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Monday, March 29, 2010

Vaishno Devi Shrine - Vaishno Devi Temple at Katra (Vaishno Devi Yatra)

Vaishno Devi Shrine (Vaishno Devi temple at katra jammu) Yatra

Vaishno Devi Shrine (Vaishno Devi temple at katra jammu) Yatra: Everyday of the year a mass of humanity surges up steep pathways that cut across the hillside for mile after mile. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to her abode to ask for a boon rarely goes back disappointed. There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their faith or belief, creed or class, caste or religion, for Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such barriers.

As the legend goes, more than 700 years ago Vaishno Devi a devotee of Lord Vishnu, used to pray to Lord Rama and had taken vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric (demon-God) tried to behold Her. Making use of his tantric powers, Bhairon Nath was able to see Her going towards the Trikuta mountains and gave chase. The Goddess felt thirsty at Banganga and shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of Her feet, is the place where she rested. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari (Ardh-kawari). It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate Her, the reason why the cave is known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with Her Trident when the demon-God located Her.

On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar (Bhavan [Bhawan]), she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located. The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.
Location of Vaishno Devi Shrine

Mata's cave shrine is nestled in the mighty Trikuta mountain 61 kilometres north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India.
Appropriate Season to visit Vaishno Devi Shrine at Katra (Jammu)

The shrine is visited and accessible all through the year, but the path & climate is little difficult during the winters due to snowfall. Now the whole path from Katra to Vaishno Devi Shrine is covered with metal roof hence there is very limited snow on the path. You might also find main enterance of Shrine Cave open during winter season due to less number of pilgrims visiting shrine in winter.
How to Reach Vaishno Devi Shrine

Airway (By Air): Nearest airport - Jammu (48 km from Katra [Distance of Jammu from Katra is 48 km]). Daily Flights are available from Delhi and Srinagar. These flights (Indian Airlines) connect Chandigarh & Amritsar on some days of the week.

Railway (By Rail): Nearest Railway Station - Jammu By rail, Jammu is directly connected cities like Calcutta, Delhi and Kanyakumari. Besides, it is connected with other major cities of the country.

Roadways (By Road): Jammu is the terminus of a large number of Inter State Bus Services.
Jammu to Katra

Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. During rush periods, additional buses are also pressed into service between Jammu and Katra.

Private Taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra. These can be hired from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station and the Tourist Reception Centre at Jammu.
Where to stay in Jammu and Katra

Jammu: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board. Various private hotels, the room rent ranging from Rs.300/- per day to Rs.3000/- per day.

Katra: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board, Rest Houses maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, other hotels.

Sarais, managed by the Shrine Board offer free accomodation at Adhkawari, Sanjichhat and Darbar. Dharamshala, run by various organisations offer reasonable accommodation to the pilgrims. Yatris are however advised to keep themselves away from touts promising free Dharamshala accomodation.
Vaishno Devi Yatra

The Vaishno Devi Shrine Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on foot to reach the Darbar. One kilometer away from Katra, you would find Banganga, place where Mata quenched her thirst and at 6 km., the holy cave at Adhkawari.

Yatris are advised to obtain a yatra slip only from the Yatra Registration Counter (Yatra Ticket Registration at Katra is Mandatory) at the Tourism Reception Centre, Katra Bus Stand and nowhere else. Without an authentic yatra slip, crossing of Banganga (Ban-Ganga) checkpost will not be allowed. The Yatra Slip is absolutely free but is necessary to commence the Yatra.

You can obtain caps, canvas shoes, sticks etc. on hire for the Yatra. Pithus (people who carry weight on their backs) can be hired for carrying your luggage.

Those who have problems in climbing on the mountains, can hire the services of a pony or dandi (palenquin). Pithus can be hired for carrying the children on shoulders. It is advised that you should avail of the services of only registered people be it the pithu, pony or the dandiwalla and keep his token for the period he is engaged. Now battery operated vehicles also available from Ardhkawari (Adhkawari) which play on the new route created from adhkawari (ardhkawari) till Vaishno Devi Shrine.

The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled and is covered with a metal roof. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night by powerful sodium vapour lamps. The whole route is swept and cleaned from time to time throughout the day. Yatris are requested to keep the path clean. Shelter cum sheds and shelter cum cafeterias are setup throughout the route. Pure vegetarian food is available at these outlets. Price charts are exhibited at all these outlets prominently.

Drinking water has been made available all along the route, with water coolers and storage facilities. Public utilities with automatic flushing systems along the track and at the Bhawan.

After 6 km. of trekking, you would reach Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months. Do visit the cave. After 9.5 km., you would reach Sanji Chhat (Sanjhi Chhat) where you can rest for sometime. Accommodation is also available at this place. Bhawan is just 3.5 km. away.

On reaching Bhawan, show your Yatra Slip at the Registration Office and obtain the Batch no. provided on the slip. This number is important as it will determine your place in the queue for darshan.

On reaching Bhawan, have a bath and change your clothes. Be sure to get your luggage and leather items booked in the cloak rooms and obtain the receipt. Book the valuables separately and obtain the receipt.

You can also get blankets on refundable deposit for Rs.100.
Temple - Vaishno Devi Bhavan

On reaching Bhavan, buy prasad and other offerings. Show the Yatra Ticket at the office and collect the Token No., and check the group No. and time for your turn. Have a bath and change clothes before the darshan. Deposit your belongings in the cloak room and Stand in the queue for darshan according to your Group No. at gate No. 2. Keep chanting Jai Mata Di.

In case of overcrowding, it may take sometime in the queue. Please wait patiently.

You would not be allowed to carry the Cocunut in the cave. Before entering the cave, deposit the coconut and collect a token for each of such coconuts deposited. When you come out, be sure to collect an offered coconut from the other side by depositing the coconut. Do not lose the token.

Keep the prasad in your hands, and chant Jai Matadi inside the cave. While inside the cave, please concentrate on the darshan of mother goddess in her three pindi forms - Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati.

The holy cave entrance
The holy water coming from the feet of the mata can be collected while you come out near the exit gate.

Deposit the token and collect your coconut from the counter near the exit.

It is believed that the Yatra is complete only after visiting the shrine of Bhairon while returning. Bhairon's Shrine is 2.5 km. from Bhavan. Please collect your belongings before going to the shrine, as the path of return is different.

The return path is just 13 km. as the return path from the Bhairon Shrine joins the main path at Sanjhi Chhat.

High, High to the north, amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. Our journey takes you to this awesome wilderness, a place so holy and sacred, a place of mystery and adventure scarcely known to most in modern world. The Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims cover 13km of terrain on foot to reach the holy Darbar. There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a 'Call' to her devotees: and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. Howsoever difficult the passage may be: the difficult ascents, with innumerable stairs, are accomplished on foot by those who had never walked even small distances at their homes. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting 'Prem se bolo, JAI MATA DI' The Holy Cave Shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi is situated in a beautiful recess of the Holy Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas as in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. There are images of three deities - The Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi.
Bhairav Mandir (Temple)

The girl goddess went ahead and Bhairav followed her. She kept 'Veer-Langur' on guard outside the cave and asked him not to allow Bhairav to enter the cave. When the goddess entered the cave, the Bhairav also tried to enter. Veer-Langur forbade him and terrific battle started. There after Devi took the form of goddess 'Chandi' and killed Bhairav. The head flew to a place, presently called Bhairav Ghati. The temple has been constructed at the same spot. The body of Bhairav remained near the cave and the huge stone, outside the cave is the symbol of Bhairav's body.

