This all started on 3rd Navratri, when I planned a pilgrim on very evening with my brother to Mata Bala Sundri Ji. A well famous temple of Mata Bala Sundri is located far 40km in J&k from my place. People from Kathua, Pathankot, Jammu are the one who never miss their attendance to Mata Bala Sundri during Navratri. Mata Bala Sundri Ji is worshipped as infant state of Mata Vaishno Devi.

Story of goddess Mata Bala Sundri goes back to 1573, when a local shopkeeper brought a bag of salt from Devban (UP) to Trilokpur (HP). Shopkeeper kept selling salt from bag which remained filled all the time. Later, late night, Goddess appeared in his dream & directed him to build a temple in Trilokpur, after her disappearance from Devban. The same stone (Pindi), which was in the salt bag, was supposed to establish in the newly constructed temple at Trilokpur, which was then built by Raja Pradeep Prakash of Sirmour State (HP). Since then, people in northern India are worshipping Goddess Bala Sundri to the date.

Bala Sundri kathua
Bala Sundri Temple

For Me, as it was all a sudden plan again, we started at sharp 6:00 PM knowing that it would be too late for us to climb the series of mountains and reach the temple. Then my brother told me about the road which use to be mostly busy all the night during Navraatri, making it good for the night trek. It took us nearly 2 hours to reach the Karol, which is the last point for vehicles and then everyone climb up hills to reach the temple. Most of the road is in fair condition, though there are some points which are totally unpaved and you drive through the drained river beds.

I literally apologize for the bad quality images, since it was late night when they were taken & I was not handling my DSLR.

Way to Mata Bala Sundri
Tree-line was adding to the scene
Mata Bala Sundri
How it could looked like, when it was a rich river!

From this place, it took us more 40 minutes to reach the end point. I could see number of Metador Vans parked waiting to pickup pilgrims back to Kathua. We parked our vehicle at a good place under a huge Banyan tree and started the trek after having a hotdog.

It was just 1 km walked when plains were left behind & we were in deep jungle.

Mata Bala Sundri

Many people who were coming back from the temple were almost exhausted. One man coming from front was chanting “Jai Mata Di” & as soon he came near to Me and my Brother, he greeted us with “Jai Mata Di Aunty Ji, Jai Mata Di Uncle Ji”. All we did after that was guessing who is “Aunty Ji” from both of us 😀

Soon on the way, we met another group of boys (of my age) climbing up, way too excited for everything & making fun of each thing as well. I still remember one moment I came across while they were hooting “Jor Se Bolo”.

Boy 1: Jor se bolo

All Boys: Jai Mata Di

Boy 1: Saare bolo

All Boys: Jai Mata Di

Boy 1: Aage vaale bhi bolo

All Boys: Jai Mata Di

Boy 1: Piche wale bhi bolo

Another Boy: Piche koi nahi hai 😀

All these type of fun moments coming on the way were literally making us to keep going forgetting any pain if happens. Since, hill road was totally unpaved, had huge rocks at some points, we were also aware of using light so that no one slips down from that thin path. At every 1-3 kms, you will be welcomed with an open langar (Free Food Stalls) to have sip of Tea or Puri.

Total road to the temple through the hilly area was around 15-20 kilometers. This road had respective up & downs so you don’t feel tired anywhere in the middle. Moreover, you can see the temple from the very starting point, which look much near from sight, but then you feel that it is not. All the time I looked at temple, I assumed that we are not that far from it now, & then proved wrong again & again.

Just like Mata Vaishno Devi, there is another Ardh Quary at the half way, where you can afford food, and rest-beds. Finally, by 11 PM, we were literally very near to the temple. Now all I had to do was to climb up the final hill on the top of which, temple resides. It looked like 1 km to climb more, yes, it just looked like that & it was. Then I looked at the slope which was almost at 60-70 degree.

Oh My Mata! I said that & continued. Did not stop anywhere till then, but soon after climbing to 2-3 turns, I gave up. I could feel my heart beating too fast & mind like as if it will blow right away. I asked my brother to rest down for a minute at two places in between that 1 km way. Then rest of the road was covered while helping my knees pushing down. It was totally exhausting but finally we were in temple with a big sigh.

Mata Bala Sundri Temple

Environment at temple was very energetic with everyone busy in their things from arranging Bhandara, Serving food, listening to Jagraata, Shopping, Selling, Bathing etc.

Jagraata mata bala sundri

After having the dinner, we met few other fellows from our village, who had bed sheets & blankets, totally 5-6 in numbers. However, they did not let anyone to sleep, even when I ask them to shut down & let others sleep. All were busy in chit-chatting & mocking others.

Hence, after a long exhausting trek of 4 hours, I could not manage to sleep too. Then by 5:00 main temple was opened for devotees. After making the attendance to Mata Bala Sundri Ji, by 6 AM, we decided to come back. I was waiting for some light to come up before we leave, to take few good pictures, but we had to come back by 6.

Way to Mata Bala Sundri KathuaBala Sundri kathua

You can have an average idea about how the roads were. At some point, they even had to mark arrows on stones to let people know which way to go. At some places, you may encounter points leading two ways & its hard for newbies to guess the correct one unless you see other people coming back or going through a particular road.

Mata Bala SundriBala Sundri

On my way back, when it was dim light, I looked at surroundings which were much better than I even imagined. It could be a better place for me to reside but damn J&K govt. does not let any outsider purchase their land B-)

Mata Bala Sundri