The Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most sacred pilgrimage centers in India. Located inside a cave, the temple is dedicated to goddess Vaishnodevi. An estimated 8 million pilgrims visit the temple every year making it the second most visited religious place in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple.
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The sanctum is situated at a height of 5300 feet above sea level on the hills of Trikuta mountain range and is 48 km away from Jammu city.
The idol of the main deity is found in the form of natural Pindies (stone structure), representing Goddess Saraswathi, Kali and Lakshmi. These three structures symbolize the creative, preservative and destructive characters of the Mother. While one takes a journey up the hill to the temple, one can enjoy natural beauty at its best.
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BEST PLACES TO STAY IN VAISHNODEVI
It is advisable to arrange accommodation in advance. Several private hotels, budget hotels, Dharamshalas and tourist accommodations are available in Katra. The tourist facility maintained by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board offers rooms for rent to pilgrims, which have to be booked in advance. Accommodation is available at Jammu (Vaishnavi Dham and Saraswati Dham near railway station), and at Katra (at Niharika Yatri Niwas and Shakti Bhawan near bus depot). Trikuta Bhawan with 700 beds at Katra is also available for pilgrims. This building is situated near the 2nd Yatra counter (YRC II), Katra. You can also stay at Adkuwari, Sajichatt and at main Bhawan.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN VAISHNODEVI
Mineral water and snacks like biscuits, cold drinks, tea, coffee and milk are available along the way up the hill at refreshment units run by the Shrine Board. These units are located at specific locations called View Points as they offer panoramic vistas of the countryside. There are 12 such view points. Most three-star hotels also serve good vegetarian food. There are numerous other restaurants in the main Katra market. At some places run by the trust, one can enjoy delicious Rajma and rice.
Photograph courtesy: WarmBakedBread/Creative Commons
BEST TIME TO VISIT VAISHNO DEVI
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Vaishno Devi is as given below. The best time to visit Vaishno Devi is also specified.