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Old 9th October 2011, 22:30   #1
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Default Memoirs of Maa Vaishno Devi Trip

Our life’s four main objectives are—Dharm (righteousness), Kaam (Pleasure), Moksh (Knowledge) and Arth (Wealth). All four blessings are conferred on us when we do the right karma and visit Maa Vaishno Devi. No one goes empty handed from the great pilgrimage of Maa Vaishno Devi .This place is quest and expression of one’s faith. There is an invisible force which compels so many people year after year.

Maa Vaishno Devi shrine is a must see place before one die! For a Mata ka bhagat this place is where the deity truly lives. Worshipping VAISHNO DEVI shrine means offering Puja to tri Maha shakti (Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati) at a time. Every one of us is aware of this holy place; many of us have earlier visited and many will visit it for the first time. I visited the shrine for the second time; I was 6 month old when I visited there with my parents. Before I get into the travelogue I will shortly describe about Maa Vaishno Devi legend and the Shrine.

As the legend goes, more than 700 years ago, Vaishno Devi, a devotes of Lord Vishnu used to pray to Lord Ram had taken vow of celibacy.BhaironNath , a tantrick (demon-God) tried to behold her and gave a chase. The Goddess felt thirsty at Banganga and shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari. It took Bairon Nath nine month to locate her, the reason why the cave is known as 'Garbh Joon' Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with Her Trident when the demon -God located her. On arriving at the holy cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut of Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force of blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located . The boulder at the mouth of the holy cave according to the legend is petrified torso of Bhairon nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.

The Shrine is located in udhampur district in the northern most state of india, Jammu and Kashmir. Mata Vaishno devi ji resides in a holy cave located in the mountain called trikoot or trikuta. The holy cave is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. One has to undertake a trek of around 12 KM from the base camp at katara. A visit to the temple of Bhairon baba (additional 2KM trek) is an obligatory part of the pilgrimage.

A few teaser pics and the TL will be continued…

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Last edited by bluevolt : 9th October 2011 at 22:36.
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Old 9th October 2011, 22:35   #2
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Default Re: Memoirs of Maa Vaishno Devi Trip

Hi... please add more details here. Will then move this to the public forum. Thanks
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Old 10th October 2011, 14:12   #3
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Default Re: Memoirs of Maa Vaishno Devi Trip

From past one year I was planning this trip. But as they say you can reach Darbar only when Maa wishes and I personally experienced this (more on that later). I was keen to visit Maa vaisno devi in Chaitra Navratras (April) but things turned out unfavorable for the trip. Then I planned for the same in July but again I could not make the trip plan successful.

Finally after long wait I and my brother insisted that we can visit the shrine just after October Navaratras as the rush will be less due to off season. I was talking to my brother over phone to decide on date so that I can make the air tickets booking right away from Yatra.com. After posting a small travel/route query here on team-bhp I booked air tickets from Delhi to Jammu on 7 august 2011 exactly two months before the planned date.

After booking I recalled the popular song "Chalo Bulawa aaya hai, mata ne bulaya hai". Someone has rightly said that unless her bulawa comes, a visit there is virtually impossible.

Finally after long wait I and my brother insisted that we can visit the shrine just after October Navaratras as the rush will be less due to off season. I was talking to my brother over phone to decide on date so that I can make the air tickets booking right away from Yatra.com. After posting a small travel/route query here on team-bhp I booked air tickets from Delhi to Jammu on 7 august 2011 exactly two months before the planned date. After booking I recalled the popular song "Chalo Bulawa aaya hai, mata ne bulaya hai". Someone has rightly said that unless her bulawa comes, a visit there is virtually impossible.

I visited Vaishno Devi only once when I was 6 months old and at the same time my brother was 6 year old. So we cannot recall anything from that trip we made 22 years ago. My parents guided us for the trip and we were set to go. Come October and I was already excited for my first holy trip. Though I have travelled across India but all trips were formal or I can say non-religious. This trip is special also because i desired to visit Maa ka darbar for long time.

Earlier I was interested to visit the place by car but due to short time we chose air mode. I read various TL/queries over Vaishno devi on team-bhp and most of them were completed by road. But the information was very help full in making the trip enjoyable and memorable for lifetime.

