Pilgrimage of a Lifetime.

Vaishno Devi Holy Pilgrimage

It was at the end of winters somewhere in February that we started a family trip to one of the most holy places in India. Around …. people visit Maa Vaishno Devi temple per year. During peak time the number of visitors might vary from …. to ….

Some pre-travel suggestions which I would recommend as prerequisites:

Entry Tickets

  • Get your visit pass booked well before you start your journey. This is necessary to enter the gates where the hike starts. The tickets are also available there at the counter but for sure you do not want to waste time there in long ticket lines.
  • Special puja, hawan can be booked on the official vaishnodevitrust website.


  • If travelling by train, the nearest station is Katra. You should book tickets well in advance as this is a famous destination and tickets run out fast.
  • By air you can book a flight to Jammu and take a taxi to Katra.
  • With the recent rejuvenation of Indian roads, travelling directly to Katra is now much more easy. There is plenty of parking space available at Katra.
  • If you have a tight schedule or have elderly family members travelling with you, then you can opt for a helicopter ride directly from Katra to Vaishno Devi Dham. While you can book tickets at the location also, I highly suggest to book this before the start.
  • Hotels and rest stops are available throughout the route but some hotels by the vaishodevitrust get booked really fast. So, if you wish to stay at Dham make sure to book it 3 months earlier.

Getting ready for the journey

  • Pack clothes for a long hike along with a pair of walking shoes.
  • Ensure taking a jacket at least. When you spot at the mountain top, you will certainly feel the chill.
  • Carry just some snacks as you will get lot of shops on the way. Help the locals.

We started our trip by train to Katra. It was an overnight journey and we reached our destination early morning. The weather during February was the right combination of cold and pleasant.

We settled in Trikuta Bhavan which is one of the hotels by vaishnodevitrust in Katra. It was a great place to get a little bit of rest and get ready for the hike ahead.

By afternoon, we were ready to move. We start at around 1 pm. At the entrance gates, we went through the security check and got our tickets checked. From here on we could see the Piddus (People carrying the travellers on their backs) and horse/pony rides. We contemplated booking a ride for our parents but finally decided to go all the way.

The climb ahead is moderate but for some this might be daunting. Keep up the zeal and take short breaks at regular intervals. Prefer the curved road rather than steps which might tier you sooner. Remember to hydrate.

You can plan a stop at Ardhakuwari. It has some good options for food. Or, if possible, keep moving forward. Sometimes the security will stop movement forward when there is a certain number of people already at the final destination. This is done to prevent overcrowding at Dham.

Finally, we reached Dham. During the day, with the exhaustion of walking, the cold weather was rather welcoming. But, as we reached during the night, it was as if a cold blast of air struck us. We took sometime to gather ourselves and then went for a cold shower before darshan (visiting temple deity). As expected the line was long for darshan.

PRO TIP: Use the Gate No.4 for darshan; It is the shortest line there.

As we finally reached the cave in the dead of the night, we completed our pilgrimage filled with content and happiness. The idols of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati were a sight to behold.

As we came out of the temple, we planned to stay the night at Dham. Fortunately, we came prepared for the nippy night. but, if someone did not, there is always blanket service available there at nominal charges.

After a relaxed night stay at Dham, we planned to extend the trip a bit to go to Shani temple as well. In the morning, we booked the ropeway tickets to Shanidev Mandir. Finally, getting on the ropeway in those mountains was nothing less than majestic. The entire flora around Dham is spiritual. However, some might succumb to the fear of heights. So, beware.

After visiting the Shanidev Temple, we took the shorter route as we had booked a helicopter ride for descending journey. The ride is just 2-4 minutes long but well worth it because of both the beautiful sights of Katra and time saved.

We stayed at Katra for another day to enjoy the local cuisines and culture. And, started the return trip the next day.

This was a once in a lifetime experience not just because it was a family trip but also because of the spiritual energy that you gain. The flood of faith, love and spiritual energy all the way was enough to capsize tiredness. For sure, before we even reached back to our place we were already planning the next trip to Mata Vaishno Devi.

Chalo Chalo Bulawa Aya Hai, Mata Ne Bulaya Hai!!!

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