Jammu to Katra
From Jammu to Katra is a distance of 50 Kms. Most
of the distance is covered on National Highway
IA and a part of the distance (15 Kms) is over
a secondary road which is maintained by Border
Roads Organization. Taxis are available at Jammu
airport and Jammu railway station for carrying
the pilgrims to Katra. The Jammu and Kashmir State
Roadways Transport Corporation operates a large
number of buses at regular intervals from Jammu
railway station to Katra. Private deluxe buses
also operate between Jammu railway station and
Katra. Besides these, there is also a regular
bus service between Jammu and Katra from the General
Bus stand at Jammu. Buses leave for Katra after
every fifteen minutes from the General Bus stand.
The bus service commence at 6 AM and concludes
at 8 PM everyday.
From Katra to Vaishno Devi Ji
1. Yatra Parchi
Once a pilgrim reaches Katra he has to obtain
a yatra permit from the permit counter of Shri
Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. The Permit counter
is located adjacent to the Bus stand and the Taxi
stand. The permit is known in local parlance as
"Yatra Parchi" and the permit counter is known
as "Yatra Parchi Counter". The counter remains
open every day from 6AM to 10PM. About 18000 pilgrims
are permitted to proceed every day on rush days
from Katra to Vaishno Devi Ji.
A third counter is operated at the erstwhile Mulberry
Nursery for the convenience of the pilgrims coming
by chartered buses. It caters exclusively to such
groups of pilgrims only. YATRA PARCHIS ARE GIVEN
TO THE PILGRIMS FREE OF COST ON A FIRST COME FIRST
SERVED BASIS. In case the number of pilgrims coming
for Darshan on a particular day exceeds 18000,
the remaining pilgrims are issued "Yatra Waiting
Slips" from the same counters. Pilgrims carrying
these slips are issued regular yatra parchis the
next day. A maximum number of nine persons can
be registered against one yatra parchi by the
staff on duty. Each parchi contains the name of
the leader of the party. His/her place of residence
and the number of males, females and children
in the group of nine. Children below five years
of age are not entered in the Yatra Parchi.
A) From Yatra Parchi Counter to Darshani Darwaza
Once a pilgrim is in possession of a yatra parchi
he/she is eligible to proceed for the Yatra. The
distance from the yatra parchi counter to DARSHANI
DARWAZA (it is so named because it is the point
from where the yatra is really deemed to commence
and thus becomes the doorway or Darwaza for Darshan)
is one kilometer. Pilgrims cover this stretch
either on foot, or on auto rickshaws or by the
bus service which is operated by the Shrine Board
free of charge for the pilgrim.
B) From Darshani Darwaza to Banganga
The motorable road terminated at Darshani Darwaza.
From there the pilgrim has to go forward either
on foot or on a pony or on a PALKI or DANDI (Palanquin).
The holy Shrines is located at a distance of twelve
kilometers from Darshani Darwaza. The entire track
from Darshani Darwaza to Vaishno Devi Ji is laid
with cement tiles which are very comfortable to
walk on. The track is also lit with sodium lights
at night. Drinking water points, toilets, rain
and sun shelters, refreshment units and vatikas
have been provided at frequent intervals for the
convenience of the pilgrims.
station beyond Darshani Darwaza is Banganga. Ponies
and Palkis are available for hire at Banganga
on rates fixed by the State Government. The Shrine
Board has an office at Banganga which remains
open round the clock for attending to an resolving
the difficulties of the pilgrims. The Shrine Board
also runs a First Aid Centre at Banganga. The
Police Department has set up a Police Post at
Banganga. A large number of shops selling eatables
and consumer items have come up at Banganga. They
remain open round the clock. The yatra parchi
is checked and stamped at the Banganga Check Post.
This is done to prevent people who do not possess
a yatra parchi from proceeding for the yatra.
A PILGRIM MUST CROSS BANGANGA CHECK POST WITHIN
SIX HOURS OF OBTAINING THE YATRA PARCHI. Banganga
is only one and a half kilometre from the yatra
parchi counter. The Banganga Check Post remains
open round the clock.
C) Banganga To Charan Paduka
Two and a half kilometers from Darshani Darwaza
at a height of 3200 feet above sea level is the
place known as Charan Paduka. There is an impression
of Mata's feet on a rock at Charan Paduka. A small
temple has been constructed over this rock at
Charan Paduka. A number of shops selling snacks
and cold drinks have come up at this place. The
State Government runs a First Aid Centre here.
The Shrine Board has set up a MAHILA MANDAL here.