Come 7 October and we were off for airport to catch our flight to Jammu scheduled at 1 PM. We reached the airport well in time and went to our allocated gate at T3. Someone has rightly said that ‘you can reach Darbar only when Maa wishes’ and I experienced this many times. I wanted to visit the place but my every attempt was failed due to some reasons. Even after I booked the tickets some conditions made me to cancel the bookings but the problem was resolved and the journey plan was ON. An interesting thing happened at the airport. I usually don’t carry cameras etc. with me for official/normal tours but this time I was carrying my camera and planned to shoot the T3. Everything was fine – I was taking pictures, we had our boarding pass, the flight was on time and then there was a shock – I LOST MY BOARDING PASS. I have no idea on how it disappeared from my shirt’s pocket (Most of us keep it there only). I was madly looking for my lost boarding pass and inquring on every other Air India counter but to no avail. The AI staff was not sure whether my boarding pass will be re-issued or not. (I don’t know if the lost one’s are re-issued). After looking for the lost pass for about 15 minutes one policeman came to me and told that one pass is lying with the attendant at boarding gate. I ran towards the gate and got the pass back after showing the ID proof. Only 25 minutes were left for departure when I got the pass back.

My mood was off as this was some sort of “APSHAKUN” for the journey. But anyhow we boarded our AI flight on time. And it was not enough as another surprise was waiting for us. The plane in which we boarded was an old “INDIAN” plane (No executive class, no in-flight entertainment system, audio system non-functional). While the plane was on run way for takeoff some unusual sound started coming from outside and was audible to all. The flight was just about to take off as the speed was high but due to the noise the plane had to be grounded. We were informed that the plane has developed some technical snag and we will be shifted to another flight ASAP. After some 40-50 minutes we were shifted to a new Air India air craft and to my surprise we were allocated ‘Executive Class’ seats. All our tiredness was away en route to Jammu as we were traveling in executive class at the price of economy. Now I don’t understand what I should call this – ‘Maa ki Mahima or Just an incident’. I will definitely say the former one. Such things have never happened to me during past air travels.

We reached Jammu airport around 3 PM and took the yatra parchi from the counter for 100 rupees (50 per person). The jammu airport is very small in comparison to Delhi airport. The security is very tight, no photos allowed. It is more or less like a military airport with heavy armed forces.

We picked up an auto for Jammu bus depot for 100 rupees. The auto rickshaw charges are very heavy. 100 rupees for a 5 KM journey was a pinch. After reaching the Jammu bus stand we took the so called ‘Delux’ bus for Katara. The charges are anywhere around 35-40 rupees depending upon individual bus operator. Don’t get fooled by the ‘ABS’, ‘Air suspension’, ’DVD’ and ‘Volvo’ stickers on these buses. These are just normal buses. One thing which I should write about Jammu is that it is a much polluted city. The prime reason for this is that all buses run on diesel unlike in Delhi/NCR where we have CNG. Same goes for the autos; they run on petrol and not on CNG. On the route to Katara we got caught in a massive traffic jam for around 2 hour. The reason for the jam was because of the repair work going on tunnel and only one tunnel was operational. It took 4.5 hours for us to reach katara. Just before reaching katara all buses stop near a police check post and every passenger has to get the security checked.I don’t know what is the need of this formality as there was no x-ray machine/metal detectors.

The bus dropped us at ‘Asia Chowk’ and we found a decent hotel – “Hotel Basera”. We checked in for 1500 INR per night (A/C room though the A/C was not switched on by us). The room was OK if not decent. It served the purpose well. The good thing for the hotel is that the hotel car dropped us to Banganga next morning and then back to Katara bus stand the other day for free. The bad thing is that the room service is poor. The guys took more than 1.5 hours to bring us the food we ordered. The attendants were also shrewd and made us suspicious about them. I will not recommend such hotels if one visit the place with wife or family. Pay a little more and get some good hotels.

Most hotels (including ours) provide Yatra parchi for free. So there is no need to get the parchi from the airport and waste 100 rupees. We planned to start our trek early morning around 4-5 AM and we were successful in doing that. The Hotel car (read Maruti Omni) dropped us to banganga at 4.30 AM and we were set to go. We started our trek around 4.45 AM after security check and Parchi registration.

There are large numbers of food joints along the track till ardhkuwari, after that the number starts decreasing. Toilets are also in plenty numbers en route. The trek is difficult for sure. The ascent and descent are sometimes painful. We were in no hurry and walked casually in relaxed manner. It took us complete six hours to do the trek and do the darshan. The rush was very less and it hardly took us 15 minutes to bow our heads in front of Maa. After this we had some lunch from the food court near the shrine and started our trek to Bhairo baba. The route to bhaironath is even more difficult. The bhaironath temple is very small with less security. After Bhaironath visit we started return journey. While returning we preferred stairs as it saves lot of time. In about three hours we reached our hotel. The trip was memorable and full of adventures.

