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Situated at the foothills of Trikuta mountain, Katra is the gateway to Vaishno Devi shrine, the second most important temple in India. Katra lies on national highway 1C about 42 km from Jammu.
The town serves as base camp for pilgrims on their way to Vaishno Devi which is 13 km uphill. Yatris or pilgrims also have to get their Yatra Parchi (token numbers) at Banganga in Katra. This Yatra Parchi is essential for every pilgrim going to Vaishno Devi Temple.
At an elevation of 2474 ft above mean sea level, the town thrives on the religio-tourism industry. Katra is a shoppers’ paradise. The markets of Katra stock dry fruits, garments and leather goods. It is a good place to buy garments embellished with Kashmiri embroidery.
Katra is a shopper’s paradise. You can buy textiles with Kashmiri embroidery, dry fruits, hosiery items and leather goods. Main Bazaar is the best place to buy souvenirs, dry fruits, etc. Kashmiri carpets, namdas, shawls, phernas, silverware, silks, brassware, Pashmina shawls, Cashmere shawls, Cashmere carpets, copperware, wooden furniture, etc. can be bought in Katra. If you are a sports fan, then you can buy good quality cricket bats and baseball bats.
Chunri’s, Shawls and Sari offered to Vaishno Devi by devotees can be bought from souvenir shops run by Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
There are several accommodation options in Katra. Most of the budget accommodations are located near the Main Market on Jammu Road. Mid-range accommodation is available on Kashmir Road and Ban Ganga Road. The lone luxury hotel is situated on Reasi Road.
Apart from hotels, Katra also has lodges and a few guest houses too. Some registered trusts also provide free accommodation in the form of serais and dharmasalas for pilgrims.
There are a lot of options to eat in Katra. There are several restaurants, dhabas and fast food stalls that suit all kinds of budgets. There are a number of eateries along the route to the Vaishno Devi shrine too. Many eateries offer rajma-rice, puri-bhaaji and chole-bhature. There are many private restaurants too which serve Kashmiri, Indian and Continental cuisine.
The best time to visit Katra is between the months of March to October. During this period the weather in Katra remains pleasant. December to March is also good time to visit if you like snow and do not mind the winter chill.