By Jyoti Rathore:
This Dipawali my friends and I thought of visiting Jammu which is around 600 km away from Delhi. Through this travelogue, I want to share how people can travel and take a glance of famous Vaishno Devi temple in spite of lack of time and fewer pennies in their pocket.
We started our journey from Sarai Rohilla station near Shastri Nagar Metro Station. The six of us reached the station and boarded the Dee UHP Special to Jammu Tawi at 22.15 which was running on time. We reached Jammu station at 07.00. It’s a small station but with fantastic facilities.
Our first stop was the famous temple of Jai Mata Mandir built by Raja Gulab Singh. This temple is located inside the old fort; Bahu Killa. It is 2 km far away from station. Congress Minister Dr Karn Singh is said to visit this place every year. With giant wheel, shooting games and different types of swings, the fort has become a favourite spot for children.
Simultaneously we also saw small girls dressed as Goddess Kali or Lakshmi who went around begging. Devotees touch their feet and offer money to them.
Then we moved to Bag-e Bahu, a park which was closed to this temple. Bagh-e-Bahu is an extensive terraced garden built around the Bahu Fort in Jammu. This beautiful garden with its glittering waterfalls, artificial lake, lush green lawns, flower beds, fountains and big trees is a favorite picnic spot of the city folk and it also has a pleasant view of the city. The garden can be reached by mini-buses and auto-rickshaws from the Jammu city.
Next we all went to Chotta Haridwar, peaceful and energetic place which is near River Tawi. It is also a temple having symbolic representation of char dhams of India. It is said that the visitors should come here once if they want to complete Charo Dham Yatra.
The next major destination which one must visit in Jammu is famous Raghunath Temple, with seven shrines each with its own Sikhara. It is one of the largest temple complexes of north India. The temple was built during the period 1835-1860 by Maharaja Gulab Singh and his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The temple has many gods, but the presiding deity is Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. In the surrounding area there were smaller temples of different gods and goddesses.
The crystal stone Shiva Linga is said to be one of the main temples for Kal Sarpa Yoga (snake worship) rituals. When milk is spread across, a half moon can be seen inside the linga. Another temple is aadorned with a black coloured Shiva Lingam which was said to have been found in the river Narmada and established here by Raja Hari Singh at Raghunath Temple.
Lastly we visited Hari Singh Palace or Amar Mahal Palace Museum which is a beautiful red sand stone palace and it stands amidst the most picturesque surroundings of Jammu. The palace, planned by a French architect, resembles a French chateau despite the work of several Indian artisans. The Amar Mahal Museum has a rich collection of sculptures, paintings, inscriptions and books. Pahari paintings and family portraits of rulers of Jammu and Kashmir are displayed in the Durbar Hall. The 120 kg solid gold throne made by Maharaja Hari Singh is the most spectacular possession of the museum.
On the same day at 7.15 pm, we reached Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi. It is a small town in Reasi district of Jammu situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located. Here, we can only carry a light bag, containing one set of dress. Inspite of being very tired, we were rejuvenated in no time seeing the festive atmosphere in Katra. Loaded in warm clothes in the chilly night, we started trekking towards the temple at about 10pm and finally reached Vaishno Devi at 5.15am. Every day more than 10,000 pilgrims visit this place to seek blessings of the goddess.
1.45 km above Vaishno Devi is a small temple of Bhairav Nath. It is believed that pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi is never complete until one visits Bhairav Nath. On the way to Bhairav Nath, one must be careful from the monkeys and langoors in this area.
For this entire journey, one can hire a pony, horse or pitthu wala. Choppers are also available after every 15 minutes.
We left Vaishno Devi at 7.30 in the evening. After a hectic two hour bus journey, we reached the station. We were back in Delhi by 11.00 next morning. Below are some of the photos of our journey. Click to explore.