It was almost mid afternoon that we finally reached the top. It was chilly and no signs of the Sun, making it worse. SMVDU management had intimated the police officer at the shrine, and he greeted us with a broad smile. We took some rest in the cozy room, adjacent to his office. Soon, one of his policeman escorted us to the cave, where the devotees queue up for the darshan.
The shrine is situated at 5200 feet (above the sea level). The yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave. The best part is that this is written on the boards outside the shrine, and the devotees can read them when in queue. It is important to know it, since the darshan time is so less, that those who are NOT aware often have a puzzled look when they come out of the cave, “Where was the Vaishno Devi Mata?”
After we finished the darshan, we came out of the cave and enjoyed the lovely scene outside. This place has a magnificent view of the valley. We had our time with some photo-opps, and started the descend. As mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways available, based on your preparedness! We chose to climb down the stairs, as we were excited to come down faster. It is not easy, unless you have good shoes to absorb the jerks. The easier way out is the slope road, which is quite a leisure walk!
All the time that we were climbing down, we had just one target in front of our eyes..and that was the hotel where we had the tasty and sumptuous breakfast. We were looking for the same one, but we missed it somewhere as we were busy jumping down the road. We were back to Adkumari, where we finally decided to stop and have food, at the first hotel we can see. It was a dhaba, and the tandoor was hot, with a cheerful boy excited to serve the food. We ordered our heart out, since we were too hungry to think rationally! The food come up, and was a marathon eating feat, that we finished everything on the table!!
We left the Dhaba with a heavy heart (and stomach), and touched the finishing line in the next hour and a half! Rain tried to play a spoil sport, and we had to change our track to a covered one to save ourselves. We could also shop around for the amazing walnut shops on the way.
The car brought us back to the guesthouse, where we had a nice hot bath, and a light but tasty dinner! The legs were sore and the heart filled with joy!