After taking my alight from the bus, I headed towards the Yatri reservation centre & got a slip to embark on the saintly path. While crossing the first security check post, a medley of sights and sounds greeted me.
Battling the stimuli of horse smells & their dung, I along with many others marched forward. I was belittled by this enormous hill. The cool mountain breeze, the gurgling stream (where some were taking bath) & the festive atmosphere produce an energy that can send you soaring. I saw people of all ages. The old, the new born, the newly married, children, teenagers, youth & even the physically challenged; everyone determined to cover 12kms uphill. Some rode on horses, some on palanquins but most on foot! Many things have been taken care of for the comfort of the pilgrims. Numerous shops with food, drinks & snacks are dotted throughout the pat, kilometers have been marked, relieving places, even the tanks filled with drinking water had a cleaned & next due date.
I took too many stairs & that was the reason I was exhausted before reaching Adhkwari(the mid). Here is the cave where Mata meditated for nine months. Many ashrams & dhams have been built here, pilgrims could book a bed for the night & free blankets are available to all. They also have enquiry & announcement booths. As the midnight was nearing some yatris chose to sleep off wherever they were.
I wanted to complete the journey at a stretch so sleeping was out of question. There are two ways from adhkwari. I was suggested the Gufa route. It was much easier to walk on the tiled paths.
This route goes through Hemkoti which is cleaner & offers breathtaking views. Resting every now & then, I finally made it to the bhavan in a span of five hours. The only disappointment awaited there. One has to wait for about one hour to deposit his/her belongings to the cloak room. My left leg started hurting by then. The darshan was fast & I offered my prayers to Tri Maha shakti quickly.
A few useful tips:
- Keep your backpack light.
- Preferably don’t hire horse while climbing down the hill. If you can’t walk both ways, use help on your way to the bhawan & not on your way back.
- While climbing up, check the number of stairs before taking them. Don’t get on a staircase with more than 200 steps.
- It is convenient to book a hotel in Katra instead of Jammu.
- The autowalas trick you into paying more. Don’t fall for their government assigned rate card.
Jai Mata Di