The main purpose of going to Katra is to pay obeisance to Maa Vaishno Devi. The city of Katra revolves around the temple as it caters to pilgrims from all corners of the world.One has to trek about 17 kms of steep path/steps to reach the temple(It takes about 5 hours),alternatively one can go by hiring ponies and or palkies(they take 3 - 6 hrs).Helicopter trips are also available which drop you some 2 kms from the temple after which again one has to either walk or hire ponies/palkies to complete the last leg of the journey.We had booked helicopter tickets for the visit(@Rs.699/- per head for one way travel)It is quite cheap due to which there is always a heavy rush for the same. The booking for the ticket starts 30 days in advance(only on-line booking is done).However, on the designated day when we approached the helipad/counter we were informed that further helicopter trips had been cancelled due to bad weather and there is no certainity for the day . We waited another two hours hoping against hope that the service will start, but to no avail. Ultimately, we started making alternate arrangement for our climb and hired Ponies (@Rs. 1700/- per Pony )and Palkies(@Rs. 4000/- per Palki). The corresponding official Govt.rates are Rs. 800/- and Rs. 2700/-approx.,but you will never get them at those rates as there is a virtual racket of fleecing the pilgrims who often are short of time and energy to fight against the well entrenched system. Accordingly, we started our journey at 2:00P.M and reached there by Ponies at 6:00PM and the Palkis (carrying aged persons) reached there by 8:00P.M.,The evening aarti had started by then and darshan is stopped during that period.After the aarti ,the darshan started at 9:30 P.M. by which time a huge queue of pilgrims had built up. Ultimately we could have darshan at about 11:00 in the night. We all had some light food as we were fasting since morning and started our journey down and reached there by 4:30 in the morning.Except for the fleecing of the pilgrims by the Pony/Palki wallahs in passive cooperation with the controllers the arrangements per se by the Shrine Board all along the route was excellent with facilites for toilets/drinking water/ rest shelters/eating joints/ tea kiosks etc.I only wish that the Shrine Board takes suo motto cognisance of the excess charges and take steps to control it.