Katra
Perhaps the maximum number and the best choice lie in the budget hotel category. With a price tag from few hundred rupees to around 1500 you get fairly decent Accommodation in Katra that does not burn a hole in your pocket as well as provides decent accommodation to the pilgrims. These hotels are all located at strategic points at main bazaar or near the bus stand so that there is no need for much spending on transportation.
You can also get hotels near Banganga which is the starting point of the ascent to the Vaishno Devi shrine. For those who love nature, selecting hotels with rooms giving a majestic view of the Trikuta Hills is a good option.
Kiomoi Tip: One crucial piece of advice, during peak seasons it is judicious to book the hotel rooms well in advance.
Yatri Niwas: Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board that controls the management of the Vaishno Devi temple complex provides economical accommodation. Their facilities are located near the Jammu Railway Station at Vaishnavi Dham and Saraswati Dham. At Katra they have facilities located at Niharika Yatri Niwas and Shakti Bhawan close to the main Bus stand.
Accommodation is also available at Adkuwari( Sharda Bhawan), Sajichatt(Mangla Bhawan) and at main Bhawan. Besides private rooms, dormitories are also available. For more detailed information regarding Tarrifs and availability of accommodation you can log on to the website of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
JKTDC: Accomodation in various categories is also offered by the JKTDC (Jammu & Kasmir Tourism Development Corporation. It provides Tourist Bungalow, Tourist Retiring Centre and Yatri Niwas at modest prices. You can get in touch with the website of JK tourism for further information and online reservation. Otherwise you can also do the reservation from Jammu at JKTDC Counter located at the Railway Station itself, or for that matter from any Tourist Office of J&K government.
Guest houses and lodges: There are plenty of guest houses and lodges available across Katra. Now many local residents have converted their small houses into guest rooms where they offer pilgrims night stays for money. They provide modest accommodation at prices that you can easily afford. Please be careful about the rates and the claims made by the owners Town.
Sarais & Dharamshalas: Sarais, under the aegis of Shrine Board offer free accomodation to the pilgrims at the following places. Niharika complex, near the Yatra Parchi counter II (YRC-II). Dharamshalas run by various charitable societies also offer reasonable accommodation to the pilgrims in Katra. A word of caution here, beware of the unsolicited guides who tend to fleece the gullible pilgrims by promising free Dharamshala accommodation.
Katra - Best Time To Visit
The journey to reach Mata Vaishno Devi’s Darbar is open through out the year. In the first four month of 2008 around 18 lakh pilgrims visited this place to fulfill their Manokamna (wish). All the year round you can expect huge surge of devotees thronging at Katra as this is the base camp for reaching Mata’s Bhawan.
Peak Time To Visit Katra
Comfortable Darshan is not possible during peak hours. Typical waiting hours during such periods typically varies from 12 to 20. On any day 20 to 22000 thousand pilgrims are allowed to take Darshan. As the crowds peak, pilgrims are not allowed to proceed to Bhawan and made to wait at Katra only.
If you are not comfortable with huge crowds then avoid venturing for the Darshan in the following months:
- May, June and July during vacations
- Navratras both Chaitra ( Mar-Apr) & Sharad ( Sep- Oct)
- Year End/ New year ( last week of Dec- to first week of Jan)
Best Time to Visit Vaishno Devi
The Best time to visit Vaishno Devi is monsoons (Jul- Aug) and winter (2nd week of Jan- Feb). At monsoons you can enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature. Lush green foliage, splendid waterfalls, flowers in full bloom- all giving you the much needed peace and tranquility.
During winters if you don’t mind the cold then the Darshan can add a mystical dimension to your Yatra. This is because the original cave is open during winters only.
A good way to plan your trip is to log on to the website of Shree Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (maavaishnodevi.org) and check out the inflow of visitors. If on a given day the inflow is less than say 15000 then your Yatra is expected to be smooth.
Navratra at Katra
It would not be any exaggeration if we say that Katra is the Navaratra Capital of India. It is a tradition that is continuing at Katra for the last 100 years. It is the Sharad Navaratra celebrated during the month of September- October that draws the maximum number of pilgrims to this place. The government of J&k has declared the festival as official and uses this occasion to showcase the rich heritage of Dogra art and culture to those outside the state. Tourists or devotees mingle with the local populace to celebrate the occasion with gaiety and fervor.
