Katra is a magnificent city located at the foothills of the Trikoot Mountains of Jammu and Kashmir. Katra is famous for the Maa Vaishno Devi cave located on the Trikuta hills.
Maa Vaishno Devi Temple is a beautiful religious place situated at an altitude of 1560 meters above sea level, about 15 kilometers from Katra. This temple is a major religious place not only of Jammu and Kashmir but also of the whole of India as well as other countries.
No vehicle is allowed from Katra to visit the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. The 13 km long trek beyond Katra can be done either on foot or by opting for helicopter service or Battery Car.
The 13 km journey can be done either on foot or on horses/ponies or palanquins. Most of the pilgrims prefer to go on foot, but for those who find it difficult to climb, one can hire a pony or on a palanquin. Jammu is the nearest airport for air travel.
The small town of Katra in Jammu serves as the base camp of Vaishno Devi which is 50 km from Jammu. It is necessary to get the registration done before starting the journey because only on the basis of the registration slip, one gets a chance to visit the temple.
There are several points between Katra to Bhawan which include Banganga, Charpaduka, Indraprastha, Ardhkuwari, Garbhajun, Himkoti, Sanjhi Chhat and Bhairon Mandir but the mid-point of the journey is Ardhkuwari. There is also a temple of Mata, where people stop and travel further 6 kilometers after seeing the mother.
The train route to Katra has recently been established, although most trains from all over India terminate at the katra railway station.
There are scheduled bus services to Katra from many cities and towns from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and adjoining states of Delhi. Buses leave from Jammu to Katra every 5 minutes in the morning till late in the evening.
Taxi service is also available from both Jammu and Katra. In Jammu, these can be hired from Jammu airport, Jammu railway station and tourist reception center in the city. Many travel agencies also visit Katra regularly from most of the major cities of India.
REGISTRATION FOR THE Sacred Pilgrimage – First of all on reaching Katra the most important thing is that the visiting Yatris / Pilgrims should register themselves with the authorities to travel on the designated trek to the Holy Cave Shrine, as no pilgrim will be able to visit the base camp Katra. It is not allowed to proceed on the journey without registration from
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has also created facility for online travel booking. In Katra, the registration is done at the Yatra Registration Counter (YRC) of SMVDSB located at the bus stand where a travel slip is issued free of cost to the registered passengers. Being mandatory, no pilgrims are allowed to proceed on the Yatra without the Yatra slip check counter at Banganga at Katra.
It is mandatory for the Yatris to keep the Yatra Parchi till they reach the Mata Vaishno Devi Bhavan, where a group is allotted against the Yatra Slip for the Holy Darshan to the Yatris. This administration also helps in controlling the journey to the Holy Cave Shrine in the interest of the pilgrims. According to the SMVDSB, the yatra slip also covers the devotees against any untoward accident due to accidents.
Amenities at Katra
Being a short stop and trek preparation to the Holy Shrine the base camp of Katra offers a wide range of facilities like accommodation for pilgrims, banquets, parking for vehicles, cloak room facility etc.
Food and Refreshment – Katra has a wide variety of vegetarian restaurants and dining venues. Being a religious place, almost all the restaurants and catering outlets in Katra offer pure vegetarian food (without the use of onions and garlic) to the pilgrims.
Parking of Vehicles – Adequate parking spaces are available in and around Katra. Shrine Board provides free parking facility at its various campuses. This facility is only for the empowered users of the premises.
Cloak Room Facility – Considering that many pilgrims want to leave their extra baggage behind in Katra before making the journey, many hotels and lodges in Katra also offer cloak room facility. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has free cloak room facility in all its guest houses/lodging locations for outstanding users of these complexes.
Some private Sarai, shops and establishments also claim to provide such facilities but pilgrims are advised to verify the certificates of the service provider before handing over their baggage. In particular, for safety reasons, video cameras other than other electronic devices are not allowed on the track. Pilgrims should make adequate arrangements to keep such equipment safe before embarking on the Yatra.
For the benefit of the pilgrims, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is providing clean, well managed and accommodation facilities to the pilgrims at very affordable rates. Such accommodation facilities are available at Vaishnavi Dham and Saraswati Dham located at Jammu Railway Station,
Niharika Katra and Shakti Dham located at Bus Stand Katra. An open comfortable dormitory accommodation service is also available at Trikuta Bhawan, Katra near the Second Travel Counter (YRC-II). in which passengers can stay. Accommodation facility is also available in Adhukuari, Sanjhi Chhat and Main Bhawan.
A large number of halls are available on the Adhkuari, Sanjhi Chhat and the main building for the convenience of the passengers. Travelers can take rest in these halls before proceeding on the journey or while waiting for their turn to have holy darshan of the Mother.
These halls are available free of cost on a first come first served basis, subject to availability. Travelers can also stay overnight in these halls. Toilet facilities have also been made available here.
Blanket stores, toilet blocks, medical aid centres, eateries and catering units have been set up around these residential units for the convenience of the passengers.
Free accommodation is also provided at Niharika Complex, Katra during heavy rush days. Accommodation facility is also provided in the form of sheds near Yatra Slip Counter 2 (YRC-II) adjacent to New Bus Stand (Bus Stand No. 2). Along with accommodation facilities, free blankets are also provided to the passengers.
Nearby Tourist Places in Katra Jammu and Kashmir
Vaishno Devi Temple: Vaishno Devi is a famous and ancient temple of Hindus, which is situated at an altitude of about 5,200 feet above sea level. The distance of this famous religious place of Hindus is about 14 km from Katra.
