The Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra Trek: A Spiritual Journey to the Sacred Shrine

Mata Vaishno Devi Temple - Salam Travellers

Planning your Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra? Ready to take on a spiritual journey to the Sacred Shrine on the Trikuta Hills in Jammu and Kashmir? It is imperative to consider aspects like trek distance, elevation gain, trekking duration, and itinerary in advance. Salam Travellers brings you the key aspects to consider on this spiritual journey, ensuring a safe and memorable experience. So let us look into what is needed to achieve this remarkable yet difficult climb to the sacred shrine.

Planning Your Vaishno Devi Yatra

Vaishno Devi Yatra - Salam Travellers

A pilgrimage (Yatra) to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple is revered as a sacred experience by Hindu devotees. The legend goes that Mata Vaishno Devi, often known as “Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata,” grants the wishes of her faithful devotees. Here, devotees witness the goddess in the Sanctum Sanctorum within the mystical Holy Cave.

Also read: Kedarnath Temple Trek: Char Dham Yatra, Trek Route, and Best Time

Historical Tapestry

Pandavas at the Vaishno Devi Yatra - Salam Travellers

The rich historical tapestry of Vaishno Devi Temple traces back centuries, intertwined with ancient legends and mythological narratives. Particularly, the Pandavas, during the Mahabharata era, are believed to have erected the Kol Kandoli and Bhawan temples to honor the Mother Goddess. This sacred journey of the Pandavas accentuates the sanctity of the temple, portraying it as a symbol of reverence and gratitude.

An Eternal Connection

An Eternal Connection - Vaishno Devi Yatra - Salam Travellers

Adhering to sacred lore dating back almost 700 years, the discovery of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is cloaked in mystical tales. The legend unfolds with the auspicious presence of the goddess during a Bhandaara at Pandit Shridhar’s residence. The mystical pilgrimage to the holy cave, marked by divine interventions and mythic encounters, led to the establishment of the revered shrine. Mata Vaishno Devi’s grace and the narrative of her spiritual emergence resonate throughout the Himalayan terrain.

Also read: Chopta Trek: Highest Shiva Temple and the Moon Rock

Trekking Experience at Vaishno Devi Temple

Trikuta Hills in Jammu and Kashmir - Salam Travellers

The holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located in the Trikuta Hills in Jammu and Kashmir. This revered temple is dedicated to Maa Vaishnavi, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. 

The Vaishno Devi temple is situated at an altitude of 5300 feet above sea level, and the shrine is nestled amidst beautiful hills and lush forests. The temple is located about 12 km from Katra, which is the last town in the foothills and the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi.

The trek to the holy cave temple of Vaishno Devi is close to 13 km long from Katra. The entire trek route has a well-laid path, and there are multiple stopover points along the way. Some of the way points on this trek include Adkuwari Temple, Sanjichhat, Bhawan, and Bhairon Temple.

Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra Trek Difficulty

Katra the base town - Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra Trek - Salam Travellers

The 23.2 km loop trail located near Katra Tehsil in Jammu and Kashmir presents a challenging yet gratifying trekking adventure. With an average completion time of approximately 9 hours and 49 minutes, this trail is favored by enthusiasts interested in bird watching, hiking, and leisurely walks. Despite the significant foot traffic, the lush green surroundings and intermittent rest points enhance the overall journey.

Also read: Channarayana Durga Fort Trek: A Day Trek in History

Getting to Katra Tehsil

Katra is the base town for starting the trek to Vaishno Devi. It’s in the Jammu and Kashmir district of Reasi. 

The nearest major city to Katra is Jammu, which has an airport and railway station. From Jammu, you can take a taxi or bus to reach Katra, which is around 50 km away. The journey takes about 2 hours. Taxis charge around INR 1500-2000 for a drop-off at Katra. Buses are also available from the Jammu bus stand, with ticket prices ranging from INR 80 to INR 150.

Katra has a small railway station as well, but only a few trains connect it directly to major cities. The Jammu Tawi railway station is better connected. From there, you can take a taxi or bus to cover the 60 km distance to Katra, which takes about 2 hours. 

Starting the Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra Trek

The trek to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple begins at Banganga, which is located just outside the main town area of Katra. But the actual yatra starting point is at the Adkuwari Temple.

Adkuwari Temple

Ardhkuwari Temple - Salam Travellers

The first stop on the Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra trek is Adkuwari Temple, located about 2.5 km from Banganga. Adkuwari means “halfway to the Goddess’.

According to legend, Adkuwari is the place where Mata Vaishnavi rested for some time while taking the earth goddess Bhudevi to the Trisandhya Peeth, located in northern India. The footprints of the goddess can be seen here.

Adkuwari offers great views of the valley below. You can see the lights of Katra town at night. Many pilgrims rest here and enjoy the pristine surroundings before continuing their journey to the Bhawan. 

Also read: The Top 10 Must Visit Caves in India: A Guide to Ancient Times


Sanjichhat HeliPad - Salam Travellers

Sanjichhat is the midway point on the Vaishno Devi trek and a place where pilgrims can stop to rest. Located at a height of 8,800 ft, Sanjichhat offers scenic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. 

This point has several facilities available for tired trekkers. There are washrooms, small eateries selling food and drinks, and some benches to sit and rest. Medical facilities are also available in case of any health emergencies.

Sanjichhat presents some beautiful vistas of the mountains around. One can sit here for some time and take in the fresh air and magnificent views. The scenic beauty re-energizes pilgrims to complete the remaining trek. 


Bhawan - Salam Travellers

Bhawan is the final destination and the main temple on the Vaishno Devi trek. After trekking for about 12 km from Katra, devotees finally reach the holy cave temple of Mata Vaishno Devi. 

