The Journey from Katra town to Vaishno Devi (Durbar) is 13 kms, which has to be traversed by pony, ‘dandi’ or on foot. ‘Pithus’ (coolies) are also available.
Helicopter Service has also been operating daily from Jammu/ Katra to Shrine.
What to remember:
- Obtain a yatra slip only from the yatra registration counter at the Tourist Reception Centre at the Katra bus stand and nowhere else. Without an authentic yatra slip, crossing of the Ban Ganga check post is not permitted.
- Take official receipts for all payments made to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVSB) as well as those made to private vendors. Demand to see official rate lists when making payments.
- Use only the donation boxes provided by the SMVSB. In case of donations at the donation counters of the board at Katra (central office), Adhkawari, Sanji Chhat and various points at the Bhawan and obtain a formal receipt for the same.
- Donations to the shrine are exempt from income tax under the Income Tax Act. Do contact the central office of the Shrine Board located at Katra, or the Sub Divisional Magistrate or Tehsildar in Room No. 8, Kalika Bhawan, Durbar, or write to the Chief executive Officer, SMVSB for any suggestions/complaints.
- Avoid over straining yourself on the climb. Walk on the paved track, instead of the stairs. Do not relax at points where warning notices are displayed. Do not break traffic discipline or try to over take others at difficult stretches.
- To maintain the sanctity of the place do not indulge in playing cards, smoking or chewing betel (paan) at Bhawan or enroute. Do not paint, stick posters or disfigure signboards, and also avoid littering the area.
- Fellow pilgrims are bound to you by their faith in the Mata. Avoid playing transistors or tape recorders too loudly or creating blockage or hindrances in the passages meant for circulation of the yatris.
- Qualified doctors are available at the Primary Health Centre, Katra and at the dispensaries at Adhkawari and Bhawan, round the clock. They are also available at the evening clinic at Katra bus stand; open 2 p.m to 8 p.m. Medical Aid Centres run by the SMVSB provide necessary assistance to the pilgrims at the Katra bus stand, Banganga and Sanji Chhat.
- Clothing - Light woollens are required at night even during summer. During the remaining parts of the year heavy woollens are require.
The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVSB) runs a large number of cafeterias and viewing points along the trail between Katra and the shrine where snacks, coffee and cold drinks are provided to the yatris on a no-profit-no-loss basis. The Shrine Board also runs ‘bhojanalyas’ at Katra, Adhkawari, Sanji Chhat and at the Bhawan / shrine for providing hygienically prepared food to the yatris on a no-profit-no-loss basis.
Upon reaching the Bhawan, a group number is allotted to the pilgrims at the slip (‘parchi’) counter against the yatra slip issued at Katra. The yatri is required to stand in queue at Gate Number 2 till the announcement of the group’s number is made to proceed to the sanctum sanctorum. While inside the cave, one should concentrate on the darshan of the mother goddess in her three-pindi forms – Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi or Maha Vaishnavi and Maha Saraswati. The holy water coming from the feet of the Mata can be collected on the way back.