Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Experience to the HOLY SHRINE -Mata Vaishno Devi Darshan

Hello Worshipers of a Bigger Power!

I am definitely not one of those who follow the rituals dutifully, go to temple daily and chant mantra but I do belong to a family which has Sanyasis(saints), Yogis and worshippers. Every Navratri, Shivratri and other auspicious occasion rituals are performed and we all together worshipped that ONE BIGGER POWER which is above all of us. It will not be wrong to agree to the fact that I am a BELIEVER.
Since I started travelling last year, I have been to 2 most worshipped places according to Hindu beliefs: Puri and Vaishno Dham. Every year many believers Hindu/Non-Hindu visit Vaishno Dham and I have been hearing about this since childhood. Last year i.e. in 2016 77.23Lakh pilgrims visited the Shrine and this data is mentioned on official Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine website. Here I am sharing the itinerary I followed, schedule and experience I had during this journey:

Experience: When we decided to go somewhere, we weren't knowing that will plan this trip but we did. The caves are located at 5200ft. altitude on Trikuta mountains...yeah! we did our homework and asked for references to where and how to go but people/sites failed to tell us "No prepaid phones" are allowed in Jammu due to security reasons so, we kept wondering why our service is unavailable till someone told us that only post-paid roaming works(that was NEWS in this age of technology where I was planning to share every moment with my loved ones...hah!) but we soon came over this fact because the place and atmosphere more than compensates for this lack. There is railing through out the way to divide the lane and the edges are wired in order to avoid accidents. There are sign boards for each point and milestones after every few kms. All in all the path-way makes journey bit easy compared to earlier times and once you reach the shrine, it might be psychological but even amidst that chao you start finding peace. To the way inside, every thing calms you down and you start admiring the mere fact that alas you made it to this place which holds so much importance in a heart of a believer :) . From the time we sat in bus to Katra, we were hooked trying to enjoy and capture each moment. It so happens with me that whenever I visit some holy place there is always that positive vibe so throughout this journey the experience was serine especially when we reached the SHRINE. Only sad part was that the original caves opened just after a day we visited-just one day after it was in NEWS.


1.      By 8:30 p.m on 13th January,2017 i.e. Friday night we boarded Jammu Rajdhani from New-Delhi Railway Station (had our dinner in train and till 2:45 a.m. we kept chatting as the excitement to travel was too high, we were visiting the hill-station after all ;) but then the panic kicked in that we will reach early so we should sleep for a while as the whole day we walk up to the shrine from Katra)

2.      By 5:49 a.m. on 14th January i.e. Saturday morning we reached Jammu Railway Station (before heading to bus for katra we had our morning tea with bread-butter right in-front of station entry)

3.      By 6:35 a.m. we were getting our receipts for Katra bus from the bus station which shares boundary with railway station and by 6:50 a.m. the bus moved (when you pass through the city and head towards the tunnels, view there is to breath taking and we made bunch of videos as we were seated right on the front seats of the bus)

4.      We reached Katra by 8:15 a.m. and after some refreshments started ascending towards the entry from Katra bus stop (one can hire auto also to reach the entrance, we preferred walking. On the way there are many shops which sell offerings and sticks for climbing support but you get that after entering the premise also)

5.      By 8:45 a.m. we reached the entrance as we kept clicking photos of the snow covered tops on the way...(from down here I was feeling that MAA is blessing me with al the Shakti and we will reach there by lunch but my belief was soon to be tell you a lil secret, I am not good with ascending treks...Not Anymore!)

6.      We booked our yatra parchi online and had the print-out taken in advance which we showed at the entrance and now were officially in the MANDIR zone...There was only Up to GO (booking it online saves you from standing in queue when you reach at the Katra centre)

7.      By 9:45 a.m. we reached Ban-Ganga (traditionally pilgrims bathed over here before proceeding towards the shrine, we took blessings and kept moving forward)

8.      Past 3 kms. of ascend I was unable to walk even a mtr. on my foot and there were more 5 kms to reach Ardhkunwari that's where we decided that I will take the horse till there and my friend will walk (horses are available from the entrance also)

9.      By 12 p.m. I  reached check point of Ardhkunwari and my friend on foot reached by 12:45 p.m. Instead of going to Ardhkunwari, we took blessing from path down and kept heading towards the shrine as the inclination was too steep for me climb even a bit towards Ardhkunwari.. from here onwards the check post for getting the yatra parchi stamped are located at various points, make sure to get it stamped before entrance as it allocates you with the group no. according to which the darshan proceeds...sigh!

10.  By 2:10 p.m. we reached the shrine entrance, kept our shoes/bags in the locker and collected the offerings from the yatra bhawan (after taking way too many STOPS on my part for various reasons...and I am pretty sure if there was someone else instead of me my friend would have paced far ;) ) >>>Here was our moment to meet the goddess herself :) and yes that place holds some very positive energy, I really felt serene at that point under those caves.

11.  By 2:40 p.m., we came out and had our lunch around 3:00 p.m. from the bhojnalay and after resting a little while we started descending towards katra by 3:45 p.m. (we gave idea of moving forward towards Bhaironath a chance but steepness didn't allow my heart to move ahead...Yeah! I couldn't anymore but I am working on my stamina, hopefully by the next trip I am able to trek to all the stops)

12.  6:00 p.m., we reached Ardhakunwari and by this time my friend's leg were hurting  really bad as he had been on his foot the whole time so we were taking stops and coming down slowly.
13. By 8:45, we reached back to the entry gate and there stood the people who were offering hotel rooms with pick-up facility and seeing how tired we were, booked 1 and reached the hotel room by 9:30 where we had our dinner and slept through the night.

There is no bigger JOY than finding PEACE, even if you achieve it for minute or two. 

Spread the word :), share your experience and follow me for more exciting travel stories.

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