It is rightly said that a plan should always be there before its execution. However, in case of us we mostly come up with unplanned trips. No train booking or hotel booking in advance. Most of the times it works for us lucky ones ☺ and Yes, I can give some credits to my mind full of traveling and exploring places. One of my childhood dream I must say :P
And here I come again with the write-up of our exciting trip to Jammu. It started as a spiritual one but ended as a fun trip. Most of you have already made it to Vaishno Devi many a times and some of you are planning for it. The plan to visit Vaishno devi was a long pending at our end so finally we thought to give it a shot. As it was a long weekend 28th Sep 2018 – 02 Oct 2018 due to national holiday on 2nd Oct, we planned to visit Vaishno devi. We only booked the train tickets 20 days in advance and to our luck the tickets were available in only one train for both to and fro journey. The seats were full in direct train which goes to Katra so we booked tickets till Jammu. However we got the tickets for return journey from Katra itself. Not to waste any more time of my readers let’s jump directly to the successfully executed plan of ours and hope you will enjoy it to the fullest.
Day 1 – 29th Sep
We started our journey on the night of 28th Sep. Booked our tickets in Duronto train upto Jammu which was at the right time at 10:15 pm from Delhi Rohilla station. Next day i.e. 29th Sep the train arrived at Jammu station around 7 am. It was an early sunny morning. To our luck again the weather was clear and no sign of clouds were there still we had our umbrellas, rain coats and a jacket in case of any weather related emergency. Because you never know when the weather of a hill station gets changed. Now we have to board the bus from Jammu station to Katra. There are two options either go by private bus or go by government bus. We chose to travel from government bus as private buses depart late even when the bus is full of passengers. It cost us a total of Rs.350/- for four people as one more couple from our office was also with us in this trip. We got seated ourselves in the bus. The bus was very congested even not able to keep our luggage properly. But we adjusted ourselves and our luggage anyhow. You can also take a taxi from Jammu railway station to Katra but it’s a little bit expensive as compared to the bus option.
The bus took only one stoppage in between at a small dhaaba for tea and pakodas. The road condition is very good in between so we didn’t face any problem while traveling in bus. After having a small break, we resumed our journey and reached Katra at around 10:00 am. It was around 2-2.5 hours travel from Jammu to Katra. There we got to know that the Ardhkuwaari and Bhawan dormitory bookings can be done in advance at ‘Niharika Bhawan’ in Katra only near Katra bus stand. So, we went there and book 4 beds Rs.120/- per bed for both Ardhkuwaari and Bhawan dormitories. In case we get tired or weather gets unfavorable, so we should have the option to stay under the roof instead of staying outside in cold and rain. It was not expensive, so we opted for it.
After the booking done, we started our search for a good restaurant and here for our rescue Sagar Ratna appeared in front of us :P We went there took the chairs and ordered for our favorite Dosa and Paneer paranthas. The food was tasty, and it satisfied our stomachs ☺
Now it’s time to search the hotel so that we can take rest, can freshen ourselves before starting walking from Katra to Vaishno devi. One more thing – you must collect your Yatra Parchi before starting your spiritual journey towards Vaishno devi bhavan. You can collect Yatra Parchi either online through website ‘https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/OnlineServices/login.aspx’ or through offline mode near Katra bus stand. The only advantage to take yatra parchi online is to avoid the queue in case of heavy rush at Katra.
As we have already took the Yatra parchis online so after having brunch we directly went to our hotel Sarveshwar on Banganga road, Katra. The other couple knew the hotel owner as they use to stay in same hotel whenever they visit there. One room costs us Rs.800/- per night. We got the keys to our respective rooms. Took some rest, took the bath to freshen ourselves and to relax ourselves from a tiring journey and to start a new tiring journey ☺
We took an auto from our hotel to Banganga from where the main way starts towards Vaishno devi. There the security guards who scanned our bags and checked the pilgrimages. There we had the option to go through palkis, pithoos but we started walking on foot only at least till Ardhkuwari.
Ardhkuwari is about 5.5 kms from Katra so it took to us almost 2.5 hrs. – 3 hrs. on foot to reach there after taking enough light breaks in between. You will find many benches in between where you can sit and take rest. You can find many drinking water tanks in between so overall it will be a comfortable one even though it is tiring.
There from Ardhkuwari/Saanjhi Chat there are two different ways to reach till Bhavan. Either go by the old route which is difficult to climb, another one is a straight route with no steep roads. Also, there is a convenience of mini-van ‘Magic’ which is applicable only for Senior citizens and Handicapped people. The queue for taking its tickets is seriously very long even though it meant only for senior citizens and handicapped people. As my husband is having injury in his left knee so we requested the officials and opted to go till Bhavan through Magic van. It costs around Rs. 370/- per person. We got a note in which the vehicle details were mentioned. We took our respective seats and the driver started the ride towards bhavan. It hardly took 20 mins to reach there without any discomfort. Maximum 6 people can be seated in the van.
