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Katra, positioned at the distance of about 42 kilometers from Jammu and nested at the footings of the ‘Trikuta Mountains’ at the elevation of 754 meters above the sea level, is a modest township of Udhampur District in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir that has earned an international repute as a highly aggrandized Hindu pilgrim destination due to its world famous temple dedicated to Goddess Vaishno Devi. The Vaishno Devi Temple of Katra that enshrines the ostentatiously ornamented stone silhouettes of Goddess ‘Vaishnavi’ (also revered as Mata Rani) happens to be the second most visited place of worship in India and over 8 million devotees perform a pilgrimage of the Vaishno Devi Temple every year. Katra, a prime stopover for the devotees and tourists on the way to the Vaishno Devi Temple acts as a gateway to the empyreal abode of the Goddess Shakti; i.e. the female manifestation of power in the Hindu mythology. Katra is the threshold where the pilgrims register themselves and get insurance before initiating the 12 kilometer long and treacherous expedition to the Vaishno Devi Shrine.
Some of the devotees opt for the trek on foot and walk all the way up to the temple singing the praise of Goddess Vaishnavi and hailing Her saying ‘Jai Mata Di’! From Katra, tourists can also hire ponies, palkis, pitthus, electric vans or helicopters for reaching the temple easily and smoothly. The Katra town; the base camp of the Vaishno Devi passage provides bounteous accommodation and lodging options for the pilgrims arrived here from different corners of the globe. Moreover, Katra is also an ideal place for shopping where tourists can buy the souvenirs of the auspicious Vaishno Devi Pilgrimage such as Prashad, offerings to the Goddess, handicrafts, jewellery, dry fruits, Kashmiri shawls, jackets, and other woolen and handcrafted material. Walnuts, figs and almonds are the must buy dry fruits from Katra. Owing to the ever increasing glory and fame of Goddess Vaishno Devi as the wish fulfilling Mother, Katra is also burgeoning as a leading tourist destination of Jammu and Kashmir attributable to its flourishing tourism industry and its incessantly escalating intake of pilgrims.