We returned back to Delhi with the promise to come again as soon as possible.

Some Stats -

Total Time - 2 days and 2 nights.

Total cost - Rs. 18,000 (+-1000) which includes air travel, food, accommodation etc. for two persons.

Last edited by bluevolt : 10th October 2011 at 14:59.
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Old 10th October 2011, 14:36   #4
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Default Re: Memoirs of Maa Vaishno Devi Trip

Now let the pictures do the talking!

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The Swanky T3 terminal.

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Trikoor Parvat as visible from our hotel balcony.

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Banganga.

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Katra City

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Last edited by bluevolt : 10th October 2011 at 15:26.
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Old 10th October 2011, 15:02   #5
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'Mangal Mahadev' (on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway) as visible from the Delhi airport runway.

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Last edited by bluevolt : 10th October 2011 at 15:27.
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Old 10th October 2011, 15:12   #6
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Old 10th October 2011, 15:19   #7
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Last edited by bluevolt : 10th October 2011 at 15:28.
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Old 10th October 2011, 15:38   #8
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Default Re: Memoirs of Maa Vaishno Devi Trip

Mods note: Thread moved to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11th October 2011, 19:16   #9
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Default Re: Memoirs of Maa Vaishno Devi Trip

Jai Mata Di. Anmol, your pics and description did great justice to this place. Loved to see the place again. How I yearn to go again to Vaishno Devi, but waiting for Maa Ka Bulaawa. Been there twice and still remember each minute detail about it. Thanks for sharing these pictures. I still remember the tasty food we had at Langar.
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Old 11th October 2011, 20:05   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traveloholic View Post
Jai Mata Di. Anmol, your pics and description did great justice to this place. Loved to see the place again. How I yearn to go again to Vaishno Devi, but waiting for Maa Ka Bulaawa. Been there twice and still remember each minute detail about it. Thanks for sharing these pictures. I still remember the tasty food we had at Langar.
Thanks taveloholic,

Sadly the langar by Gulshan Kumar is now stopped.
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Old 21st September 2016, 21:44   #11
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Bumping a 5 year old thread. I visited shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi again this year with my office friends.

We went by Volvo this time from Jammu to Katra. Travelling in bus is altogether a different and enjoyable experience. Rest details of the trip remains same as I described in earlier in the thread 5 years back!

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Old 21st September 2016, 21:46   #12
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Second set of Pics

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Old 10th March 2017, 12:40   #13
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I am just back from VAISHNO DEVI trip and must say that, though the divine call came back after 16 years but it was an exceptional mind & body experience.
The last time I was there was on 18th Dec 2001. At that time the whole trek had looked like T-Series walk-through.

Things have changed for good and few pointers are:

1) If going by air, plan your travel from Jammu to Katra in advance. We were 7 adults & 2 kids & paid 5K for round trip for Tempo Traveler. We were informed that pickup by Tempo Traveler is NOT permitted at airport and hence an Innova & Dzire picked us from airport & brought us to a petrol pump (about 2 kms distance) and from there we were shifted to Tempo Traveler. However on the return trip, the Tempo Traveler dropped us back at the airport directly.
Drive to Katra is pleasant one with new roads & bridges and do try PAKORAS at any DHABA on the way.
NOTE: Just after leaving Jammu, I read a board stating that Non-Veg & Alcohol is banned in Katra.
I am not writing anything about Hotels/Lodges as it will be to each person's preferences and budgets. We stayed at WHITE hotel.

2) From any location in Katra to Main Gate, there are OMNI vans & similar vehicles available and charge about 100-200 bucks (for full load & not per person). Main gate has separate entrances for Gents & Ladies and police inspection are similar to airports but more casual. They will remove all tobacco/cigarettes/gutkha items from the person.
IMPORTANT: One requires Yatra Parchi (receipt for registration for the chosen day) and is available online for free on Vaishno Devi Shrine Board website.

3) A drivable road has been built up to ADHKUARI/HEMKUTI but not yet operational. This should decrease the trekking time drastically. Also it will be boon for kids & elderly as climb from Main Gate to Adhkuari is rather steep and tiresome.
Do carry sticks with you, if not for help in climbing then to deter monkeys who will snatch any eatable that is in your hand. Avoid giving chips and biscuit packets to kids.
Impressed to see that there are BOSE speakers fitted all along the route and they keep making various announcements throughout the day.

