Monday, February 18, 2008
Vaishno Devi: The Climb Up
Vaishno Devi is one of our most adored Godesses. She is a form of Maa Durga and there is an ancient temple dedicated to this deity high up in the mountains of Jammu. The trail leading to the temple is quite a long one and if you are not in perfect physical condition, it's also a difficult one! The actual temple was originally located inside a cave. The shrine Board has preserved a part of the cave, but it remains closed to the public because it is not easy to climb in and out of. Considering the huge number of devotees visiting every day, it is rather difficult to let everyone in through the small cave. So the shrine Board had a new entrance constructed a few years back. Now, the original cave is opened to the public only in the month of February every year. February is a lean season because of the harsh cold weather. This is the opportunity we decided to make full use of and started off for paying our respects to the Devi.
We reached Katra by 2:30, thanks to a very slow moving bus. We checked our stuff into a cloak room, had lunch and started the climb up. We started the climb at exactly 4 p.m. We expected to reach our destination by 10 p.m
We stopped at quite a few places. The uphill trail had both of us catching our breath at times. But overall, we did it rather nicely and reached the top at around 9 p.m. We freshened up and got in the line for darshan by 10 p.m. It was going to be a long night for us...