The story of Ma Vaishno
About the Shrine
Route to the cave
Information To Pilgrims
How To Get There






How To Get There     
| From Katra | From Jammu | From rest of the country |     

From Katra
Katra is located at a distance of 50 Kms. from Jammu , the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir . Jammu is connected with the rest of the country by road, rail and air.

From The Rest of the Country to Jammu
Jammu is connected by air with Delhi and Srinagar . Indian Airlines operates a daily flight between Delhi and Jammu and Jammu and Srinagar and Jammu. Indian Airlines also operates two flights a week between Jammu and Leh. Similarly, some private airlines like Jet Airlines also operate services between Delhi and Jammu.
Jammu is connected by rail with all the four corners of the country . Jammu is connected directly from Calcutta, Chennai, Kanyakumari, Mumbai, Ahmedabad , Bhopal, Hyderabad, Jaipur , Lucknow, Patna, Delhi etc. Indian Railways operates a very large number of trains with air conditioned and ordinary coaches to and from Jammu every day.
National Highway IA connects Jammu to the rest of the country.

From 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 Organisation . 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

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 6 AM to 10 PM . About 18000 pilgrims are permitted to proceed every day on rush days from Katra to Vaishno Devi Ji. This includes 1000 personnel belonging to the Army and Air Force. The personnel from the Armed Forces obtain their Yatra Parchi from a separate counter which is located at a place known as Darshani Darwaza and is manned by personnel belonging to the Army. A thrid counter is operated at the erstwhile Mulberry Nursery for the convenience of the pilgrims coming by chartered buses. It caters exclusively to such group 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. Corresponding entries are simultaneously made by the staff in the registers maintained by the Board to keep track of the pilgrimage. A senior officer of the Shrine Board sits at the counter to supervise and monitor things. A Group Number is allotted to each yatra parchi. 500 pilgrims comprise one group. Thus a total of 36 groups approximately can go for Darshan on a rush day. The allotment of group numbers helps to regulate the pilgrimage from the Yatra Parchi Counter and acts as a ready reckoner for the officers managing the Yatra.


A) From Yatra Parchi Counter to Darshani Darwaza
Once a pilgrim is in possession of 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 doorways 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 terminates at Darshani Darwaza. From there the pilgrim has to go forward either on foot or on pony or on a PALKI or DANDI (Palanquin ). The holy Shrine 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.

The first 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 and resolving the difficulties of the pilgrims. The Shrine Board also runs a First Aid Centre at Banganga. The Police Depatment 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 as Adhkawari. Free Dharmashalas, 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 of Rs.100.00 per 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 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 sizes are able to crawl through 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. Dharmashalas 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 been constructed for the Shrine Board by the Sagar Suri Trust at Sanji Chhat. Two Helipads have also been constructed at Sanji Chhat.

F) Sanji Chhat to Bhawan Twelve kilometers from Darhani Darwaza and two and a half kilometers from Sanji Chhat lies the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. It is located at and 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 two 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 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 additin , the Shrine Board runs a Bhojanalaya at Vaishno Devi Ji which is open round the clock. A medical dispensary, a chemist shop, a postt 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 6 PM 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 woollen clothing with them if they wish to perform the yatra during winters.In fact, HEAVY WOOLLEN 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 woollens 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.

Where to stay at Jammu
Most of the pilgrims come to Jammu by train. Some of them come by chartered buses or interstate buses. A few come by air. Those who come by chartered or interstate buses or by air usually proceed directly to Katra and on their way back also do not halt at Jammu. However, those pilgrims who come by train do halt at Jammu either on their way to Katra or while returning from there. Jammu has accommodation to suit evry pocket. The range of accommodation runs the entire gamut from deluxe hotels to ordinary guesthouses. The Shrine Board has also constructed to Dharmshala near the railway station at Jammu. It is known as VAISHNAVI DHAM. Dormitory accommodation is available for pilgrims at this Dharamshala at very reasonable rates. Blankets, linen and pillows are provided free of cost. Each dormitory is equipped with fans and a music system. Each floor of this building has toilet and bathing facilities separately for men and women. A restaurant serving vegetarian food at subsidised cost is also run in this Dharmshala for convenience of the pilgrims. Apart from these facilities is cloak room an STD PCO and a souvenir shop have also been provided in this building.   

