Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine (Jammu)
This cave temple is 61kms north of Jammu. It is dedicated to Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati, the three mother goddesses of Hinduism. The cave is one of the region's most important pilgrim sites. The shrine board issues Yatra slips from counters which must be present at Banganaga check post within 6 hours. Leather items are not permitted to the temple. From Katra you have to climb along the 13 km track to the cave temple. Tea, snacks and drinks are available on the route. The ponies, porters and dandies are available from Katra to cave temple in a fixed rate. The pilgrims shout of 'Jai Matadi' (Victory to the Mother Goddess) on the way up and down to the temple.
Jammu is the railhead for Srinagar and is also connected by air and road to Delhi and to Srinagar. The Indian Tourism development corporation has a fifty-room hotel on top of a hill, overlooking the town and the Tawi valley, which caters to the growing number of tourists who visit the town or make it the base of treks or pilgrimages.
Flanked by the Tawi river flowing at its feet, Jammu is bounded towards the north by an amphitheatre of hills culminating in the three conical peaks of the sacred Trikati hill, harbouring the Vaishno Devi cave shrine. Just across the Tawi river, the hillock Jammu is crowned with the historic Bahu Fort. Situated on the river chenah, gushing down the hills, is Akhnur, a picnic spot, 32 Km from Jammu, the nearby heart-shaped Surinsar lake reflecting hillocks in its crystal blue water also attracts tourists Rajouri, 160 Km from Jammu is a summer resort.
There are a number of beautiful hill resorts situated on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which are popular with domestic and foreign tourists : Kud (105.6 Km), Patni top (112 Km), Batote (124.8 Km) and Banchal (187 Km). All these resorts have dak bungalows and other accommodation for tourists. About 20 Km from Patni top, accessible via a motorable road, is the lovely meadow of Sanasar, where the water of the tarn in the midst of the greenery of the vast pastures presents an enchanting vista. The spring water of Sanasar is sweet and digestive. Batote has the potential of becoming a popular summer resort, apart from being the central place of treks in Bhadarwah and Kishtwar. Situated in the mountain ranges are Bhadarwah and Kishtwar-rather remote summer resorts, about 208.4 Km and 240 Km respectively, from Jammu, on the Batote-Bhadarwah road.
The holy cave shrine of Vaishno Devi is nestled in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas. It is located 61 km north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In the cave there are images of three deities viz. the Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.
The shrine is visited all through the year, but the path is difficult during the winters when the route is often blocked by snow-fall.
Arriving At Vaishno Devi
By Air : Jammu (62 kms) is the nearest airport as well as the nearest railway station.
By Road :
Jammu -Katra 48 kms (by road) and Katra-Vaishno Devi 14 kms (on foot). Route from Katra to Vaishno Devi: Katra - Ban Ganga (1.5 kms) Ban Ganga - Charan Paduka (1.5 kms) Charan Paduka - Adhkunwari (3 kms) Adhkunwari - Bhavan (8 kms)
Track From Katra
The 14 kms track from Katra to the shrine has been relaid and tiled.
Railings have also been installed for protection. The 100 feet cave is very narrow with an average height of 5.5 feet only and has ankle deep water. The pilgrims are allowed in batches through the cave. A newly constructed exit makes the process of going out of the shrine easier. Buses leave for Katra from the General Bus Stand (Jammu), throughout the day. During peak season buses are also available from Jammu-Tawi railway station. Journey time 2 hours. Taxis are also available from Jammu.