Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the
holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti, located in the hill
of Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir, India. In Hinduism,
Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a
manifestation of the Mother Goddess.
The Vaishno Devi shrine is a very popular shrine in northern
India, and is one of India’s most visited pilgrim
destinations. The shrine is mainly dedicated to Goddess
Vaishno Devi, whose idol is housed in a very small cave
shrine. Vaishno Devi is yet another name for Goddess Shakthi,
more popularly known as Lord Shiva’s consort. The temple is
also located at an intimidating altitude of around 5200 feet.
Located near the town of Katra, in Udhampur district in the
state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Vaishno Devi temple is one of
the most revered places of worship in northern India. At an
altitude of 5200 feet and a distance of approximately 12
kilometers (7.45 miles) from Katra, the shrine of Vaishno Devi
is frequented every year by millions of pilgrims, making it
the second most visited religious shrine in India, after
Tirupati Balaji Mandir. The Shrine is maintained by the Shri
Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
The Legend of Mata Vaishnodeviji.
Everyday of the year throngs of people surge up the steep
pathways that cut across the Trikuta hillsides for mile after
mile. This show of faith is finely interwoven with the
cultural strands of the Indian subcontinent, and these
pathways have been trod on for many centuries now. Popular
belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to the
goddesses's abode to ask for a boon rarely goes back
disappointed. Whatever be it, a new enterprise or a
forthcoming examination, marriage or birth, the devout look up
to the Mata For blessings and guidance. There are many who
journey year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their
faith or belief, creed or class, caste or religion.
From Katra, devotees have
multiple options to reach the main temple. The quickest way is
to take the helicopter ride, which will take 15-20 minutes to
reach the summit. However, this may not be operational on
certain days depending on weather conditions. Other options
include walking up or taking a horse ride. The climb is steep
and tiring but there are multiple rest stations along the way
and options to buy refreshments. For those with disabilities,
there is an option to take a 'Palkhi' where 4-5 men will carry
a person in a carriage. For young children, one can hire a
person who will carry them and also carry the bags.
Pawan Hans operates two flights daily from Jammu and 5 flights
from Katra to Shrine.
Capacity: 6 persons per flight. (The service stands
discontinued for the time being)
The distance from Katra town to Vaishno Devi (Durbar) is 13
kms, which has to be traversed by pony, ‘dandi’ or on foot.
‘Pithus’ (coolies) are also available.
The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMV Shrine Board) runs a
large number of cafeterias and viewing points along the trail
between Katra and the shrine where snacks, coffee and cold
drinks are provided to the yatris on a no-profit-no-loss
basis. The Shrine Board also runs ‘bhojanalyas’ at Katra,
Adhkawari, Sanji Chhat and at the Bhawan / shrine for
providing hygienically prepared food to the yatris on a
Upon reaching the Bhawan, a group number is allotted to the
pilgrims at the slip (‘parchi’) counter against the yatra slip
issued at Katra. The yatri is required to stand in queue at
Gate Number 2 till the announcement of the group’s number is
made to proceed to the sanctum sanctorum. While inside the
cave, one should concentrate on the darshan of the mother
goddess in her three-pindi forms – Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi or
Maha Vaishnavi and Maha Saraswati. The holy water coming from
the feet of the Mata can be collected on the way back.
How to Reach
Jammu, 48 kms from Katra, is the nearest airport, There are
daily flights to Delhi and Jammu from Srinagar
The town of Katra can be easily reached through road, as the
town in well connected to all nearby locations. You can opt
for private taxis and cabs in order to reach the town easily,
and in order to travel in leisure, as many tourists do this.
Buses can also be taken to Katra and trains can be taken to
the nearest station.
The nearest railway station in Jammu Tawi, which is well
connected to many cites in India, especially in the northern
part. Trains are cheaper than buses, with basic fares starting
around Rs 140 to 150 for destinations in nearby states.