Vaishno Devi, Katra, Jammu with Jitto Baba, Nau Mai and Shivkhori

Here are some points, everyone wants to know.
Vaishno Devi Yatra is most of us want to go for.
Vaishno Devi Shrine is on TRIKUTA HILLS (Trikuta Parvat).
This is situated at Katra City.
Katra is 40km approx from Jammu city.

How to go there?
Normally Train till now is going till Jammu.
Now it is going upto Katra itself.
But tickets are difficult to get upto Katra.
Still you can reach Jammu Railway Station easily with more trains available easily.
Anybody can book ticket from irctc website.
When You reach Jammu Railway Station,
go to Local Bus Adda (Bus Stand) nearby.
Buses run frequently from here to Katra.

People going from Delhi can take Night buses in evening from
Kashmere Gate Bus Station (ISBT - Bus Adda) or Karnal By-Pass Bus Stop towards
Kondli / Singhu Border / Karnal.
Some private buses are bed type buses available at reasonable cost per person running in late evening. Cost Rs. 600-900/- approx. per person for Jammu or few are upto Katra.
You can bargain bus fare if they have some seats left.
(After 7-8pm after Sunset only for overnight travel).
They go like Train with some Costly Food Stoppages.
Same is in return.
From Katra or Jammu You can get Overnight Bed Buses.
Ask at Katra Bus Stand. They stand on road and ask for travellers (Dili - Dilli - Dilli).

People going by car can go via NH1 from Delhi to Jalandhar.

From Jalandhar A turn under Flyover goes towards Pathankot.
From Pathankot go towards Lakhanpur (Jammu) Border.
Take by-pass road of Pathankot.
This TURN is difficult to check at night.
Then after few hundred kms Jammu will come.
Go towards Nagrota or ask for Katra.
A new Jammu By-Pass is developed.
Now route is short but this avoids old route of Kol-Kandoli Temple (First Darshan).

When You are at Katra.
There are many Rooms available at small, medium & high budget hotels
with some Dhramshalas in inner lanes.
Get Fresh there and be ready there.
Keep Your belongings at Cloak Room of Hotel itself.
Take to trek only what is necessary.

Now Yatra slip is issued by photo taken at counter of each Yatri / Pilgrim for security measure after 2013 disaster at Uttarakhand, Char Dham.
There are many counters for this purpose.
Take YATRA- SLIP (PARCHI of Yatra) at Slip Window on Bus Stand
(Ask anybody, He will guide You).
You can take Yatra - Slip online also

Those who want to book Helicopter go online here:
At Sanjhi Chhat Helicopter lands.
Now Pony's are available from here also for Helicopter Riders to Bhawan

Now go towards Ban-Ganga Gate.
Join the Line with your group closely.
Then get ready for Security check.
Close Frisking is done here.

Then You are all set to go with the flow of People.
Take Trekking Stick (Danda) for Uphill or coming down. This thing works at many points.
Check Pony & Pony wala, STICK works as DETERRENT.
Try to take small steps on climb and take rest at regular intervals.
Take 30 Min walk then 10-15 Min Rest.
This way You can enjoy the Trek of 13 Km in a better manner.

You can take Pony also, if not all but for few of You.
Pony rates are quoted more than government rates.
You can bargain for Good Deal & can check Rate Board, which is slightly ahead.
Others can go on foot.
On foot the trek is more adventurous and beautiful views can be seen.

Mostly all route is covered by Sheets now in 2015.
It means, during snowfall, you can cover this route easily.

Route till Ardh Kuwari is same.
After this New Route is good and not steep one.
Old route is of steep climb and slippery.
Follow new Route.
You can come back by Old Route, Sanjhi Chhat side.
A new route is made from bottom to Ardhkuwari.
Small Battery Operated vehicle may start in nearby future.

On Sunny days, Sun is hot.
Water and Sitting arrangement is good at regular intervals of trek.
Take Orange or Fruits or Glucose etc for trek.
Shrine Board's Canteens are serving simple food along the trek route.
But at BHAWAN in evening You may SHIVER with Cold at 15 degree Celcius or even less in
In March also there is 15°C at Bhawan.
Take Woolen Clothes with You for Evening or Night visit.

