Katra, also known as Katra Vaishno Devi, is a small town near Reasi Town that is hearted in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, India. 42 kilometers (26 miles) from Jammu and Kashmir, this place is located in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is located. Having an elevation of 875 meters on average (2,474 feet), Katra can be found at 32.98°N 74.95°E. The village is bisected by the Banganga River. Possible oil reserves in that area have also been speculated.
Katra serves as a starting point for visiting Vaishno Devi. Katra, despite being an underrated place, has a thriving tourism industry with a wide range of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, dhabas, and fast-food joints to suit all budgets. Some registered trusts provide free housing for the poor in the form of “Sarais.” A lot has changed in Katra over the years, but the main thing that never changes and always remains as a center of every tourist attraction remains the “bazaar” (market) for purchasing souvenirs, dry fruits, woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, and so on. Before beginning the trek to Vaishno Devi, pilgrims must register at Katra. The benefit of the registration is that by registering pilgrims receive accident insurance up to 100,000 INR while on the 14-kilometer trek.
Top 5 places that you need to visit if you are in Katra
Vaishno Devi Temple
Now c’mon, what did you expect? Of course, this place had to be mentioned at the top of our compilation. The Vaishno Devi temple is the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of Katra. The temple is located in the mountains of Trikuta. The shrine contains a cave where Mata manifested herself in three rock forms known as Pindies. Located 1 km from the bus stop is the Darshani Darwaza, is the yatra's entry gate. You can reach this place by trekking 13 km uphill from Katra. For the elderly and infirm, horse and palanquin services are available.
Originating from the Shivalik Range of the Himalayas, Ban Ganga, also known as Bal (hair) Ganga, is named so because Maa is said to have washed her hair in it. Ban Ganga is considered one of the best places to visit in Katra. The legend behind the name Ban Ganga is that Mata Vaishnavi was on her way to her abode in the cave when the monkey accompanying her became thirsty. With no water nearby, Vaishnavi Maa shot an arrow into the earth, causing the Ganga to spring up
Baba Dhansar's natural beauty
Baba Dhansar is another one of the must-visit holy places in Katra. Located less than 13 kilometers away from Katra, there are plenty of awesome homestays and guest houses in this place. It requires climbing stairs, around 100 of them. Apart from the beautiful temple that is hearted here which is dedicated to Lord Shiva with an interesting legend associated with it, what attracts tourists to this place are a series of marvelous waterfalls and lush greenery all around.
Tired of pilgrimage to holy shrines? Want to do something else? Well, we have another option for you. Admire Himkoti's natural beauty. Enjoy the magnificent view of the hill stations near Katra, the dense and magnetic greenery, and the relaxing environment. It's also a great place to unwind and enjoy a picnic with the family. Himkoti, home to breathtaking natural wonders, is easily one of the best Katra tourist destinations.
Garden of Bagh-e-bahu
About 45 kilometers away from Katra, Bagh-e-Bahu is a unique place to visit. After visiting various holy shrines Bagh-e-bahu garden is an excellent place to unwind. If you enjoy history and your body isn't too tired from the pilgrimage, pay a visit to the famous Bahu Fort, which is located near the garden. There is an enthralling story connected with the fort and the formation of Jammu. Within the fort, there is also a temple dedicated to Maa Kali.
Top 5 things to do in Katra
So you finally made up your mind and now you’re in Katra but you are feeling indecisive on what is the first thing that you should do at this place? Well, we are here for a reason. We have compiled several fun things that you can do in this beautiful place.
Trek at night
Many adventurers choose to start their trekking expedition at night to reach Vaishno Devi Temple. You may be perplexed in the beginning, but don't worry. Several tourists are choosing to do the aforementioned. The primary reason for the night-trekking concept is that many tourists who are not religiously inclined enjoy trekking to Vaishno Devi temple for the breathtaking views, but at night, the entire Katra town sparkles like stars in the sky. And you definitely can't miss the chance to click pictures here; it's breathtaking. Tourists also enjoy delectable home-cooked meals at the stops.
Shop for woolen
With the growing number of tourists visiting Katra, several shopping areas have sprouted up to accommodate them. Woolen items such as pashmina shawls, papier-mache items, the infamous Kashmiri sweaters, and many other products are available at reasonable prices in some shopping malls. Aside from the woolens, you will also find a number of walnut-wood souvenirs.
Try white-water rafting
Are you looking for excitement in your life? Then whitewater rafting is one of those experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life. While participating in this activity, you will feel the adrenaline rush through your veins as you are surrounded by the majestic Chenab river in Katra. One of the most well-known rafting routes stretches around the world, and this activity is one-of-a-kind.
A picnic at Jhajjar Kotli
Well-known among Katra residents, Jhajjar Kotli’s beauty will astound you once you arrive. This picnic spot is located along NH 1A and is 15 kilometers from Katra. Located on the bank of the Jhajjar River, not only is this place’s views breathtaking, but you will be surprised to learn how a place of such beauty can remain hidden from the rest of India. If you want to spend some quality time with your loved ones, bring a blanket and your food. Many people swim in the creek, and if you intend to do so, you should be prepared. If you want to run away from the chaos of your life, you will never regret visiting this place
Stay a day in the Nau Devi Cave Temple
10 kilometers away from Katra, Nau Devi temple is located on the way to Shiv Khori. This temple was built inside a cave 200 years ago. Inside the temple, all of the idols of various Hindu deities were naturally carved. It is unusual and surprising to come across a temple that was not built by humans. A river surrounds the cave, where many people bathe and swim. Even if you are not religious, a visit to this temple will never disappoint you.
How to reach Katra