Located in Katra at the Trikuta Mountains, of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most popular pilgrim destinations of India. As the name suggests, the shrine is an ode to Mata Vaishno Devi. Devotees from across the country pay their homage to the Goddess, walking 12 km uphill and seeking her blessings. The popularity of the shrine has resulted in Katra developing into a leading tourist destination in north India. 2019 witnessed 79.4 lakh pilgrims coming for the darshan. A significant majority of these tourists visit here during the Navratris and their itineraries also include places to visit near Vaishno Devi.
The popularity of this destination has subsequently resulted in pilgrims not only coming for their pilgrimage but also as tourists to explore the places around Vaishno Devi. In this blog, we will look at 5 places to visit near Vaishno Devi, so that the next time you decide to come to Vaishno Devi, you can explore these destinations as well.
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1. Jammu City
One of the 2 major divisions of the Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu city is the winter capital of the union territory and is home to several tourist destinations. The city has been home to the Dogra dynasty, who were the erstwhile rulers of J&K. Jammu city is only 45 minutes away from Katra and has several tourist spots that one can experience. To begin with, you can explore the Raghunath Mandir which has 300 icons of gods and goddesses. You can follow this up by visiting Bagh-e-Bahu located at Bahu Fort. The bagh or garden offers a scenic view of the Tawi river. Moving on, while in Jammu you must visit the Amar Mahal Palace which was built in the 19th century on the lines of a French Chateau. Now a museum, it exhibits miniature paintings, books, and a golden throne.
Famous for the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, you can also visit the ISKCON Temple while you are in Katra. Also, do not forget to explore the Katra market, which has numerous shops that sell dry fruits, honey, herbs, and pashmina items. You can also visit the Nau Devi Cave Temple, which is located 10 km away from Katra and features a 200 years old cave and features nine naturally carved idols of goddesses. Additionally, Baba Dhansar temple is one of the popular places to visit in Katra.
One of the several pristine hill stations of Jammu and Kashmir and is one of the most popular places to visit near Vaishno Devi as it is located only an hour’s drive from the famous shrine. The destination is famous for its pleasant weather during summers and snowfall during winters. It also is home to Skyview Patnitop by Empyrean, an adventure tourism destination of north India. The destination features the highest gondola ride in India in terms of ground clearance, the first zig-zag zipline in India, the first magic carpet in India, and restaurants that are one of the best places to eat in Patnitop. While you are in Patnitop, you can explore the meadows and the nearby tourist places of Patnitop as well. These include Sanasar, Madhatop, and Nathatop.
Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, Bhaderwah is an upcoming tourist destination of Jammu and Kashmir with serene views earning it the name of “mini Kashmir”. While in Bhadarwah, don’t forget to visit the Bhaderwah Fort which belonged to the erstwhile rulers of this picturesque destination. Additionally, you can also experience paragliding while you are here giving you a memorable aerial view of the valley. Other famous tourist destinations of Bhaderwah are Gupt Ganga, Jai Valley, Thanalla Village, Laxmi Narayan Temple, and Chinta Valley.
Despite being at a distance of 240 km from Vaishno Devi, several tourists add Kashmir to the itinerary thanks to Kashmir’s popularity across the world. The best way to experience its beauty is to hire a cab or drive to Kashmir’s capital Srinagar. The famous destination is known for its water bodies such as Dal Lake, Wula Lake, Manesar Lake; hill stations such as Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonamarg. While you are in Kashmir, you can get your hands on the finest cashmere products made in the world along with saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world. Kashmir is also a delight for people who love exploring different cuisine, Kashmir’s much famous wazwaan is a must-try for every visitor to the pristine valley.
Vaishno Devi is one of the numerous places that make Jammu and Kashmir a traveler’s paradise. From the historic palaces, serene hill stations, and pristine lakes, Vaishno Devi is in the vicinity of all of these. We are sure whenever you decide to visit Vaishno Devi, you will visit these places as well.