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FACILITIES IN VAISHNO DEVI

Accommodation
For the convenience of the pilgrims, the Shrine Board offers Free as well as Rented Accommodation at Jammu, Katra and also along the Holy Track. At Jammu, accommodation is available at Vaishnavi Dham and Saraswati Dham complexes located right next to Jammu Tawi Railway Station. At Katra, accommodation is available in the Niharika complex, situated next to the main Bus Stand. Accommodation is also available at Adhkuwari, Sanjhichat and Bhawan..

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Weather Information
 

Katra town is located at an altitude of nearly 2500 ft above sea level while the sanctum sanctorum is located at nearly 5200 ft. above sea level. There is obviously a significant temperature difference between the two locations. A reference to the temperature of Katra town alone may thus be misleading, for, even at the height of summer, the Bhawan area may be considerably cool. For this purpose, a chart outlining the broad range of summer/winter temperatures at both Katra and Bhawan is outlined below. The temperature figures are merely indicative and actual values may vary from year to year. Nevertheless, these values are meant to give the pilgrims a fair idea of the temperature range and to plan their yatra and clothing requirements accordingly.
 

Altitude w.r.t. Mean Sea Level & Average Temperature

Location
Altitudes(ft)

Temperature °C

Winter

Summer

Min.

Max.

Min.

Max.

Katra        2500

03

15

20

40

Banganga        2800        
Charan Paduka        3380        
Adhkuwari        4800   01   14     16   35
Himkoti        5120        
Sanjichhat        6200        
Bhawan        5200 - 02   13     15   30
Bhairon Ghati        6619 - 03   11     12   25

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Enquiry and Information

To help the yatries and offer assistance during the pilgrimage, the Shrine Board has operationalized information booths at various locations. These are 24-hour information cum enquiry counters. Yatries can use them to obtain important information about various aspects of the Yatra. These counters also serve as announcement booths and pilgrims can approach these booths to get announcements made regarding missing children or group members. These booths are connected with other important locations through a wireless network and thus an announcement made at one location can be passed on to all other important locations also. These booths are also used to relay pre-recorded Bhajans and important Yatra related messages for the benefit of the yatries. Besides, do’s and don’ts and other useful tips are also relayed through these booths.

These inquiry, assistance and announcement booths are located at prominent locations at Katra, Adkuwari, Himkoti, Sanjichhat and Bhawan. The counter at Katra is located near the main Bus Stand. The one at Bhawan is located near the gate no. 1. Other booths too are prominently located. Information Counters are also operational at General Bus Stand, Jammu and Jammu Tawi Railway Station. An Information Counter is also proposed to be set up at the Jammu Airport.

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Shelter

The Shrine Board has constructed Shelter sheds at various places along the track. At certain stretches on the alternate track and on the old track from Sanjhichhat to Bhawan, these shelter sheds cover almost the entire track. However, in other portions of the track, the sheds have been provided at a distance of about 500 meters from one another.These shelter sheds are instrumental in saving the visiting devotees from Shooting stones, rain, sun, snow and adverse weather conditions. The decent seating facilities provided underneath the sheds, prompt the devotees to have a little rest. Hence they are also called Vishram Sthals. Toilet blocks and refreshment units have been provided adjacent to most of the shelter sheds, for the facility of the pilgrims.

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Bhojanalyas & Refreshment Units


Refreshments like biscuits, cold-drinks tea, coffee, milk, mineral water, etc. are available along the way at refreshment Units of the Shrine Board. Nearly all of these units are located at carefully selected locations from where one can have a panoramic view of the valley. Therefore, they are also known as View Points. There are a total of 12 such view points. 9 of these refreshment units (or view points) are located on the old track while 3 are located on the alternate track to Bhawan. All the items offered at these view points are on a no-profit basis thus ensuring proper quality and value for the money paid by the pilgrims.

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Medical Facilities

While no specific medical certificate is needed to undertake the Yatra, those suffering from heart, breathing or similar ailments are advised to proceed with the Yatra only after due medical checkup and advice. Cardiac, asthmatic and orthopedic problems are known to get aggravated due to the strenuous climb. In any case, these patients are strongly advised against using the stairs. To cater to the medical needs of the yatries there is a block hospital at Katra as well as a 24 hours charitable dispensary run under the aegis of the Shrine Board. Emergency needs can be taken care of by basic medical facilities at Banganga, Adkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan. Oxygen cylinders and emergency drugs are also available. A dispensary and 24-hr ICU is also available at Bhawan. Specialized and advanced medical treatment is however available only at Jammu.

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Blanket  & Clock Room

The Holy cave is situated at a height of 5200 ft above sea level. Even during summers, the nights are cool and Yatries would normally require the use of blankets at night. The Shrine Board has arranged for free blanket stores at various locations. For a nominal and refundable security deposit, yatries are issued blankets for the night. Blanket stores are located at various convenient locations and as already mentioned, the service is entirely free of charge. The security obtained from the yatri is refunded, once the blanket is returned. Pilgrims are advised to obtain a proper receipt for each and every financial transaction.

Free cloak room facilities are available at the main Bhawan complex also. There are at least two cloak rooms which are functional round the clock. There is a cloak room located just opposite to the main queue complex (gate No.1). This cloak room can be used for depositing shoes, belts, combs and all other items that are not allowed in the Holy cave. In addition, another cloak room is functional in Sridhar Bhawan. Yatries can deposit their entire luggage here before proceeding for Darshans. However, yatries are advised not to keep their cash, jewellry, valuables or electronic items amongst the deposited luggage.
All cloak room facilities are absolutely free of cost.

