Nov 302012

The holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is the second most visited Hindu temple of India. Situated at the altitude of 5300 feet on the Trikuta Hills, this temple is accessible by the 12 kms long trek over the hill. In the previous two posts related to this temple, I discussed about the ways to reach Jammu and then Katra and after that I gave details about the trek from Katra to Adi Kuwari Temple, which is situated at the mid of this trek route, 6 kms away from Katra. I suggest you to read these two posts to get a better idea of this journey to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine:

1. Trip to Mata Vaishno Devi Part 1..Jammu To Katra

2. Trip to Mata Vaishno Devi Part 2: Katra to Adi Kuwari Devi Temple

These two posts give you a fair idea on the journey till Adi Kuwari Temple. The present post takes you beyond the Adi Kuwari Temple to holy shrine at Bhawan and further to Bhairon Baba Temple.

Moving Further from Adi Kuwari Temple:
There are two routes leading from Adi Kuwari Temple to the holy shrine “Bhawan”:
First one is just adjacent to the blanket issuing counter and it is the old traditional route going via Hathi Mattha and Sanjhichhat.  A person requires a 6 kms trek on this route to reach Bhawan. Hathi Mattha area has a steep climb like the forehead of an elephant, hence the name Hathi Mattha (Hathi: Elephant, Mathha: Forehead). So this route is relatively difficult in terms of trekking compared to the another route. However, you can avail the services of Ponies, Porter and Palanquins on this route.

Second route is starting about 500 meters before the Adi Kuwari Temple and going to Bhawan via Himkoti. There is a small tunnel from Adi Kuwari Temple premises, connecting it to the second route. This route is 5 kms long and it is a relatively easy trek compared to the first route. Route is almost parallel, no major climb during the trek, but it is prone to frequent landslides and stone shootings from the hill. On this route, Palanquins and porters are allowed, but ponies are not allowed.

Tunnel leading to the second route from Adi Kuwari Temple

You can also board Battery-Operated Vehicles from the vehicle stand near the beginning of the route at the cost of around Rs.350 per person till Bhawan. These 8-seater vehicles are basically for senior citizens and handicapped people , but if you request them, they can also accommodate you along-with those persons, subject to the availability of seats.

Please note that you can not board these vehicles at any intermediate points. If you are at Adi Kuwari Temple, go to the second route via the tunnel and then walk below towards the vehicles stand for half kilometer to catch a battery-operated vehicle.

Battery-Operated Vehicle

While walking on the second route, I noticed that they are now building another route from Katra to Adi Kuwari Temple. Creation of new routes may provide some convenience in the handling of increasing crowd, but it is also destroying the beauty of this hills and the surrounding valley. Faith shouldn’t overcome the requirement of ecological sustainability, but unfortunately that is what happening there now at this holy shrine.

Construction of New Trek Route

I generally prefer to trek on the second route now. This route is more convenient and more scenic, specially the views of the valley from Himkoti and Devi Dwar. Facilities for snacks, drinks and foods are available on this route also.

Devi Dwar (A door to the Goddess)

Surrounding valley as viewed from the trek route


Two routes to Bhawan and one from Bhairon Temple can be seen in this image

There are major landslides and stone-shooting areas on this route.  Always be careful and remain vigilant on the trek route and  if you see a sign-board warning you not to stay at any particular place, please  do not spend your time there and walk further. The shrine board is trying to cover the entire trek route by tin-sheds, but major portion of the route is still left uncovered. Moreover, sometimes stone-shootings are so heavily that they even penetrate the tin-sheds and fall down in the valley or on the trek route.

Effect of a landslide

The route passes through the hanging stones on the hill

After trekking of about 4.5 kms, you get the first glimpse of Bhawan to your left hand side. Walk further and you reach to a Bhaint Prasad Shop on your left hand side, where you can buy a packet of prasad (kind of offerings). These packets cost are varying from Rs 21, Rs.51, Rs.101 etc. and accordingly those packets contain a coconut, a packet of lachidana ( a type of rounded sweet), a chunri (a small piece of sacred cloth) etc. You can also buy this prasad from many other shops located there.