Katra wears a festive look during the full nine days of Navaratra. Shops and houses are decorated with lights and flowers, arches get erected at different places of the town and the whole town reverberates with the chant of “Jai Mata Di”. Thousands of devotees pour in from across the country to witness the nine-day long Navratra festival along with undertaking a yatra to the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. Local residents can be seen singing and dancing at every crossing.
Cultural programs at Katra
If you are at Katra during Navaratras there is a chance to experience the nuances of Dogri culture in full bloom. You can listen to folk or devotional music, participate in dance, watch flower shows and enjoy poney/pithu race. Recently wrestling competitions are also held to give variety to the festivities. The festival kick starts with a traditional procession consisting of school students and cultural troupes. Words cannot do justice to the festive mood out there you just have to be there to understand the spirit.
The Folk Music, This year the festival kicked off on Friday last, with long procession of school children and contingents of cultural troupes drawn from all parts of the State forming an impressive yatra. The Navratra festivities would continue till Vijaydashmi or Dusshera in Katra.
Every evening during the Navaratra days till Vijaya Dashami you could hear the blowing of ‘Narsingha’ a local musical instrument from every nook and corner of Katra town. This starts the Kud dance of Bhaderwah a kind of Dogri folk dance. As artists clad in their traditional attire take rhythmic steps to melodious music, it becomes very difficult to resist the temptation of taking a step or too. Both devotees from outside as well as locals enjoy the proceedings equally.
A lot of exhibitions are also hosted during this time to acquaint outsiders with local customs and products. You can be part of book exhibitions, display of ancient Dogri art objects, handloom and handicraft products, and photo exhibitions on pilgrim centers in Jammu and Kashmir along with host of other things.
Special Navratra Cuisine
A major attraction of the festival is the special Navratra and Dogri cuisines. You can get authentic Navratra cuisines prepared in Shudh Desi Ghee at various restaurants and special stalls put up across the whole town. Don’t miss out the special Rajma Chaval the aroma of which is sure to make you asking for more.
Accommodation During Navaratra
This is the most important part. If you want to be part of the Navaratra festivities and having darshan of Ma Vaishno Devi without any hiccups you need to book in advance your hotel. As thousands and thousands of devotees would converge on Katra during Navratras there is no chance to get proper accommodation at that time. As you cannot miss this life time experience you need to act fast and book in advance.
Yatra Trek to Vaishno Devi Bhawan
The pilgrims while on a Tour to Katra-Vaishno Devi must remember important points by which they can easily locate the distances, charges and many more issues that remain unanswered. The Yatra Trek to Vaishno Devi Bhawan is described based on the research and analysis task. The pilgrims who remain clueless about the whole tour could easily get an idea that what steps should they take while on a Vaishno Devi Tour. Given below are the main informative points of Vaishno Devi Bhawan Yatra trek:
Katra Stand to Baanganga: The travelers while on a religious tour to Katra can easily hire a auto, taxi or heavy vehicle. Auto Rickshaws are amongst the most feasible options. The travelers can notice good numbers of auto rickshaws at Auto stand in Katra. From here the pilgrims can either take shared autos or if they want to hire an auto individually then they have to pay 100 rupees. The pilgrims who are smart enough in doing negotiations can bargain the hiring charges of Auto Rickshaws. The distance from Katra Chowk to Baanganga is 1.5 kms. It takes 10 minutes to reach Banganga by Auto Rickshaw. From Baanganga, the travelers have to walk till the Shrine gate.