Although the sword of goddess cut the head of Bharav (Bhairav), yet Bhairav prayed to mother for mercy. He said, "Mother, I am not mourning my death as I have died at the hands of mother creator. But I pray you gracious mother to pardon me. I did not know you in the girl form. Mother if you do not forgive my sins then the whole world may hate me." On hearing the cry of a child addressed to the mother again and again, mother took pity on Bhairav and gave him a boon of liberation. She said, "My devotees will visit your place after having my 'Darshan'. The desires of devotees will be fulfilled, if they visit your place." Accordingly the pilgrims visit Bhairav temple after offering prayers at mother's abode in the cave. Thus, it is believed that the journey to Mata's shrine is not complete unless the devotee visits the temple of Bhairav.
Jai Mata Di

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jammu & Kashmir government to augment 5 lakh additional GPD for Vaishnodevi

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir government and the Shri Mata Vaishno devi Shrine Board (SMVSB) have formulated four major projects to augment water supply to the shrine and its base camp with a target of 5 lakh gallons per day.
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"Several projects have been forumlated for augmentation of the water supply to the Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine and its base camp Katra and target has been set as additional 5 lakh gallon per day (GPD)," minister for PHE, irrigation and flood control Taj Mohideen said in reply to a cut motion of BJP MLA Baldev Raj Sharma in Assembly.

He said a short-term project costing Rs1.39 crore has been prepared for adding additional 3 lakh gallon pers day water supply to Jhajjar - source of existing life water scheme to Katra, the base camp of Vaishnovdevi.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji | Amarnath | Pahalgam | Sonamarg | Gulmarg | Srinagar | Yatra | Tour

Kashmir is the principal region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, The other tow supplementary units being Jammu and Ladakh, The say a visit to Kashmir can divide you life into two halves before and after Kashmir. For indeed after a trip to this unforgettable land, you are never quite the same again, Nestling in the top of dazzling, Snow capped Himalayas, the Kashmir Valley is undoubtedly a jewel in India's crown, An inspiration for so much art, Music and poetry, Kashmir is also a honeymooner's paradise, a nature lover's wonderland and a shopper's dream come true. Kashmir, is the legendary valley touched with such benediction that poets have showered hyperbolic adjectives on it. It has snow in winter and bring, mild sunshine from April to November.

Kashmir is Paradise of Earth, It is a multi-faceted diamond, changing its hues with the seasons - always extravagantly beautiful. Two major Himalayan ranges, the Great Himalayan Range and the Pir Panjal, surround the landscape from the north and south respectively. Kashmir is a land where myriad holiday ideas are realised. In winter, when snow carpets the mountains, there is skiing, tobogganing, sledge-riding, etc. along the gentle slopes. In spring and summer, the honey-dewed orchards, rippling lakes and blue skies beckon every soul to sample the many delights the mountains and valleys have to offer

Sightseeing in Kashmir


Srinagar is as much imagination as it is fact, for every season offers new vistas to this city of great antiquity. Spring breathes life again into a frozen world and the air is heady with the fragrance of a million flowers that blossom on trees, shrubs and creepers. Summer heightens the effect and autumn is poignant in its colours of warm introspection. Winter brings with it snow, sometimes the Dal Lake freezes and beneath a leaden sky, roasted chestnuts turn the atmosphere aromatic with the promise of warmth and comfort.
Srinagar district is situated in the centre of Kashmir Valley, is surrounded by five districts. In the north it is flanked by Kargil, in the South by Pulwama, in the north-west by Budgam. The capital city of Srinagar, is located 1730 metres above sea level.


Gulmarg's legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favourite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here.Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country's premier ski resort in the winter


Sonamarg at an altitude of 3,000 metres above sea level, 87 km north-east of Srinagar. The drive to Sonamargh is though yet another spectacular facet of country side in Kashmir, this time in Sindh Valley. The Sindh Valley is the largest tributary of the valley of Kashmir. It is upwards of sixty miles long, and valley and deep rock-girt gorge to open grassy meadow land and village-dotted slopes.Sonamarg, which means ' meadow of gold ' has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. the Sindth meanders along here and abounds with trout and mahseer, snow trout can be caught in the main river


Pahalgam is probaly the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the nighttime temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town.Pahalgam is situated at the junction of the Aru and Sheshnag Rivers and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-capped peaks rising behind them. The Aru flows down from the Kolahoi glacier beyond Lidderwat while the Sheshnag from glaciers along the great Himalayan.


pilgrimages is the oldest organized travel system, evolved over time by Hindu sages and embodying the spirit of wander, adventure and spirituality. One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living god. The most ancient and sacred book of India, the Rig Veda evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time.The trek to Amarnathji, in the month of Shravan (July - August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiva, in the form of a lingam, is formed naturally of an ice - stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the moon. By its side are, fascinatingly, two more ice - lingams, that of Parvati and of their son, Ganesha

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji

A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts lakhs of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds 5 million. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad

HDFC starts e-collection service for Vaishno Devi devotees

New Delhi, Nov 6 (PTI) HDFC Bank today signed an agreement with Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board for offering e-collection through HDFC Bank Payment Gateway.
This will facilitate the devotees to make on-line contributions or donations to Mata Vaishno Devi and also help them in many e-Commerce transactions for various services, HDFC Bank said in a release. Devotees can opt for any mode for making donations including direct debit to their HDFC Bank account, or any credit card and debit card, it said. The bank is already offering this facility to many other temple institutions including Shree Jagannath Temple, Shree Sidhivinayak Ganpati Temple, Sri Arasuri Ambaji Shakti Peeth and Baidyanath Temple.

Vaishno Devi shrine security beefed up

The security of the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir will be strengthened as it faces a threat of terror attack, an official said here Friday.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Governor N.N. Vohra. Senior security officials, including Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda and Additional Director General of Police (CID) K. Rajendra, attended the meeting here.
The official of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said the security was tightened in view of a threat of a terror attack.
'The security forces are fully prepared to meet any eventuality,' Khoda told IANS.
A battalion of the Indian Army guards the mountainous area around the shrine while the 13-km track is jointly guarded by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jammu and Kashmir police.
But there are fresh inputs with the security agencies that terrorists might strike at the shrine or pilgrims visiting the shrine.
'The security situation was reviewed and it was decided to strengthen it because of the nine-day-long navratras (considered holy by Hindus) beginning March 16,' the shrine official said.
The pilgrim rush is very heavy, sometimes touching over 40,000 a day during these nine days as 'navratras' is considered an auspicious period for undertaking pilgrimage.
The shrine attracts more than 7.5 million pilgrims from all across India. It has been under the threat of terrorist strike since 1980s.
In 2003, terrorists had lobbed a grenade at Banganga, the starting point of the pilgrimage, two km ahead of Katra. Seven pilgrims were killed and more than 20 were injured.


