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Jammu-Katra Car/Van/Bus Rental
Jammu is the second-largest city in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It is also a transit point for travelers on a trip to north to Kashmir. Jammu is still on the plains, so in summer season it is a sweltering, uncomfortable as compared to the cool heights of Kashmir.
The winter capital of the state, Jammu is known as the city is of temples is also an important trade centre and a convenient stage on the road journey to Srinagar. The number of forts, most of them now in ruins in the Jammu region is great.
The Raghunath Temple : This temple is situated at the city centre. It was built in 1857. The temple consists of seven shrines, each with tower. Its arches, surface and niches shows the Mughal influence. The interior of the temple is decorated in gold. Its main sanctuary is dedicated to Vishnu's eighth incarnation and Dogras' patron deity the Rama. There is a Sanskrit Library here which has rare sanskrit manuscripts.
The Vaishno Devi Temple : This cave temple is 61kms north of Jammu. It is dedicated to Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati, the three mother goddesses of Hinduism. The holy cave shrine is one of the region's most important Hindu pilgrim sites.
By Air : The state has three major civil airports at Srinagar, Jammu, and Ladakh connected to Delhi and other places in the country.
By Rail : Jammu Tawi is the main railhead of Jammu & Kashmir. It is connected to most of the important towns and cities of the country.
By Road : One can reach Jammu by the National Highway 1A that goes from Punjab and runs through this city, connecting it to the rest of the state. There are several buses to most of the big towns and cities in north India from Jammu and Kashmir and vice versa.
A 90-minute (50 km) bus ride from Jammu took us to Katra, base camp of pilgrims bound for the highly venerated Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine in the Trikuta hills. From Katra a 12.5 km trek takes visitors to the temple sited at a height of 5,200 feet above msl (mean sea level). En route to the temple, several interesting landmarks and resting points for pilgrims offer spectacular vistas of the plains below.
As with several other temples and shrines of ancient India, there’s a paucity of recorded history of the Vaishnodevi shrine. However a geological study of the holy cave which houses the temple has revealed the age of its formations to be over a million years. The oldest recorded reference to the temple is of Guru Gobind Singh’s visit to the shrine in the 16th century.
Currently the shrine is governed and administered by a specially constituted board which has vastly upgraded the facilities available to pilgrims. The provision of resting points, cafeterias, clean and hygienic toilets along the 12.5 km trek route draws legions of pilgrims every year, with the number of visitors having increased from 1.4 million in 1985-86 to 6.5 million in 2004-05.
Legend is that several millenniums ago, Vaishno Devi, a devotee of Lord Vishnu had taken a vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric tried to stop her. Through his tantric powers, he visualised her going towards the Trikuta hills and gave chase. The goddess felt thirsty at Banganga and shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of her feet, is one of the places of worship enroute to the summit of the mountain. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari, halfway from Katra to the top of Trikuta hill. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her, which is why the cave is also known as Garbh Joon. When he finally found her performing penance, a battle ensued in which Vaishnodevi assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off the former’s head which was flung atop the mountain. This is where the Bhairon Temple is currently sited.