Katra Darshani Gate(Transport): From Katra shrine gate the uphill Trek to Bhawan starts. The pilgrims have to pass through the stringent security check ups. It is important to note that pilgrims are not permitted to carry still camera or video camera while en route to the main shrine. Walking few meters ahead, the pilgrims will come across to the Darshani gate (Announcement booth). Here the pilgrims would find the horse stable which provides pony rides till Ardhkuwari and Bhawan at the price range of Rs 500 to Rs 800. As the matter of fact the travelers can also bargain the price tags of pony. Pithu(Government recognized) are also available for the children. These Pithus(Carry children on their shoulders) are available at the price range of Rs 350 to Rs 600 respectively. For the pilgrims who are physically challenged or older in age. The Paalki(wooden log carrier) can be booked at the price range of RS 3,500 to Rs 5,000 per person pick and drop. The disciples are advised to book them in advance through travel agents or by directly contacting the Palki carriers. The pony riders (horse carriers, khachar) take 4 to 5 hours approximately to reach the shrine. The total distance from the Darshani gate to the Bhawan is 14.5 kms.
Ardh Kuwaari to Bhawan(Transport): The distance from Ardh Kuwaari to Bhawan is 5 kms and from Darshani gate the distance is 11 kms. The travelers if fortunate enough to reach can make a booking of their battery cars charging Rs 100 per head for one way journey. The tickets can be booked from the police check post counter at Ardh Kuwaari. The booking counter at Ardh Kuwaari remains open from 8:00 Am to 6:00 Pm in evening. The battery cars take 15 minutes to cover the distance from Ardh Kuwaari to Bhawan(shrine).
Transport at Bhawan(Transport): The pilgrims covering the distance by taking a walk spree will reach Katra in 6 hours. From Bhawan the travelers can take their slope down trip journey easier by taking pony ride or palki ride which ever is convenient. The main booking counter of battery operated cars is situated at the walk able distance of 400 meters from the last police checks post and Bhawan. The people get in ques from 6:00 AM at the battery car booking counter. The battery car from Bhawan to Ardh Kuwaari carries 8 to 10 people.
Katra Famous Temples & Pilgrimages
Besides Vaishno Devi Shrine, there are many Famous Temples in and around the precincts of the region, holding great significance. The other Famous Temples in Katra that can be visited by the pilgrims are as follows:
Bhumika Temple: The Bumika Mata is temple is located 1 km from Katra. Legend has that this was the place where the goddess appeared in front of her disciple(Shridhar) and asked her to arrange free meal for the villagers. His disciple served food to villagers but when the turn of Bhairav Nath came, divine goddess in her disguise form (girl) scolded him for making unnecessary demands from the poor priest Shridhar. When Bhairav Nath stepped up further in arguments, she suddenly disappeared from that place. From that day this temple is defined as the second milestone at which the pilgrims can behold the view of incarnated idol of Vaishno goddess.
Charan Paduka Temple: The Charan Paduka Temple is a holy sanctum where goddess Vaishno imbibed the impressions of her feet on rock while escaping from Bhairav Nath.Those foot prints have been preserved in the temple. This is the place from where goddess traveled to a cave when Bhairav Nath was chasing her. This sanctum is 1.5 kms from Banganga approximately 3,380 feet.
Bhairav Nath Temple: The Bhairav Nath is located 3 kms on the up hill climb distance of the Trikuta Hill. It is said that the Yatra of pilgrims remain incomplete if he don’t visit the Bhairav Nath temple. This is the only place where the evil ‘Tantrik’ Bhairav Nath was killed by the goddess Vaishnavi. Later when Bhairav Nath was in the state of dying, he urged goddess to forgive him for the sins committed. On his repeated requests, she was finally convinced. Mata Vaishno appreciated his modesty and rewarded by honoring him as the true follower. The goddess blessed him that pilgrims who want to relinquish themselves from all the miseries have to visit her as well Bhairav’s shrine. The Yatra of pilgrims will only be called completed when he/she(pilgrim) will also visit the Bhairav Nath’s Shrine.
Garbh Joon Cave: Garbh Joon Cave is a 15 foot long cave where goddess Vaishno hid her self for nine months and performed penance. The cave is narrow and pilgrims traverse from it by crawling slowly. During the rush hour or peak seasons, the shrine board authorities close this cave and pilgrims have to enter from another cave developed and maintained by the Vaishno Devi Shrine board. Outside the cave is the Charna amrit outlet from where the pilgrims collect holy water.
Banganga Temple: Located 3 kms from Katra, Banganga is the place where Veer Langur(Hanumaan) felt thirsty and in order to quench his thirst, goddess shot an arrow into a stone and the holy river was produced. It is the same river where goddess Vaishno washed her hair. Today Banganga is hallowed by the presence of same gushing river and temple telling everyone about the glorious past of the region. The pilgrims at Banganga take a holy dip and head towards the main Vaishno goddess shrine.