D) Charan Paduka to Adhkawari
Six kilometers from Darshani Darwaza at a height
of 4200 feet above sea level is the place known
The Shrine Board has constructed a large complex
at Adhkawari. Free Dharmshalas, rooms on rent,
a post office, a medical dispensary, a chemist
shop, a bank, a pony stand and a large number
of shops are available at Adhkawari. The Shrine
Board also runs a Bhojanalya at Adhkawari which
is open round the clock every day. Hygienically
cooked food at subsidized rates is available for
the pilgrims from this Bhojanalya. Blankets are
also available free of cost for the pilgrims at
Adhkawari. A refundable security amount blanket
has, however to be deposited. The security is
refunded to the pilgrim after he returns the blankets.
The State Government has also set up a Police
Post at Adhkawari. The Shrine Board's office at
Adhkawari is open round the clock. An Announcement
cum Information Counter also functions round the
clock in a room adjacent to the office. Regular
Announcements are made from the Announcement Counter
for the information of the pilgrims.
Pilgrims first go to the temple at Adhkawari and
then enter the narrow cave known as Garbh Joon.
At most places the cave is not more than two feet
wide. Inspite of this people of all sixes are
able to crawl though it.
E) Adhkawari to Sanji Chhat
Nine and a half kilometers from Darshani Darwaza
lies Sanji Chhat at an altitude of 5870 feet above
sea level. It is a delightful little plateau which
affords a panoramic view of the Pir Panjal Range
and the Chenab river wending its way majestically
to Pakistan. At its feet, as it were, lies sprawled
the town of Katra, the base camp of the yatra.
Dharmshalas providing free accommodation, a shopping
complex and a Bhojanalya of the Shrine Board are
available here for the convenience of the pilgrims.
Sanji Chhat also has a First Aid Centre. A very
large hospital has also constructed for the shrine
Board by the Sagar Suri Trust at Sanji Chhat.
Two helipads have also been constructed at Sanji
F) Sanji Chhat to Bhawan
Twelve kilometers from Darshani Darwaza and two
and a half kilometers from Sanji Chhat lies the
Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi JI. It is located
at an altitude of 5200 feet above seal level.
The climb up the mountain ceases at Sanji Chhat.
The track levels out and the pilgrims have to
trek over a flat stretch for almost tow kilometers
before they begin to descend. The descent carries
on for almost half a kilometre till one reaches
the area of the holy Shrine - the destination
of all the pilgrims who throng to Katra in thousands
every day. There are a large number of Dharmshalas
at Vaishno Devi Ji which provide free accommodation
to the pilgrims. Blankets are also available for
the pilgrims free of cost. Security has, however,
to be deposited for taking the blankets. This
security is refunded as soon as the blankets are
returned to the blanket store. These blankets
are regularly washed in the automatic laundry
plant that has been installed by the Shrine Board
at Vaishno Devi JI. The Shrine Board also provides
a few rooms on rent to the pilgrims at Vaishno
Devi Ji. A large number of privately run shops
serve food and snacks to the pilgrims. In addition,
the Shrine Board runs a Bhojanalaya at Vaishno
Devi Ji which is open rounded the clock. A medical
dispensary, a chemist shop, a post office, a telephone
exchange, two banks and a Police station also
function at Vaishno Devi Ji. The Shrine is open
for Darshan round the clock every day except for
two hours in the morning (from 6AM to 8AM) and
for two hours in the evening (from 6PM to 8 PM)
when the AARTI is performed.
What to wear
The holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is located
at an altitude of 5200 feet above sea level. Enroute
one has to cross Sanji Chhat which lies at an
altitude of 5870 feet above sea level. If a pilgrim
decides to return to Katra via Bhairo Temple he
has to climb to 6500 feet above sea level. All
the three stations experience heavy snowfall during
the months of December, January and February.
Consequently, it can become extremely cold during
winters Pilgrims are advised to carry heavy woolen
clothing with them if they wish to perform the
yatra during winters. In fact,Heavy woolen clothings
should be carried by pilgrims from October to
March. April is an unpredictable month. The weather
can turn quite cold if it rains. So it is advisable
to carry light woolens during this month. May
to September are very pleasant months. One can
get by with cotton clothes. Since the journey
has to be performed primarily on foot it is advisable
to wear canvas shoes or rubber soled shoes as
they are comfortable to walk in. It is also useful
to carry torches, raincoats and walking sticks.
Canvas Shoes, Torches, Raincoats And Walking Sticks
Can Be Hired from a large number of shops at Katra.