Katra serves as the base camp for pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi. It has a thriving tourism industry that offers plenty of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, dhabas, fast-food joints that fit all kinds of budgets. Free accommodation is provided by some registered trusts in the form of Sarais for the poor. The number of pilgrims that visit the shrine every year has increased from 1.4 million in 1986 to 8.2 million in 2009.
Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Reasi district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is located. It is located 42 km from the city of Jammu.
Over the years, a lot has changed, but one should not miss the opportunity to walk through the main bazaar (market) for buying (do not forget/hesitate to negotiate a bit) souvenirs, dryfruits, woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, etc.To reach Vaishno Devi Mandir(temple) the pilgrims have to register at the Katra before starting the trek. By registering, the pilgrims get accident insurance while on the trek for 1 lakh INR. It is a trek of 14 km.There is another trek (1.5 km) from Vaishno Devi temple for Baba Bhaironnath. It is said that the pilgrimage is not complete until you visit this temple at last. The scenery throughout the trek is picturesque.Environment-friendly auto rickshaws and helicopter services are available, to make the journey a pleasant one.
The town has been connected by roads and state highways for a long time but recently it has also been connected by Indian Railways. Jammu Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link connects the Katra railway station of Northern Railways to the rest of Indian railways network.
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