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Jammu with Katra Mata Vaishno Devi Tourist Information

Jammu, the Duggar land where the past still has a living presence. A land of grand ancient temples, and beautiful palaces, all nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is said that, on becoming King, the Suryavanshi Jambu Lochan went on a hunt and, crossing the Tawi, found a deer and a tiger drinking water from the same tank. His ministers explained that this meant that the soil of the place was so virtuous that no living creature bore enmity against another.

Raja Jambu Lochan, who lived in the later Vedic period, decided to found his capital , Jambupura, on his soil, on the right bank of the Tawi, overlooking his brother king Bahu's fort. Today the temple of Maha Kali, better known as "Bahu" or "Bawey Wali Mata", located in the Bahu Fort, is considered second only to Mata Vaishno Devi in terms of mystical power. The present temple was built shortly after the coronation of Maharaja Gulab Singh, in 1822. The existing fort, as well as the Manasabdar's palace inside it, was constructed in 1820.

Sightseeing in Jammu

Raghunath Temple in Jammu

Raghunath Temple is located right in the middle of Jammu, at a close distance to the Jammu Airport, and is believed to be the largest shrine complex of North India. The Raghunath Temple complex consists of seven temples, where each temple has a shikhar of its own. The presiding deity of Raghunath Temple in Jammu is Lord Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

History of Raghunath Temple

The construction of the Raghunath Temple began in 1835 AD by Maharaja Gulab Singh, who was the founder of the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir. Its construction was later continued by his son, Maharaja Ranbir Singh, in 1860.


The extremely beautiful town of Akhnoor is located about 28 kilometers from Jammu on the foothills of the Himalayas and attracts tourists from all across the globe for its mesmerising beauty and historical attractions. There are several historical attractions in Akhnoor, such as the Akhnoor Fort and the caves where the Pandavas are believed to have stayed during their exile.

The extremely beautiful town of Akhnoor is located about 28 kilometers from Jammu on the foothills of the Himalayas and attracts tourists from all across the globe for its mesmerising beauty and historical attractions. There are several historical attractions in Akhnoor, such as the Akhnoor Fort and the caves where the Pandavas are believed to have stayed during their exile.

Mansar Lake

Mansar Lake is located about 20 kilometers from Samba town in Jammu and Kashmir, on the bypass between Samba and Udhampur. This magnificent lake is bordered by a forest of pine trees, and attracts tourists both for its natural beauty and the various exciting activities on offer.

It attracts pilgrims and devotees in large numbers, and is regarded with the utmost significance by the locals because of its connection to the sacred Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. A popular tourist attraction at the lake is the shrine of Sheshnag, the Lord of Serpents, located on the eastern bank of the lake. It is visited in large numbers by newlywed couples who perform three circumambulations to seek blessings.

In close proximity stand the Durga and Umapati Mahadev temples. Besides sightseeing and spirituality, you can also enjoy a boat ride on the lake and watch the numerous fishes splashing around in the water. Mansar Lake is also surrounded by a cemented path with projected view decks which lets you observe seasonal birds, a large number of tortoises and fishes of different species. A park which surrounds the lake and the gorgeous views of hills in the distance makes it look even more beautiful. There is also a small restaurant where you can enjoy some snacks

Katra Mata Vaishno Devi yatra

One of the most popular pilgrim centres in the world, the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is set in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains in Jammu and Kashmir. Here, the Bhawan houses the sanctum sanctorum or the holy cave where the goddess manifested herself in the form of natural rock formations, known as the three Holy Pindies. Visited by millions of pilgrims every year, the Mother Goddess is believed to fulfil whatever her devotees wish for.

The Spiritual Yatra

To reach the shrine, one has to obtain a Yatra Parchi from one of the registration counters and embark on a trek of about 13km from Katra. Most devotees walk both ways, some prefer to ride a pony, while palanquins are also available for the sick and elderly. A helicopter service operates from Katra to Sanjhichatt, from where the shrine is just 2.5 kilometers.

Trekking uphill to the holy cave, amidst reverberating chants of 'Jai Mata Di' and beautiful views of the entire valley, the yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi's temple is a spiritual journey like no other. Upon reaching the main shrine after the long arduous trek, the spirit of devotion and vibrant positivity around is truly mesmerizing, easing out all the fatigue and exhaustion of the journey

Things to Do

Visit the Ardh Kuwari Cave, located midway on the old route to the Bhawan. This narrow cave is popular not only for its religious significance, but also as a pitstop for devotees undertaking the yatra. One has to crawl on the knees to get to the other side where the main shrine dedicated to the goddesses is located. According to belief, Mata Vaishnodevi took refuge here while she was hiding from Bhairav Nath for 9 months.

Upon reaching the Bhawan, a bath in the holy water of the bathing ghat is considered the ideal cleansing before the holy darshan.
Experience the famed aarti held at the Bhawan before sunrise and after sunset. This sacred aarti is performed by pujaris before the holy deity and then brought outside for the devotees. Darshan remains halted during this time. The temple also offers facilities for individual hawan/poojan for devotees, for which slots have to be booked in advance.
Apart from the darshan of the three Pindies in the holy cave, there are a number of other holy darshans in the original cave, such as the symbols of Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman, Bhairon Nath, the five Pandavs etc. These darshans are only possible during lean season when the original cave is used. Also explore temples dedicated to Mata Durga, Lord Shiv and Lord Ram within the Bhawan complex.

When to Go

The shrine is open throughout the year, with Navratras being the peak season. For a comfortable trek, visit Vaishno Devi between March and October when the weather is cool and pleasant. For those who can brave the cold, snowfall during the winter months makes the experience even more charming.

Getting There

By Air: Jammu Airport is well connected to major Indian airports and is just 50 kilometers from Katra. Regular taxis and cabs from Jammu to Katra are easily available.
By Train: Udhampur Railway Sation is the nearest railway station, from where taxis to Katra are easily available.
By Road: A number of Jammu & Kashmir State Transport buses, as well as private air-conditioned buses operate between Jammu and Katra.

Places to See Around

Dera Baba Banda

Located 30 kms from Katra on the banks of the river Chenab, this historic gurudwara is dedicated to Baba Banda Bahadur, one of the Sikh leaders of Guru Gobind Singh. It attracts a large number of Hindu and Sikh devotees, especially during the three-day fair held at Baisakhi. The inside of the gurudwara depicts several important Sikh leaders, and houses ashes, weapons, and other relics of the great Baba Banda.

Bhairavnath Temple

Dedicated to Bhairav Nath, this temple is only a 2 kilometres walk up from the main shrine. The picturesque views from the temple are totally worth the trek, but if you're too tired to walk, ponies are also available. It is believed that a pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi is complete only after paying a visit to this temple.

Holy Cave of Shiv Khori

Popular for its natural rock formations - the 4 feet high shiva lingam, and objects bearing similarity with Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesh, and Nandi - this 200 meter long cave is a sight to see. The carved snake formations on its roof from which water trickles down on the lingam, make it even more spectacular.