Vaishno Devi Trip | Things to do in Jammu | Himalayas | Jammu & Kashmir
One of the Things to do in Jammu, a pilgrimage, has surely has been a Vaishno Devi Trip. Be it an uphill hiking,horse riding, booking a fourwheeler or a helicopter, the devotion is surreal. But : How to reach there? What season would be better? How long will it take? etc. Most of your queries gets answered here. The following blog is based on my experiences while travelling there, and I tried to make it the most informative and vivid. Hope you guys enjoy the blog.
It was the month of August, not too cold, not too warm. My family and relatives decided to take a Vaishno Devi Trip. As New Delhi provides good connectivity to most of the places(via airplanes/trains), we started on from there. Obviously there are many more routes from Punjab and Uttrakhand aswell (train/bus/cars/booking via travel agency). So we took a train from New Delhi to Katra, Jammu.
Vaishno Devi Trip:
And now our Vaishno Devi Trip starts. Just stepping outside the railway station of Katra, is the bus stand which takes passengers through beautiful lower Himalayan hilly areas. One could even book a taxi or call your travel agency to hook you up with a cab. Now there are even deep tunnels built in between the mountains to cut your time and energy wastage. It took us 1.5 hours for us to reach the hotels thats right below,3-4 kms away from, the Vaishno Devi Mountains.
If your option is to hike your way up to the top of Vaishno Devi Temple, the best option is to start early in the morning, there is even an option to take stairs, though the path almost remains the same. And if you opt to take an autoriskhaw, you can take it aswell as there is a new road built to drive the fourwheelers too.Obviously, helicopters are the fastest way to reach the top.
There are three important phases/checkpoints:
I. 0km to 6th km= Includes the first market at 0.2 km for you to book a horse/pony , which is optional ofcourse.One can now even book a vehicle/jeep that would take you to the checkpoint at 6th km(ArdhKumari), or directly to the top.
II. 6th km= Is a stop/halt called ArdhKumari, you can even stay the whole night here, if you started at late afternoon or evevning. There is even accomodations for pilgrims, so that your Vaishno Devi trip doesn’t gets too tyring. ArdhKumari is, a small cave, Godess Durga’s Temple. But one must buy tickets to enter the temple. And the tickets specify the timings when you would be allowed to enter. It can take from 4 hours to a whole day/night.Usually people buy tickets, take a round to Vaishno Devi Temple at 12th km and visit Ardhkumari on the returning journey. Or they stay the night at the accomodation.
III. 6thkm to 12th km= The route after ArdhKumari divides into two: The steeper one(HathiMatthah Route) is the old one on which 4 wheelers dont run. But you will see ponies and hikers taking this way. And the plainer one is the newer route on which one can book AutoRikshaw/jeeps at ArdhKumari, or even hike your way up on plainer slope.
IV. 12th km= Is the Final Destination : Vaishno Devi Temple. Here again ticket system is implemented but it only takes an hour or two for your turn.But cameras aren’t allowed inside the temple. Usually it takes an hour to see the entire temple and places around it. Afterwards, outside the temple, you can have vegetarian food of your choice as there is huge market outside.
V. 12th to 14th km= Pilgrims hike to the 14th km to reach another temple of “Baba Bhairo“. You can have vegetarian food of your choice as there is a small canteen outside. Vehicles dont run on this route.
VI. The returning journey can be covered through the path with steeper slope(HathiMatthah Route). And you reach the ArdhKumari checkpoint. One can walk downhill, or take the stairs . Or probably book a pony, etc.
The day we arrived at hotel, we hiked to another Pilgrimage called Shiv Khori , which is a 6 km uphill walk. The choice could be yours if you want to horse ride that distance or just walk. On arriving at the Shiv Khori Temple, which is basically a partially icey cold cave with narrow adventurous path, you might find a few bats hanging upside down from the walls. After walking the narrow path , pilgrims arrive at a temple(Brahma, Vhishu, Mahesh) where the Pandits inform you of the exsistance of the temple there. While walking downhill you can even feed the fishes in the lake. Thats how our Vaishno Devi Trip ends succesfully.
The market in the city is very popular for dryfruits/apples/ and Kashmiri Shawls and sweaters. The city can be cold at nights and mildly cold to warn during the days, depending on the season. So the choice of clothes while packing should be taken care of. The most important thing that I remind people is shoes. No matter which medium of transport or path you choose, Hiking shoes/ Sports shoes are a must, keep flip-flops/crocs handy in case your shoes gets wet. I hope you find this information helpful and are willing to share it with your friends or family to inform them before hand.Have a great Journey.