Katra - Useful Facts
Katra at a Glance
Location: Katra is located 32.98° N 74.95° E
Altitude: 2500 feet above sea level
Pin Code: 182301
STD Code: 01991
Distance from Jammu: 50 KMs
Distance from Vaishno Devi shrine: 14 Km (by trek)
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu
Nearest Airport: Jammu
Road Connectivity: Well connected through National Highway no.1
Average temperature: During summer: Max- 40; Min- 20
During Winter: Max: 15; Min:03
Languages Spoken: Hindi, Punjabi and Dogri
Best Time to Visit: Any time
- Temperature: Please check the temperature severities before undertaking or planning a Yatra as it is generally very cold from December to February.
- Clothing: During Summer (April to September) usually cotton clothing would do but it is better to take light woolens for night. Sometimes after raining it becomes cold. For the remaining months (October- march) heavy woolens are a necessity.
- Footwear: If you want to trek your way to the Darshan then please use footwear of good quality. Canvas shoes or PU sole footwear is best. Women should avoid wearing heels.
- Pace of Walking: Maintain a steady pace if you are trekking. While descending from the Darshan, do not try to go down fast. Many people do that and end up having blisters on the foot due to the constant thumping.
- Helicopter Service: Take Helicopter ride if you are traveling with children and elders. There is a drawback in traveling by helicopter if you take also the return flight. You are given a fixed time slot which is around 2 hrs. Within this stipulated time frame you have to finish your darshan and reach Sanjhi Chat in time to catch the return flight. What happens is that it is almost 2 hours by the time you walk your way and stand in queue for Darshan. So there’s no time left to visit Bhairo Nath temple.
- Essential items to Carry: Besides medicines, torches, raincoats and walking sticks are a good idea to carry. You never know when you need them. They can all be bought or hired from a large number of shops at Katra or on the way to Bhawan.
- Travel Light: Please trave light. Backpacks or stroller type light luggage bags are best if you want to walk. All necessary food and travel related items are available en-route as well as at Holy Bhawan. Yatries need not carry items like Prashad, Blankets, foodstuffs etc. So except for personal clothing and important items like medicines etc do not carry any extra baggage.
- Rules regarding Mobile phones and electronic gadgets: Carrying mobile phones or things like digital or video camera along with other electronic items are strictly prohibited beyond the first check post.
- Special Passes for Defence Personnel: Special pass available for defence personnel and there dependents. Armed with this pass you can stand in a special queue for darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi.
- Items not allowed inside the Sanctum Sanctorum: No leather items like purse, hand bags or belts are allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum. You need to deposit them in a locker. Except for money and handkerchief nothing is allowed inside for final darshan.
- No Liquor: Katra is a dry city. To prevent sanctity of the place do not carry any liquor with you. This seems obvious but not adhering to this can be a source of trouble. Even Cigarettes and Gutkha pan masalas are also not allowed.
- Shopping at Katra: It is better to avoid buying anything from Katra except for the Prashad and other small souvenirs. There’s a state handicraft emporium very close to Bus stand. Here you can check out stuffs like shawls and other woollen items.
- Aarti Timings: Aarti takes place twice a day. Devotees are not allowed inside during Aarti. Otherwise darshan is open round the clock. It is done once in the morning at sun rise and in the evening at sun set. The timings of Aarti are 6 am to 8 am in the morning and 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening.
- Prefer Tracks over stairs: To prevent overstraining on the climb it is always advisable to take the paved tracks over the stairs. · Original Holy Cave: Please take note that the Original Holy Cave is open only during winters.
- Security & other considerations: As you are aware that the state of J&K is facing terrorism activities. In addition to that, landslide also takes place sometimes. So be careful and follow the official instructions made through loud speakers. You are supposed to maintain solemnity and dignity of the place and keep off from indulging in any activity that can raise panic or suspicion.
