So this was one of my usual yearly trips. It was the last day of my college exams and also the last day of my college. Though it was hard to leave college as I couldn’t believe these three years had passed so swiftly. But, as the saying goes, “To gain something, something else has to be sacrificed.” So there was this nostalgic feeling like the one I had when I left school. There was this excitement to do another course and also the sad- sad feeling of leaving college. My mother had already booked the tickets for Vaishno Devi, the religious locale of Jammu & Kashmir. I was nervous for my last test and melancholic for the last day of college and I had zero excitement for going to Vaishno Devi. Only when my exam went well, and I had bid a goodbye to my close friends and classmates did I feel excited about the trip. This time only three of us were going, my mom, my younger brother and me. There was another friend of my mom and her son who accompanied us. I thought that I’ll get bored because mom will be busy talking to her friend and my brother will be busy talking to his friend as there was no one of my age but me being a chirpy being and all others involving in a good conversation, it was rather easy to mix up.
So, it was 5:30 in the evening when we had to board the Shiv Shakti Express from New Delhi Railway Station. My father had come to drop us there. This time we had to travel in a three-tier AC instead of our usual two-tier AC . My mom’s friend and her son came in a little late. The train was about to leave the station. The station as usual was not very clean and tidy. The usual hustle bustle, garbage strewn everywhere, people spitting tobacco and some others using foul language. And also, people carrying their colorful luggage with the utmost hurry. There were some people changing platforms while some others waiting endlessly for the train to come.
We reached at 5 in the morning to Katra. This was the first time we were travelling to Katra instead of Jammu Tawi. Katra is the new station that has been built up in order to reduce the distance from where the devotees start their journey towards the Bhawan where the temple of Vaishno Mata is built. Unlike New Delhi Railway Staion, Katra Station was impeccably neat and clean and there was no hustle bustle there. The serene mountains were clearly visible in the light of dawn.
We had booked the dormitory of shrine board at Katra where we took rest and got ready. We had the best and lightest breakfast of tea and bread butter from a roadside vendor. After this, we took an auto from where we had to start walking towards the Bhawan and cover 13 km by foot. We started at 8 in the morning and reached the Bhawan at 2 in the afternoon. We were of course tired but this long climbing on the rocks was enjoyable as well. We kept having something to eat or drink in between and there were resting places made on the way. Bhojanalyas were quite a trend there. After every other mile there was a bhojanalya where kadhi chawal and rajma chawal were served along with a variety of soft drinks to choose from.
So, these were the usual bhojanalyas that we found on the way. Other than this, there was Cafe Coffee Day at various points. We also had a chilled cold coffee along with some snacks from there.
But, all this eating spree was when we had climbed a few miles. The very first thing that we saw was this welcome point also known as Banganga from where we started walking.
The first temple when we started walking was Charanpaduka where it is believed that Vaishno Mata first put her feet.
With the slogans of ” Jai Mata Di”, we climbed to Bhawan with all our strength and energy. We had a room booked at Vaishnavi Bhawan from where the clear view of ‘Mata ka Bhawan’ was visible.
The view was scenic as well.
This was the view of the mountains when we woke up early morning and encountered this view from our room balcony.
And, this is me standing in the balcony, looking back and not wanting to be clicked! 😛
But, this is the view of the next day when we had already had darshan of Vaishno Mata and also Bhairon Baba the day before. It was cloudy that day and it rained heavily as well. There were hailstorms. We were standing in the queue but the queue was under the shed so we didn’t get wet in the rains. And, as soon as our chance to enter the temple came, the hailstorms had already stopped. How lucky we were as if Mata was constantly taking care of us. Also, when we went to Bhairon Baba, we were again lucky because as soon as we reached there, and we had had darshan of the temple of Bhairon Baba, the gates were closed for the aarti. So those devotees, who came in late, had to wait for another hour and half. I don’t have much photos of the inside of the temples of Bhairon Baba and Vaishno Mata as photography was prohibited there and also because of too much rush and hustle bustle. As vacations are going on these days, there were many devotees out there. But, this was one of the photos of a cloudy sunset that I clicked after reaching Bhairon Baba.
So, the next day, we started to climb down the mountains. We even had a booking in Adhukuwari which is halfway to the Bhawan for the darshan of an ancient cave for devotees to see. Because of a lot of rush and plethora of devotees, our chance didn’t come, even though we waited for long there. We just visited the ancient temple there and started climbing down. We had a little of healthy food also like this fresh cucumber. It tasted really well. Such a taste of cucumbers is not there at home. There was something special about them.
On the way, we clicked a lot of photos and this was one of them where I got clicked with a donkey. 😛
When we were about to reach to the foothills, i.e. Katra, we encountered this shop where a man was writing names on keyrings through his calligraphy pen. Each key ring costed us for some 25 Rupees after getting the name written. We bought some 10 key rings from that man.
And, this was one of the photos I clicked with my mom and yes, I can’t deny that we do look like sisters. Getting confused about who is the mother and who is the daughter is natural. 😛
Also, I had noticed something funny after climbing down to Katra from where we had to take an auto.
You can see how passionately the Cow is enjoying her food. 😛
When we had climbed down thirteen long kilometres, we just had lunch at Katra at one of the famous restaurants there ‘Jewel’s’. It is reasonable and it has all the variety of all types of foods:- North Indian, South Indian, Chinese etc. It even has a variety of desserts and soft drinks to choose from. Ranging from Ice- cream sodas to lemonade and pepsi as well. And also, Gulabjamuns and Halwas, Burfis etc. There was everything. And all of us were super hungry, so we had a lots of food to grab. The same day, we had our train in the evening. We boarded the train at 7:30 in the evening and we reached New Delhi at 6:50 in the morning. We booked our cabs and reached home in about an hour. Though, it was what everyone does on a trip, but it was still special, atleatst for me, as I had last visited Vaishno Devi when I had given my board exams in 12th and now I had gone there after giving my college exams. It was tiring yes, but it was a sweet and lovely trip that gave me an instant break after my final exams in college. 🙂
So, these were the five of us who rocked this trip. This is one of the decent selfies that we clicked. 😛
If you’ve some good memories or anything to tell from your last trip, you can tell in the comments section below. Because, Life in itself is a trip full of beautiful and fond memories. 🙂