This religious place is located on the Trikuta mountain of Jammu, in such a situation, travelers going to visit this holy shrine of Vaishno Mata have to walk upwards on the mountain instead of walking this distance of 14 km flat. Although earlier there was a system of mules and palanquins for those who did not go on foot. Now along with these two means, there is also a provision for helicopter and battery rickshaw.
Every year lakhs of people come to visit Vaishno Mata’s Temple. There are many people who, just after having darshan, go back to the train the next day. But our advice is that, if you are coming so far to see the mother, then why not visit these places around Katra once. After seeing these beautiful places, everyone definitely comes here to visit again.
Devi Pindi: If you are fond of trekking, then Devi Pindi is the best place for you. It is believed that Vaishno Mata stays in Goddess Pindi for some days of the year.
The temple is visited after completing about three hours of trekking. The trekking route starts by landing at Panthal, 8 km from Katra. Very few people know about this beautiful place. If you are planning for Vaishno Devi Yatra, then definitely include this place in your list.
Baba Jitto: There is a temple of revolutionary farmer Baba Jitto in Jhiri village, 15 km from Jammu city. An annual fair is organized in this city in a traditional way. Let us tell you, Baba Jitto was a farmer, who questioned the feudal system of that time.
Baba Jitto was a great devotee of Maa Vaishno, seeing his devotion, the mother blessed him. Baba Jitto, not asking for anything for himself, demanded the presence of water in the fields for the people of the whole village.
Mother made such arrangements as a blessing that it rains in 7 different seasons in a year. The villagers first offer the grain of their fields to Baba Jitto, then collect it for themselves.
Nau Devi Temple: There is a temple of Nau Devi at a distance of about 10 kms from Katra. This temple has been built exactly like the Vaishno Devi Temple.
There is a cave in this temple, it is said that even a fat man can cross this cave. The devotees coming to Katra, who have information about this temple, they definitely go to visit this temple.
Sihar Baba: After visiting Vaishno Mata, definitely visit Sihar Baba’s temple. Sihar Baba has a waterfall, which is about 20 meters high. Let me tell you, here earlier people used to take bath under this waterfall. But due to the fear of disaster, people are not allowed to take bath under the waterfall. By the way, if you have brought clothes, then after a while, arrangements have been made for people to take bath. This place is good to spend peaceful time.
Baba Dhansar: There is a temple of Baba Dhansar in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. This temple is 17 km from Katra. It is situated far away.
It is believed that Lord Shiva had gone to Amarnath to give the knowledge of his immortality to Mother Parvati, when he came out from here, his Sheshnag remained in Anantnag. The male incarnation of Sheshnag also has a son, Dhansar, who is said to have been a saint. Baba Dhansar is seen by going 200 meters down in the temple. You will also get to see a lot of monkeys here.
Sanasar: Sanasar is a beautiful picnic spot situated in the lap of nature, where you can go for a holiday or spend time with your family, it can be considered as a best tourist place. The green space and hills visible from here will make your mind free.
You can also do various other sports activities here. For example, here you can also enjoy paragliding, abseiling and rock climbing. People often go here to have picnics and spend time with their families.
Shalimar Park: Shalimar Park is a very beautiful park in Katra. In this park, you will get to see many means for the child’s activity. The view in and around this park is so beautiful that you will not feel like coming after leaving.
You will not have to pay any charge as entry fee to visit this park. This park is located at some distance from Katra Market. If you are looking for a place with a calm atmosphere in Katra, then this park will be the best for you.
Patnitop: Patnitop is a very beautiful and wonderful place to visit near Katra. If you want to see snowfall, then you go to Patnitop, it looks very beautiful to see snowfall here.
The beauty of nature is made here in the summer season. Many types of support activities are also organized in Patnitop, which tourists like very much. People often visit Patnitop Vaishno Mata Temple after visiting because the beauty of nature is seen from here.
Shiv Khodi Cave: Shiv Khodi Cave is a cave dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is said that this cave is the same cave where Lord Shiva had hidden to avoid the boon that Bhasmasura had to be consumed by placing his hand on his head.
Some people also say that there is a cave here which leads to heaven, the path by which the Pandavas went to heaven. Lord Shiva is seated in the form of a pind near the Khodi cave. Crowds of devotees are often seen here. Devotees who come on Shiv Khodi Cave Vaishno Mata Yatra often come here to visit.
How to Reach Katra Jammu & Kashmir
- By Air – Satwari Airport of Jammu is the nearest airport to Vaishno Devi. Vaishno Devi base camp Katra can be reached by road from Jammu, which is about 50 kilometers away. Bus and taxi services are easily available between Jammu and Katra.
- By Rail: The nearest railway stations are Jammu and Katra. Jammu is well connected to the major cities of the country by rail. Apart from this, Vaishno Devi’s base camp Katra has also become a railway station. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station is located on the Jammu-Udhampur rail route, which was started in the year 2014. Apart from Delhi, direct trains come here from many other cities as well. If you want, you can come directly to Katra by train and then start your journey on foot to Mata’s court from here.
- By Road – Jammu is also connected by road to different parts of the country and one can reach Katra by road via Jammu and then climb the Trikuta hills from there.
When to visit Vaishno Devi Katra ?
Although the Vaishno Devi Yatra is open throughout the year and can be visited anytime, but due to the peak season between May to June and Navratri (March to April and September to October) in summer, there is a huge crowd of devotees.
Apart from this, traveling in July-August should also be avoided during the rainy season as the trekking becomes difficult due to slippery route on the journey. Apart from this, it is extremely cold here from December to January.