Vaishno Devi Yatra from Katra to Mata Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the most popular pilgrimages in the world. The starting point of the 13km yatra is Banganga, 1.5-2 km from Katra main city. It concludes at the Holy Cave (also known as Bhawan) with the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi in the form of three naturally formed rocks which are known as pindies. These pindies manifest the three forms of the goddess as Maha Kali, Maha Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi. 

The trek to Vaishno Devi from Katra can be undertaken on a pony, pithoo (coolies), palki (palanquin), or foot. Helicopter service and ropeway also operate regularly.

Vaishno Devi from Katra

Katra - Banganga - Charan Paduka - Ardhkuwari - Himkoti - Sanjichhat - Bhawan - Bhairon Ghati (via Bhawan)

Katra to Ardhkuwari (midpoint of the yatra)

There are two routes to Ardhkuwari
Old route: 5.5 km This has Charan Paduka temple enroute. Also, has Geeta Mandir bathing ghat
New Route: 7.5 km This is much wider and easier to navigate. It is better to come down as it is steeper.

Ardhkuwari to Vaishno Devi, Bhawan

There are two routes to Bhawan:
One is a 6.5 km steep uphill route
Another one is shorter (5.5 km). This is less steep
Battery operated cars also ply on this route

Maa Vaishno Devi at Vaishno Devi Mandir, Bhavan
Maa Vaishno Devi (Source)

Palki, Pony & Pithoo Cost

Pony from Banganga to Bhawan: INR 1250 one side/pp
Palki: INR 3150 one side/pp
Pitthoo: INR 540 one side/pp
Verify the current rates from the signboards on the route or Assistance Counters at Katra or Banganga.

Vaishno Devi Yatra by Helicopter

Vaishno Devi Helicopter helipad at Sanji Chhat
Sanji Chhat Helipad (Source)
Helicopter for Vaishno Devi yatra is available from Katra to Sanjhichhat. The Katra helipad is at Udhampur Road, 2km from Bus Stand Katra. From the Sanjichhat helipad, it takes a 30-minute hike to reach the Vaishno Devi Bhawan, which is around 2.5km. Ponies, Palkis and Porter services are also available to reach the Bhawan from Sanjhichatt. The helicopter facility is made available through the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board official website as well as private companies.
Helicopter Timings: Helicopter services start at 08:30 AM, and it takes 08 minutes to reach Sanjichhat from Katra. The service remains active till approximately 07:00 PM with helicopters taking off about every 20 minutes or so from Katra as well as Sanjichhat.
Helicopter Tickets: One way fare from Katra to Sanjhichhat or vice versa is priced at INR 1730 per person.
Two-way ticket for Katra to Sanjhichhat is INR 3460 per person.
Children below 2 years of age are carried free of cost and must travel in the lap of an adult.

Vaishno Devi Ropeway

Ropeway service is available from Vaishno Devi Mandir (Bhawan) to Bhairo Temple. The panoramic aerial view of Bhairo Valley from the ropeway is stunning. The Vaishno Devi Mandir is 300 metres away from the drop point.
Ropeway Ticket Price: INR 100 per person
Ropeway Timings: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Ticket Booking: Tickets are available on the spot at Bhawan

Vaishno Devi Yatra Registration

  • Registration for Vaishno Devi Yatra is mandatory before undertaking the yatra.
  • Registration can be done either online or from the Yatri Registration counter (YRC) near the Bus Stand Katra by standing in a queue.
  • Another Yatra Registration Counter is located near the second bus stand. Called YRC-II, it is one km away from the main counter on Udhampur road.
  • Try to make a prior booking online.
  • Every Yatri is issued a Yatra Access card (Yatra slip/Parchi) upon registration.
  • Once registered at the counter, all yatris are automatically insured for any accidental casualty on the Vaishno Devi Yatra route. It is a free insurance, valid only in the case of accidental deaths. The amount of insurance is INR 3,00,000 for majors and INR 1,00,000 for minors.

Vaishno Devi Yatra Parchi

Vaishno Devi Temple
Caption Link
  • The yatra access card or yatra parchi is issued to every yatri on registering for Vaishno Devi Yatra. It is documentary permission for the yatri to proceed on the journey to Maa Vaishno Devi Temple.
  • The yatra parchi is valid for 6 hours from the issue. Make sure to cross the first check post situated at Banganga (1.5km away from the YRC-I) within 6 hours. Otherwise, the yatra slip is confiscated at the check post, and a new slip is required to be issued.
  • The major role of Yatra Parchi is at the Bhawan. The slip is rechecked at the Yatra Slip Counter located on the left-hand side immediately after the luggage check post. Each yatri is allocated a group number which determines the sequence of darshan and the waiting time.
  • After taking a bath at the Bathing Ghat, reach Gate No.1. Upon announcement or display of the group number on the display board, you are allowed inside the queue


  • There is a shrine board Yatri Niwas near the bus stop called Niharika Yatri Niwas and Shakti Bhawan. It is ideal for a short stay of a few hours with a/c and non-a/c rooms. Dorm bed starts from as low as INR 100
  • Basic free accommodation services are available at Niharika Complex and near Yatra Parchi counter II (YRC-II). Blankets are also provided free of cost
  • Ardhkuwari stay booking can be made for INR 700 per night. Slip to be taken from online website or Katra
  • To avail rented accommodation at Katra, Ardhkuwari, Sanjichhat and Bhawan, room reservation has to be made at the Enquiry and Reservation Counter at Niharika Complex located near the Katra Bus Stand.


  • Massage chairs available on the entire route. Cost around INR 50 for 15 minutes.
  • Toilets available on every 300-400 mts
  • Government Bhojanalaya at Ardhkuwari and other eating places operate 24*7 along the yatra route
  • There are bottle recycling machines on the entire yatra route to discard your waste
  • Sufficient parking spaces are available in and around Katra. The Shrine Board also provides parking facilities in its various complexes
  • Shelter sheds are located almost every 500metre along the yatra route
  • Multiple free resting places are available at the Bhawan complex for devotees waiting for their turn for Vaishno Devi darshan
  • 24-hour information counters are located at various locations. These also serve as announcement booths for missing children or family members.

Yatra Tips

  • Put your belongings like phone, purse, camera in the locker room or in your Dharamshala where you are staying
  • Shrine board shop near Bhawan is best to buy prasad
  • Carry heavy woollens for winter and light woollens for the rest of the year
  • Hire a pithoo only with a valid registration card
  • Visit Bhairon Temple only after darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi at the holy cave

This post was published by Roli Sharaf

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