Katra Town, lying in the foot of Trikuta Mountains, 48 kms. from Jammu, serves as the base camp for visiting the famous shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, which is approachable on foot along a 13 kms long well laid footpath. Every year, more than 4.5 million pilgrims pass through Katra on their way to the holy shrine. The cave shrine of Mata Vasihnodeviji or Trikuta Bhagwati (alt: 5,200 ft.) has been a beacon of faith and fulfilment to millions of devotees from all over the world. The pilgrimage to the Shrine holds great significance for the pilgrims. From here a trek of around 12 kms takes a pilgrim to the Holy Shrine. One can undertake this trek on foot or on horses/ponies or on palanquins (palkies or dolies). While most of the pilgrims prefer to go on foot, some who find it difficult to negotiate the climb hire a pony or a palanquin. There are various Sarais/Dharamshalas in Katra, which provide good accommodation to the pilgrims, either free of cost or at a nominal price. While some of them do provide facilities to the pilgrims, many of these places have passed in the hands of certain people with vested interests who insist on the pilgrims buying offerings from their own shops located in the premises of these Sarais. Pilgrims should be careful of such elements as they tend to sell items at a price many times higher than their original value.
Katra is considered as an ideal base camp with picture perfect beauty and unspoiled atmosphere. At Katra one can see national as well as International Yatris who are en-route to the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. It should be noted that the town of Katra sees an influx of devotees throughout the main pilgrim season. There is known to be so much rush that the hotels get completely booked during the peak season, the peak season usually starts from February through October. The divine beauty of the Himalayas, the climate of the town and surroundings, and some other fascinating religious sites can be enjoyed more so when you are at peace with the place or the hotel you are staying at. It is always advisable when on a pilgrimage and when visiting Katra, to book a hotel well in advance for a trouble free pilgrimage.
Situated at the foothills of Trikuta mountain, Katra is the gateway to Vaishno Devi shrine, the second most important temple in India. Katra lies on national highway 1C about 42 km from Jammu. The town serves as base camp for pilgrims on their way to Vaishno Devi which is 13 km uphill. Yatris or pilgrims also have to get their Yatra Parchi (token numbers) at Banganga in Katra. This Yatra Parchi is essential for every pilgrim going to Vaishno Devi Temple.