The Bhawan is open 24 hours and devotees can have darshan at any time. The best time for darshan is in the morning, around 6 a.m. The evening aarti takes place around 8 p.m. These aartis are a great way to experience the spiritual atmosphere and energy of the temple.

Accommodation is available at the Bhawan complex for those who wish to stay close to the temple. Air-conditioned rooms and dormitories operated by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board are present here. Booking is recommended as rooms tend to get filled up quickly. Free community accommodation is also available for pilgrims. Staying at the Bhawan lets devotees attend the morning and evening aartis easily.

Also read: A Ride Down the Ganga Bhagirathi Hooghly River System

Bhairon Temple

Scenic Mountain Views - Bhairon Nath - Salam Travellers

After paying respects at the holy cave, most pilgrims continue 1.5 km further to the Bhairon Temple. This temple is dedicated to Bhairon Nath, believed to be a manifestation of Shiva. 

The temple is situated in a beautiful valley with scenic mountain views all around. Pilgrims can explore the large temple complex, which contains several shrines and idols. The main temple houses a large idol of Bhairon Nath, holding a wooden staff and images of the goddess. Other idols include Ganesha, Kartikeya, and Goddess Lakshmi.

There are several vantage points around the temple to take in the magnificent Himalayan scenery. The valley is surrounded by lush green hills dotted with tiny villages. Many pilgrims rest here and soak up the peaceful environs after the tiring trek up to Mata Vaishno Devi. The Bhairon Temple offers a fitting end to the spiritual journey.

Returning From Bhawan

Bhawan complex - Salam Travellers

After completing your darshan at the Bhawan, you have a few options for returning from Vaishno Devi. The most common way is to walk back down the same path you took up. This takes around 5-6 hours to descend. Be sure to take it slow and watch your footing, as going down can be harder on your knees. Stop to rest and drink water as needed.

You can also take a helicopter from the Vaishno Devi helipad back down to Katra. This is the fastest way to return, but also the most expensive. Helicopter rides cost around INR 2600 per person for a 6-7 minute flight. Tickets can be bought at the helipad.

For a more leisurely descent, you can hire a pony or palanquin. These need to be arranged beforehand at Katra. The ride down takes about 2.5 hours and costs around INR 1500 by pony or INR 2500 for a palanquin. 

Also read: What Document Require Kashmir Trip, Ultimate Checklist

The Best Time to Visit

Returning From Bhawan - Salam Travellers

The best time for the Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Yatra trek depends on your preferences for weather and crowds. 

For pleasant weather, the months between September and November, as well as March and June, are ideal. During these times, daytime temperatures typically range from 15°C to 30°C. The winter months from December to February can be quite cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night, especially at higher elevations along the trek.

To avoid crowds, the best times are during the monsoon season from July to August or in the winter from December to February. The peak pilgrimage season is in May and October, when the largest number of devotees visit. Expect long queues and waiting times, especially on weekends and holidays during peak season. 

Most pilgrims complete the Vaishno Devi Yatra trek in 1-2 days. To fully acclimatize and enjoy the journey, 3 days is ideal. This allows sufficient time to cover the 14 km uphill trek comfortably, visit the temples and shrines along the way, and rest overnight at Bhawan before starting the descent. Attempting this trek in 1 day during peak seasons can be quite hectic.

Also read: Gurez Valley Trek in Kashmir: Map, Distance, and Itinerary

Preparing for the Trek

  • Get in shape before attempting the trek. It’s 13 km uphill, so having some level of cardio fitness will help. Do some regular walking or jogging for a few weeks prior.
  • Book accommodations in Katra in advance, especially during peak seasons. 
  • Read up on the route and temple to familiarize yourself. Having an idea of what to expect will enhance the experience.
  • Pack wisely and as lightly as possible. Anything you bring has to be carried up and down.

Before starting the trek, you’ll need to get the required permits and prep for the journey ahead.

What to Carry

As the trek is just under 12 km long, with an ascent of around 4,200 ft, you’ll want to pack light but carry the essentials:

  • A small backpack with essentials
  • 2 liters of water 
  • Snacks/dry fruits
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Walking stick (can be rented)
  • Poncho in case of rain
  • Cash for pit stops
  • Torch/flashlight
  • Medical kit with any personal medication

Also read: Bodpathri Meadows and the Doodhpathri Trek in Kashmir

What to Wear

  • Comfortable shoes – sneakers or trekking shoes 
  • Loose, breathable clothing (t-shirts and track pants)
  • Jacket or sweater  
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

Do’s and Don’ts During the Trek

  • Do walk at your own pace. Don’t rush or exhaust yourself. Take breaks whenever needed.
  • Don’t litter. Carry back whatever you bring up. Help preserve the environment. 
  • Do respect the sanctity of the shrine. Maintain silence near the Bhawan. 
  • Don’t trek alone. For safety, always travel in groups.
  • Do watch your step at all times. Parts of the route are stepped and uneven.
  • Don’t carry valuables or wear jewelry on the trek. Travel light and safe.

Also read: 19 Famous Things to Buy in Srinagar

Trek Permits

  • You can get the trek permits at the Banganga office. They are available 24/7. 
  • The permits cost around INR 100 per person and can be paid for in cash. Keep your permit safe, as you’ll need to show it at checkpoints.
  • You’ll also need to register your name, age, and address.

Spiritual Journey to the Sacred Shrine Begins Today!

Set forth on this spiritual journey with a sense of reverence and respect for the sacred shrine. Take in the natural beauty and tranquility of the surroundings as you make your way to the destination.

Stay tuned for more adventure guides from Salam Travellers.

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