It is a general belief and saying that one can visit Vaishno devi (Mother goddess) only when Mother calls one to her abode. I had been invited by Mother in 1981/82, almost 30 years ago. I kept believing that I will go only if there is an invite from her.
On 1st December, my husband RB told that he has taken leave on 8th and 9th December and we can plan an outing. A thought flashed in my mind: Do I need an invite to go to my mother’s home? No, I do not need one. So, my destination is finalized. I will go to Vaishno Devi. I checked all trains bookings. None were available as expected. I called a friend, who mentioned me, that he has been visiting Vaishno Devi, very often by road. His information helped me to decide and plan the route.
We started on 7th (Wednesday) afternoon around 4pm. We traveled for 5 hours and reached Ambala. On the way, we had a typical winter favourite Panjabi dinner of sarson ka saag and makki ki roti, with gur at Haweli, near Karnal. We spent night at company’s guest house. Next morning , on 8th morning, we started for Katra, at 5.30 am. Both me and RB take turns to drive. Having fun and enjoying each other’s company, we stopped for brunch and tea on way to base camp, Katra. We reached Katra at 4pm. We stayed at Mata Vaishnodevi Hotel. Its on the outskirts of the city. We parked our car in the hotel parking and refreshed in hotel room with a cup of hot and refreshing tea.
We changed clothes to face the cold and wintry chill of the Trikuta mountains in lower Himalayas. Hotel car dropped us at the starting point. Every yatri has to get himself registered. After a through check up and registration, we started off the yatra exactly at 5.00PM. After crossing over, we were almost arrested by the horse, mule walas, who were telling frightening stories of tough trekking up and the anytime rains on the way. Though, on the way, we both were thinking of taking a helicopter to reach the shrine. We enquired about it and were told that the last flight has left and it is for senior citizen and medically unfit people. But while reaching there, I had another thought in my mind. I am healthy and can walk, so why not go up walking? And we started our trekking, almost at 5.00PM.
We had darshan around 9.30PM. The moment, we started back to collect our belongings, it started raining heavily. There are many halls with lockers, but no proper signage and it took us almost 20-25 minutes of running around here and there to reach the right locker room. It rained for about half an hour. The hailstorm and strong winds followed later. And then the electricity failure, which is very much expected in such situations in India. As the rains stopped, we started back with intermittent rains, winds and storms. The covered passage somewhat saved us from the rains and winds on the way. But it was a tougher journey back. We reached back to hotel at 3.00 in the morning and slept like a log.
To me it appeared,as if Mother is saying that “Coming to me is easier than being lost in the world. Come to me for all your happiness”