Visit to Katra
Enjoyed the nice stay at the IRCTC guest house at the station which has private and dormitory accommodation. Food lounge adjoining the guesthouse and also restaurant at the station serve good food.
Using the pick up and drop service of the guest house went to Darshan Deori and started the journey. From Ban Ganga tried to hire the ponies for faster and less tiring journey of 12 Kms till Bhavan from Banganga point of the journey. The pony owners against the notified rate of Rs. 700 wanted Rs. 900 and later on protesting were willing to charge Rs. 800/- for the 12 KM trip on the hills. There is no system of authority. The only authority seems to be jawans, who only talk loudly and are truly dominating and authoritative. Such a police force needs to learn from Delhi Police or CISF as to how to behave with civilians.
So travelled, on foot and found that all the facilities of the shrine mentioned on the route, saying that the raincoats are available against deposit of Rs. 300/- are only on paper. They do not have any stocks to give.
Food is fine and maintenance of cleanliness of route is also good. No maps are displayed on route for the benefit of the pilgrims/tourists. Local citizens native to Katra are nice people and I found them honest and sweet natured while talking.
Pony and Palki bearers shout due to congestion, as the roads are narrow at points, seeking space and may cause some accidents on pilgrims. Road needs to be widened further,
At Ardh Kwari point, the Battery car charges Rs. 300 per passenger ( a distance of about 6 Kms for going to Bhawan and is operated by Shrine board. This cart service is very erratic. Against a feet of about 20 cars which I counted at their garage, only 6 or so were operative that day. And they operated, only 5 trips The Shrine board has a very defective system of allocating or selling Battery car tickets. They give priority to their own known people and very few ticket are sold on counter even to old people and the ticket seller insists he will give once ticket, even to a couple where both persons are old above 65. On 2. 9. 2017 it rained and after standing in the queue for over 1 hour I failed to get the ticket which were given to 5 people or 6 max. And counter was closed saying it will open at 4. 30 pm. There was no space to sit. If I move out of queue to sit somewhere, there was no assurance that I will ever get a chance to buy a ticket as I would loose my appointed space in the queue .
However crowd management system at the Bhawan is excellent and arrangements are OK. The Shrine board bhojanalay have a limited menu and food is not available round the clock, where as the visitors are coming round the clock.
Overall experience was good, except that travel by pony/battery car was not good. If you are young and energetic better walk on way or climb the stairs. Whole uphill journey of 12 Kms takes about 5. 5 to 6 hours
I wish all the pilgrims best of journey and pray that Mata's Blessings shower on them.
I am heading to Katra
Katra Video Reviews
History of Katra
Katra, a small town in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, is the gateway to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi. Nestled in the lap of the Trikuta Mountains, the town of Katra is approximately 42 km from Jammu and is a major stop-over destination for tourists visiting the temple of Mata Vaishno Devi.
Katra is also the place where travellers have to register before commencing their journey to the shrine at the top of the mountains.
People and Culture of Katra
Registration at Katra gives the travellers an insurance cover of INR 1 lakh for the 13.5 km journey to the shrine. The town, situated at a height of approximately 750 metres, has plenty of accommodation options for the pilgrims. Free accommodation is also available at Katra which are provided registered trusts in the area. The pilgrims visiting the shrine of Vaishno Devi has risen from 1.4 million to 8.2 million in two decades, and that has only added more number of shops to the buzzing market of Katra. Shops here sell everything from handicraft to junk jewellery, small souvenir items, dry fruits, jackets and offerings for the temple.
Things To Do in Katra
Having a small population of approximately seven and a half thousand, the place is forever buzzing with shopkeepers selling various items and pony rides and auto rickshaws attracting pilgrims at the top of their voice. Earlier, a trek or a pony ride was the only option of reaching the shrine from Katra, but of late, environment friendly autos and helicopter rides have been introduced to make the journey of pilgrims easier.
There is so much to see in Katra.
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