Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Reasi district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is located. It is located 42 km from the city of Jammu. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, one of the leading technical university of India is also located here.
Katra is one of the best tourist places in jammu where mata vaisno devi is located, we offer best and affordable jammu Katra hotels and jammu Katra tours the main attraction of Katra tourism is Mata vaishno devi. The shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Katra is one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India. Situated at a height of 5, 300 ft., the site is located inside a cave in a hill. One of the most visited pilgrim sites in India, the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located in a cave, amidst the folds of the Trikuta Bhagwati hill at a height of 5, 300 ft., in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J & K). This cave temple is at a distance of 61 kms from Jammu and the last 13 kms of the way have to be negotiated on foot by the yatris, as the devotees are called. Once at the entrance to the cave, the path turns into a narrow tunnel with a cold stream named the Charan Ganga running through it. The pilgrim has to wade through this to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
The holy cave shrine of MataVaishno 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.
Katra serves as the base camp for pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi. It has a thriving tourism industry that offers plenty of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, dhabas, fast-food joints that fit all kinds of budgets. Free accommodation is provided by some registered trusts in the form of Sarais for the poor. The number of pilgrims that visit the shrine every year has increased from 1.4 million in 1986 to 8.2 million in 2009. Over the years, a lot has changed, but one should not miss the opportunity to walk through the main bazaar (market) for buying (do not forget/hesitate to negotiate a bit) souvenirs, dryfruits, woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, etc.
To reach Vaishno Devi temple the pilgrims have to register at the Katra before starting the trek. By registering, the pilgrims get accidental insurance while on the trek for 1 lakh INR. It is a trek of 10.5 km.
There is another trek (1.5 km) from Vaishno Devi temple for Baba Bhaironnath. It is said that the pilgrimage is not complete until you visit this temple at last. The scenery throughout the trek is picturesque.
Environment-friendly auto rickshaws and helicopter services also have started now-a-days to make the journey a pleasant one.
The Mata VaishnoDevi shrine is nestled in the Trikuta Mountain. It lies 61 km north of Jammu in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir . Perched at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level, Mata Vaishno Devi katra is a cave in the lower Himalayas. Katra the town at the foot of the Trikuta hills is the base camp for the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Katrais 48 km from Jammu, 650 km from Delhi (via Una), 520 km from Udhampur, 410 km from Chandigarh and 80 km from Patnitop The shrine is visited all through the year, but the path is difficult during the winters when the route is often blocked by snowfall.
Vaishnavi- The Manifestation of Goddess Shakti
The temple of Mata Vaishno Deviis dedicated to Vaishnavi, the human manifestation of Goddess Shakti. Within the temple is the deity in the form of a five and half feet tall rock with three Pindies or heads. It is written that the goddess to achieve her destiny of finally merging with Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a human and was born as Vaishnavi, in the household of one Ratnakar. Even as a young girl, Vaishnavi displayed an immense thirst for knowledge that soon out thought her teachers. Soon she started to search within herself for the answers that she couldn’t find elsewhere and learnt the art of meditation. Realizing the importance of Tapasya(meditation) Vaishnavi renounced all worldly comforts and betook herself to the forest to meditate in peace.
Legend has it that while Vaishnavi was in the forest she encountered Lord Rama, prince of Ayodhya, who was in exile. Recognizing him immediately as an avatar of Lord Vishnu she begged him to merge with her, but Lord Rama, knowing that the time was not ripe promised her that on the completion of his exile he would again pass that way. If she recognized him then he would fulfill her wishes. True to his word he returned in the guise of an old man, but Vaishnavi failed to recognize him. Rama consoled her and advised her to set up an ashram at the base of the Trikuta Hills and continue with her penance.
At the entrance to the cave is a place called Bhavan where the worshiper buys prasad(offering to the God, a little of which is returned to the devotee for distribution amongst his near and dear ones) and other offerings. Here the Yatri is issued a token number on showing the Yatra ticket. The group no. and the time for the Yatri’s turn is mentioned on the token.