4) From ADHKUARI, battery operated (MAINI & MAHINDRA THREE WHEELERS) operate up to a certain point near Bhawan (Sanctum Sanctorum). However I found half of Mahindra vehicles struggling to make the climb. MAINI have employed public version of their four wheeled golf carts and are pretty good. Needless to say that they are fibre-body vehicles.

5) There are coffee & juice dispensing shops at every nook & corner so you wont be left stranded at any time. However they do not sell water bottles at these units. Shrine Board operates small restaurants at strategic locations and they serve generous meals at very reasonable price. Do lookout for monkeys at these locations and do not leave your bags or anything unattended.

6) Once at Bhawan, visitors are NOT allowed to carry anything on their part, especially any leather item or mobile phones. There are LOCKERS available (FREE-OF-CHARGE) near Bhawan. In fact two LOCKER rooms, LOCKER no. 1 is as soonest you arrive and LOCKER no. 2 is further near the Bhawan. One has to show the YATRA PARCHI and take a LOCK & KEY from the counter. Each LOCKER is a size of 35L microwave so pretty big enough to accommodate backpack bags and shoes and anything else. You can take two sets of LOCK & KEY on one Yatra Parchi.

7) You may purchase PRASAD (Rs 50 or higher) which comes in a JUTE BAG but it is not obligatory.

8) In case you wish to take bath before entering shrine then there are clean bathing washrooms near LOCKER no. 2.

9) Join the line at Gate no.3, frankly I could not make out where the Gates 1 & 2 were. It took us 45 minutes from joining the line & reaching the Bhawan. Just for elderly, you may have to climb small flights of stairs at three locations. There will be another round of police frisking along the line and you will be asked to deposit the coconut (If you have bought the PRASAD) at a certain location. You will be given hard plastic coupon for each coconut deposited.
I noticed a lift operating from another location and it probably takes one directly to the Bhawan floor - probably for elderly/handicaps.

10) The original/old cave (Gufa in local lingo) is usually closed and so was on this occasion. There are two separate and simpler entrances now. You can read about deities at shrine on Google so not elaborating. On a good day, you may get 10-15 seconds for DARSHAN.
Once done with DARSHAN you may come out and take few minutes to enjoy the scenic surrounding mountains.

11) Once done with DARSHAN, one have to climb down few long flight of stairs and arrive at DONATION counter and again it is not obligatory. However do collect the PRASAD which comes in twin paper pouches, one containing sugar candies and another a small silver coin. Diagonally opposite to PRASAD counter is another counter, from where you are returned back a coconut for each hard plastic coupon that was given to you earlier (Meaning - you are not allowed to carry coconut in the Sanctum Sanctorum).

12) Take some rest or take your fill at restaurants here. Along with local shops, Cafe-Coffee-day & a South Indian restaurant chain, Sagar-Ratna runs places here. Please do note that all these places serve food without Onion and Garlic.

13) You can now collect your things from LOCKER room and head to BHAIRON temple, which is located at the summit of the mountain. This trek is pretty steep and not for elderly or kids. You may rent ponies and the price is fixed by the Shrine board and displayed clearly everywhere.
I noticed that they is work in progress for cable cars from a location near Bhawan, up to Bhairon temple. Once operational, this will be another boon for elderly & kids.
NOTE: If climbing/walking up the summit, then either keep the PRASAD bag in your backpack or carry it tightly. Monkeys will snatch them otherwise.
We walked.

14) The system at BHAIRON temple is simple and there are no special restrictions on what & what not to carry. It took us hardly ten minutes to finish up with Bhairon darshan.

15) From here the trek starts downwards and you may stop to enjoy helicopters landing sites located at this side of the mountain. It is a different route downwards up to ADHKUARI and then the route is same as the one you walked up.

16) While climbing, take short breaks every 200-300 steps (pedometer helps) but not too long.
NOTE: The climbing will test your thigh muscles and walk down will test your calf muscles. Believe me, walk down is more tiresome then climbing.

17) Avoid visiting RAGHUNATH TEMPLE at Jammu, even if someone recommends. Not meaning or wishing to offend anyone but you can read about negative feedback on internet about it.

It broke my heart to see mountains turning brown from green.

Jai Mata Di-Sonu
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