Katra, Jammu and Kashmir
Katra located in the Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir is a very popular tourist destination. Thronged by “Mata Vaishno Devi” devotees throughout the year, this beautiful destination is located around 42 kilometers from the city of Jammu at an altitude of 754 meters (2,474 feet) in foothills of Trikuta Mountains. The destination serves as the start point of the pilgrimage to the abode of Mata Vaishno Devi and hence is buzzing with action all the time. This is the place where people register for their journey to the shrine. While earlier trek and pony ride were the only options to reach the shrine from Katra but now eco friendly autos, helicopter rides are also available, making the ride easier and faster. There are multiple ways in which one can reach the holy shrine.
1. Katra to Ardh Kumari which is about a 6km distance and can be covered either by walking, on pony, palki or electric vans which are primarily availble for elders. The distance from Katra to Ardh Kumari can be covered in 3hours and from there to the shrine is another 3 hours by foot.
2. One can go to the Holy shrine directlty as well from Katra by helicopter in about 5 minutes, by foot or pony or palki it would take about 6 hours to reach the shrine.
Post the visit to the shrine one can also go to Bhairo Baba temple which is another two hours distance by foot. The options for return journey to Katra from the shrine are again similar to as mentioned above. One can choose to return to Ardh Kumari directly from Bhairo Baba Temple and need not go back to the Bhawan again.
Since most of the people prefer to trek the 13 kms journey from base camp Katra to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine the entire route which is primarily a hilly track is well illuminated with proper facilities like toilets, drinking water, benches, medical dispensaries, etc available. There are many shops enriute which provide refreshments and other products to the pilgrims on their journey.
Katra is mushroomed with hotels, resorts, dhabas and fast-food joints to cater to the needs of pilgrims as well as tourists. The main bazaar at Katra is famous for dry fruits which is the specialty of the state. One can also find woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, local artifacts etc at excellent prices.
Katra is situated around 42 km away from Jammu on the foothills of Trikuta Mountains and can be reached by road, rail and air.
Jammu Airport also called Satwari Airport is the nearest airport. It connects Jammu to prominent Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Amritsar and Chennai via regular service of direct and stopover domestic flights
Katra is well connected by highways and can be reached via road. Direct buses from Jammu, Pathankot, Amritsar, Patiala, Dharamshala, Chandigarh, Delhi and many other cities are available.
Katra's own railway station which lie on the Jammu Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link is connected from Delhi through direct trains. Trains from other prominent cities like Kolkata, Pathankot, Amritsar, Delhi and Chandigarh run to Jammu Tawi Railway Station which is an important railway station in the state of J&K.
A sub-tropical climate is mostly witnessed throughout the year in the city of Katra.
Summer season from May to July remains hot and humid. During this period the temperature varies between 32°C-40°C.
Monsoon period starts from August and ends in the month of September. The rainfall is very less during this period and the region experience high humidity during this period.
Winter commences from the month of October and lasts till February. The days are pleasant and nights are cold during this period. One must carry woolen clothes.
The best time to visit Katra is from October to April.
Temple of Vaishno Devi
Temple of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is the main attraction to visit Katra. This famous cave shrine of Goddess Vaishno Devi which is also known as Trikuta Bhagwati is located at a height of 5200 feet. In this beautiful sacred shrine the goddess is symbolized in the form of three pindis (rocks).
Dera Baba Banda
Dera Baba Banda is a major pilgrimage Centre for Sikhs but do attract visitors of different religions as well. This 300 year old complex has a Gurudwara, built by Guru Gobind Singh's favourite 'Saint-soldier' Baba Banda Bairaagi on the banks of river Chenab. It is situated 25 kms away from Katra. The complex displays ashes of Banda Bahadur, an arrow given by Guru Gobind Singh and a huge sword used by Banda during wars. This place is most visited on the occasion of Vaishakhi's three day fair.
Baba Dhansar is a holy shrine located near Karua village in Resai district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated next to the beautiful and sacred Karua Jheel, A big fair is held here during the festival of Mahashivratri.
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