Planning for Vaishnov Devi Darshan, one has to obtain a Vaishnov Devi Yatra, Parchi from the registration counters and embark on a trek of about 13km approximately from Katra. Devotees walk both ways, some prefer to ride a pony, while palanquins service is available for the sick and elderly. Helicopter service operates from Katra to Sanjhichatt, from where the shrine is just 2.5 kilometers roughly. Trekking uphill to the holy cave, amidst chants, ‘Jai Mata Di’ and beautiful views of the entire valley, the yatra to Vaishno Devi Darshan is a spiritual journey like no other. Upon reaching the shrine after the long trek, the spirit of devotion and positivity around is truly amazing, it eases out all the fatigue and exhaustion of the journey.
Things to Do
- Visiting the Ardh Kuwari Cave, located on the old route to Bhawan. The narrow cave is popular for its religious significance, Vaishno Devi miracles, and also it as a pitstop for devotees undertaking the Darshan. One has to crawl on knees to get to the other side where the main shrine dedicated to the goddesses is located. It is said, Mata Vaishnov Devi took refuge here while she was hiding from Bhairav Nath for 9 months.
- Aarti held at the Bhawan is a great thing to experience, before sunrise and after sunset. This sacred aarti is performed by pujaris in the temple and then brought outside for the devotees. Vaishnav Devi Darshan remains halted during this time. The temple also offers facilities for individual hawan/poojan for devotees, for which slots have to be booked in advance.
- During/Completing Vaishno Devi Yatra, reaching the Bhawan, devotees can bath in the holy water of bathing ghat to cleanse their body.
Apart from the darshan of the three Pindies in the holy cave, there are a number of other holy darshans in an original cave, such as the symbols of Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman, Bhairon Nath, etc. Darshans are only possible during seasons when the original cave is used. One can also explore temples dedicated to Mata Durga, Lord Shiva and Lord Ram within the complex.