At Katra
A large number of hotels, guest houses and Dharmshalas have come up at Katra during the last ten years. Today Katra can boastt that it can provide accommodation for every class of pilgrims. There are A,B and C class hotels. In addition there are a large number of guest houses which provide budget class accommodation. Free accommodation is also available at Katra in a few Dharmshalas. The Shrine Board also provides accommodation for pilgrims at the NIHARIKA COMPLEX which is adjacent to the Bus Stand .

Most of the A class hotels have the facility of in-house restaurants. Besides, the town also has a large number of restaurants and dhabhas which serve food at very reasonable rates. Two fast food restaurants have also come up at Katra in the last couple of years. ONLY VEGETARIAN FOOD IS SERVED TO THE GUESTS AT ALL THE EATING PLACES.   

At Vaishno Devi Ji and enroute
Accommodation at Adhkawari, Sanji Chhat and Bhawan (Vaishno Devi Ji) is provided exclusively by the Shrine Board. Most of the accommodation is available free of cost. However, a few rooms are available at Adhkawari, Sanji Chhat and Bhawan against payment of rent. THE FREE ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE ON FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS. RESERVATION FOR THE RENTED ACCOMMODATION IS DONE FROM THE CENTRAL OFFICE AT KATRA.
Vegetarian food and snacks are available at the dhabhas, restaurants and refreshment units which have been constructed at a large number of places all along the way to the Holy Shrine.

Where to give donations
The Shrine Board depends entirely on the donations of pilgrims for carrying out its developmental programmes. Therefore, pilgrims are requested to donate generously. Donations made to the Shrine Board are exempt from Income Tax under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax Act. The following arrangements have been made for collecting the offerings and donations:

Donation boxes have been kept at the mouths of the original and the new cave, inside the holy cave near the sanctum sanctorum and immediately outside the exit cave. When the Pilgrimage is less than 10,000 pilgrims per day , the pilgrims are permitted to enter the holy cave from the original cave. The staff on duty exhorts them to put their offerings in the donation box which has been placed just at the mouth of the tunnel as the Shrine Board does not permit the placing of offerings by the pilgrims at the sanctum sanctorum. This has been done keeping in mind the convenience of the pilgrims. If the pilgrims are encouraged to place their offerings at the sanctum sanctorum then they will need additional time to take out their offerings and place them before the holy Pindies. This would mean that the minimum time that must be allowed to a pilgrim at the sanctum sanctorum would have to be increased. As a consequence, a lesser number of pilgrims would be able to have DARSHAN of the holy Pindies per day than at present. In view of the fact that the number of pilgims coming to Vaishno Devi Ji is rising rapidly every year, it is not possible to increase the time alloted for Darshan as it would further increase the duration of the waiting period for the yatris. This is not acceptable to most pilgrims in view of the fact that they have a limited time at their disposal. Any further increase in the period of waiting would cause a lot of inconvenience to them.
Whenever the pilgrimage is more than 10000 pilgrims per day, the pilgrims are taken for Darshan through the new tunnel. A donation box each has been placed at the entrance to the new tunnel and the junction of the new tunnel and the traditional tunnel. The plilgrims are exhorted to put their donation in these donnation boxes. A donation box has also been placed just outside the exit tunnel. This has also been for the convenience of such pilgrims who may forget to put their offerings in either of the other two donation boxes. A jewellery box has also been placed at the sanctum sanctorum. The gold and silver jewellery offered by the pilgrims is put in the jewellery box. The offerings so collected, the jewellery box and the donation box kept at the sanctum sanctorum are thereafter carried to the Counting Room for being counted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, the Accounts Officer , the Security Officer of the Shrine Board and a small contingent of police-men detailed for this duty. The counting room is guarded round the clock by armed policemen. The room is double locked and the keys of the locks are kept with the SDM and the Accounts Officer respectively. The Counting Room can be opened only when both the officers open one lock each. A Closed Circuit Television System has been installed i n the counting room. Cameras record all activities that place inside the room and images are flashed on the TV screens which have been installed at a number of places.

The staff on counting duty is frisked by the police before they are permitted to enter the room and they have to leave whatever they are carrying outside the counting room. The time of entry is recorded and then the room is locked once again. The counting of cash and the weighing of gold and silver jewellery commences thereafter. On an average the process takes about ten hours. Once the counting is complete the staff of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank comes, counts the cash, gives a receipt to the staff of the Shrine Board and carries the cash to the bank. The gold and silver ornaments are, however, retained in the counting room, which also functions as the Strong Room.