View of Bhawan

Just after the bhaint prasad sjop, you come across a huge building at right hand side, known as Manokamna Bhawan. This is a kind of accommodation facility, where you can book a single , a double AC or non-AC rooms and also the dormitory beds, if you wish to rest there for a while. If rooms or dorms are available, they can also accommodate you on hourly payment basis on the spot.  Normally, you have to book your accommodation in this building from their Katra Office or you can even book these rooms online on Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board website. You can book these rooms 60 days in advance (Updated on May 14, 2014. Earlier it was upto 30 days in Advance).A maximum of one Room/05 dormitory beds can be booked by an online user in a calendar month. Apart from Manokamna Bhawan, there is other buildings also like Sarswati Bhawan to book your room at the Bhawan premises.

Manokamna Bhawan

At Holy Shrine Bhawan Premises:
If you move forward from Manokamna Bhawan, you come across a Yatra Slip Counter on the left hand side. This is again a sequence number issuing counter for your group, just like one at Adi Kuwari Temple. You have to show your Yatra Slip issued at Katra to the person at the counter and he will give a sequence number to your group. This sequence number will give you an idea of expected delay for your sequence to visit the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi.  Sometimes, during the lean period, you can go directly to the cave after getting your sequence number, because there is very less crowd.

Yatra Slip Counter to issue your sequence number

If you do not wish to book a room and want to go for the darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi straight (depends on your sequence number), you should first go to the bathing ghats to take the bath. These bathing ghats located at the extreme end of the Bhawan and remain open round the clock. There are separate bathing ghats for ladies and gents. The ice-cold water come out with a strong force from the many tap-pipes mounted in the wall, so that you can get a chilly bathing experience round the clock.

Outside Bathing Ghat

After a refreshing bath, deposit all your luggage in the lockers available at the different locations in the Bhawan premises. Two locker facilities are available below the stairs near the Yatra Slip Counter. The lockers are large enough to accommodate 3-4 carry bags. You should also locked your camera,  leather belt, leather purse and other items like pen, comb to avoid any inconvenience later on. These items are strictly prohibited inside the holy cave. You can only carry your money, jeweleries, credit and debit cards along-with the prasad bought from the shops.

After depositing your luggage in the locker, wait for your turn near the main entrance. When your turn come, you will pass through a 500 meters long-gallery and a series of security checks before reaching to the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi. They also deposit the coconut from the prasad bag in the mid-way of this gallery and issue you a token. Later on, You have to deposit this token on another counter to get a coconut, after your return from the holy cave.

Please note that Darshans remain suspended for during the Aarti time, twice a day, first is just before the sunrise and second time is immediately after the sunset. The procedures of Aarti take nearly two hours to be completed, therefore everybody has to wait outside the cave during this.

People waiting for their sequence

Slowly moving further in a queue, you reach to the holy cave. Please note that there is no statue or portrait of Mata Vaishno Devi. She along-with the Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Kali, resides there in the form of stone Pindis, and depending on the crowd you will get only 5 secs to 30 secs to look at them. So pay your full attention while approaching in the cave.

After the darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi, you come out again via a gallery. There is a prasad counter on the left hand side and a coconut counter on the right hand side. From prasad counter, you get a small packet of sweets. This packet also contain a small coin issued by shrine board as a souvenir. At coconut counter, hand over your coconut token that you got while depositing the coconut earlier and you will get a coconut again.

If you still have the energy to descend few stairs, you can also visit a Shiva Cave, which is near the bathing ghats.

After visiting Shiva Cave, you can plan your further actions. You can take your luggage from lockers. You can get the foods at a food joint located near the bathing ghat. There are many other shops for foods and snacks located in the Bhawan premises. If you wish to take a rest and have the booking in Manokamna Bhawan, you can go there. If you do not have any bookings and still want to stay at Bhawan, you can also get the blankets by depositing Rs.100 per blanket as security money at the blanket issuing counter. After returning those blankets, you will get back your security money.

Visit to Bhairon Baba Temple:
It is believed that your Yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi does not completed unless you also visit the Temple of Bhairon Baba, that requires a further trek of 2 kms on steep hills. So, do visit the temple of Bhairon Baba also. Darshan to Bhairon Baba temple is also suspended during the period of Aarti, which held simultaneously with the Aarti at Bhawan and Adi Kuwari Temple, twice in a day.

