There used to be a lot of queries and concerns been searched on Google on how to plan the trip to Vaishno Devi, what needs to be taken care and what essentials checklists to be prepared and followed.
Even when I planned my trip, I too was in the state of dilemma over many concerns from planning the trip, to booking hotels, start the journey, places to visit other than temple, itinerary to carry and many more.
In this blog, I will try to put most of the common queries for which tourist looks for when traveling to Jammu
When and how to plan your travel to Jammu.
The most important thing to start with your journey is to plan your travel. When it comes to Jammu and especially Katra, we need to be extra active and prudent. You might think that what so special is there to be taken care of when traveling to Katra as compared to all your other travel journeys. Katra is a part of Reasi district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 2500 ft.
Katra is currently the northern section of the Jammu–Baramulla line as well as the northernmost place accessible on the contiguous network of Indian Railways. The best route to reach here from other parts of the country is via train. But being on such high altitude and at one end of Indian rail tracks, very less number of trains run to-and-fro from Katra. Except New Delhi, trains from other states run either weekly or bi-weekly. Thus getting a confirmed ticket would be like finding a needle from a bundle of husk.
To prepare yourself from all these, plan your journey at least 3-4 months before your travel period to sideways yourself from any unexpected outgrowth. However, it is very advisable to ignore planning your trip from December to February as this is the time for heavy snowfall at Katra. Sometimes, it too impact the journey to the Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. A fewer times, journey has been put on halt due to heavy snowfall.
Specially, if you have plans to book Helicopter on your journey from Katra to the Shrine (main temple), it is highly advisable to cancel your trip, as in most of case, helicopter services too gets closed till the time heavy fogs seem to be settles down.
However, moving ahead, the journey from Jammu to Katra will totally mesmerize you. The countless number of tunnels, train surpassing the jungles, rivers, bridges, valleys, and all these gorgeous and ravishing beauty will totally make you ecstatic. Adding to all these sweetness, the cleanliness and beauty of Katra Railway Station will totally blow your mind.
The Pir Panjal Tunnel, which is 11km long, is the longest railway tunnel of India, located in Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, in the north of Banihal town. It is a part of the Jammu–Baramulla line.
Checklist to be completed before you start your journey.
You should be very tentative towards the below points-
- If travelling by train, kindly be sure if your train has Pantry or not, as in some trains it is not available. So it would be very difficult for you to survive the long hour journey till Jammu or Katra.
- As you are going on a different altitude zone, always prefer to have light food when travelling to make sure that you do not suffer any health issue due to your appetite.
- Prepaid SIM cards issued by any states except Jammu and Kashmir will not work once you enter Jammu and Kashmir region. The Ministry of Home Affairs has already announced a ban on the use of prepaid SIM cards in Jammu & Kashmir quoting security reasons. Even no prepaid SIM cards is allowed to sell in Jammu and Kashmir.
- However, if having a postpaid connection issued in any part of the country, will be a boon for you as this won’t get out of coverage. Else in other case, you can buy a postpaid SIM card from the market of Katra as well by paying a small buck of Rs.200. However, this SIM will only work for 7 days from the day you activate it.
- Always complete the online registration as a pilgrim which is compulsory to start your journey. The registration can be done at https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/OnlineServices/LogIn1.aspx.
- No matter whether you are old, young, muscular or slim, always buy the 3-feet long round log at the entrance of the temple from where trek starts, as it will help you in completing your journey beyond Ardhkuwari when your feet retards.
- Before starting your travel from your home, kindly spare some minutes and go through the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board website to get complete idea and knowledge on and about your trip and journey.
How and where to book your hotels in Katra and Jammu.
Although Katra has a thriving tourism industry that offers plenty of hotels and guest houses which you even can get once you arrived at Katra, it is advisable to pre-book your hotels as well. You can get your hotel at much cheaper rates when booked online rather than booking by standing at the hotel reception with your family and luggage.
Always prefer to book your hotels in the market area of Katra. Reason being, it will be easier for you to start your journey to the temple and you can do plenty of shopping there in the late nights as most of the shops will remain opens till late hours.
Check the reviews of hotels on different websites, as in some cases the hotel staffs and locals only have given the reviews and stated the hotel to be very friendly and good. However, the original scenarios depicts something different.
- Itineraries to carry in luggage
- It totally depends on the season and weather of Katra during your plan. However, if we consider the weather to be pleasant, in that scenario the below items must be present in your luggage. Other than normal wearable clothes, always pack at least one set of woolen dress to avoid any uninvited health concerns due to change of weather. The weather usually fluctuates any time and you may get cold.
- If you are travelling with trolleys, it would be preferable to carry one backpack with you in which you can keep important documents, cameras, mobile phones, water bottles and other basic things required in journey.
- Try to keep space in your luggage so that when you will return from your Darshan, you have enough place to pack the items you bought in Katra. The best is to carry one small hand baggage which can accommodate 4-5 items including the Prasads, dresses that you may buy, artificial ornaments, photo frames etc.
- You must have at least one pair of normal sneakers or sandals which will make trekking comfortable. Don’t try out with boots, heavy shoes, slippers or heels. While trekking to the temple, kindly ignore heavy backpacks with you. You will mostly get everything required on your journey routes.
- Always carry one warm cloth with you on the trek. You can have light jacket or Shawl for women.
- Carry one single bed sheet, if in case you wish to halt your trip and sit for some time.
- Kindly ignore the use of plastics as much as you can to protect the environment and always carry the basic toiletry necessities to avoid any unhygienic circumstances.
- Health-related concerns
- As the trek is a tough one to step on, it is advisable to be taken care if you have any health related issues.
- For persons suffering from asthama or any breathe related issue, kindly opt either for helicopter services or the pony or palanquins for to-and-fro journey from base camp. Always take proper permission from your doctor in case of any medical sufferings.
- Do not!!! I repeat, do not hesitate to ask for medical help in case of emergency. Sri Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has set-up many medical camps and care center en route.
- Always carry sanitizers to protect yourself from outer germs that may stick on your hands and have at least two water bottle with you.
- Try to avoid get caught in cold, especially if you don’t have the habit to face such extreme tough weather.