Vaishno Devi Temple - Must Visit Tourist Place in Northern India

Mata Vaishno Devi is known as the mother who fulfills all wishes and one of the must visit tourist place in North India. The steep 12 kilometer (7.4 miles) trek from the base camp at Katra to the cave temple in the mountains is also one of the hardest tests of devotion. Yet, thousands of disciples - both young and old, undertake this trip every year braving the severe cold or even the persistent monsoon rains.
The pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi begins at Katra. Visitors arrive via train, bus or private taxes at Katra and proceed to the Yatra Registration Counter (YRC). Registration slip in hand, you can begin the trek up to the first check post at Bhanganga. Past the first check post, your next stop is the Bhawan, near the top of Trikoot hill. Once there, make your way to the counter and obtain a Group Number. The time between getting a group number and actually gaining entry will depend on the rush at the time. By issuing group numbers, the Shrine Board is able to regulate the number of visitors, especially during peak summer months and Navratras.

The temple of Mata Vaishno Devi itself enshrines the four pillars of Hindu belief: Dham, Arth, Kaam, and Moksh. The many points that mark the journey to the main temple - Katra, Bhanganga, and Trikoot Hiil, mark the spots where the Mother Goddess herself stopped and prayed.

Vaishno Devi is a spiritual experience. You can experience up close the faith and belief of others - old, handicap, and often in pain, who trek up the mountain for Mata’s darshan, crying Jai Mata Di and motivating each other to walk just a little more.

Unlike other temples, Mata Vaishno Devi’s shrine does not contain any idols or pictures. It is a natural formation of rocks that is shaped like a base and has three heads at the top. These three heads are called ‘Holy Pindis’ and are worshipped as the revelation of Mata Vaishno Devi. This representation of the goddess is immersed in water.

Each of these Holy Pindis is unique, yet together the three exemplify the harmony of goddess, nature and disciple. Each Pindi is distinct in color and texture, but together the three radiate positive energy and hope. The black pindi represents Maha Kali, the goddess of dissolution. Next to her, is the yellow pindi of Mata Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity and yellow gold. The last, white pindi is of Mata Saraswati, goddess of creation.

You have to dress conservatively while visiting the shrine. Women will also be required to cover their heads with a dupatta (traditional headscarf).

How to reach :

The base is Katra, which is 3 hours from Jammu town. Jammu is well connected with the rest of the country by train and flight. Night buses from North India, especially from Delhi ply regularly as do tourist buses. It is quite some distance from Delhi, and the traffic can get chaotic in katra, so it can be a pain for those who would wish to drive up. The trip wouldn't be complete if one does not check out Patnitop or Jammu as well. Lastly, time your ascent. Lucky ones may get the 2 hour aarti, while others may get stuck waiting for it to finish - and it does snow there at times in winter.