Katra is a small town located in the Udhampur district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It serves as the base for one of the most important religious pilgrimages in India—the journey to the Vaishno Devi Temple. The town is nestled amidst the picturesque Trikuta Mountains and offers a unique blend of spirituality, natural beauty, and local culture. Here’s what you can explore and experience in Katra:
Vaishno Devi Temple: The primary reason people visit Katra is to undertake the pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi Temple. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Vaishno Devi and is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in India. Pilgrims trek up the Trikuta Mountains to reach the temple, which is situated at an altitude of approximately 5,200 feet. The journey is about 12 kilometers long and can be done by foot, ponies, or helicopters.
Banganga Temple: This temple is an important stop on the way to Vaishno Devi Temple. The temple complex also features a sacred pond called Banganga, where pilgrims can take a holy dip.
Ardhkuwari Temple: Located midway on the trek to Vaishno Devi Temple, this cave temple is dedicated to the goddess in her childhood form. The trek to Ardhkuwari involves passing through a narrow cave passage.
Bhairavnath Temple: Situated at an altitude of around 6,600 feet, this temple is the final point of the pilgrimage. It is believed that the pilgrimage is complete only after visiting this temple.
Shrine Board Complex: This complex offers facilities for pilgrims, including accommodation, restaurants, and medical facilities. The complex also houses a museum and a theater that showcases the story of Goddess Vaishno Devi.
Charanpaduka: This area is believed to have imprints of the goddess’s feet on a stone, and it offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Himkoti: Located en route to the temple, Himkoti offers a beautiful view of the valley. There’s a small temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati here.
Baba Dhansar: A short drive from Katra, Baba Dhansar is known for its temple and natural spring. The area is surrounded by lush greenery and is quite serene.
Local Cuisine: Katra offers a variety of vegetarian food options that cater to the pilgrims’ dietary preferences.
Shopping: The town has shops where you can buy souvenirs, religious items, and local handicrafts.
Katra’s significance as a religious destination, along with the surrounding natural beauty, makes it an interesting place to visit for those seeking a spiritual experience or a glimpse into local customs and traditions. Always check the current situation and travel advisories before planning your visit