My weekend trip to vaishno devi, so what is different from my last trip in december. This one was a completely arranged online for every step of journey. I had the mix experience bad one with irctc (online booking for indian railways) and Indian railways but excellent experience with official site of vaishno devi shrine board.
I booked my rails tickets on JAT express tatkal basis. They charged me fare from originating station (ajmer) to the destination (jammu), almost double in my case and 150 rs tatkal charges extra + irctc charges. But they treated me as no show because we boarded the train from gurgaon. Once we boarded the train then we realized TC gave our seats to someone else. We were told that we need to get our boarding station changed 24 hrs in advance by giving written request at railway station which irctc tatkal faq clearly failed to tell us. So pls be extra careful while booking tatkal tickets. This is least expected from the site, which has the lion share of indian online transaction. This was the only ugly instance on the whole trip. Indian railways shame shame…
On other hand, shrine board site offers host of online services on simple registration.
a) Yatra parchi slip: It is mandatory for every yatri to register himself before starting the yatra. A online registration saves a lots of time at katra (starting point of yatra, some 40 km from jammu). Online booking cost rs 50 per yatri and entitles you to collect prasad from govt souvenir shop at katra.
b) Room Booking: Site offers you rooms at Jammu, katra and bhawan at very reasonable rates. These rooms are generally short in supply and its advisable to book well in advance (booking opens 30 days in advance). We got the booking at vaishnavi bhawan (rooms are allotted on random basis online, this can be improved).
c) Helicopter Booking: This service is provided by Deccan and pawan Hans
And last but not the least if all these services seems less to you click here for online darshan and pooja.
Weather at katra not as what is seen below in photographs. It was hot and humid there with temprature touching 38-40 degrees but this change as we go high up on a long 14 km trek on the mountain.
We made some friends on our way (the center pic not on the right). And as the luck was on our side they had extra VIP passes for darshan. The normal waiting time for darshan was around 4-6 hours. (Advice : plan your trip in winters and avoid weekends. There is less no. of devotees and old holy cave is also open to devotees).
Enroute to bairon mandir, the weather here was awesome and one can feel the true beauty of nature.
This is me gulping desi ghee ka halua. Most yummy halwa i ever had.
This is one intersting signboard in center pic seems to be inspired by Sholey like ‘Ramgopal varma’ producing disasterous ‘Sholey’ . And finally the journey back to gurgaon with indian railways and this time thankfully we got our seats.