It was in the year 2014, when I was done with my 10th board exams and waited for a much needed break from the daily routine. It was pre-decided by my father that we’ll be heading towards Vaishno devi and Amritsar, after me and my elder sister both are done with their board examinations. It was a trip of 8 days including the train journey and I was super excited as it was my first trip after a long time, a night before the journey I helped my mother in packing up the bags and keeping up with some essentials which we might need during the journey.  
Day 1 & Day 2 
So, the day was finally here and @ 12:30 we boarded the train and headed towards the Jammu railway station. Our whole vacation was scheduled into two parts, the first part consisted of Vaishno devi, Jammu and the second part consisted of a tour of Amritsar, my father planned the vacation precisely, and decided to stay for equal days at both the places.  
The train journey from Varanasi to Jammu was one hell of a painful train journey of 24 hours and I should thank my cellphone to help me survive this journey. I remember it was 1:00pm when we finally reached the Jammu Station. 
 I felt a shiver go down my spine as I noticed that this place is experiencing way more cool weather as per compared to Varanasi.  
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My father had the booking of the hotels done and we headed straight towards the hotel to get some sleep before we started our ultimate walk from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple. 
We changed into comfortable clothes and headed outside for having some food before our sleep as we won’t be eating anything before the ultimate walk as somewhere it'll make our journey more tiring. 
We went to a restaurant and ordered north Indian food and it was the best north Indian I ever had, trust me the Spices used were adding taste that was way beyond if compared to north Indian food you’ll find in Urban Cities. 
 After the lunch we headed straight to the hotel and decided to take a deep nap of 7 hours to be prepared for the big things that’s just after this.   
Day 3 
I woke up at 12:15 and changed my clothes in 15 mins and I was ready for the ultimate walking experience of Vaishno devi, everyone was ready at 1 am and we started our walk at towards the top and after a walk of an hour, my parents realized that this isn’t going great as my father had diabetes and my mother has Gastric problems, so they started parting and sat on a stone, completely exhausted.  
So me and my sister advised mom and dad to hire a mule and complete the remaining journey comfortably as they realized that this wasn’t a bad idea, they hired two mules, one for each. 
Me and my sister decided not to hire the mule as we wanted to complete the journey by ourselves and headed straight towards our goal, but we both were parting a lot and we noticed as we were going at a higher altitude, it was getting tougher for us to breath.  
We need to inhale long breaths in order to keep up with the oxygen, and when we reached the half point also called as resting point, we were dead tired. We saw mom and dad waiting for us and then we realized that it took us 3 hours to reach the half point and its already 4 am. 
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We had some basic snacks which helped us replenish our energy to the fullest and started our journey to the top. As earlier mom and dad went on their specific mules and me and my sister started the fight against those climbing paths 
It way more difficult than the first phase as our body was getting tired with each and every step and we noticed that our speed of climbing over to the top has decreased significantly.
Then in between 5:00 and 5:30 am, I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise of my life, trust me I don’t have words to portray what I saw, It was that beautiful. I felt the warm rays hitting my cheeks, filling with us more energy and igniting the beast mode.  
We gave all the energy we had and reached to the top @8:30 in the morning, I saw my parents at the top but I was dead tired to go to them. They knew that we’ve been through a lot and we need rest, so they came to us helped us to reach the temple. 
After a walk of almost 7 hours, my legs were at the resting position, I never imagined I would be able to accomplish this but trust me it felt good. 
Then after some rest we visited different temples situated at the top and prayed for a healthy life. 
As we’re done with our temple visits, my stomach aches and asked for food as it didn’t had a proper meal from the past 18 hours.  
We went to a Dhabha situated nearby and ordered Dal Makhni, tandoori roti, Chilli paneer and Mix veg. the food was really good and was just what I desired for at that moment.
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Then after everything was done at the top, we decided it’s the time to head back to the hotel to have some rest before heading towards Amritsar. Me and my sister wasn’t in a state to walk another 14kms, and my father read our facial expressions and hired mules for us too. Trust me this was a good experience and a different one too. 
We came back to the hotel after 18 hours i.e. 7:00pm and headed straight towards the bedroom. I was dead tired from this and badly need some rest before heading towards Amritsar.
Day 4
I never fell asleep so quickly, I remember as soon as my head hit the bed, I slept and the next thing I remember is waking up the next day at 9:00 am in the morning. I changed into comfortable clothes and had a morning walk in Katra and witnessed the lifestyle of locals out there. 
In the meantime, my father booked tickets of a Volvo bus from Jammu to Amritsar, which was scheduled to depart @10:00 pm. So we packed our belonging lurked on the streets of katra for the last time during that stay and had another bite of the delicious food served there.
I’ll surely miss Jammu. 
We boarded our bus to Amritsar and now I was in the bus on my way to Amritsar. The first phase of my much needed break turned out to be fantastic, it was a blend of ups and downs. 
Now it’s time to witness Sher-e-Punjab.  

Follow this link to read about the next few days of my memorable trip. Amritsar trip 

Prashant Arora

Vishal Arora


Felt as though I was with you on this journey. Lovely post.