Vaishno Pilgrimage Corporate Package
- Cost of the package is Rs 10,999/- (on twin sharing basis )
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel Bhawani z Paradise with Breakfast & Dinner.
Note :
    Extra Adult Sharing Rs 3333 Child Between 5 - 12 years Rs 2777

Vaishno Devi Helicopter Package
- Cost of the package is Rs 12,500/- (on twin sharing basis )
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel Country inn & Suites or k c
  • Residency with Breakfast & Dinner
Note :
    Extra Adult Sharing Rs 4,999 Child Between 5 - 12 years Rs 2999 Extention Night with Transfer 4222/- per couple

Indian spiritual sites
- Cost of the package is Rs 14,500/- (on twin sharing basis )
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel White Orchid with Breakfast and Dinner.
Note :
    Extra Adult Sharing Rs 5555. Child Between 5 - 12 years Rs 3222. Extention Night with Transfer 4999.

Cancellation Policy
More than 72 hrs
  • Refund 90% of the package
72 - 49 hrs
  • Refund 80% of the pacakge
48- 25 hrs
  • Refund 70% of the pacakge
  • Refund 50% of the package
less than 12hrs
  • No show & No refund
Helicopter Tickets Fare
Helicopter Tickets fare for Adult
  • Rs 2450/- from Katra - Sanjichhat _ Katra
  • Rs 1225/- from (Katra - Sanjichhat or Sanjichhat - Katra)
Helicopter Tickets fare for child
  • Rs 1220/- from Katra - Sanjichhat _ Katra
  • Rs 610/- from (Katra - Sanjichhat or Sanjichhat - Katra) for child (02-12years)
Note :
  • Infant below 02 years is free
Category A (Cost is Rs 16,000/- + 7% Service Charges)
1.  No. of Persons Allowed : One
2.  Facilities Entitled under the Package :
- Aarti Darshan for one person.
- One two bedded AC Room in Niharika free of cost.
- One two bedded room at Bhavan free of cost.
- Maximum of three meals for one person free to cost at Katra/Bhavan.
- Prashad.
Category B (COST IS RS 31,000 + 7% SERVICE CHARGES)
1.  No. of Persons Allowed : Two
2.  Facilities Entitled under the Package :
- Aarti Darshan for two persons.
- One two bedded AC Room in Niharika free of cost.
- One two bedded room at Bhavan free of cost.
- Maximum of three meals for two persons free to cost at Katra/Bhavan.
- Prashad.
Category C (COST IS RS 46,000 + 7% SERVICE CHARGES)
1.  No. of Persons Allowed : Three
2.  Facilities Entitled under the Package :
- Aarti Darshan for three persons.
- One four bedded AC Room in Niharika free of cost.
- One four bedded room at Bhavan free of cost.
- Maximum of three meals for three persons free to cost at Katra/Bhavan.
- Prashad.
Category D (COST IS RS 75,000/- + 7% SERVICE CHARGES)
1.  No. of Persons Allowed : Four or Five
2.  Facilities Entitled under the Package :
- Aarti Darshan for four or five persons.
- One four bedded AC Room and one two bedded AC Room in Niharika free of cost.
- One Four Bedded and One Two Bedded room at Bhavan free of cost.
- Maximum of three meals for five persons free to cost at Katra/Bhavan.
- Prashad.


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.
People who visit the shrine constitute a heterogeneous profile comprising of wealthy & poor, aged & young males & females from within and outside the country. The Shrine of goddess ‘Vaishno Devi’ is reached by an arduous climb.

Vaishno Devi tour package
- Cost of the package is Rs 8,750/-
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • One Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel Bhawani z Paradise with Breakfast and Dinner.

- Cost of the package is Rs 10,000/-
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • One Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel Country inn & Suites And K C Residency with Breakfast & Dinner

Vaishno Devi helicopter yatra
- Cost of the package is Rs 12,000/- (Per Single Pax)
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • One Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel White Orchid with Breakfast & Dinner.

Vaishno Pilgrimage Corporate Package
- Cost of the package is Rs 10,999/- (on twin sharing basis )
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel Bhawani z Paradise with Breakfast & Dinner.
Note :
    Extra Adult Sharing Rs 3333 Child Between 5 - 12 years Rs 2777

Vaishno Devi Helicopter Package
- Cost of the package is Rs 12,500/- (on twin sharing basis )
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel Country inn & Suites or k c
  • Residency with Breakfast & Dinner
Note :
    Extra Adult Sharing Rs 4,999 Child Between 5 - 12 years Rs 2999 Extention Night with Transfer 4222/- per couple

Indian spiritual sites
- Cost of the package is Rs 14,500/- (on twin sharing basis )
Packages Includes :
  • All AcReturn transfer From Airport or Railway Station.
  • Helicopter Tickets with VIP Dharshan.
  • One Night stay in Hotel White Orchid with Breakfast and Dinner.
Note :
    Extra Adult Sharing Rs 5555. Child Between 5 - 12 years Rs 3222. Extention Night with Transfer 4999.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Memoirs of Vaishnodevi visit

Offering obeisance at VAISHNO DEVI shrine means offering Puja to tri Maha shakti (Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati) at a time. Vaishnodevi cave temple is extremely popular to the people of all faiths. Among the most revered of shrines, and the oldest in the region, it entails a 13.5 km trek from Katra which in turn is 50 km from Jammu. The route up to the Vaishnodevi shrine consists of both tiled paths as well as steep staircases, and the devout often walk barefeet up the Trikuta mountain. Several shrines, wayside stalls for snacks and beverages and water-points dot the route. An important temple, midway at Adhkwari, marks a major centre of obeisance where the goddess is supposed to have spent nine months on her journey up the mountain. The cave vaishnodevi shrine is narrow and pilgrims have to walk through a running stream of cold water Charan Ganga to get to the sanctum sanctorum. Within, three rock-cut idols of the goddesses, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati are venerated. Canopies of silver and gold adorn the idols. Coconuts and red scarves are offered. Coconuts are to be deposited on the way to the sanctum and have to be collected later along with a coin. Legend has it that Vaishno Devi took the cave for her home upon being chased by a demon, Bhairon, whom she slayed outside the shrine. A visit to the temple dedicated to Bhairon who was absolved of his sin before he died, is an obligatory part of the pilgrimage.

