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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Twist & turn to the religious trip of Vaishno Devi

An advice passed down from one pilgrim to the other from time immemorial: A trip to Vaishno Devi is not complete unless you pay obeisance to Bhairon Nath. And, if I may add: No trip to the cave goddess is complete unless you visit Patni Top and Sanasar too — a detour that will add some element of fun and challenge to an otherwise religious trip.

The nearly 14-km climb to the temple amid cries in praise of the goddess is a moving experience in itself. The scenes of the frail and the children overcoming all odds in their quest to reach the goddess leave a lasting impression on fellow travellers. Especially, considering there are no murmurs of protest despite the hardships on the way to the hilltop.

It was a couple of months ago, after a long period of indecision and delay, that my near and far ones, both in relation as well as with their place of residence, were able to freeze on the idea to visit the Trikuta Hills, the abode of Vaishno Devi. Once decided, I wasted no time in purchasing our travel tickets, lest the plan changed again. We took an early morning flight from New Delhi to Jammu. Within four hours of stepping out of my home in Gurgaon, we were walking the tarmac of the Jammu airport, ready for our onward journey. As advised by friends, we hired a taxi to Katra, the base town for the hill temple. Unfortunately, we could not book a seat on choppers to the shrine as it was cloudy and unsafe. We reached Katra in two hours and spent some time checking out hotels. We managed to negotiate our stay at almost half the printed rates.

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