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Bhaint Shop & Souvenir Shop

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has its own no profit no loss shops at Bhawan known as Bhaint Shop where Prashad/Bhaints offerings are available at a fair price. Hence the pilgrims are not required to buy offerings at Katra and carry them all the way to Bhawan. Beautifully packed Bhaints in eco-friendly jute bags are available in the Bhaint shop at Bhawan at reasonable rates. The Bhaints are available in the denominations of Rs. 11, Rs. 21 and Rs. 31. Bhaints of higher denominations are also likely to be introduced shortly. Pilgrims can also buy a water bottle from the Bhaint shop to fill the Holy water that gushes out of the Holy Cave after having Darshans.

The Shrine Board has got prepared gold and silver coins of guaranteed purity. These coins bear the image of the Holy Pindies on one side and that of Goddess Durga on the other. These coins are available at the Prashad counter just outside the Holy Cave and at all the banks at Bhawan.

For yatries who wish to carry with them mementos of the great pilgrimage, the Shrine Board operates Souvenir Shops at Bhawan, Sanjichhat, Adkuwari, Katra bus stand and at Vaishnavi Dham (Jammu). Chunris, Cholas, Saris, shawls which have been offered to the Holy Goddess are available at these Souvenir Shops at nominal prices. Pilgrims can obtain them and preserve them as souvenirs or can place them at the place of worship inside their houses.

Besides, other exclusive items available at the Souvenir Shops include, audio cassettes, CDs, various publications of Shrine Board, laminated photos of the Holy Pindies, Jute Bags, Bangle Chura etc. Yatries may take notice that all these items are exclusively available at the Souvenir Shops of Shrine Board and are not available at any of the private shops.

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Places to Rest at Bhawan

Since its inception, it has been the constant endeavour of the Board to provide adequate, neat & clean resting places to the devotees visiting the holy cave Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. Towards these objectives, many decent resting places such as Saraswati Bhawan, Waiting Hall near Manokamana Bhawan, etc. have been created at Bhawan Complex. These are meant to be used by the devotees waiting for their turn for Darshans of the Holy Goddess. These resting places are in the shape of large halls which are available for the yatries. This accommodation is free of cost and is made available on a first-come-first-served basis. No booking or permission is required for using these premises since they are kept open round the clock and yatries can just go and occupy them subject to availability.

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Railway Reservation Counters

As a part of its constant endeavour to facilitate the smooth pilgrimage to the Holy Cave, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has facilitated the setting up of a computerised Railway Reservation Counter at Katra. The Shrine Board has provided the required infrastructure to the Railway authorities for housing the Railway Reservation Counter.

Ideally located in the Niharika Complex near the main Bus Stand at Katra this computerized Railway Reservation Counter will certainly go a long way in meeting the long felt need of the devotees visiting the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji from various parts of the country.

Prior to the establishment of this counter, Railway Reservations were got madethrough authorized agents to whom a fixed quota was allotted. Pilgrims could get their tickets booked with in the quota range only but no facility for cancellation of reservation was available.

With the commissioning of the new Railway Reservation Counter, the pilgrims can make or cancel reservation to/from any part of the country instantly.

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Security Arrangements

In order to regulate the yatra and strengthen security in the area, the State administration has made elaborate arrangements including deployment of sufficient troops of the local police as well as the paramilitary forces. Regular patrolling of the track, monitoring, vigilance and necessary action with regard to suspicious elements are part of the security drill. The security staff of SMVDSB (Shrine Board) is utilized for regulation of Yatra and adds to general area vigilance. In addition, X-Ray Baggage Inspection Systems and Door Frame Metal Detectors have been provided to ensure foolproof security of the pilgrims and the Shrine. Close Circuit TVs are installed at all vital locations.

The services of the local police can be availed of through Police Stations/Police Posts at Katra, Banganga, Adkuwari, Sanjichatt and and at Bhawan. There are senior officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP) who are available at Katra and Bhawan. In addition, officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy SP) or above of the paramilitary forces at also available at both Katra and Bhawan.

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Post & Telegraphs

For the benefit of the yatris visiting the holy Shrine of Vaishno Devi, the following post offices offer their standard services to the devotees. Devotees can send telegrams, post letters, send money orders, or avail of any other standard facility being offered by the Department of Posts & Telegraphs, Government of India.

STD/ISD/PCO booths function all over Katra, along the track and right up till Bhawan. A few of them are open for all 24 hours. The STD code for Katra is 01991. A few cyber cafes are also functional.

Mobile phone services have only recently been started and the only operators at present is BSNL & Airtel. While post paid Cell One and MTNL Dolphin connections & Airtel are functional in Katra also, pre paid connections or Cell connections of other operators (Hutch, Idea etc.) are currently not functional. Pre paid cards are currently not available.


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Palki, Ponies & Pithoos

It may also be noted that palanquins (palkies), porters or ponies are far easier to hire at the beginning of the journey than in the middle. Palanquins can be hired from the Shrine Board assistance counter located at the Main bus stand, Katra and ponies can be hired from Chetak Bhawan located just near the Darshani Darwaza.


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Banks

Many nationalized and private banks have their branches at Katra. The State Bank of India, Bank of Punjab and J&K Bank also provide ATM facilities at Katra. Many more banks including ICICI Bank, UTI Bank are in the process of installing their ATMs here. Many private sector banks which do not have an office at Katra, do have offices at Jammu. These include UTI Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank (being opened shortly).

The J&K Bank and the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) have their branches in the Bhawan complex also.

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Helicopter Service


Deccan Avaiation operates two flights daily from Jammu and 5 flights from Katra to Shrine.

Capacity: 6 persons per flight. (The service stands discontinued for the time being)

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