My journey commenced from Chandigarh as I could not connect to Jammu from Mumbai . A friend and I drove from the Chandigarh airport straight away towards Jammu on 22nd July 2006 by road at 3-30 pm . We passed through fields of Punjab and the G T Road and reached Katara , the foot hill of the shrine at well past mid night. The road from Jammu to Katara was in an awfully bad shape and so were the roads leading from Lakhanpur to Jammu . We braved several diversions , weather and poor light and visibility on our way stopping for evening cuppa’ tea and supper and midnight dinner at way side Dhabas. It took us approximately 8-9 hours to reach Katra from CHD. Another friend had booked us in Shanker palace Hotel in Katra and so we decided against climbing up the hill during the night as we were also travel weary from a 9 hour road journey. Normally , it is preferable to climb up the hill (13 km uphill route )during the night as it is less tiresome as the temperature is more acceptable than during the day. After spending the night in the hotel, and completing our morning chores we three had typical North Indian lunch at Manoranjan ,Katra comprising Rajma Chawal, Parathas and strted on “Mission Mata” darshan. We obtained the ticket to go to the shrine from the J&K Govt. run ticket office at Katra. You can walk , take a copter ,weather permitting, ( Rs 4000 to and fro) , take a pony or a doli which four people carry and pay according to your body weight from Rs 300 onwards. The copter ride takes just a few minutes.
There is an interesting side to this visit to Mata shrine as to how it materialized. This was my third visit to Mata shrine . The first one was in 1997 and second in 1999 with my wife. Both were wonderful experiences and hence I had a strong urge to visit once more . In Dec 2005 , my brother in law came down from USA and I used my CC to book him some flights to Nagpur . This entitled me to qualify for a “Fly for Sure” offer from Citicards. After a lot of follow up , threats and protests , Citibank finally relented and gave me the free air-ticket I wanted – to Chandigarh and back to Mumbai. When Citibank was dilly-dallying , I was skeptical that Mata is not approving of my visit. Those who believe in Mata Vaishno Devi know too well that unless her divine “bulawa” ( call) comes , a visit there is virtually impossible. Many have reached the foot hill and had to return without her “darshan” ( sight) due to several factors . So goes the story. Finally , I have to thank Citibank for arranging my visit to see my loved “ mother” and have her “darshan”.
At Katra , my friend decided to hire the services of a “pitthoo” – a luggage carrier for Rs 330 for a 24 hour journey . While I was initially against the idea , it turned out to be a good foresight on his part as the pitthoo Badrinath did all the work of carrying the luggage on his back and head and left us to trek the distance up free of weight , which is quite a formidable challenge. Badrinath , even doubled up as a masseur whenever we wanted and our feet and legs were aching. “ Aap ki Sewa nahi karenge to mewa kaise payega” he would say. He was doing this job for 32 years and said he was free for last four days which made me feel sad for him. It is also advisable for pilgrims to book a room up at the shrine for resting , at reasonable tariffs at Katara itself , as one may not get a room once you are up at the shrine and may have to rest in dormitories and open places.

At the start of the yatra is a bathing point called the Banganga where pilgrims have a holy bath . Due to security reasons , one has to cross several check points and barriers . The late music aficionado Gulshan Kumar conducts a bhandara or free food distribution ( langar) for devotees every day and the daily expense could be running into thousands. Such is the family’s belief in Mata , we were informed by Badrinath . The 13.5 km journey has a mid route stop over at Ardhkwari. Of course there are several resting points along the journey and any pilgrim can take any number of halts , sip coffee at Coffee day , or Government run shops , have snacks , fruits etc. Several shops sell various eatables along the way. On the way as you start climbing up , one comes across temples devoted to Saint of Shirdi , Sadguru Sai baba , Mata’s Charan paduka (holy feet), Gayatri Gita Mata , Siva , Ganesha and Durgadevi. Several monkeys are seeing jumping around and so long as you don’t harm or tease them , they are to themselves. We travelled amidst foggy weather and through clouds as we ventured on a long awaited dream to fulfill.
At Ardhkwari we touched base at 5-30 pm and the queue for going through the “garbhajoom” was long enough that it would have taken us atleast 3-4 hours in waiting . However, my friends’ never say die spirit came to our rescue and approached the local office for help to get us a quicker passage as we had a return flight to take back. We were obliged with the grace of the Goddess. Garbhajoom is the place where Goddess Mataji performed penance for nine months in a small cave . The journey is a marvelous experience. It is initially frightening as the entry into the cave is very small and one has to slide inside on crouched feet , prostate , and turn , overturn before you come out. Even the fattest of the fat get in and come out. The passage is called “garbha joom” because it is like a journey through Mother’s womb. I had a relatively this time compared to 1999 as my body perhaps, has become stiffer over these 7 years. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience. We completed this leg of the journey and now what was to follow was the stiffest test of endurance, patience, and strength and will power. The journey from Ardhkwari upwards is most challenging as it almost completely up hill and you are already famished walking half way through. But devotees with their tremendous faith , will power and endurance scale this walk taking the name of the Goddess amidst regular chants “ Jai Mata di”. As one walks past another devotee, it is customary to wish one another this way. There is another route to reach the Bhawan ( the shrine) without reaching Ardhkwari and one saves a half km distance and the road is also more flatter and not so much up hill. We could not use this road as a landslide few hours before had compelled the authorities to close the path. Fortunately there were no casualties.
After trekking , some times huffing and puffing , with our pitthoo Badrinath massaging our feet , we reached Bhawan at approx 10-30 am. If you hire a pitthoo it is important to keep his Id card with you. Having purchased the “Prasad” bag from the shrine counter ( Rs 21,31,51) we approached the Police station and “flashed” our VIP recommendation thanks to a business associate -friend from Jammu for a quick darshan through VIP route ! The Police were kind and guided us so that we could return after a cold water bath . A shiver went through me as I briefly wetted my body in the freezing cold water . Having changed to new dress gear , we again went to P/S where the police in-charge sent a cop to guide us into the queue to Army Gate No 3 from where we proceeded for divine darshan I had been so profusely longing for . We kept our leather articles back.

After the darshan which happened on the stroke of midnight , we were feeling fulfilled and again the police guided us to the reception at Bldg. No 4 where we were able to get a room at Shridhar Bhuwan at a nominal rent of Rs. 600 to rest for the night.

Next morning, having completed this leg of the journey we completed the darshan of Bhairavnath which is up hill from Bhawan at a distance of 2.5 km. No yatra to Mata is supposed to be complete unless you pay your respects at Bhairav nath . Hence a visit to Bhairav nath is a Must. From here our downward descent commenced feeling satisfied, fulfilled and blessed.
Narendra Chanchal has sung many bhajans and aartis in obeisance to holy Mother which rent the air as you undertake this unforgettable journey . Even modern day famous songs like " aaja aaja " and "dhoom dhoom" and numbers of Himesh Reshammiya and others have been converted to sing praises of holy Mother.
Jai mata di.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vaishno Devi Yatra By Helicopter

The shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi 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. 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. In the cave there are images of three deities viz. the Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.

Arrive Jammu by train (rail) or by air. Meet and assist on arrival at railway station or airport and proceed straight to Katra by Car. Arrive Katra and check in at Hotel. Later proceed to Vaishnodevi Shrine (Approx. 13 km Trek ) One can trek up to the Shrine if fitness permits, otherwise Pony/ Palanquins/ Palki/ horse/ doli/ Helicopter are also available. Arrive at Vaishnodevi Bhawan. Wash and change before Mata Darshan. After Mata Vaishno devi Darshan, proceed for Bhaironji Darshan.

Vaishno Devi Yatra By Helicopter: Meet on arrival at airport/ Railway staion and straight drive to Helipad – Katra by car to board on Helicopter for Sanji Chhat. Departure Katra by Helicopter. Arrival Sanjichhat Onward to Bhawan by foot or Ponies Priority Darshan. After darshan leave by ponies for Sanjichhat for last Helicopter to Katra. Board your helicopter from Katra on the foothills and the flight will drop you at Sanjhi Chat, just about a stone’s throw away from the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi.

Jammu is well connected to the rest of India by air. Both Indian Airlines and Jet Airways operate daily flights to Jammu. The average flying time from New Delhi is about 80 minutes. One can also reach Jammu by rail. Jammu is connected to other parts of country on broad gauge and numerous passenger trains ply from various parts of the country to Jammu. In the peak season of summer and other holidays, the Railways introduce special trains for Jammu for the comfort of the Yatris. Many superfast trains also ply on this route and one can reach Jammu overnight from New Delhi.