At Bhavan there are cloakrooms, lockers for your belongings and change rooms. It is customary to bathe and change clothes before joining the queue for the darshan. Amidst the continuous chanting of Jai Mata Di, pilgrims wait patiently for their turn after depositing their coconut at the entrance for which they are given tokens. Each one has to enter the cave alone as the tunnel to the shrine is very narrow and has to be negotiated with care. Once inside it widens out to provide darshan of the goddess. The return is via a different route that takes the devotee to the shrine of Bhairon and then back to Katra.
The total length of the holy Cave is about ninety eight feet. Here you can see symbols of a large number of Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. At the mouth of the original tunnel to the holy Cave on the left hand side of the rock face you can see the symbol of Vakra Tunda Ganesha. Adjacent to the symbol of Lord Ganesha you can see the symbols of Surya Dev and Chandra Dev. When you crawl into the holy Cave through the natural tunnel you cross over the Dhadh of Bhairo Nath who was beheaded by the Goddess at the entry point to the holy Cave. The Dhadhis fourteen feet long. After this you come across the symbol of Lord Hanuman who was also called Launkra Beer.
Beyond the Launkra Beer point you have to wade your way through water Twenty three feet beyond Launkra Beer, on the left upper hand side, the roof of the cave flares out and the weight of this over hang appears to the resting on the innumerable heads of Shesh Nag. Immediately below Shesh Nag there is the Havan Kund of Mata. Adjacent to the symbols of Shankh, Chakra, Gada and Padam. Higher up, almost touching the ceiling of the cave are the symbols of the five Pandavas, the SaptRishi, the Than of the divine cow, Kamdhenu, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiv and Parvati.
Three feet further ahead, on an elevation some what lower than Shiv and Parvati, is the Khamba that was gripped by the legendary worshiper Prahalad. Diagonally below this, at the water level you can see the Yantra with innumerable mystical signs and symbols inscribed on it. Twenty two feet beyond this point, the Sher Ka Panja symbolizing the lion, which is the mount of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is located.
The distance from the entry point to the Sher Ka Panja is fifty nine feet.. Six feet further ahead, on the left hand side, are the symbols of Shankar and Gouri. Thirteen feet beyond the symbols of Shankar and Gouri the holiest of the holy Pindies of “Mata Maha Kali Ji”, “Mata Maha Lakshmi Vaishno Devi Ji,” and “Mata Maha SaraswatiJi”.appear .To the right of the holy Pindies on the upper side we can once again identify the symbols of Ganesh, Surya Dev, Chandra Dev and Goddess Annapurna. Slightly behind the holy Pindies, on the right hand side you can see the symbol of the seated SinhRaj. A little ahead of this you can make out the full hand of the Goddess raised in the Vard Hast mode, granting boons to the world. Immediately opposite the Holy Pindies is the natural symbol of Lord PashupatiNath.
Water(Charan Ganga) gushes out of the base of the holy Pindies and flows out of the holy Cave. Charan Ganga is collected in small containers by the devotees and is taken home. It is also channelized to the bathing ghat and the devotees can take a bath in this water before they join the queue for Darshan of the holy Pindies.
How to reach:
Mata Vaishno Devi is located 14 km from the town of Katra and 52 km north of Jammu. Katra is situated at 2,800 feet and takes about 2 hours to each from Jammu by bus.Air The nearest airport is in Jammu, which is 48 km from Katra. There is a helicopter service that departs from the airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning. The ride costs about Rs. 2,000 one way (baggage 2 kg, 15 minute)Train The nearest train station is in Jammu. Bus There are regular buses leaving for the 52 km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road ends at Katra (2 hr). Walking From Katra it is a steep 13 km walk. You can rent a horse or be carried up from Katra.
You can go up to the cave and back in the same day. It takes about 4 hours to climb up and 3 hours to come down. Pilgrims must get a Yatra-Slip from the tourist reception center near the bus stand in Katra to get pass Ban Ganga. It is a hard climb to Mata Vaishno Devi.
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