There is a common dream shared by most individuals and that is to travel the world and get new experiences. Traveling is a desire everyone wants to accomplish in life, as travel brings out the best in us and lets us interact and learn from new people. Keeping this in mind I planned my first solo trip to Katra, Jammu to visit the Holy shrine Vaishno Devi mata temple and to explore Delhi during my return journey from Katra. As it was my first time going alone on a journey I planned to keep it short and for a maximum of 4 days.
The fact that I chose Pilgrimage over an overcrowded tourist place like Manali or Dehradun as I wanted to visit Vaishno Mata Temple and live some moments in peace without dense crowds and there is no place better than a Pilgrimage to get peace.
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I booked and boarded the “Jammu Tawi Express” a train in the evening from Jaipur to Katra, the ticket cost around Rs.1500, and I traveled the whole night on the train conversing with people and sharing our experiences, looking at the landscapes, listening to music, and enjoying homemade food together with fellow travelers.
I got off the train around 7 am at Jammu Station and started searching for a medium through which I could get to Katra after connecting with some locals and police officers got to know about the connecting local train which costs around Rs.100 from Jammu to Katra.
This led me to have my mind mesmerized by the breathtaking landscapes I saw on the way. After the 40 km long journey, I got off at Katra and the first thing I did was to search for an STD booth or a SIM card dealer as other state SIM cards don’t work in J&K, and the SIM cost me around Rs.400. The next exhilarating experience was to find an efficient place to stay and freshen up, so I contacted 3 hotel owners which I shortlisted beforehand and found out the best hotel according to price efficiency which was costing Rs.600 for 24 hours, location(nearest to temple) and facilities. The journey of climbing the mountain to reach the temple was the most exciting and inspiring experience as I got to see different events(seeing children excited about the trek, inspired to live life after looking at a half-paralyzed man climbing the mountain with enthusiasm), looking at jaw-dropping beautiful sites and a beautiful scene where it felt like the end of the world as there was a very dim light shining from the ball of darkness.
After worshiping the idol of Mata Vaishno Devi I came down the hill and went to my hotel around 1 am, slept for about five hours as I had to catch the train from Jammu for Delhi in the afternoon. This time I preferred the Bus for reaching the Jammu railway station which cost around Rs.50 to 60. This was the best decision as it was my first bus ride in the mountains and the feeling I got was indescribable. All the passengers sang songs together, played instruments, and talked with locals about the beauty of the place. The Bus dropped us off directly at the Station and the time of train arrival was 2 hours later so I found a nearby temple “Jai Mata Temple” and visited it, the architecture of the temple amazed me and it showed the level of engineering the old people had at that time. The train “Vande Bharat Express” which cost around Rs.1500 including the excellent catering service, arrived at the designated time and we were off to Delhi, remembering the memories I made and checking out the “Train”, Delhi station arrived at 11 pm, and better than searching for a hotel this late I preferred staying in the waiting room till morning which cost Rs10 per/hr.
I talked to my friends studying in Delhi and left the station as they helped me with famous places I can visit, so I went to Shri Hanuman Mandir, Connaught Place, Gurudwara, India Gate, famous cuisines places, etc. Then I started searching for a medium, Bus or Train which could drop me off at Jaipur but couldn’t, so I contacted my uncle and he arranged a ride for me with one of his friends who works in Delhi and was coming to Jaipur. He dropped me off at my house directly in the night and this is how my first solo trip ended.
My Experiences, the learnings I got from traveling;
1. Connecting with new people will help you become a better person.
2. Family traveling is very enjoyable but Try to travel solo sometimes you will find amazing new friends you can relate with because of the same interests.
3. Always don’t go for the first option, try to negotiate and look out for better options as in the case of a hotel and buying SIM cards, because many people are selling them at higher prices.
4. If you are traveling to Katra from Jammu, always prefer a BUS ride rather than a Train because of the joyful adventurous ride and the Bus fare is only around 50% of the Train fare.
My solo trip from Jaipur to Katra was a journey of self-discovery, cultural immersion, and spiritual interest. Every step of the journey opened my eyes to new experiences and left a never-ending mark on my soul. Challenges shaped me into quite a different person.
This adventure taught me that solo travel isn’t just about physical exploration; it’s about diving into your being, finding courage in uncertainty, and embracing the world with an open heart. As I bid farewell to Katra, I carried with me not only memories of breathtaking landscapes and cultural encounters but also the knowledge that challenges are an integral part of a journey – and overcoming them makes the adventure truly worthwhile.