Jammu is well connected through road also to rest of India. National Highway No. 1A passes through Jammu towards Srinagar. Regular bus services from all major North Indian cities are available for Jammu as well as Katra. You have reached the world’s foremost resource for finding Accommodation/ Hotels in Vaishno Devi. Popular Vaishno Devi Hotels are: Asia Vaishno Devi Hotel, Surya Palace Hotel, Bhawani Z Paradise Hotel.

my Vaishno devi trip report

I decided to post my Vaishno devi trip report here. Its an old one, but my memories are still very fresh.

Vaishno devi is one of the most popular temples in India. It is located in the mountains 13 kilometers from Katra in Jammu & Kashmir. My mom had been talking about going there for years, and finally she and my dad decided to make the trip and asked me along. There is a special train for Sindhis that departs from Surat and goes all the way to Katra. Several Sindhis have donated to run this train, and cost of the trip (including food) is only Rs. 3,000 plus accommodation. A bargain!! The only problem was the timing – it took us almost 2 days to reach because the train was not on a regular schedule – rather, it went ahead only if it received a signal. The enthusiasm of the organizers is admirable – imagine the time it took to hire people, get donors in line, work with government for permissions, cook and provide good food on the train and in Katra. Amazing! The train runs twice a year, and this time there were 2,000 people in the train, most of them Sindhis but some Gujaratis as well.

Day 1

We took a bus for a 3 hours trip and planned to board the train in Baroda. My cousin Lokesh came to meet us at the station and we had dinner – Pau Bhaji (yummy!). My mom’s sister, Daya masi, joined us there. My mom’s other sister, Rami masi, had boarded the train in Surat and we joined her at the Baroda station. Her husband Anand jijaji was there as well, along with his sister-in-law, cousin brother and the brother’s wife and sister. The cousin brother’s sister brought along her grandson who was in engineering college. Lets call the cousin sister fat cow, the cousin brother N and his wife K, sister-in-law SIL. A completely useless bunch. Jijaji’s other brother and sister-in-law had changed their minds about coming, so he requested N and K to come along using their tickets.

The train was late, and we boarded it at 1:30am. The train was cold. In our compartment there were pockets that had air coming in. The organizers had blocked it using cellotape but it was still very cold. I told (boasted, rather) my parents that I wouldn’t feel cold (NY harsh weather skin and all), but I froze my butt off. I shivered a lot but the considerate person that I am I did not wake my mom to ask her for a shawl. And the lazy bum that I am I did not venture down to look for it either. I slept in the middle section. I always find it hard to sleep at the top. Rami masi slept at the top – her section had a large speaker, so her shorter self would accommodate it better. It was a feat getting her up because the speaker was right over the steps. Mom kept telling jijaji to haul her up. They are like Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan – in height! Jijaji had to sleep with bent knees in the corner section. Mom kept telling him to go to a section where his long legs would be better off, but he refused. Mom and he have a thing going on where they keep fighting all the time – in fun of course. Jijaji does not feel cold probably because he does a lot of yoga. But he did not even cover himself with a bedsheet, and his section was the coldest as I found out the next night.

Day 2

My mom’s annoying alarm rang punctually at 5am. By 6, the helpers were serving tea. There was sweetened tea, unsweetened tea, and milk. Everyone started waking up. I asked my mom for a shawl, and she told me not to wake up since I slept lightly shivering most of the night. Fat cow woke up along with K and N. K is fat cow’s chamchi because the cow is her sis-in-law. Cow is a millionaire and expects everyone to give her a red carpet treatment. I was going to continue to sleep in the middle section above hers, but since it would be uncomfy for her highness who had decided to grace the world with her wakefulness, I was asked to move to the opposite section. Which I did. I just wanted to sleep. Fat cow complained about my sleeping, and mom yelled in front of everyone saying let my daughter sleep – nobody disturb her. Lol. Anyway their talking kept me up and I woke up by 7.

K and cow were complaining that our luggage was in the way. They had tons of luggage and put it all in our place, and were now complaining because there was no room for ours. Mom told them “we have 5 pieces between the 3 of us, and you have 5 between the 2 of you. OMG why so much luggage”. I said, “where do you expect us to keep our luggage – there is no space”.

For some reason I was very cold and kept myself covered the entire morning. I had 2 cups of tea. I always have so much tea in India – its like a household staple. People have headaches if they don’t have tea every morning and evening. I have 3-4 cups everyday – of course the cups are very small and 3 cups cover 1 tall Starbucks coffee. Since there was nothing else to do, I drank tons of tea and read my Sookie Stackhouse series – I was on the 7th book.

At 10 we had breakfast – something sweet, upma, a few other delicacies and tea. The tea was too sweet for my taste. Upma was delicious! One thing I knew we would have is good food – a Sindhi trademark.

I was back to my book. Mid-morning bananas were distributed. Jijaji made me eat one – he insisted so much that I ate a small one just so he would leave me in peace. Afternoon we had lunch at 2pm, then mid-evening snack, and finally dinner. The food was very very good. We had kadi every night – I love kadi! They did go overboard with the food – we had dal and kadi, and every evening we had at least 2-3 snacks. Too much food!

The bathrooms in the train were disgusting. After living in the US, I expected lower tolerance of the bathrooms. I should have followed my instincts and packed 2-3 rolls of toilet paper.

The seating arrangement was less than ideal. Cow plopped her fat ass in the center of one seat occupying most of it. You could squeeze in if you liked proximity to her highness. She put her purse near the window. So she pretty much had the whole seat to herself. Her grandson was in the upper section listening to his iPod, but cow still saved a seat for him at the opposite window. K and SIL sat in the remaining of the grandson’s saved seat. N sat in the narrow aisle seat. My mom, Rami masi, Daya masi, and I squeezed together in the adjacent aisle seat huddled close together. The great thing about that was that I got to hear unending juicy gossip about every family member. Large Indian families are like a company – you will find “office” politics and protocol galore. Rami masi has 25 members in her house (started with 4), and when they have just 5 people in the house, they don’t feel like cooking thinking “oh who is going to cook for just 5 people”! My dad sat in the seat opposite us, with jijaji there sometimes. To add fuel to the fire, whenever K wanted anything she said “call Rami, Rami will do it. She is very nice. Call her”. So my masi was now their servant. Anytime they needed anything from their bags, she removed them.

My mom and I were angry because we had to accommodate fat cow – she hoarded our entire compartment and yet we did not tell her to move. I kept saying why can’t we sit where our seat numbers are, and my parents kept pacifying me saying that you cannot do that in India to older people. Later on we found out that cow and her grandson had booked seats elsewhere and just came and sat in our compartment. We were huddled during the entire trip, trading places with people in the opposite seat.

There was a holy man in the train, so we went to visit him. We touched his feet and got chocolates (Eclairs, used to be my fav). There was another compartment where Durga maa’s idol was arranged in the form of a temple. It was in 16, and we were in 10. It was very crowded, and every time we tried to go to another compartment it took at least 30-40 mins because everyone was moving around. Everyone had visited the temple except for jijaji and I. The train stopped and we decided to go into 16 from outside the train. The train started moving mid-way and we along with others ran inside. There were so many of us trying to get in that I got in but jijaji was hanging by the door squeezed by people getting in. I pulled his arm and got him in. We decided to stay inside and visit the temple. Jijaji loves to dance, and he danced and danced in the temple. It was so funny!! There was music and dancing, and bells ringing. At every large station we had band baja too, and people got out and started dancing.