- Medical Facilities: Unlike Kailash Mansarovar yatra you do not need any medical certificate to undertake the Yatra. However those with heart ailments, breathing, low Hemoglobin levels or other similar ailments are suggested to carry on with the Yatra only after due medical checkup and consent of the Doctor. Heart, asthmatic and orthopedic problems can get aggravated after a strenuous climb. In case of any problem some of the places where you can get medical facility are as follows:
|Block hospital 24 hours charitable dispensary||Katra|
|Basic medical facilities(incl oxy cylinder)||Banganga, Adkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan|
|Specialized and advanced treatment||Jammu|
- Railway reservation Counter: A computerized Railway Reservation Counter operates from Niharika complex near the main bus stand at Katra.
- Mobile Connectivity: BSNL works best here.
- Post office/ Speed post courier: Post offices are available at Katra, Adkuwari and also at Bhawan. In Katra you can get a Speed Post courier facility.
- Cloak room: Cloak room service to keep luggage is provided by Shree Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board as well as private hotels/lodges etc. Be careful to check the credentials of private hotels and lodges before leaving your luggage. It is always wise to not leave your cash, jewelry or any other valuable at Cloak rooms. Cloak room facility is available for free at the following places.
|At all Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board operated guest houses/ lodging places||Katra|
|1) Cloak room opposite to the main queue complex (gate No.1). Here you can deposit shoes, belts, combs etc which are not allowed in the Holy cave. |
2) A cloak room is also functional at Sridhar Bhawan.
*Cloak rooms at Main Bhawan functions round the clock.
- Advice for Children and Elderly: If you are traveling with elderly people or children, it would be better then to not come back on the same day. For example if you set out for the darshan in the afternoon and then it is better to rest at Ardhkuari for the day. In case you do not find accommodation take rest for at least 3 hours. For advance booking of accommodation at Adhkunwari you can visit the website of Shree Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
- Intake of water: Water should be taken at regular intervals to avoid dehydration. In order to provide clean drinking water to the devotees there are around 125 water points and 50 water coolers installed on the way.
- Vomiting & Hill sickness: As the route to Katra from Jammu passes through some hilly terrains. It causes a tendency to vomit. So never travel on an empty stomach and carry medicines for vomiting. Oranges and Nimbu pani can come handy.
- Obtaining Group Numbers: Once you reach Bhawan your primary task is to rush to the group counter and obtain the group number. This is very crucial and must precede any other any other task.
Katra - Banks And ATMs
A number of Banks provide ATM facilities at Katra.
|Axis Bank||Yatra Reservation Counter Building, Near Main Bus Stand, Katra|
|J & K Bank Limited||Branch office Katra|
|State Bank of India||Katra|
Katra Tourist Offices
Tel. 0191-2544527, 2548172 Fax 0191-2544842
Tourist Reception Centre, Vir Marg
Tourist Reception Centre, Katra
Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar-1
| || |
512-512A Tolstoy House, Tolstoy Marg , CP ND-1
Tel: 22189040, 22189718, Fax:022-22186172
25, North Wing, World Trade Centre, Cuffee Parade, Colaba
II-floor, 36/36-A, North Usman Road
Airlines House, Lal Darwaza,
5th Floor, Left Wing, Chandra Vihar Complex, M.J.Road
Shrine Board offices
| || || |
Office of the Dy. Manager (Enquiry & Reservations)( 24 hrs)
01991-234053 (D),232025, 232887 (Section), 232125, 232281, 233036 (Exchange)
Shakti Bhawan, Niharika Complex (Near Bus Stand)
Office of the OSD
01991-232769 (D), 232367, 232238, 232029 (Exchange)
Central Office, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board,
Office of the Incharge
Katra Holiday Checklist
Those hills, pilgrimages, rivers, beaches, forts send tempting vibes!!! While you have made up your mind on these holidays, set aside all your temptations and quickly take a fleeting glance at the things-you-do prior to your travel date. Here is the list.
Before Leaving Your House
- Empty your letter box
- Fix up security for your house or ask some one to look after
- Water your plants and ask some one to take care of it
- Ask your newspaper vendor and milkman to stop supply
- Clear out the fridge.
