Earth : Asia : South Asia : India : Himalayan North : Jammu and Kashmir : Katra
The nearest railhead is Katra and airport is Jammu. To travel to Katra from here, you can take cabs (Rs. 820 for an Indica, Rs. 890 for an Ikon), or buses from the bus stand just outside the railway station.
If traveling from Delhi, there are options to travel in Buses which go direct to Katra, but the train journey is more comfortable.
You can travel direct to katra by train. You can catch Shri Shakti express, NDLS-SVDK Premium from Delhi.
There are direct trains from New Delhi to Katra Vaishnodevi these days.
Vaishno Devi Temple
Maa Vaishno Devi Temple is a hindu Goddess temple near Katra, J&K. It is on a mountain and a climb of about 14 km has to be undertaken to reach it. While most devotees prefer to walk both ways, many of them ride a pony for part of or entire journey. There are Palkis available for the elderly. Please note unless you are exremely fit and used to doing daily strenous exercise, it is advisable to avoid climbing steps in the upward journey as this could lead to extreme pain in calves & thighs the next day. A mix of steps and walking could be done during the return journey.
Following are the options to reach Maa Vaishno Devi temple from Katra.
1. Katra to Ardh Kuari - 6 KM. a). Walk - 3 hours b). Pony - Rs. 380 (as on 20/04/2013)- 1 hour c). Pitthu - for luggage or small babies - Rs. 140 - 3 hours
2. Ardh Kuari to Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan - 6 KM a). Walk - 3 hours b). Pony - Rs. 380 (as on 20/04/2013)- 1 hour c). Pitthu - for luggage or small babies - Rs. 140 - 3 hours d). Electric Vans - Only for elderly people or handicap - Rs. 300 - 30 Minutes
3. Katra to Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan directly - 12 KM a). Helicopter - Rs. 1170 (as on 01/11/2015) one way - 8 Minutes b). Palki - for elderly - approx Rs. 3000 - 6 hours c). Walk - 6 hours d). Pony - Rs. 700(as on 20/04/2013) - 2 hours e). Pitthu - for luggage or small babies - Rs. 260 - 6 hours
4. Maa Vaishno Devi Bhawan to Bhairo Baba temple - 2 KM a). Walk - 2 hours b). Pony - Rs. 150 - 45 minutes c). Pitthu - for luggage or small babies - 2 hours
5. On the way back - Similar are the options on the way back. However, on the way back, you can go directly from the Bhairo Baba temple to Ardh Kuari. You don't need to come back via Bhawan.
6. There is an alternate way to go to Bhawan from Katra directly, without going to Ardh Kuwari. The initial way is same. After about 5 km from Katra there is a division; one way goes to Bhawan via Ardh Kuwari and the other way via Himkoti. The way via Homkoti is around a kilometer shorter and this way is ideal if you are looking for a quiet path without the crowd and the ponies.
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board  which manages the temple has its website with extra details.
The best season to visit vaishno devi is during October-March as you can visit the original cave of Mata vaishno devi and accommodation is very cheap also at that time.
The main attraction is the visit to Maa Vaishno Devi temple.
A day trip from Katra to Shiv Khori cave temple may also be made after returning back fom Maa Vaishno Devi Bhavan. This famous cave temple is located 80 km from Katra. The devotees have to walk 3 km to reach this cave. This place is connected with Jammu and Katra by buses.
Most 3 star and above hotels have very good vegetarian food. There are hundreds of other restaurants in the main Katra market. On the way to Bhawan - you have many options of eating snacks and having cold and warm beverages. At some places run by the trust you can have good lunch of rice and rajma. On your way to Ardh Kuari you will find a CCD (Cafe Coffee Day) and also one at Ardh Kuari which was earlier Barista.
Alcohol drinking is prohibited on the way to Darshan.