The day passed with my books. I read the whole day. People kept coming and going. Everyone knew someone who was related to someone. I met my mom’s brother’s wife’s brother. I met my grandfather’s brother’s son’s in-laws. And so on and so forth. I have no idea how people (my parents) keep track of relatives. You don’t need to go to Facebook for 6 degrees of separation – just come to India, among the 1 billion people.

In the afternoon mehndi cones were distributed. Many years back I learned to apply mehndi. I did a nice peacock design which my mom liked. I started applying for Daya masi but the moving train ruined it, plus I have never applied it for someone else. Rami masi was less-than-impressed with my design. I told her to try herself to get a design like mine. She got hers done by someone else which was not as nice as mine though, despite what she thought. People say that mehndi color is an indication of how much your husband loves you. I am competitive that way and wanted to make sure my color was good. I kept the mehndi on for many hours and did not wash that hand the entire day. I wanted to make sure AM’s love came through. Cheating, I know, but whatever.

At night jijaji asked me to trade sleeping places with him because the small place hurt his legs. Knowing jijaji he would not rest if I was uncomfortable. He kept asking me whether I was comfy, and even woke me up from my sleep to ask about my comfort!! I told him I am fine, just go to sleep (and let me sleep). I wore socks and covered myself with two shawls, thick ones, plus wore a jacket. Yet I froze! It was cold, and the outside air kept coming in through the cellotape. Our compartment was the only cold one.

I missed AM. I wanted to talk to him, and part of me was upset that he had not called me. I know I told him that we would have roaming charges. A part of me was upset, and a part of me felt that since he knew me well he would know that I expect a call and he would call.

Day 3

Next morning we followed the same routine, and reached Jammu after lunchtime. I was on the 8th book in the series. We took the bus to Katra – a 3 hours drive. I had not slept well the last 2 nights and was very tired and sleepy. The organizers had arranged for music and dance and we went there. It was fun, but I was so tired. For the first time I did not join in the dance – I usually never miss Indian dancing, but I was just so tired and sleepy. We had dinner and went shopping – funny because 5 of us sat in one rickshaw. Mom in an extra side seat at the edge, Rami masi in my lap, Daya masi near me, and Dad in the front with the driver. I bought 2 shawls. I was in love with one shawl with gorgeous Kashmir embroidery but it was expensive. My mom and masis bought many many dresses as gifts – they were gorgeous and cheap. On the way back, the driver tried to arrange us. Rami masi sat in the extra side edge seat, mom, Daya masi, and I at the regular seat, and dad in the front with the driver. It was funny because I had to almost stand to accommodate all 4 of us at the back. Daya masi’s knee got stuck, and she could not get out of the rickshaw. We all waited for her to get out, and I burst out laughing so badly. It was hilarious! Mom kept saying “Kick Daya out”. After a few attempts she got out and so did we.

Jijaji had booked 4 rooms – we wanted 2 rooms – one for my parents and one for me to share with Daya masi. But cow and her grandson had booked tickets without anybody’s knowledge at the last minute and did not book her room. Jijaji gave her one room, one to K and N. So we had to adjust which was annoying. My dad had arthritis pain in his arm and needed space, so he and jijaji were in one room, and mom, Daya masi, Rami masi, and I shared a bed. It was nice because after years we all were in one room. I was very sleepy, but they kept chatting and making fun. I burst out laughing at their jokes. Finally I told mom that I needed to sleep. We woke up at 5am, and I was so tired and sleepy. By 6am we had a light breakfast and were on our way to the temple. We started early to avoid crowds. The way was very very steep. Mom started on her way and walked fast. She was excited and I admire her faith and desire to walk all the way up 11 kilometers. It was a tough way. I walked 1 km, but I was so tired and sleepy and decided to go on a horse. Since Mom left me behind, I asked Rami masi for money. I had not withdrawn cash from the bank. I went up on the horse. I passed my mom and she passed some taunts as to how I should be walking since I am younger. She kept telling me that I was committing a sin by putting the horse through the trouble of dealing with my weight on his back. But better me than someone else – I insisted that my horse-guy did not beat my horse who was a female named Rani BTW. Oh well. I stopped on the way for the horse to eat and rest, and realized Rami masi had not given me enough money. If I told the horse guy this, he would probably not take me all the way so I kept mum. I reached up at 9:30am and decided to wait for my Dad who had an 11am helicopter ride to the temple. The helicopter was 3 hours late! My mom got there by 11am. We went into the temple. We met a nice couple from Amritsar who go there every year, and they explained what to expect. Usually the cave inside the temple is closed, but since there were relatively fewer crowds, the cave was open. It was very exciting to walk in the cave – no easy feat. There was no statue, just 3 rocks (called pindis, to me they looked like rocks) to commemorate the place where the Goddess was seen. Each rock represented Saraswati, Vaishno devi, and Kali maa. I looked at the rocks and I felt a huge adrenalin rush and felt very very emotional. It was very overwhelming. I felt as if there was a God here, there was something powerful – and I am not even a religious person by nature. I felt like standing there, the feeling was so intense. For some reason I felt like crying and was choked. I felt that way for a long time after. I had to move out due to the crowds. It reminded me of my intense Art of living sessions where every emotion came out of you in breathing sessions and emptied you of every negative emotion. The whole experience ignited a faith in me, a religious faith. I had thought of what to ask God for – peace and happiness for my parents, happiness for me and AM, or fulfill my career aspirations. At the end it felt petty to ask for something. God knows everything, so why cheapen the experience by asking for something? So I didn’t ask for anything. I just felt grateful that nothing negative happened, and that I was able to pay my respects.

Outside, there were several people taking a bath in water than ran in the temple through the rocks. The water was supposed to be pure since it touched the feet of the Gods. It was cold. Men are shameless – they were changing in front of everyone – who wants to see their netherlands? Indian men, for the most part, are disgusting hairy gorillas, nothing to see there.

By the time we were done, we met jijaji, Rami masi, and Daya masi. We wanted to have dinner and leave for Bharavnath mandir, but jijaji insisted that we wait for them. They had forgotten to bring Prasad, so mom sent me all the way back to get Prasad. I thought, since I didn’t walk up, God wanted me to go through the trouble of getting Prasad. People nearby asked me to get for them as well. I brought so many bags of Prasad, and it was hard walking back with all of it. People were staring.

We had lunch and waited for everyone for an hour. Finally we decided to leave.

Bhairavnath was a demon who knew that Vaishno devi wanted to kill him, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and kill her. When he went to kill her, she cut off his head which fell 3 kilometers away. So every Vaishno devi temple has a Bhairavnath temple 3 kms away. Mom and I decided to go on a horse. The way was very very steep and 20 mins away. We got there soon, but my mom was so terrified of the horse who slipped twice. We decided to walk back. She wanted to go back in a palki with 4 men carrying it, but it was too expensive. I truly admired my mom’s ability to walk to and from – it was a long long and tough walk. I walked back with her 13 kms. We walked and walked and were very tired, and it felt as if there would be no end to the road. There were shortcuts in the form of steps, but after a while my mom couldn’t take steps because it hurt our knees. I told her that the hotel provided massages for only Rs 50 to Rs 100. We kept going and each time I thought “here it is” but it never was the end. My mom was exhausted but made her way very slowly down. There were so many couples, many newly married, and I felt a pang. I missed AM. Some people were walking barefoot in the cold all the way up, and even some kids were bare foot. One man was limping with his crutch, and still he walked. I was embarrassed at having taken the horse. But to be fair, the horse was not a bed of roses. My butt and legs hurt bad, especially my calves. It was very uncomfortable, and I realized only after I got down from the horse. For days after my calves felt like lead – walking contributed to that as well.

