Thursday, 12 April 2012

Planning a trip to Vaishno Devi? Some free advise which I wish I had gotten earlier

Most of you must have been there or planning a trip there or dream of going there or heard of people going there or wondering whether to go there- I think I have exhausted all possibilities of making my point that please read this post for some observations and pointers which will help you -if you GO THERE!!

First things first (Read: disclaimer): This is not an attempt to discourage anyone! These are real  and serious observations from my recent experience hence honest advise- take it if you please and leave it if you think you are smarter ( visit the shrine and I bet you ll agree with most - actually everything- that I am listing below).

  1. When to go?
    1. Non Rush Time!!!- I did some hardcore recce to find out ( for all of you!) that March and December are best times to go as kids have exams then and parents are busy buttering the goddess at their homes. I went in April and braved close to 80 thousand people to reach up, make darshans and well... come down!!
    2. When you have confirmed travel bookings- Both ways!
    3. When you have at least 2 days for this visit- I attempted a single day Up and Down trek and have serious doubts on my IQ levels!
    4. When there is a serious need!!! 
  2. When not to go?
    1. Summer vacations
    2. Months following exams- April, January etc etc
    3. Long weekends ( oh wotta mistake I made!!!)
    4. Navratras ( Trust me!! Dont!!) 
    5. When you have wait listed train tickets- Even if you know the  Railway Minister , dont trust him to sail you through the quota to get your tickets confirmed! Because if he ditches you- Dude- you will see hell and come back!
  3. How to climb up the trek?
    1. Helicopter services- Avail of it. Bookings open a month in advance- Avail it!!!!!- this is the bestest option and please don't talk about any less devotion just because you did not walk up!! (Atleast dont tell me about it)
    2. Pony ride- it will churn the contents of your stomach like a grinder, give you serious back troubles- but its still better to ride them at least till a place called Ardhkuwaari- Not because they will tire you less ( you will be equally tired if you walked) but because when you are on the "Ghoda" you have the right to push people from behind using your pony's head ( The pony owner knows this trick very well as they pushed me a lot saying- Madam Side dey side dey)
    3. Dont be tempted to use the stairs or okay- use them and apply for 4 days chutti from work when you return!
    4. Palki- The flip side of this option are: 
      1. They charge you a bomb (understandable). 
      2. They stop innumerable times to take rest (this too understandable).
      3. People who are walking will always look at your face when you pass them ( Do not worry- Even if they judge you and think- Oh he/she is young enough to walk, they are actually Jealous of you!!)
    5. DO NOT ( read again) DO NOT make the mistake of climbing up in the afternoon if you are there for summer months- More than the pain in the legs, the sun on your head will kill you!
        The scorching sun can make you wear even your underwear on your head!!
    6. What will not work while trekking?
      1. When you are planning the trip and express apprehensions on how you will climb up, people will say- Oh you will see people older than you climbing and this will encourage you to climb- trust me it wont!! 
      2. Too much intake of water and aerated drinks- They bloody fill up your stomach and slow your speed- The liquids that might work, are not allowed :)
      3. Dont sit too often to  take rests- It sounds silly but this really works!
      4. When you are on your way up, don't be jealous of those who are coming down thinking- Must be easier to slide down. NO! Its tougher to come down!! Don't believe me? Try for yourself and see!
      5. Never ask a Pony wala or Palki wala- "Kitna duur hai bhaiya?"- He will always say- "Bas thoda sa aur!". And never ask a person coming down -" Kitna Duur hai?"- He will always say- " Abhi to bahut hai!!". Basically keep walking!! ( Why will you walk? I told you earlier not to)
    7. Must haves...
      1. Company that keeps you motivated
      2. Footwear that does not bite
      3. Ample time that keeps the burden of rushing through things off your ( tired) shoulders.
      4. Guts that help you sail through the utter chaos and mismanagement (I have been to the golden temple and Tirupati Balaji Temple and thus qualified enough to assert that what happens at Vaishno Devi is avoidable!)
    8. Planning to take kids?
