Vaishno Devi is a manifestation of the Hindu Mother Goddess, Devi. The words “Maa” and “Mata” are commonly used in India for mother, and thus are often heavily used in connection with Vaishno Devi. Vaishnavi was formed from the combined energies of Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three-peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.
The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave.
Darshans are open round the clock throughout the year.
Since the year 1986, when the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (commonly called Shrine Board) was formed, the management of the Shrine and regulation of the Yatra has been vested in the Board. The Board has undertaken a number of developmental activities aimed at making the Yatra a comfortable and satisfying experience for the Yatris. The Board continues to reinvest the offerings and donations received in carying out improvements in various kinds of Yatri facilities.
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term “Kashmir” denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range. Today, the term encompasses a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan, and the Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.
In the first half of the first millennium, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Shah Mir dynasty. The region was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire. That year, the Sikh Empire, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until the Partition of India in 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became a disputed territory, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and China
Highlights / Must To See And Do
One can never run out of places to explore in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The land is brimming with picturesque vistas, amazing flora, stunning architecture and there are quaint homestays and eco-friendly resorts that visitors can choose from. Those with an adventurous bent of mind will find a plethora of activities waiting for them. And finally, if you are spiritually inclined, the numerous religious shrines will show you the way to peace and serenity.
Places To Visit
Kashmir is the epitome of natural beauty, and it is renowned the world over for that. You can soak your senses on the many lakes, gardens, and hill stations that attract thousands of tourists every year. Take perfect pictures and take home memories of a perfect holiday at:
- Tulip Garden
- Shalimar Bagh
- Mughal Gardens
- Dal Lake
- Alpather Lake
- Apahrwat Peak
- Ningle Nalla
Jammu & Kashmir is known for its religious shrines. The state abounds with important pilgrimage sites for people of all religions, whether Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist. There are people who travel from far to pay homage and others who visit to feast their eyes upon the beauty of some of these ancient structures.
- Raghunath Temple
- Shankaracharya Temple
- Jamia Masjid
- Amarnath Cave
- Vaishno Devi
The beautiful sanctuaries of Jammu and Kashmir reward the nature seeker with views of diverse topography as well as the rarest species of wildlife. The state has several national parks and sanctuaries, aimed at protecting some of these endangered species. Lucky visitors can catch a glimpse of the hangul (Kashmiri stag), leopard, wild cats, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan marmot, musk deer, and a species of wild goat. Himalayan birds, like pheasants, the golden eagle, and the bearded vultures can also be spotted. Add these natural forests to your itinerary.
- Dachigam National Park
- Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve
- Hemis High Altitude Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kishtwar High Altitude National Park
- Overa National Park
Art And Culture
The culture of Jammu and Kashmir is based on the dances, music, and festivals of the people. Its rich, varied history means its arts and crafts have a multi-religious and multi-ethnic flavor. Kashmiris are known the world over for their handicrafts. There is much Persian influence in the floral designs that are typical of Kashmiri art. When in J&K, visitors can pick up souvenirs in the form of:
- Woven baskets
- Walnut wood furniture
- Beaten silver and copper wares
- Silver jewelry
The people of Jammu and Kashmir include dance in all their celebrations. The music is melodious and artists use instruments such as chhaina, narshingha, flute, drums, etc.
The festivals of Jammu and Kashmir truly demonstrate ‘unity in diversity. Even though the state is divided into three distinct regions, with their individual religions and way of life, nothing brings the different communities together as celebrations do. The joy and enthusiasm are infectious and have to be experienced to be understood.
- Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha
- Hemis Festival
The food in the state can be divided into Jammu cuisine and Kashmir cuisine, both of which are unique and delicious in their own ways. Jammu cuisine is predominantly vegetarian since the land is fertile unlike the higher regions of Kashmir. When in Jammu, visitors must sample the rajma-chawal, morel yakhani (a rare mushroom), rajma ka madhra, khatta meat, kachaloo chat and auria (a potato-based curry), among other delicacies. Kashmir serves up a rich non-vegetarian platter of seekh kabab, tabakh maaz (fried lamb ribs), methi maaz, rogan josh, Kashmiri pulao, and palak nadir. Do sample haakh, simple but necessary addition to Kashmiri life.
- Legend has it that Kashmir used to be a lake that was drained.
- Kashmir is also called ‘Paradise on earth.
- The world’s second-highest peak, the K2, is in Kashmir.
- It is the only state to have its own animal, bird, tree, flower, and flag.
- People of J&K hold dual citizenships – that of the state and the nation.
- Only citizens of the state can buy property here.
J&K is the only state in India to share its borders with just two other states, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, both to its south. Its international neighbors include Pakistan to its west and north, and China to its east, separated by the Line of Actual Control. J&K could be called the home of valleys. The main Kashmir Valley is massive, stretching 100 kms in width and covering an area of 15000 sq. km.
The Jhelum is the only major river that flows through the Kashmir Valley. Indus, Tawi, Ravi, and Chenab are the other rivers of the state. Since Jammu and Kashmir have a wide range of elevations, their biogeography is diverse. The land is fertile, and the valley is known for producing some of the finest in rice, vegetables, and fruits. The valley is also famous for the quality of its wool.
Arrive Jammu, Meet and assist on arrival and proceed straight to Katra. Arrive Katra and check-in at Hotel. Day at leisure.
After breakfast at the hotel, proceed to Vaishnodevi Shrine (Approx. 13 km Trek ) One can trek up to the Shrine if fitness permits, otherwise Pony or Palanquins are also available at an extra cost. Arrive at Vaishnodevi Bhawan. Wash and change before Mata Darshan. After Mata Vaishnodevi Darshan, proceed for Bhaironji Darshan.
After breakfast at the hotel. Drive towards Srinagar via Patnitop, Jawahar Tunnel, Nashri Tunnel, Pampore – Saffron Fields evening arrival in Srinagar Check-in at House Boats, overnight in Houseboats.
Morning proceeds for a full-day tour of Gulmarg which is one of the most beautiful summer resorts in the valley. It is also popular for its golf course (in summer), the highest in the world, and skiing during the winter season. Enjoy the splendor of nature and the snowy mountains. One can have a Gondola ride (cable car) from Gulmarg to Khalinmarg. In the evening return to Houseboat. Night stay at Houseboat.
Full-day excursion to Pahalgam 440 Mtrs (vale of Kashmir) on the way visit Saffron fields, Avantipur ruins, and Anantnag sulpher spring. Pahalgam is the most famous place for the Indian Film Industry. Enjoy the nature charm of the valley. In the evening return to Houseboat. Night stay at Houseboat.
Full-day excursion to Sonmarg which is the most beautiful drive from Srinagar. On the way stop at many beautiful spots. Continue drive to Sonmarg 2690Mtrs (Meadow of Gold). One can ride on a horse to visit Thajiwas Glacier where snow remains round the year and Sonmarg is known as the Gateway of Ladakh. In the evening return to Houseboat. Night stay at Houseboat
After breakfast proceeds for a half-day tour of the world-famous Mughal Gardens visiting the Nishat Bagh (The garden of pleasure) and Shalimar Bagh (Adobe of love). Return to houseboat for hot lunch. In the afternoon Shikara ride on The Dal Lake to enjoy the beauty that God has graced this city with which is often compared to Venice. Also, get a view of some very interesting places around the Lake. In the evening Shikara ride on Dal Lake to enjoy the sunset. Night stay at Houseboat.
After breakfast leave for the airport for your onward journey with sweet memories.