A Pious Voyage

It’s been 18 years since I visited this Holy place. The Shrine is not only popular among people in India but devotees worldwide. True devotees always wish to just have a glance of the Shrine but only few lucky ones can ever make it. The distance from the base to the Shrine is 14 Kms, you have to conquer a mountain before you enter the sacred cave. Vaishno Devi is most admired pilgrimage by Hindu Devotees. It is said that, “You can only visit here when Goddess sends you an invite”. You might believe it or not, it’s actually true. I can say this from my real experience.

On your next trip to India if you’re planning to visit Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, there are many ways to get there;

  1. By Train; One can also reach Katra by rail. Jammu/Katra is connected to other parts of country on broad gauge and numerous passenger trains ply from various parts of the country. In the peak season of summer and other holidays, the Railways introduce special trains for  the comfort of the Yatris. Many super-fast trains also ply on this route and one can reach Jammu/Katra overnight from New Delhi.
  2. By Air; Located at a distance of 50 kilometres, the Jammu airport is the nearest to Katra. Jammu is well-connected with major airports in India. It’s easy to get a cab from the Jammu airport to Katra as regular taxi and cab services are available.
  3. By Road; Jammu is well connected through road also to rest of India. National Highway No. 1A passes through Jammu towards Srinagar. Regular bus services from all major North Indian cities are available for Jammu as well as Katra. Many standard and deluxe buses of various State Road Transport Corporations as well as private operators connect Jammu with important cities and towns of North India.

Ain Ain

Picture Courtesy:Google. This is how it looks from the base in Katra. If you have ever been to Jebel Hafeet in UAE, you will find the ladder of bulbs glowing like this, very eye pleasing sight indeed.

Bhawan

Picture Courtesy; Google

The consecrated place of pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi is positioned at a height of approximately 5200 feet. Visiting the place of worship by the helicopter is a time saving and a convenient option. The helicopter service is available from Katra to Sanjichhat. But the real experience is walking with groups chanting Goddess’s name. There are horse rides and palanquins available for those who cannot climb much and need help like small kids and elderly. There are wooden sticks also available on rent which you can take along if you need support while walking.

In my college years, there was a road trip which was organized by a group in my hometown in India. My Father booked two seats for my mother and himself. .The schedule was to visit 9 big destinations of Goddess Durga. The travel included a road trip from Dehradun to Saharanpur, Chandigarh, , Dharamshala,Amritsar, Katra and Vaishno Devi. These destinations are home to revered shrines that hold much religious importance and are visited by devotees from all across the world.

Golden Temple

Golden Temple, Amritsar. Picture Courtesy-Google,We had an opportunity to visit another Holy place, a very popular pilgrimage for Sikhs in Punjab. I was truly blessed have visited so many places in just one single trip.

Nine forms of Goddess Durga is believed to be located around the Northern part of India and are Shakumbhari Devi, Mansa Devi, Kangra Devi, Naina Devi, Chintapurni Mata, Sheetla Devi, Chamunda Devi, Jwalaji and Vaishno Devi. My mom was worried leaving us alone behind though my Grand-father also stayed with us. Finally she decided not to go on that trip and stayed back at home and I was sent along with dad, this was just finalized a day before the trip. I couldn’t believe my fortune as I was dying to visit the biggest Shrine of all, Mata Vaishno Devi. Those 8 days were amazing, if I close my eyes, the movie will just run as flashback in my mind,everything that we did and places we visited during our trip. Lucky me, I was on the ninth cloud!!! October 25, 1998, I can never ever forget this date.

The magnificent landscapes of Himanchal Pradesh beat the sceneries of Switzerland at times. I remember the Bhakhra Nangal Dam looked terrific from Naina Devi temple. Alas! We didn’t have the camera to capture the moment but the sight is still fresh in my sub-conscious. I’m sure Google can help me find at least one picture to show you all how it looked. My journey on the road with my father was tremendous and I’d definitely want to do it once again with my family. I believed, I had an invite from the Goddess herself to come and visit her, that’s why it was planned all of sudden.

Bhakhra Nangal Dam

Picture Courtesy; Rahul Koundal, taken from Google

We planned to go again after my wedding but due to some terrorist activities in the area, we were not allowed by the family. We moved to Africa immediately after that, miles and oceans away from India and coming back to India often wasn’t possible.

When our son was 2 years old, we planned a visit again and booked our tickets and travel registrations to visit the Shrine, everything was done online and I was super excited but all of a sudden my son got high fever that wouldn’t come down. We waited till the very last evening before our departure but his fever was still too high, hence we had to cancel the trip. I had to explain myself, it wasn’t my turn yet. There are people who return back to the country every year to get the glimpse of the Shrine. It has been 18 long years since I have been there and I’m still waiting for my invitation which I believe will come soon, 🙂

My sister visited the Shrine recently along with her husband and both set of parents. Sitting here in Canada, as far away by land and oceans, I’m just hoping my number will be called soon !!!!!!

Jai Mata di…..

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s