Jammu and Kashmir have many pilgrimages places like Amarnath, Vasihnodevi, Baba Dhansar, etc. One of them is Shiv Khori ( Khori means cave ) in the Ranso Village of Udhampur district, Jammu. Though not much talked about it has one of the best natural caves and naturally developed idols of gods. We happened to visit Shiv Khodi last month on our trip to Vaishno Devi this month. Here is our mini guide to Shivkhori.
ShivKhori: Natural cave of Lord Shiva
Distance: It is about 140 km from Jammu and if you are planning to visit from Katra its only 84 Km, which is like 4 hours of drive.
How to reach: The roads well connect Shiva Khori from Jammu, and National Highway also can be taken when you travel. The way to Shiv Khori is now well developed, and you should reach within 1-1.5 hrs.
Mythological History: Shivakhori was Lord Shiva’s Hideout. He granted a wish to one of the demon King Bhasmasura, that whatever he touches will turn into ashes. The demon king happy with the desire started killing all gods one after the other.
Afraid of his deeds, one of the gods provoked him to kill Lord Shiva himself and when Lord Siva came to knew about it ran from him and took a hide in these mountains.
How was Shivkhori discovered? Shivakhori was accidently found by Shepards when they came around for looking for their lost sheep, and they found this cave.
How to proceed when you reach Shivkhori?
Once you reach Sivakhori, You will have to hire a horseman and a Pandit or a guide who can tell you about the cave in detail. There is a lot of information that you will miss out if you dont have the guide with you. It will take you around 40 minutes to reach the cave. Then you will have to walk about 179 staircases, which would be a little difficult but worth it. There is even an official Shrine Board of ShivKhori which takes care of maintains the road and temple and has an official collection of pictures of inside the cave
Getting inside the cave is itself a thrill, Like Vaishno Devi, it has a narrow entrance, but if you have enough courage and faith passing through it is not a problem. You might feel little uneasy but stay strong. Once inside you will find the stairs to get straight up to Lord Shiva, Natural formation of shiv lingam.
Inside the cave, you will find natural impression on rocks which would resemble Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, river Ganga, Lord Ganesh, Nandigan, etc. Few things you should know about Siva Khodi Cave :
- It was a hideout place for Lord Shiva.
- It was guarded by SheshNaag of which you can see the impression on the rocks of his huge snakehead.
- The river in this area is called as Doodh Ganga as it turns white during the day of Maha Shivratri.
- There are two paths in the same cave. One is believed to lead to Swarga or heaven according to Mythological sayings, and the other one leads straight to Amarnath.
- It is one of the temples where gods are present in 100% natural formation.
Though Shivakhori is not a very popular pilgrimage place to visit, it has its importance and is a beautiful place to visit once in a lifetime.
Note: The descriptions provided here are out of my personal experience and information which the Pandit told us. So If you are looking for something more I would suggest to you, please get in touch with Shrine Board and their members.