Way to Bhairon Baba Temple

Bhairon Baba Temple

After the visit to the Bhairon Temple, this journey to Mata Vaishno Devi is considered as completed.

Return Trek to Katra:
Now, You can return to Katra by two routes: Either by the first route you have taken to reach there via Bhawan or else you can return from Bhairon Temple via Sanjhichhat to Adi Kuwari Temple and further to Katra.

If you are returning back via Bhawan, you can opt the route passing via Himkoti and there you can use the facility of Battery-Operated Vehicles till Adi Kuwari Temple. But if you opt for the ponies, then you have to descend via Sanjhichhat and Hathi Mattha from Bhawan.

If you are returning back from Bhairon Temple directly via Sanjhichhat without going to Bhawan in the night, please make sure that you have a torch with you. The route remains in dark due to inadequate lighting and in our recent visit, there was two big landslides on the trek route. One was so dangerous that if we were not warned by fellow travelers, we could have felt in the valley below hundreds feet. Therefore, either avoid this route in the night or arrange a torch before proceeding on this route.

If you return from Bhairon Temple via Sanjhichhat in the day time, you have a good chance to see the helicopter operations at the Sanjichhat Helipad.

Sanjhichat Helipad


From Sanjhichhat onwards, you can opt for the various stairs to descend down at fast pace. These steps are leading till the Ban Ganga. But avoid these stairs while trekking upwards, as you would be tired soon while climbing.

Adi Kuwari Temple Premises

While returning back to Katra, again you can get auto-rickshaw from Darshan Deodhi to Katra. But if you arrive late in the night, auto drivers may ask for much higher prices for this 2 kms journey. Try to bargain as much as possible. Katra is a good option to buy souvenirs and other prasad items to distribute among your relatives and friends.

This end my three post series on the trip to Mata Vaishno Devi. JAI MATA DI.

Have Queries regarding your trip planning to Mata Vaishno Devi or wish to share your experiences, visit our Religious Destinations Forum .

  40 Responses to “Trip to Mata Vaishno Devi Part 3: Adi Kuwari Devi Temple to Bhawan and Bhairon Temple”

  1. observed that online booking is open 60 days advanced earlier it was 30 days advance. for Helicopter, Rooms, Dormitory

    • Hi Amit, just checked. Now it is open upto 60 days in advance. Thanks for sharing this information.

      • Very good narration of places on the trekking with action points. How long it takes to travel in side the cave to have from entry to exit with dharshan.. what is total cave distance..

        • It depends on the crowd. Total cave length is not more than 100 meters one way (I suppose), but before entering inside the main cave, we have to be the part of a queue, that can be one kilometer long, but not more than that. If there is less crowd, and the queue moves regularly, it is possible to complete darshan within 30 minutes, but at the time of crowd or aarti, it takes upto two hours. Additionally, if crowd is much more, expect to wait outside the entry gate, sometimes upto three hours.

  2. Dear Sir, I have just one word to say that your writing skill is excellent and it is directly from heart. You have written everything in better way and it helps us a lot. I would like to read your stories.


    • I will not suggest you to walk in that case, however you are better judge of your physical stamina. Alternatively, you can hire a palki from Katra to all the way upto Bhawan. Helicopter is also available upto Sanjichhat and then again you can hire a palki. But in any case expect to walk at least one kilometer around Bhawan premises as well as expect to climb upto 50-60 steps. Jai Mara Di.

  4. This may be the first visit to the temple. After reading your blog I am really interested to visit the temple with my family. I shall share my experiences after my visit in May 16, 2014. Anyway many thanks for the valuable information.

  5. Very good information sir,
    Can you please suggest me my visit to vaishno devi temple on 20th April.
    We booked atka harthi evening time, we have only one day for whole trip.
    Is it sufficient time we don’t have any helicopter availability
    Please suggest me to follow some tips to avoid wastage of time

    please reply to

    Awaiting for your reply

    • Hi, You can do it in one day. Just don’t waste much time at Adi Kuwari Temple. If you get an early group number, then wait at Adi Kuwari Temple, but if your group number is too far, then don’t wait there and move to Bhawan. While returning, if you get time, you can go for the darshan at Adi Kuwari Temple.

