Next time you plan your pilgrimage tour to Maa Vaishno Devi in Katra, Jammu do add in a visit to Shivkhori.
Situated in the Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir, Shivkhori is a mystical cave connected with one of the legend of Lord Shiva.
Reasi is an ancient town of Jammu that was established by Raja Bhim Dev during the 8th Century and was also the erstwhile capital of Bhimgarh Estate. Although it is an independent district today, a major part of it now lies in Poonch Sector.
The 200-metre long cave has natural Shiva Lingas that are bathed in natural spring waters that flows miraculously from mountain valley. While the entrance of the caves are capable of sheltering over 250 people; the inside chambers are quite small with very low heights. Those who have experienced Ardhkuwari at Maa Vaishno Devi would know how one crawls out smoothly within such a tiny space!
There are gigantic formations of snake at the entrance cave and depicts the presence of Sheshnag. Inside the cave sanctum, there is also a Gauri Kund.
Once inside, be prepared to crawl your way in & out to see the natural impressions and figures depicting gods & goddesses that are found in the caves. Overall legends and locals state that the cave is home to over 33 crores Hindu deities along with their vahanaas!
There are 2 secret caves from the inner sanctum where one leads to the Amarnath Cave and the other is way to the Swarag Dwar (where one attains moksh); but as legends and local talks go, no one who took these paths ever returned back! And now the government has blocked these entrances…
The caves are quite intriguing and one has a feeling that it truly is one of the abode of Lord Shiva. And like at the Amarnath Caves, here too people have spotted 2 Pigeons that are considered good omen!
The beautiful Doodh Ganga also originates nearby and flows down the valley offering a picturesque spot. A dip here is considered quite holy and is definitely refreshing.
The caves are located amidst lush green mountains and can be reached by walking approx. 3.5 kms on a well laden path that starts at a place called Ransoo. There are plenty of local transports including state buses and taxi that run on this route. Shivkhori can also be reached by taking a different route from Akhnoor and Bhambla.
Legend of Shiv Khori
As legends go that pleased with the demon Bhashmasur, Lord Shiva had bestowed him with a power that could make him kill anyone by keeping his hand on its head. This blessing was a curse for others as they feared their death and rushed to Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati for help. So Lord Shiva decided to track him down and fought with him but could not kill Bhasmasur. Fearing his wrath Lord Shiva threw his trident (trishul) that made indents in the earth’s crust creating the now famous Shivakhori and entered in with maa Parvati and Nandi for safety and asked Lord Vishnu to help him out. So it was Lord Vishnu who then took the disguise of a beautiful maiden and danced in front of the proud demon and enticed him to dance just like her. Bhashmasur replicated the steps and when Lord Vishnu kept his hand on his head he did the same, and this was his demise. Once the demon was killed Lord Vishnu entered the cave along with all the other Hindu Deities and later returned back home.
According to devotees, the incredible amounts of natural formations found inside the caves of Shivkhori are considered the holy images of those same Deities.
Nearby Excursions from Shivkhori
Nau Pindian: is located just 8 kms from Katra and is a popular pilgrim stop. The temple has footprints of Maa Vaishno Devi along with naturally formed nine holy pindies that symbolise the Nine Avtar of Mahashakti. Nau Pindian can be covered enroute your way to Shivkhori and is 19 kms from Reasi.
Baba Dhansar: is a beautiful place located near Karua village, some 15 kms from Reasi on Katra road. As legends go there was a demon who troubled the villagers and they sought help from Baba Dhansar (who was the son of Lord Shiva’s serpent Sheshnag also referred as Vasudev). He sought Lord Shiva’s help in killing the demon and saving many lives. Since then the devotees has been worshipping the place and people bathe in the stream to fulfill their desires.
You can reach the Cave Shrine of Baba Dhansar via a 200-metre walk along the road and reach the beautiful stream that flows around the cave.
Located amidst thick jungle grove the place is unreal and the blue waters of Karua Jheel and the small waterfalls are so mesmerising.
Distance Guide to Shivkhori
Shivkhori to Katra: 70 Kms
Jammu to Shivkhori: 102 Kms
Udhampur to Shivkhori: 112 Kms
Akhnoor to Shivkhori: 75 Kms