On the way back, we met jijaji, Rami masi, and Daya masi on horses. Jijaji is terrified of horses, and Rami masi kept shouting “ae bhai mujhe pakdo” to the horse-guy whenever the horse took a turn. I asked jijaji to take my handbag, and he would not look at me or sideways. He extended his arm and would not even bend down. It was so funny! The horse guys must have a blast with such customers.

Anyway, we spent the night in the hotel. Thankfully the hotel had toilet paper which I pocketed for my train journey back. We were too tired to go out for dinner so ordered room service. The massage person was a guy so we got our half legs massaged. Mom tried and it was good, so I asked him to do me as well. It felt awesome, but he applied too much pressure. Despite my telling him to reduce the pressure he kept telling me that it was important to apply pressure, else how would the pain go away? So Indian! But the massage felt nice.

Then came drama. Daya masi told us that when they were all in line for the temple, N insulted them so much. Their helicopter ride was 3 hrs late and they yelled at Rami masi and jijaji for not making sure that they were inside the helicopter before leaving and for not being there to take care of their whims and fancies. The guy said this in front of everyone in the temple line. My mom and I were very annoyed at listening to this – I mean, jijaji and masi were there on a vacation, not as servants. My mom told N that night that do not expect VIP treatment when you go out – you have to adjust. People took our seats and rooms and still we adjusted. N went to masi and jijaji’s room to put his hand on her head and make up for his aholeness. Jijaji said “he is like my father so he can say anything”. N said to jijaji “you are like Shravan for me”. So why does my masi have to put up with crap? Why not just dump it all on Shravan? Ridiculous!

Day 4

Jijaji and team decided to go to Amritsar and spend the next day there and then take an express train from there to Bombay instead of wasting an extra day in the slow Sindhi train. We wanted to do the same, but we didn’t get train tickets. In any case we would have taken a separate car to avoid traveling with N and K. Cow and grandson flew back to Bombay.

We boarded the bus to Katra in the morning. I wanted to talk to AM. I dialed and dialed at 10pm EST but nobody picked up. I was deeply disappointed. When I don’t talk to AM I get very very irritated. I was also annoyed that he had not called, but there was no service so not his fault. I got more and more annoyed by the minute because I missed him and wanted him to pick up the damn phone. Anyway, we took the train in the afternoon, but since we had 3 hours my parents went shopping and shopped till they ran out of money. Mom wanted me to go with Dad but I refused, so she went. Had I gone my Dad would have returned with his wallet full. Both mom and dad like to shop, so they shopped and shopped. The train decided to leave at 1:30pm instead of 2, and we kept trying to get in touch with them, but no service. Finally they came at 1:10pm and I was so relieved! Of course the train wouldn’t have left without them. The train was “on-demand” sort of. A guy was talking on his phone between compartments when the train had stopped, and his phone fell down. Till his phone was retrieved the train did not move. I had full plans to pull the red chain to stop the train till my parents returned. The organizers were in our compartment anyway so that helped – which is why our compartment was the cleanest section too.

We had the whole compartment to ourselves. I missed Rami masi and jijaji – plus I had finished all the Sookie Stackhouse books and was bored. I bought The Kite Runner, but it wasn’t as interesting as Sookie – it was too serious. I saw more couples in the train and I missed AM sorely. I wanted to just talk to him.

So of course at night AM and I spoke and fought and I was upset. And cold again. I looked for socks but could not find them. Finally I put my feet in a cap and went to sleep.

Day 5

The next day I had some bonding time with my parents. I showed them how to use the digital camera, and we clicked some photos. None of us are avid photographers, so we forgot to carry the camera around. My parents have been through a lot and are more on edge now. My dad scolded me a few times, and I had a few arguments with my mom. But we keep arguing and making up – it’s never serious.

We had so much food everyday, that none of us felt like eating in the train. All I did was drink cups and cups of tea. It was a long and boring journey back. A helper tried to get me to close my book saying that we were not allowed to read, since it ruined the atmosphere. Whatever. I continued reading.

We got down at Godhra, met Champa masi, and took a taxi back home. I was finally glad to be home. On the way back I was upset several times for a few things, but each time I thought of the feeling I had in the temple, I felt peaceful even if for just a few minutes. In the taxi, I felt a strong desire to go back again, and this time walk all the way up. I want to go back with AM, just the two of us. I feel so strongly about it.
Vaishno Devi Helicopter Package

Vaishnodevi yatra - Heli - Pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi

 Vaishnodevi yatra  - Heli - Pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi
One of the most Religious & Hindu Pilgrimage destination in India, is located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Maa Vaishno Devi shrine is conveniently located from Delhi.

Shri Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the oldest shrine of India, located at a height of 5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The Holy cave is 13 Kms from the Base Camp Katra. The Town Katra is 50 Kms away from Jammu and 35 Kms from District HQ Udhampur and is linked by road. The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one 24 hrs Customer Supportof the most popular Shrines of India.

We, at Vaishno Devi Helicopter Ticketing Service and Travels offers  Vaishno Devi Tours and Travel Packages . welcomes you to Holy Tour of Maa Vaishno Devi. We offer journey to Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine & Hotel Booking in Jammu/ Katra & all other travel arrangements. for more details log on to

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This is probably India’s most well-known pilgrimage and attracts millions of devotees from all over India. The deep belief in the Mata at Vaishnodevi goes beyond all rational perception. Aged people, youngsters, families and children, all walk up the arduous journey to the shrine, in spite of physical hardship, cold weather and the jostling crowds. The experience at the shrine is said to be so deeply spiritual that worshipers make this journey over and over again many times in their lifetime.

Pilgrims have to arrive at the town of Katra, 50km from Jammu, which is the starting point of the pilgrimage. From here they climb up a paved track – 3 km uphill and then 3 km downhill – to reach the holy cave or Bhavan where the goddesses’ idol is housed. There is another original track which is much more steep and difficult. A few pilgrims even opt to climb that, but the majority use the new track. The entire arrangements.

Vaishno Devi Helicopter Ticketing Service and Travels

Vaishno Devi Helicopter Ticketing Service and Travels Pvt. Ltd  & - The leading Travel Agent in India is a young and energetic group of true-blue professionals making travel to India a pleasurable affair. From magnificent monuments to towering shopping malls, from luring Beaches of Kerala and Goa to the mighty peaks of Himalayas. Kerala from all corners is God's very own. We at Incredible India Tourism offer tailor made and customised tour packages for all parts of india including south india, north india, kerala for tourists of all around the world. Our website gives you all the essential information required for a memorable India tours.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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Golden Temple
  The most sacred temple for Sikhs. It is situated in Punjab. It is a symbol of the magnificence and strength of the Sikh people all over the world. In the evolution of the Darbar Sahib, is entwined the history and ideology of Sikhism. In its architecture are included, symbols associated with other places of worship. This is an example of the spirit of tolerance and acceptance that the Sikh philosophy propounds.

Taj Tour
  The story of Taj Mahal reflects the intensity of love. The fairy tale began when walking through the bazaar of Agra prince qhurram saw a girl. The girl was exceptionally beautiful. It was a love at first sight for both of them. After five years, on an auspicious day they were married and from that moment began the great epic of love.