  6. pl give current poni and palaki charges,we will be therte on 18/4 so what about climate,it would be too chill?

  7. Jai Mata Di

    Please share current Pony and Palki price list Route wise

  8. good information for travels

  9. Very Informative post, I really like it. Thanks a ton.Just wanted to ask onething, Is travelling the entire journey from Katra to Bhavan through Pony comfortable, specially for people who will be sitting for first time and kids too?

    • Hi, You can get a pony from Darshan Deodhi, 2 kms after Katra. If you don’t wish to walk, then pony is definitely a good option, but be careful while sitting with a kid. If you don’t feel comfortable, ask pony-owner to move at comfortable pace and also take breaks comfortably.

  10. A fantastic narrative. All the 3 episodes. Related photos are adding to the authenticity, very helpful for first time travellers to identify places. Kudos,keep it up.

  11. Sincere thanks for this very informative blog. Me and my wife will reach Jammu on 15th March 2014 early morning 6.30 AM. Would you be able to guide me on the minimum temperature we will experience as we are reading that Kashmir is witnessing a heavy snow fall. Idealy where should we have first break for bit of refreshing-at katra or after crossing the check pint. Also letme know as we have got the yatra parch for 15th so how to calculate the six hour restriction.
    Your advice on this would highly appreciated. Rgds

    • Hi, Its not too cold in Jammu. Minimum Temperature in Jammu is around 11°C, while in SriNagar it is around -1°C. All the report of snowfalls are from Kashmir Valley, area near Sri Nagar. But expect colder nights in Jammu as well as in Katra. So keep some warm clothes with you. You can also avail blanket facility at major points on the trek route. Better to have a break at Katra, since there are many options. After crossing the check point, your option will be limited to the first break at Adi Kuwari and then beyond. The online yatra parchi is valid for full day to cross Banganga check post. So, there is no restriction of 6 hours for online slips. Have a nice trip. Jai Mata Di.

  12. Hi extremely informative post. I have a question on road transport.are there any vehicles that go to bhavan from katra especially for elders who do not wish to walk engage a pony or helicopter

  13. Hi,
    I really enjoyed reading this post. It answered most of the questions i had regarding the journey.
    I wanted to know how much time does it take to reach from Katra to Bhavan
    1.if we travel by pony.
    2. If we travel by pony to Adi kuwari and then by auto upto bhavan.
    Is auto service provided from Darshan deori to bhavan
    Please guide.
    Jai mata di.


    • Hi, Pony is available right after the Darshan Deori. I never hired them, so can’t tell you exactly. But, I think, if you hire pony directly from Darshan Deori to Bhawan, without stopping at Adi Kuwari, it will take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach Bhawan with some rest en-route. If you take pony to Adi Kuwari and then Auto to Bhawan, it will take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Bhawan. Autos are not available from Darshan Deori. They are only available 500 meters before Adi Kuwari Temple. Jai Mata Di 🙂

  14. Till where camera are allowed..Any price for it to get allowed?

    • Hi, Still Camera is allowed up to Bhawan..You can take that to the dormitory, bathing ghats etc. But before standing in a queue for final darshan, you have to deposit that in a locker with the shoes, bags and other leather items. You can not take Video Camera beyond the main entrance Darshan Deodhi at Katra.

  15. mobile phone r allowed in bhawan or not ?
    and can we carry puja book in bhawan premisis ? kindly reply me AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

    • Mobile Phones are not allowed once you queue for the holy shrine visit. Area around Bhawan, they are allowed. There are cloak rooms (lockers) to keep mobile phones there. Books, you can carry upto Bhawan and before going for Darshan, you can also deposit them with the mobile phones.

  16. good one sir.

  17. I can say the best i have read….very nice review with traveling details in detail.. for someone like me who is going for the first time..i can say its the best once can have

  18. Nice post.I visited vaishno is one famous place and temple.

  19. I like this post, enjoyed this one appreciate it for putting up.

  20. You are doing an incredible job buddy.

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