      1. Load them on the pitthu ( Men who carry them up on their backs)- They walk faster than you so even if your kids cry, vomit, pull his hair- You wont be able to see it. Better than carrying them yourselves and getting into their bad books 
      2. On second thoughts- DO NOT take the kids!!!  ( I am already in my kids' bad books so I did not take the risk of making our relationship worse)
      3. If you HAVE to take them- read point no 1 under this head!!!
    9. Get ready to hear these words very very often and incorporate them frequently in your speech when you are there!!
      1. Mata Rani Ki Kripa- " Mata rani ki kripa se pahuch jaoge Bhawan tak beta, ghabraao mat", " Mata Rani ne bulaya hai, zaroor tumhaare train tickets confirm ho jaayenge", " Mata rani sabko darshan dengi beta- so let me push you back in the queue and meet Mata rani first!!"
      2. Jai mata Di- Tired?- Say Jai Mata Di!, Waiting for over 2 hours in the queue?- Say Jai Mata Di!, Calling home? -Instead of Hello, say Jai Mata Di!, A group of people blocking your way on the trek?- Say out aloud- Jai Mata Di!( yes it works as a horn too)
    10. What kind of people you may encounter on the trek?
      1. Reebok/Nike Promoters: Recognise them by their suave white Tees , sippers and shoes. They always look very serious about their walking and walk past you almost suggesting- " Hey loser. Walk faster"
      2. Memory Capturers- As it is people are going through so much but there will definitely be many who will take frequent breaks to click each other's pictures! Best pose is against the rocks. So many people will walk in between their cameras and the poser but they will not give up! They might actually gesture you to stop ( like you are strolling in the garden and will not mind disrupting your pace) and CLICK.
      3. Honeymooners- " Mata rani ke asshirwaad se hamari shaadi ho gayi- Chalo vaishno Devi1"- The wife will always be hanging on the husband and their journey of fulfilling the seven promises will begin here!
      4. Morale Busters- Suppose you are sitting on a bench and figure out that the person next to you is on his way down- Dont ask him stupid questions like- " Upar bahut bheed hai kya?" or " Bhawan Kitna duur hai?"- Because this is his time to take revenge! He will always answer-" Arre Sir bahut bheed hai. Badi mushkil se darshan hue" or " Arre abhi to aapne chalnaa shuru kiya hai!!"
      5. Give Uppers- I belong to this category as I actually GAVE UP in the first kilometer itself. Dont look at these people eye to eye- They will hypnotize you with their "Giving up attitude"
      6. When you are in the 'final' queue also people will push you!! Try telling them- "Bhaiya dhakka mat do, ab to aap Gufa ke andar tak aa gaye" and they will say- JAI MATA DI !!
    11. Mode of transport to Jammu?
      1. Take a flight to Jammu- Shorten the ordeal as there will be a lot ahead in the name of ordeals!
      2. Obviously the next best option is a AC travel by Train but ONLY and ONLY if its confirmed both ways! - I relied on false promises of people who were getting my tickets confirmed and ended up in a Sleeper Class ( during peak rush) and literally walked on people to reach my seat. There were 6-7 people on 1 berth and when you asked them - "Aap kaise bina reservation is train main aa gaye?" They will say- Jai Mata Di!!!!
      3. Volvos are good options too but again- Use confirmed tickets!!
    12. Finally the best piece of advise is the one that the Shrine board has themselves printed on the walls- (They have Live web darshans here!! )Wish I had taken it seriously!!!
      Take this notice seriously! They mean it when they say it!!


      1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      2. Such a refreshing post, especially post lunch when I am trying sooo hard to keep my head up and not be heard snoring. Brilliant read and even though I did not accompany you for this trip, trust me it was one hell of a trip for us too back home.

        Same day up and down- really!! was indeed a stupid plan and I have walked with you all the way up on a prior occasion so I can totally relate to your state after the first KM however you are right the company does matter ;) no offence Saurabh Bhaiya I cannot imagine what you must have gone through especially with Di being your Company!!!

        It is the Auto service from Ardhkuwaari discontinued?

      3. Ha Ha......fabulous piece of experience....actaully written at the right time as I sense the 'iron' is hot....

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        Thank you so much for sharing valuable information.

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