Goa Tour
  The evergreen destination of Goa is a holidaymaker’s paradise. Breathtakingly beautiful blue beaches, sensuous silvery sands, fabulous flora and fauna, rich cultural heritage, captivating churches, and terrific temples, Goa has it all. The feasts and festivals of Goa are the other things not to be missed. The Indian state of Goa beckons you for the time of your life. So, get going to Goa that is on a holiday – twelve months in a year!

Mumbai Tour
  If you would like to travel to Bombay (Mumbai), to see this bustling commercial capital of India, or to view the coastal scenery around this city in Maharashtra, in West India, we can help you plan your tour. Mumbai (Bombay) India is called the city of dreams because every person who enters Bombay does so with a dream in his heart – most often the dream is to become a famous actor as this is the city which breeds aspiring as well as established stars of the Indian film industry.

Kerala Tour
  Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. An equable climate. A long shoreline with serene beaches. Tranquil streches of emerald Kerala backwaters. Lush Kerala hill stations and exotic Kerala wildlife. Kerala Waterfalls. Sprawling Kerala plantations and paddy fields. Kerala Ayurvedic health holidays. Enchanting art forms of Kerala. Magical festivals of Kerala. Historic and cultural monuments in Kerala. An exotic Kerala cuisine... All of which offers the visitors an unique experience.

Hotel Booking for Vaishno Devi and Amarnath tour

Our chopper takes you to this tremendous wilderness, a place so holy and blessed, full of mystery and venture. Rising high above the Trikuta Mountain and rambling forest, your pilgrimage will get off to a fortunate start.
Below you’ll find some fun and exciting Helicopter Rides. With our tourist guide you can find tourist information and fun things to do on vacation while browsing the location.

Airline Ticketing

  Domestic Airline Ticketing
VDHTST has been awarded an exclusive contract with Air Deccan. We do all domestic Airline Ticketing. We specialize in group fair and competitive deals, discounts in all airlines.
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We do complete International Ticket Bookings. Please, Contact us for more details.
We specialize in group fair and competitive deals, discounts in all airlines.

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Looking for Aircraft Charter?

VDHTST has A Exclusive Aircharter Division Backed By Its Rich Experience Of Over 5 Years, Being Associated With India Largest Air Fleet Operater Having A Fleet Of Over 70 Aircrafts And Helicopters For Providing Aircharters From 5 Seater To 180 Seater And Helicopters 3 Seater To 5 Seater Based At Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai And Jammu.
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Looking for vehicle hire in Delhi?
  Reasonable price? Reliable services? You needn’t search further... for we have it all here..... We have a wide range of cars in the offering from well known old and sturdy Ambassador to the latest Mercedes, the fiery Honda or the business class Ford or the budget class but air con Tata Indica. You chose your budget and your fantasy or comfort or your likings, we have it laid out in the platter for you.
Rent it out here... with a smiling and experienced driver to take you through the pleasant journey or bumpy terrain, as you like it. Be it straight shoot to the destination or a break for the Beer on the way or may be a bargain on the way in one of those villages where handicrafts are really made! YES, we have it all HERE !!

Conferences & Meetings Corporate Package to vaishno devi tour

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Visit to Maa Vaishno Devi

Vande Shinharudha Devi khadga kharpara dharini

Durgati nashinee durga adyashakti sanatani

Sharanagata deenarta paritrana parayane

Sarv syarti hare devi narayani namostute

Maa ke paavan charano main mera sat sat pranam…

This was a gift for me and i had the opportunity to visit the most sacred place on earth “Vaishno Devi”. Placed on the Trikuta Hill the goddess mother is blessing us and it was a much awaited call for me to visit her and I am obliged.

It was a sudden thought in my mind to visit the Goddess mother and eventually she called me. It happened many a times that visits to her place was planned but at the end cancelled for me. But this time I was lucky to get a chance to visit the shrine. As usual we were the same company of 3 ( Me, Tapan & Pramod Sir) but this time Nagendra added to it to make a batch of 4 for the visit. We tried booking train tickets but due to 3 days leave and huge rush we did not get the tickets. We tried booking Tatkal tickets too but were not able to do it. Finally we decided to go by bus and that to Roadways. And once we decided to go for it we never set back. Hence it was 24th Dec evening all 4 of us started our journey from our office only. We hired a cab to reach ISBT,Kashmiri Gate. We reached Kashmiri Gate at around 8.30 in the evening. Being the peak in winter the temperature went down to below 10 degree and in the deem mercury street light Delhi was looking great. Wishing one another Merry Christmas we left office and reached ISBT but looking at the chaos in the Bus adda we were disheartened to see the long queues for tickets. There were no bus and the public was waiting for more than 5 hours for ticket with no result. After waiting for around and 1.5 hrs we decided to go via Ludhiana and boarded a Haryana roadways bus. We were about to get tickets I got a call from Pramod Sir asking us to get down as he got a direct bus to Katra. We suddenly got down from that bus and boarded the direct bus to katra. This is how we used the experience of Pramod sir and thanked him. After the bus started towards the destination at around 11.30 pm in the night, we had the heavy alu ka paranthas with aachar and tried to sleep. At around one o clock in the night the bus halted at some place n we had coffee. The bus den dwelled on to the hills and we were trying hard to get ourselves some sleep but the Haryana Roadways bus bound by his nature was preventing us to rest. There were nasty jokes and fun among 4 of us wherein we got few companies as well during the travel. Finally around 11 am we reached Katra, the place from where we had to start the 12 km walk upwards to rich the holy shrine. Being the busiest season of the year we found little difficulty in getting a hotel but finally we managed. We did a brave job & took bath in the cold water on the hillside hotel and started towards the shrine. It was around one in the afternoon hence we had food and reached the footsteps. there was a long queue for security check up and then we started climbing the hill. There was a shops on both sides of the road and everything was made available but on paying cost for it. With Tapan & nagender being younger people than we two had started with ret pace but sooner after climbing 2 to 3 kilometers Tapan found to be the most tired man and was lagging behind us. There we found the Rabbit & turtle story proving worth and the whole 12 kn climbing Tapan was the most sufferer. He had vomiting too and few related complications but we were determined to get him to the top. So sometime it was Limca to sometime its Juice to the healing tablets were at his service to get him timely relief. The time we reached the shrine gates Tapan was fine and was dwelling with enthusiasm to get Darshan. We reached the Gates of the holy shrine at around 11.30 pm in the night but to our surprise a kilometer long three line queues of people were already waiting for the same purpose. We then stood in the queue to get darshan and our turn came at around 12.20 in the night and we were lined up for darshan and it was like a sacred time when we got a glimpse of the holy Mother goddess and enriched our lives with joy and her blessings. This was my first visit to the shrine and was a memorable one. Then we had food and returned back in the night itself. We reached our hotel back in the morning and started towards the bus adda to catch bus back to Delhi. Again a Haryana Roadways helped us in getting back to Delhi. Our motto to get darshan and get blessings from the mother goddess was fruitful. We prayed to the mother to bless us and may our wishes come true. The year 2009 has brought us many good times & bad timess but we were there to thank the mother goddes for all good times and to keep us safe guarded from all evil things and we all expect the new year 2010 will bring us good time and best fortune to fulfill all our dreams.

There were few instances like bus breakdown and couple of more occasions which gave us ample time to spend together and relax. I know this could be a much better post. So please get me your ideas to make it better..
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