- Switch off the electric appliances
- Empty out kitchen, waste/dust-bin and kitchen area
- Lock doors and windows
- Recharge your mobile or carry coupons
- Carry traveller’s cheque or ATM cards
- Pay all due bills * Turn off gas/water/
- Call up the taxi driver/railway station/hotels and other important numbers to confirm and re-confirm
- Rail Tickets and travel documents should be checked twice
Packing Your Luggage
- Woollen/cotton clothing
- Extra towels
- Extra pair of socks
- Night wears
- Bath robes
- Jumper and track suits
- Battery Charger
- Mobile Charger
- Torch/Emergency Light
- Brochures or holiday book
- Sewing kit
- Important stationary(scissors, tape and glue)
- Film rolls and digital chargers
- Ear Plugs
- Address Book
- Shoulder bags/ Safety pins
- Important Telephone Addresses/Travel Consultant
- Few non perishable eatables
- Books / magazines to read
- Credit/Debit Cards
- Diving License
- Maps/ directions(when in car)
- Photocopies of documents
- Traveller’s Cheque
- Passport/Visas (For travelling abroad)
- ID Cards
- Small First Aid kit
- Sickness Pill
- Mosquito and insect repellent
- Vitamin and medications
- Pain Killers/Balm
- Personal hygiene items
- Anti-infection lotion
Katra Weather Details
Having a fare idea about Katra Weather can go a long way in having a successful Darshan without any major or minor sickness and inconveniences. The following information would prove useful. One thing the devotees must note that though from Katra to Bhawan is a merely a trek of 13 km but Katra`s altitude is nearly 2500 ft above sea level while that of Mata`s sanctum sanctorum is located at near about 5200 ft. above sea level. This difference in altitude levels add up to a significant temperature difference.
In summer months you can expect moderate temperature. The temperature in summer month usually ranges between 30°C to 40°C. However April is an unpredictable month in a sense that if it rains it can turn quite cold. Light cotton cloth is excellent. May to July is the summer months.
The monsoon season witnesses quite a heavy rainfall but otherwise the weather is pleasant. Cotton clothing would be with very light woolens would be perfect. Starting from end July to September weather is pleasant when it is not raining.
Please be very careful if you are traveling to Katra and further to Vaishno Devi during winters. In winters temperature can get down to sub-zero temperatures (even -5°C is not very uncommon. From October to March all the pilgrims must carry heavy woolens withy them.
Local Holidays in Katra
|Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti||5th January|
|Lohri (Only in Jammu)||12th January|
|Republic Day||26th January|
|Guru Ravi Das`s B`Day (only in Jammu||9th February|
|Holi( Jammu only)||11th March|
|Friday Following Eid-I-Milad-ul-Nabi||13th March|
|1st Navratra||27th March|
|Mela Bahu Fort (Jammu District Only/ Ramnavami||3rd April|
|Mahavir Jayanti(only in Jammu)||7th April|
|Good Friday||10th April|
|Ambedkar Jayanti||14th April|
|Mela Kshir Bhawani (Kashmir )||31st May|
|Martyr`s Day of Guru Arjun Dev Ji (Restricted Holiday)||16th June|
|Urs Shah Farid-ud-Din Sahib (Kishtwar Tehsil )||20th June|
|Mela Hemis Gumpa (Leh District Only)||2nd July|
|Guru Hargovind`s Day||5th July|
|Martyr`s Day||13th July|
|Friday Following Shab-I-Mehraj (Kashmir)||24th July|
|Sarthal Devi Ji Yatra (Kishtwar Tehsil Only)||28/29th July|
|Raksha Bandhan||5th August|
|Swatantra Diwas||15th August|
|Kailash Yatra (Bhadarwah Tehsil)||18th August|
|Mela Pat (Bhaderwah Tehsil)||25/26th August|
|Gandhi Jayanti||2nd October|
|Urs Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Sahib (Kashmir)||16th October|
|Guru Nanak Jayanti||2nd November|
|Urs Shah Asrar-ud-din Sahib (Kishtwar/Doda/Ramban Districts Only)||10th November|
|*Urs Shah-I-Hamdan Sahib (Kashmir Province Only)||24th November|
|Birthday of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah||05th December|
|Mela Losar (Leh & Kargil Districts Only)||17th December|
|Christmas Day||25th December|