About Katra Jammu (Near by Places)
Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Reasi district in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, India, situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is located. It is located 42 km from the city of Jammu.
Vaishno Devi is a temple town that's home to the famous Vaishno Devi Mandir. Popularly known as Mata Rani, Vaishnavi and Trikuta, Vaishno Devi is a manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Durga. Located in Trikuta hills, 13 kms from Katra (in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir); this renowned shrine allures millions of devotees from all over the world. It is believed that during the pooja and aarti, Goddesses arrive at the Holy cave to pay their respect to Mata Rani. Devotees believe goddess herself calls the devotees to reach here.
Vaishno Devi is said to be Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata (the mother who fulfils the wishes of her children). The Devotees believe goddess herself calls them to reach here. The darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi in the holy cave is in the form of three naturally formed rocks which are known as pindies. These pindies manifest the three forms of the goddess as Maha Kali, Maha Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi.
Ardhkuwari Gufa, Vaishno Devi Overview
Before making the Vaishno Devi Bhavan her abode, Mata Vaishnodevi is believed to have meditated in the ArdhKuwari Gufa for 9 months before beheading the demon Bhairavnath. Located halfway to Vaishno Devi Temple, Ardh Kuwari acts as a stopover for the pilgrims on their journey up to the Bhavan.
The 52ft long Ardhkuwari is also known as Garbajoon Cave, as the shape of the cave resembles a mother's womb. The devotees believe that when Mata Vaishno killed Bhairav his head fly off into the valley while his body remained in the Ardh Kuwari Cave. One has to crawl on the knees to reach the other side of the Ardhkuwari cave. Once on the other side, you can see a large shrine which is built dedicated to the three Goddesses - Maha Kali, Maha Laxmi and Maha Saraswati. The darshan route is semicircular so that you exit from a different opening at a small distance from the entry route.
No journey to Katra is complete without having visited Bhairavnath Mandir. The cave temple of Bhairavnath is dedicated to Baba Bhairavnath and is constructed at the site where he is believed to have breathed his last. A steep 3km journey from the Bhawan leads you to Bhairavnath temple.
According to the legend, Kaal Bhairav (Baba Bhairavnath) was killed by Maa Vaishnodevi, and during his last breath, he repented his sins. The goddess forgave him and said that no pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi will be complete without visiting the Bhairav Temple. The temple provides picturesque views of the forest fed mountains. Ponies are available for the up-down journey in case you can not climb the steep stairs. There is also a ropeway from Vaishno Devi Temple to Bhairavnath Temple at a cost of INR 100 per person.
Katra is a small town in the foothills of Trikuta Mountains which is famous as the base camp for visiting the shrine of Vaishno Devi. Located in the Uddhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir, the prime attraction of Katra is Vaishno Devi Temple. This is why it is also referred to as Katra Vaishno Devi.
Growing as a tourist attraction, people now have access to helicopters and eco friendly vehicles. Katra is worth visiting, even if you are not on a pilgrimage, because attractions like the Banganga, the Chenab river, and a large amount of peaks around offer great places for mountain climbing and family outings.
Dera Baba Banda
Dere Baba Banda is a 300-year old Gurudwara and a major pilgrimage points for Sikhs. It is renowned for housing the ashes of Baba Banda Bahadur who was the commanding soldier of Guru Gobind Singh's army. The Gurudwara also houses his arrow and a huge sword used by him during wars.
Being one of the important religious centres in Kashmir, the Gurudwara Dere Baba Banda attracts a huge number of pilgrims, especially during the three-day Vaisakhi mela. The architecture of the Gurudwara is stunning with the interior walls glinting in the textures of golden shade.
Shopping in Vaishno Devi
Although most famous for its revered temple Vaishno Devi, this destination is an unlikely shopping destination as well. Shopping is mainly done by pilgrims, which includes Prasad, saris and shawls which are offered to the goddess. Gold and silver coins embossed with the images of the goddess are also sold here. Other goods that find a place here includes bangles, embroidered fabrics, saris and suits which are quite popular among women of all ages.
Vaishno has quite a few destinations and shopping areas within its bounds. The Katra Main Bazaar is the main shopping area here, and you can find everything that is native to Jammu here. You can find delicious dry fruits such as walnuts, almonds, berries and dried apples.
The Bhawan market of Katra offers traditional goods that are offered to the holy goddess in the temple. The Sanjhi Chhat market of Vaishno has a wide collection of traditional fabrics, shawls and Kashmiri motifs.
This is among the most auspicious places to see in Katra that lies on the way to the cave or bhawan of Maa Vaishno Devi. Charan Paduka is where the foot imprints of Maa can be seen on a rock slab. Mata Vaishno Devi or Vaishnavi was being chased by Bhairavnath, the saint turned demon. She was moving towards her cave when she decided to rest here for a while. That is when her footprints got lodged in the rocks. Visit Charan Paduka to seek the blessings of Mata before continuing your ascend to her cave.
Another holy stop when moving towards Vaishno Devi is Ban Ganga. It is one of the best places to visit in Katra. The Shivalik Range of Himalayas is where this Ganga originates from and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Kahsmir in June. Once Mata Vaishanvi was going towards her abode in the cave when the monkey accompanying her felt thirsty. With no water around, Maa shot an arrow in the earth, out of which the Ganga sprang up. That gave it the name Ban (arrow) Ganga.
Interestingly, it is also called Bal (hair) Ganga, as it is believed that Maa washed her hair in it. Ban or Bal Ganga offers relaxation to devotees while on the trek to the Devi’s temple. Take a dip and feel fresh and blissful before continuing the journey to other tourist places in Katra.
Baba Dhansar is another of the many must-visit holy places in Katra. It is located less than 13 kilometers from Katra and there are plenty to awesome homestays and guest houses in Katra located near this place. It requires climbing stairs, around 100 of them. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with an interesting legend associated with it. Apart from the beautiful temple, what attracts tourists at this place are a series of marvellous waterfalls and lush greenery all around.