What do you like exploring on a travel trip? Is it the mysterious forests of a place or the shiny beaches, is it the heritage of the place or its culture? No matter what it is, the best part is that you get an exciting holiday and also a chance to acquaint yourself with a new place. India, an Asian subcontinent, offers you a splash of these diverse colors, so trace more about this lovely and diverse world through a trip to some historical places in India.
The country is also popular for its religious identity and its polytheistic believes, due to which you get to see many temples, shrines, ashrams and pilgrimage destinations. One of the most revered and frequently accessed pilgrimage in the country is, Vaishno Devi Temple, in the northern hills of Jammu and Kashmir. Through this, you can plan a visit to one of the top 10 pilgrimage destinations in India and explore its religious identity.
The temple is one of the holiest places for Indian Hindus, located on the hills of Vaishno Devi, near the town of Katra, in the Reasi district of Jammu area. Located at an altitude of 5200 feet, the shrine is a steep climb on the hills.
The Shrine is maintained by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. It is a holy cave, located on the hill Trikoot, a unique hill which has one base but three peaks, known as the holy pindies. Inside the cave, there is a sanctum sanctoram (Bhawan) which treasures the image of the goddess, as the three holy pindies, as goddess Maha Kali, goddess Maha Lakshmi and goddess Maha Saraswati. Pilgrims can make donations and buy souvenirs from the premises, and take away prasaad in packets from here.
The Holy Shrine:
The shrine is inside a cave on the hill top, to which pilgrims walk bare feet, and with deep respect and love for the goddess. The worshiping rituals (aarti) take place twice a day, and huge number of pilgrims gather outside the cave. The best parts of the rituals in the shrine are the religious songs and the enchanting of “Jai Mata Di”.
There are many popular attractions in and around Katra, a beautiful scenic place in itself, to which you can extend your pilgrimage. Some notable places are Batote, 125 k ms from Jammu; Khud, 106 k ms from Jammu; Patnitop, 112 k ms from Jammu, Sanasar, 17 k ms from Patnitop; and Shiv Khori and Baba Dhansar temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
While on a trip to Vaishno Devi, you can also take a visit around Jammu and see many other places of recognition and importance. Visit the Raghunath Temple in the heart of the city, its a beautiful temple dedicated to lord Rama; Amarmahal, a beautiful red sandstone palace in Jammu; Mansar Lake and river Tawi are some of the best attractions you can see around Jammu. While banks, ATMs, railway reservation counters, and communication facilities are also available.
There are complete facilities for the pilgrims or tourists who come on a tiring but holy journey of the Vaishno Devi Temple. The Shrine Board has come up with free as well as rented accommodations in Jammu, Katra and all the way around. Some notable of these are, Saraswati Dham, Vaishnavi Dham, built near Jammu Tawi Railway Station. Near Katra Bus Stand, you will find Neharika Complex, while there are also various shelter sheds and ashrams available on the way. Provisions of refreshments, donations for the goddess, ponies, palanquins are also available on the way.
Important Information about Vaishno Devi:
· Every year, around 8 million people, pay their respects at the Vaishno Devi Temple.
· To make the tough journey a little easier for the pilgrims, a rail link has been sanctioned, from Udhampur to Katra.
· There are also helicopter provisions for pilgrims, those who cannot walk the steep slope, though the true value of this pilgrimage lies in walking up to the shrine yourself.
· Various government aided trusts have made arrangements of accommodations for the pilgrims.
· According to a very strong belief of the devotees, for this pilgrimage, the goddess literally calls to the people, without which one can never materialize a plan for this pilgrimage.