Jai Mata Di! Just returned last week from a trip to J&K. The visit to Vaishnodevi was unplanned and we made it against all odds. Since i was travelling with my 8 year old daughter i was very apprehensive about many things , whether there will a waiting period at katra itself due to peak season ( since the website had said so ) how we would reach Bhawan ( main temple) and when we should start from the hotel etc. Based on the apt advice of the hotel staff we started the climb by foot from Katra at around 10 pm ( ideally those with kids could start much earlier , i would recommend 8.00 pm) . The size of the crowd scared us so to keep together we preferred to walk thru the entire distance ( though now am assured its safe to use a pony or pithoo) What we saw was True Night Life in India (beats all the metros !)..the first 3 kms were filled with shops on both sides and the streets were bustling with life. We had our first darshan at Charan Paduka .The spirit of the devotees added to the unique charm all the way to Bhawan. Even late at night we had enough company and never felt alone or unsafe. We had a very good darshan at Bhawan ( though we waited for abt 3 hrs since the queue had increased post aarti ). Post darshan we collected our prasad and had some sumptuous Poori Chole at the shrine board restaurant .We missed visiting Bhairon Temple and Adhkuwari cave as my daughter could barely walk any more ..surely looking forward to our next trip to make up .Few tips for first timers (thought this may help)
Visit the official web site for tons of info on the yatra www.maavaishnodevi.org
Plan in advance atleast one month ahead for helicopter tickets if u cannot trek by road
Try to book accommodation at Bhawan ( can do it online)if you wish to participate in the Atka aarti that takes place early morning / late evening. Better to stay up than at Katra since there isn’t much to do down.Can also book for aarti (optional ) and the yatra parchi ( mandatory)online to save time.
If trekking, start late evening so that you can reach Bhawan well before the aarti time since during aarti and post aarti the queue can take abt 2-3 hrs
Don’t forget to buy the bhaint – either before Darshan Darwaza / when u reach bhawan there is a shrine broad store
The electric cars from adhkuwari to bhawan and back operate every halfhour / hourly ONLY during the day, so do not depend on them if ur travelling late evening/ night, also the tickets are issued at a separate counter so do plan in advance ( these are meant for old and handicapped but mostly they allow general public too)
Make sure ur wearing good shoes (unless u plan to do barefoot ),take enough warm clothes if your trekking at night as it gets quite cold even during summers, esp the early mornings, also weather is quite unpredictable so an umbrella or jacket will be helpful in case of sudden rains
If you are walking then make sure you pick up the sticks which are on hire for Rs.10/- , they are very useful
The pithoos are more useful if you have a young child since its difficult to keep pace with the pony
And finally, rest all your concerns and go ahead, all will be taken care of!! Jai Mata Di!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.