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 Shri Vaishno Devi Yatra

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.

Helicopter Service
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 no-profit-no-loss basis.

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
By Air

Jammu, 48 kms from Katra, is the nearest airport, There are daily flights to Delhi and Jammu from Srinagar

By Bus

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.

By Train

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.

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