Take Photography Break, Food Break, Breakfast Break, Tea break
and Your own Break etc. etc.

After 5-6-7 hours You reach to the BHAWAN (Main Premises).
Goto Cloak Room first or send anyone first to take keys as soon as possible.
Keys are available first come first serve basis.
Put Your all belongings, except your cotton / woolen clothing.
NO CIGARETTE / SMOKING / DRINK etc is allowed.
Beware ! Security frisking takes all things and throw them out in front of your eyes.

Now join the LINE for DARSHAN after taking prasad from Shrine Board Counter / Shop and take rest in Line only.
Line is long enough to give you enough time to rest.
At Aarti Time, doors are closed and wait for 30-45 min. to open.

After Darshan now prepare yourself for Bhairon ji at 2-2.5km climb.
Ask for route to Bhairon ji.

Now You are tired and want to go slow.
Take your time.
After reaching Bhairon ji, have Darshan and check View Point here.

Now the time is to return.
You have now old route to return till Ardh-Kuwari.
Steep Downhill, beware and take 30 Min walk and 15 Min rest.
You can get down in 4 hours max, if You are fast enough.
You can enjoy views while returning also.

You can stay at Ardh-Kuwari / Bhawan also after booking only.
But You can rest / sleep on floors of waiting premises and take bath etc.
Toilet facilities are also good at some places of Trek.
Kambals / Quilts are issued on charge at Bhawan.

Rush Time:
Whenever there is National Holiday, NAVRATRAS in APRIL or OCTOBER,
Winter Holidays, Summer Holidays or any other HOLIDAY time, there is a good rush.
If You can avoid this, You will get rooms easily and at cheaper rates.
Even Bus Seats are not available.
This is a Long Journey and Avoid Standing Journey.
Rate shoots Double, Tripple or anytimes more depending on the rush for basic things.

Mobiles in JAMMU & KASHMIR are not working, if Prepaid.
Only Postpaid Work here.
Outgoing or Incoming Calls or even TEXT will not work.
Though You can see Full Signal there on your Mobile.

Please add more, whatever You know.

For those who want to go to Shiv Khori can do so it in a day cheaply.

Jitto Baba is some km ahead of Katra.
Local 3 wheelers or 4 wheelers go there.
Nau Mai is also few km ahead of Jitto Baba.
These are within 15-20km only done in 3-4 hours.

For SHIV-KHORI (85km Approx) and above mentioned places
can be done same day with help of Local Mini Buses.
These Mini Buses Start at 7-8AM morning from Katra Bus Stand.
This Bus's Service Charge is Rs.200/- approx. per person per day.
They show 3-4-5 Temples in route of Shiv Khori.
They describe the time given for your visit at each place or
they will go ahead with their Schedule without You.
They will Literally Leave You, if You have no genuine reason or
if You cant go ahead because of a problem.
They have to come back to Katra same day.
Best is Come Back to Bus in time with other co-travellers.
At Shiv Khori You get 3-4 hours only.
Beware! Shiv Khori is 3 km trek, one side with some climbing involved.
Total 6 km should be covered in this time.

in return trek at SHRINE BOARD Counter for Rs. 20-30/- (old price) for 4 pc of small Laddoo.
Take one piece there and enjoy and Take many more packs accordingly.

This small trip is done in same day & tiring but fully enjoyable.
Some Good Views will be with You.
Keep Camera out for not to miss hilly views, River Views etc.

Those who want to stay in Shiv Khori can go on separate Buses.
You can stay in Shiv Khori at few Medium Budget Hotels.
Many Restaurants / Dhaba, Street Food stalls are there.
Enjoy some Pahari Local Sweet Delicacies.
All others are Home Stays at separate Rooms only.
You can find these on main road - one and only road at Ransoo Village.

