Almost 2 months ago, I thought I need to start the new year with a trip and so I decided to visit Vaishno Devi (Katra, Jammu). I was planning this trip for quite long although it never materialized. Around December beginning, I searched for train tickets which was luckily available for January so I thought about giving it a try. As, I’ve never travelled alone in India, my mum was little scared and wanted me to take someone for the trip. But I was confident that I’ll be able to make it alone, and yippee I did it finally 🙂
After spending full day at office, I headed to the New Delhi railway station and caught the 17h30 train to Katra. As the journey progressed, I bought myself tea and potato chips and occupied myself in a novel (even finished it before dinner). Post dinner, I fell asleep around 22h00 and was awaken by a strong jolt and found we reached the Katra station sharp at 05h30.
I had booked Hotel Asia in advance but they promised a cab only after 06h30. To fritter away time, I went straight to the cafeteria for tea & snacks and also bought a woolen cap and gloves because I had actually forgot to bring them 🙂 At the promised time, hotel sent a cab for me and afterwards I occupied myself in a huge room with an amazing view.
The trek is of *26kms*(to & fro) and the weather was pretty bad that day so I planned to start early. I left the hotel around 08h00 and firstly got the entry ticket from the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board counters. I commenced the trek around 08h15 and on covering 2.5kms straight, took a coffee break at Café Coffee Day(CCD). Below are the only few pictures I could click before the rain increased, then I had to hide my phone in the bag.
As it was super cold that day, so on reaching Adhkuwari , I dropped in a café for a cappuccino to get warm. Eventually I reached Bhavan around 14h45, and the locker room queue took an hour of my precious time – *Sigh!! I should have thought about this in advance*.
I visited the Temple close to 16h00 and got free at 16h45 with all my belongings with me. I was starving (I had already missed my lunch) hence I paused at Sagar Ratna for a quick bite which was actually very crowded even at non-lunch hours.
I started my way back around 17h30, the weather got worse and the lights also went out because of strong winds. I wanted to cover maximum distance before it becomes dark and thus without wasting time I continued despite strong winds. Luckily after crossing Adhkuwari, the lights were back and it got easy to walk. *Unfortunately*, my knee started to ache by that time and my speed was reduced to half. Overcoming all these obstacles, I reached the base camp where the hotel had already sent a cab for me and I reached hotel at 21h30. I freshened up and ordered some Kashmiri delicacies in the room and crashed for the night.
When the Sun came out finally after two days I captured the pictures while on the Katra railway station on my way back to home.
Have you been to Katra lately?? Do share your experience with us!!
– The Wanderer