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Thursday, June 30, 2011

A one day trip to Vaishnodevi

Vaishnodevi is a famous Indian pilgrimage center located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It is close to the summer capital, Jammu.

I was then ('04 - '05) working at Faridabad, an industrial town of state Haryana close to New Delhi. On 26.02.05 (Saturday), I planned and started to Vaishnodevi. I decided to travel alone. From Faridabad, I left around 5.00 pm and reached I.S.B.T (Inter State Bus Terminal), New Delhi. I have reserved a seat to Jammu for a bus which is about to start at 6.30 pm.

Since it is the lean season, I found no trouble in getting a bus. Usually huge rush presents. In case of train, it is still worse.

Jammu is about 12 - 14 hours journey from New Delhi. The bus reached Jammu at 6.30 am. Then boarded a bus to Katra, which is about an hour journey. Katra is the basement of the foot path starting towards Vaishnodevi. The temple is reached by trekking about 14 km. Other facilities like pony ride, dolly services and helicopter services are also available.

At Katra, I took a bath near the bus stand, on a traveler bath house. I started my journey at about 8.00 am. The government is issuing token / ticket for the journey. Since it is a journey on the hillside were land slides and shooting stones are possible, it is also act as a free insurance token for the victim. Usually mishaps does not happen.

On the foothill, the river Ganges flows. People use to bath here before starting their journey and do their prayer at the temple present there. There are lot of shops present for purchasing provisional, food items and offerings.

On the way on uphill, I enjoyed the natural scenery and thanked the mother nature. There are shops on all the way. Government has mended the footpath properly and lighting provided everywhere. There are usually two ways to reach the temple. One way leads to temple via Ardha Kuwari. Also short route is available with stairs, but advising elders and heart patient to follow the sliding footpath.

Since, it is a terror striking area, Government has setup an military base here and one has to cross the check post before entering the foothill.

Almost at the middle of the journey, A temple called Ardha Kuwari (Kumari), found. The place is said to be, where the goddess hide herself there when Bhairavnath chases her for about ten months. So the temple is designed such that one has to crawl inside out and the structure is like mother's womb. The crawling is to remind every one of their birth.

After the visit and collecting luggage from the cloak room (for security reason, luggage are not allowed inside the temple premises), again started my travel.

Since it was on February, Snow fall on the way near the temple enchanted my soul. I really enjoyed the situation.

About 1.00 pm, reached the top. There again has to take bath in a ice chilling water. There are separate bath areas for ladies and gents. Then redressed and kept my luggage in the cloak room.

I bought offerings (they call it as "Bhent") for Goddess near the temple premises itself. Showing my ticket and entered the queue and after security check allowed to enter the sanctum. I felt lucky as there was literally no one in the queue and in the sanctum just there was one family in front of mine. So I had enjoyed the sight of the goddess in the sanctum for a long time.

The goddess here is of the stone form called as "Pindi". Three adjacent stones, which are considered to be the three form of Goddess "Shakthi". The water of the river Ganges flow just below the sanctum. Produced my offerings and collected the tokens.

Then came out and on producing the tokens, I had given a bag contains Goddesses "Prasad".

Collected my bag at cloak room and had a lunch there itself at about 1.30 pm (I had taken fast till the visit of the sanctum) and started my downhill journey. On the way back, reached Bhairavnath temple (After Goddess defeated him, he prayed to goddess that people will shun him. On that she gave him a boon, that people who come to visit me, will also visit you to complete their journey), which is about 2 km from the temple. There is a way from Bhairavnath to the Katra, but closed due to snow fall on those areas.

On a non stop journey, I reached the foothill about 4.30 pm and purchased dry fruits as a mark of my pilgrim trip. Took immediately a bus to Jammu. There I got reservation for a bus to New Delhi, which is about to start at 7.30 pm. I reached New Delhi by 7.30 on 28.02.05.

Do & Don't

* Chant / shout goddess name "Jai mata di".
* Not to carry any thing made of leather (Purse, Belt, Camera cover, etc.,) inside temple premises.
* Free Cloak rooms are available.
* Not to walk out of the paved way.
* Government run free rest halls are available with good facilities.
* Not to use Garlic and Onion prepared food.
* Not to use alcoholic beverages and other drugs.

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