We already have our dormitory bookings in Manokaamna Bhavan (a Vaishno devi shrine board hotel) so we placed our luggage in its locker room and took some rest. Then we went to its own Manokamna restaurant. Had its famous yummy “Kadhi Chawal” and “Raajma Chawal”.
After having our food, we went back to our dormitory to freshen ourselves and to get ready for darshan. If someone wants to attend the aarti he or she can earn the place in aarti by paying 1000/- per devotee. Aarti starts from around 7:30 pm and goes till around 9 pm. We didn’t have the enough time to buy the tickets for Aarti, so we had to skip it and did the darshan only after Aarti. We got free by 11:30 pm went back to our dormitory to take a couple of hours rest.
After taking rest at around 1 am early morning, we left the dormitory and looked out for horses to go to Bhairav baba temple. As we were very tired and not able to walk properly so we had to take the horses. It took us around 1 hr. to reach Bhairav baba temple from Mata Vaishno Bhawan. Once we had the darshan of Bhairav baba temple we booked the same horses to return to Katra. The return journey took us almost 4 hrs. Early morning at 7 am we reached our hotel at Katra.
There we took some rest say for a couple of hours. All of a sudden, we gave a thought to have a small trip to Patni Top a nearby beautiful hill station. Because as working guys we get only some chances to travel such far away places outside Delhi-NCR so we thought to take full advantage of it. Although we were very tired yet when we think of hills, we forget everything else as most of IT professionals want some peace in life while working so much in our respective companies. And most of the peace you can have in a hill station only specially where it’s not much commercialized. And Patni Top is one such peaceful hill station. I should say that one must visit it while going to Jammu.
Day 2 – 30th Sep
After taking bath we got ready for a ride to Patnitop. For that we looked out for the taxi options in local Katra market. There we booked a taxi from Balaji Tour & Travels for Rs.3,000. That was a standard price for Toyota Etios. After having our breakfast, we got seated ourselves in the car and started our ride. Although this is a 2.5-3 hrs. ride from Katra to Patnitop but that time it took us 4 hrs. The road construction was in progress. Everywhere was just dust and dust only at both side of the roads. The sweaty weather, the dusty roads made our travel tiring. We took a stop in between to have lunch at a mid-way dhaba. Although it was a small dhaba cum restaurant, yet the food was very yummy and hygienic. As soon as we had our lunch, we resumed our journey and reached Patnitop in evening at around 5 pm. Again, to our rescue the weather was very pleasant neither it was too sunny nor windy.
There our taxi driver took to us Hotel Dreamland as he knows the hotel owner and manager very well. Overall, we liked the hotel and its rooms, so we decided to book two rooms for a night in this hotel. One more thing good about this hotel that it allows the DJ party in night. Apart than this hotel none other hotel has the permission to run DJ its maybe due to some source or jugaad whatever you say. We stayed there for one night and it cost us around Rs. 2400 for two rooms which proved worth to us.
Finally, we settled ourselves in our respective rooms. Took the shower and a little bit of rest.
Then we thought to roam around the hotel, so we asked our taxi driver to take on a small ride around here and there. There was a small market with some J & K government cottages beside that market. Those cottages are for those who don’t want to stay inside the hotel. These cottages have their own kitchen where a family can stay and cook their food on own and can enjoy in the midst of nature.
After roaming here and there, we had some maggi and returned to our hotel. Dropped ourselves to our rooms, freshen ourselves and then we were downstairs to celebrate our stay. The rocking Punjabi songs on DJ had started. There were some other families also who were enjoying their stay there. We danced and enjoyed with them. We ordered our dinner with some drinks. Danced a lot and then ended it with a tasty dinner. The hotel staff and service were good. After a tiring and entertaining stay, we got to our rooms and took a nap. Before going to bed we discussed with our driver any nearby places we can roam around before finally moving ahead towards Katra to board our train. He told us that we can go to Natha top. If you want to enjoy the true scenic beauty then you can go to this place.
Next morning we woke up early and got ready ourselves. Took light breakfast and asked our driver to take us to Natha top. We reached there in around 1 hr. The roads were all clean and no traffic was there otherwise it becomes difficult if you get traffic on hilly roads. As soon as we reached Natha top we picked our mobile phones to capture our beautiful memories there. The scenery there was truly mesmerizing. We stayed there for almost half an hour just for some photography stunts ☺ and selfies obviously ;-)
As soon as we get over from it, we took our seats in the taxi and asked driver to drive back towards Katra as we were having our Jammu Mail from Katra to Delhi at around 1:30 pm.
The train was at right time standing at Katra station waiting for us :P. We boarded ourselves in the train and thus the spiritual cum entertaining trip came to an end ☺
Hope you enjoyed it ☺ Thanks for your time.