2013: Written
2015: Edited as there are many changes.
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Sandeep Dhawan

The Contrarian!
Satinder jee, couple of points from my side as I usually go to Mata Vaishno Devi every year since 2001

Journey tips
Katra Taxi stand is 55 kms from Jammu Railway Station and 58 kms from Jammu By pass
From Jammu Railway station, one can get a to and fro a/c, non a/c taxis on flexible dates
Express/Superfast trains from Delhi to Katra starts from 1630 hours (Shalimar express) till 2230 hours(Pooja express)
Rajdhani takes very less time (around 9 hours) till Jammu. I have travelled mostly in Rajdhani and Pooja express.
Sequel of trains reach Jammu Railway station in early morning >> Rajdhani, Shalimar, Sampark Kranti, Pooja, Jammu mail, Jhelum (jhilli hui)
Few non stop direct flights are available from Bangalore and Chennai (Jet airways, Indigo and Spicejet) which takes around 3 hours 30 minutes

Breakfast tips
For parantha lovers, as you reach Jammu Railway, there are good dhabas opposite taxi stand.
Those who reach Katra early morning, many vaishno resturants are there in Katra. I enjoy those bread-butter-chai from thelas
Hotel Jewel and Hills are good FF Joints. There is one more next to Kuldeep dhaba, worth trying for South Indian food.

Yatra Tips
Before you begin, don't forget to take yatra slip from Yatra Slip counter. This will be checked at various checkposts and cops might send you back if you lost.

Lunch & Dinner Tips during Yatra
If you are doing journey then stick to these four Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) resturants
  • Alok
  • Sameer
  • Ambalika
  • Indraprastha
  • Himkoti (after Adh-kuwari - Auto route)
  • Bhojanalaya @ Adh-kuwari and Bhawav
Kadi Chawal, Poori Bhajji/Subzi/Sagu and Rajmash Chawal are worth trying here. I will not advice any other food joint as I heard that those guys cook rotten material

There is one Cafe Coffee Day just before auto stand @ Adh-Kuwari.

If you do yatra by walk then take Himkoti route. You can also take an auto and there is no age limit if you are good at negotiations.
AFAIK - Auto fare is 400 rupees pp

Staying options @ Bhawan

You can book rooms at bhawan, at your best 2 weeks in advance from online or offline through Jammu/Delhi/Katra. Generally its not easy to get a room @ Bhawan.

Hotel Tips

These hotels are good but expensive.

Hotel Durga
Hotel Jewel
Hotel Subhash
Hotel Vaishno Devi Inn

Plenty of cheap hotels and dormitories are also available.

Other Tips

  • Katra is pure veg pilgrimage. Meat, alcohol and smoking is strictly prohibited
  • Highest Point is OM enroute Sanjhhi Chatt from Bhairo Mandir. If apes are not around then take as many pictures as you can.
  • On the same route, don't miss the yummy halwa
  • Carry jackets and sweaters coz you never know when it will start raining and temp dips down
  • Take plenty of water during yatra.
  • If you're taking bath at bhawan, please note that water will be always chilled :D
  • If you carry more baggage during yatra, then you can get a 'Pithoo' at reasonable price
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Thanks Sandeep !

Please do not use ST.

(ST=short terms / SMS Lingo like CCD/SMVD/SMVDSB).
SMS Lingo is difficult to understand and edit words in full form.
It creates confusion for a new reader/visitor.
SMS Lingo is not acceptable in Forum Rules also.
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Now Train is going till Katra from Delhi.
Delhi - Katra.
22461 - Shri Shakti AC Express

22461 Shri Shakti Express.jpg

Yatra Registration Slip can be taken from Railway Station.
You can stay at 1st floor of Railway Station in just for Rs. 185/- per Bed for now in shared room.
A canteen is also there.
Reach in morning.
Get Ready at Station.
Start journey in 2-3 hours for Trek.
Off-course overnight sleep is in Train itself.

Return Journey can be done by Train No. 22462 - Shri Shakti AC Express.
Katra to Delhi.

Other info regarding local travel remains same.
Bus, Mini-Bus, Sahred Taxis etc are there for local sight seeing.
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