Annihilator of Asuras - Ma Vaishnavi
I am not much into religion kind of thing but my family is. I guess, there is still some time left for me to put on dhoti and kurta permanently.
Never the less it doesn't stop me to pay my respect to the Mata Rani. As in Hindi we have a proverb which can losly be translated as "only those get to go to Vaishno Devi who are asked to come over by Mata Rani herself". Who can miss a chance to go there specially if you get a call after 28 years :)
For those who are feeling like align right now, Vaishno devi holy shrine is a very famous Hindu religious site situated in high mountains of Indian side Jammu and Kashmir near to the city called Katra. Vaishno devi altitude is around 5300 feet.
- Due to security reasons it's not allowed to carry camera or any kind of recording devices but luckily they are bit lenient when it comes to mobile phones. Still I would advice not to carry an expensive mobile phone with you.
- Only postpaid cell phone connection works up hill. Prepaid connection will be worth less.
- Terrorist treats are serious issue make sure you take all necessary precaution while in the public area.
- Check if there is any chance of snow, be prepared.
Places to visit in Vaishno Devi/ Famous Tourist Sites in Vaishno Devi:
- Vaishno Devi Temple
- Bhairavnath Temple
- Vaishno Devi Ardhkuwari Temple
- Shiv Khori
- Baba Dhansar
- Patnitop - It is situation on the other side of vaishno devi from Katra.
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To reach to maa vaishno devi there are plenty of options available. We traveled from Delhi to Katra by bus. It was a slipper bus which costed us around 500 per person. Overall bus service was OK nothing special to mention. The Delhi to vaishno devi distance is around 600Km which is pretty doable by bus service.
There is train for Vaishno Devi from Delhi but keep in mind that there is no Vaishno Devi railway station. The nearest railway station to Vashino Devi is Jammu from there you got to take bus to Katra. However recently I heard government is planning to build a train terminal at the Katra itself, I guess you would like to check:)
One important thing to highlight about the bus service is that from Katra or Jammu to Delhi bus service calls the day off by 2 PM, they don't run all day long. So make sure either you catch the bus before 2 PM or you have a hotel room booked.
For those who need some assistance to climb to the Maa Vaishnodevi temple there are few options available:
- Mata Vaishno Devi helicopter services
- Rent a 'horse'
- Rent a 'supporter' to carry luggage.
The trek or climbing distance from base camp to the Mata Vaishno Devi temple is around 14 KM and weather may be very cold at times which makes it next to impossible to climb with your luggage on the back. So check current weather in Vaishno Devi before start packing for the journey.
At the base camp there are many store houses where you can keep your luggage for reasonable charges. For the room there are many budget hotels lined up, you can pick the one you want since all charges almost the same price.
Once you are at the top finding a hotel room may be very bad experience. You might end up sleeping on road side if you don't book room in advance! For booking room in advance at the hill top kindly visit the Maa Vaishno Devi official website. Although Maa Vaishno Devi shrine board do make all the efforts to provide living place to all devotees but make sure you have done your part too.
Food And Drink
Food should not be your major concern if you are at the base camp. However if you are at the hill, then all of sudden food becomes hell of an issue.
There are following issues with the food at the top:
- It's too oily. Believe me if an Indian says it's oily it bloody damn too oily!
- No taste of spices. I can't even say it tastes plain. It's like Indian food cooked in God knows style.
- The way it's served, utensils are not cleaned properly. You can taste damn cloth washing detergent powder in your mouth. It's awful !
Luckily there are few government run food joints around look for them it will be cheaper, better and healthier.
For drink, well i would suggest to skip this part unless you want to make Ma Vaishno Devi the "annihilator of drinkers" :)
So pack your luggage and don't forget singing Jai Vaishno Devi songs at the time of climbing!