Things to do in Katra
Although Katra is a small town and its main attraction is the Maa Vaishno Devi shrine about 14 km from this town, but there are a few things here that you can enjoy. Of course there is the natural beauty here that is a balm for the aching soul in itself. There are few other holy places apart from the main Vaishno Devi shrine also where you can bow your head and pay obeisance to the different deities of the Hindu religion. There are also opportunities to go trekking in the nearby hills and mountains, while you can enjoy the local food and mingle with the local populace to get a feel of their culture.
Trekking in Katra: Trekking in Katra is a great experience in itself and the most popular trekking route is the 13 km walk up to the Adi Kumari or Vaishno Devi Mandir which is located atop the Trikuta hill. On the lower grounds when you start this trek, you will find a large number of shops and restaurants selling their wares. In this small market there is a lot of stuff which you can carry home as souvenirs. As you go higher the shops become lesser in number and you will start getting better views of the mountain ranges. It is a good idea to try and catch the rising sun on this trek as this is a sight to behold.
Trip to Patni Top: It is usually sure that if you are in Katra you intend to visit the sacred Vaishno Devi temple. However, when you come here it is a good idea to keep a day or two spare in hand so that you can visit Patni top which is located at a distance of 80 km from Katra. Patni top is a great getaway which you can reach by driving down the picturesque mountains and spend some time at this lovely hill station. It is a good idea to carry a picnic basket although you have many dining options on your way here and also in Patni top itself.
Shopping in Katra: As mentioned above, there is a small market at the beginning of the trek to the Vaishno Devi shrine, but you can find small shops selling different interesting items elsewhere in Katra also. Whether you are looking for gifts to carry back for friends and family or some knick knacks to decorate your home, you will find a lot of items in these small shops. There is a large choice of handicrafts which have a definite Kashmiri touch. At the same time, although you will not get as wide a choice as you would in Kashmir, you can also take a look at the woolen items here like shawls and sweaters.