After whole year of hard work and stressful life, finally it was time to take a much needed break. But unlike last year this time we were not able to plan our trip beforehand, because I and Mukesh both were not sure about the destination. After several discussions finally we agreed for Vaishno Devi ,Dalhousie, and Amritsar. As expected we were late to book our hotels, result of which all the good properties were sold out. So we kept our fingure crossed and started our trip without any bookings..
Day1 (kanpur-katra) : It was 4am on 25th Feb 2018; we left for Lucknow airport in order to catch our flight to Jammu. The flight was as per scheduled and one must insist for window seat because it offers a beautiful view of Himalayan range before landing. It was a short flight of eighty minutes, we reached Jammu 9.30 sharp. The counter of shrine board was present at the airport itself, so we got our regestration done for Vaishno devi darshan . Hired a prepaid taxi and left for katra, which is only 45 kms away from Jammu. By 12noon we checked in the hotel. By this time we were hungry and decided to go for lunch. If you love veg. food then you are at the right place, the town has many famous food joints and you can choose anyone according to your choice, we preferred south Indian food(Sagar Ratna). After yummy lunch it was time to take a power nap, we went back to hotel and took a quick one. We got up around 4.30pm and decided to visit the temple of Mata Vaishno Devi same day. So without wasting anytime we took shower and left the hotel. The distance between katra and Vaishno Devi is 16kms and it’s situated at a height of 5200 feet above the sea level. One can also opt for helicopter service which is very reasonable priced. But we decide to trust our own foot and started a trek in the evening. After crossing the first check point of BaadGanga gate,the whole atmosphere suddenly changed ,there were beautiful small temples around, market of small shops selling prashad , the facility of ponnie rides and palki are also available to cover the distance. Every small thing is being taken care by the authorities (shrine board).
The chants of Jai Mata Di! All around with countless devoties was making the environment devotional. After treaking for around 3hrs. we reach the place known as Ardhkumari. The view of katra from Ardhkumari in night was spectacular. Light all over the town was making it look beautiful as if lacs of candles were being lightened. The cave of Ardhkumari is said to be the place where Devi Mata took a halt for Nine Months. To avoid her encounter with “Bharavnath”. Devotees go through the cave to offer their prayers. After offering our prayers and having snacks we moved towards Bhawan. It took us another two and a half hrs to reach there. The first sight of the Bhawan made me speechless!! The beauty of the place was beyond words. But there was something more about it, the place had magical atmosphere. And one can feel the positivity all around.
To our surprise there was no crowd at Bhawan. So we hurried towards the Bhawan, and was expecting main cave to be opened. But that was not the case; we were made to offer our payers using alternate entry, made by shrine board. The moment I entered the cave and saw the Pindies (natural rock formations) of Maa Kaali, Lakshmi and Saraswati, I felt as if my soul left my body and wanted to stay there forever. No words and no language in the world can explain the spiritual feeling of this place.
After darshan at Bhawan, we started our trek to “Bhairavnath Temple” which is 2.5kms from Bhawan. It took us another one hour to reach there. After offering the prayer, our next destination was hotel in katra because by this time every single part of our body was aching like anything especially our knees, backbone and foot. We wanted to hit the bed as soon as possible. So we started walking back to katra or I should say running back to katra. Now the distance of 16kms felt lot more than that. We reached our hotel at 7 in the morning and went to bed straightaway.