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The Veshno Devi Yatra: A Journey to Remember!

Trip to Shri Veshno Devi Shrine is truly an experience of a lifetime. In this article, the writer tries make you acquainted about the holy cave temple of Veshno Devi and pilgrimage to it.

I’ve ticked to Jammu and Kashmir many a times – well aware of the fact that there’s more to explore than the irresistible natural charms and exciting adventures. But my recent trip to Vashno Devi came as a grand surprise, as I stepped into this religious heaven first time ever. I’ve been grown up hearing the spiritual significance of this cave temple, and was in haunt of a chance to visiting there at least once. Now when I’ve seen the devoutness and have felt it personally, I think there is no harm to back the statement which says, “If you think that you’ve seen Jammu and Kashmir but haven’t ventured to the iconic Veshno Devi temple, there is a whole world of sanctity and divinity left to explore.”

Situated in historical Trikuta hills, at an altitude of 5,200 ft, this famous cave temple is truly a place to be for all those who have faith in Hindu cultures and religion. It is considered as one of the holiest Hindu shrines on the earth, thronged by a large number of pilgrims all through a year (in 2012, a record number of 1, 04, 95,269 devotees visited the holy cave). On special occasions, pilgrims have to wait for a whole day in queue to get darshan of Goddess Veshno Devi, who is worshipped in forms of three natural pindis (rock formation). For your info, there is no statue or idol inside the temple and a complete natural devoutness is felt by visitors.

Since the temple is at a high altitude, one needs to trek 13km up to reach there. However, there are innumerable shire horses to ride physically weak people to the cave (obviously paid). Helicopter service also takes visitors from Katra to Sanjhichat helipad. But the real joy of journey lies in covering it on feet. It not only gives you an overwhelming feel of religiousness but also lets you explore the natural beauty of the region. Panoramic misty peaks, never-ending greenery and heart-soothing views of sun-set and sunrise are true pleasures for nature-lovers and photographers.

Let’s talk more about the Yatra: it begins after registration of your group at the office of Veshno Devi Shrine Board Association in katra. You’ll be entitled with a slip reading the number of people in your group and the time when it’s generated. Pilgrims have to show this slip to get group number at time of darshan. The importance of time mentioned on the slip is that you need to cross entry gate at Banganga (about 2.5 km by feet) within 6 hours after it is generated. Distance between Banganga and Aradhkumari is about 5km (for those who want to blend the Yatra to Bhawan with darshan of ancient ‘Garbhajuni Cave’). After that, the distance from Aradhkumari to Veshno Devi shrine is 6km and to Shri Bharavnath Temple (via the shrine) is about 8km. It is believed that the Yatra remains uncompleted until you visit shri Bharavnath temple.

Katra, the small town where trekking to the shrine starts from, is made of a small but lively market, lodges, guest houses, hotels and restaurants serving the pilgrims. Katra hotels are available in varied categories and serve travelers of every need and budget. Advance booking will certainly avoid the hassle of dealing with local agents and may give you a reasonable deal online. Mine experience was really awesome (I would describe it in next write-up) and I hope you too have a great time visiting this holy town.

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