In Reasi district, there are many shrines such as Mata Vaishno Devi, Merhada Mata, Baba Dhansar, Siad Baba. Shiv Khori is one of them located in Ransoo a village in the Pouni block in Reasi district, which attracts lakhs of devotees annually. Shiv Khori is situated in between the hillocks about 140 km north of Jammu, 120 km from Udhampur and 80 km from Katra. Buses and light vehicles go up to Ransoo, the base camp of pilgrimage. People have to traverse about 3 km on foot on a track recently constructed by the Shiv Khori Shrine Board, Ransoo duly headed by the District Development Commissioner, Udhampur as chairman and Sub Divisional Magistrate, Reasi as Member Secretary.
Khori means cave (Guffa) and Shiv Khori thus denotes Shiva's cave. This natural cave is about 200 metres long, one metre wide and two to three metres high and contains a self made lingam, which according to the people is unending. The first entrance of the cave is so wide that 300 devotees can be accommodated at a time. Its cavern is spacious to accommodate large number of people. The inner chamber of the cave is smaller.
The passage from outer to the inner chamber is low and small, at one spot it divides itself into two parts. One of these is believed to have led to Kashmir where Swami Amarnath[disambiguation needed] cave is located. It is now closed as some sadhus who dared to go ahead never returned. To reach the sanctum sanctorum, one has to stoop low, crawl or adjust his body sideward. Inside a naturally created image of Lord Shiva, about 4 metres high, is visible. The cave abounds with a number of other natural objects having resemblance with Goddess Parvati, Ganesha and Nandigan. The cave roof is etched with snake formations, the water trickles through these on Shiva Lingam. Pigeons are also seen here like Swami Amar Nath cave which presents good omens for pilgrimages.
A number of legends have propounded about the discovery of this holy cave. One of the most important legends among them is that a demon named Bhasmasur after a long meditation of Lord Shiva obtained blessing to end the life of any one with that blessing. After obtaining it, the said devil tried to end the Lord Shiva-On seeing the evil design of the demon, the Lord Shiva run to save himself from the power of the demon and entered in this cave which is presently known as Shiv Khori. After this, Lord Vishnu in the guise of Mohini came forward and asked the demon to dance with her according to her tune. As and when the demon started dancing as per the actions of Mohini, the said demon took his hand at his head and with his own power, he was himself destroyed. As per the legend, 330 million deities exist in this cave in shape of pindis and natural milky water is falling on them from the top of the cave. In this cave there is also a cave which directly go to amarnathji according to a saint who lived there named as bababa ramesgirigi
As per the other legend regarding discovery of this cave is that the historic Shiv Khori cave is believed to be discovered by a Muslim shepherd. He was in fact in search of his missing goat and went by chance inside the cave to find the same. However he was very much startled to see a number of saints inside the cave, who were impressed by Lord Shiva's divine power and he too started pooja there. Later on the shepherd disclosed this to a number of other people in spite of his promise made with the saints not to disclose about them or this cave. It is said that the shepherd after narrating it to other people had died. According to the legends it is believed that a number of famous saints have been closely associated with this cave, who had spent decades inside this cave for spiritual attainment and meditation.
About 40 to 50-year ago, only a few people knew about the Shiv Khori shrine but it has gained much popularity during decades. In earlier times the number of yatries was just in thousands but after the constitution of Shiv Khori Shrine Board during December 2003, the number of devotees has superseded previous records as the number of devotees in year 2005 crossed 300,000. This year[when?] it is expected to exceed 500,000 tourists. Some 30 percent of devotees reach the shrine from within the state and 70 percent from different states of the country.
A 3-day Shiv Khori mela takes places annually on Maha Shivratri and thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the state and outside visit this cave shrine to seek blessings of Lord Shiva. Maha Shivratri festival is usually held in the month of February or during first week of March every year. Keeping in view the increasing rush of pilgrims to the holy cave shrine, the Shiv Khori Shrine Board has taken up a number of steps to develop this spot in a bid to provide more and more facilities to the devotees, like construction of Shrine Guest House at a cost of Rs. 1.9 million at village Ransoo, the base camp of yatra, Reception Centre and Pony shed at an estimated cost of Rs. 8 million, tile work of entire 3-km long track is nearing completion, plantation of ornamental and medicinal plants on track and development of parks etc. Other arrangements like electrification of the cave with modern techniques, provision of oxygen and electric generators, exhaust fans, construction of shelter sheds for yatris with toilet facilities near the cave site, 15 shelter sheds en route Ransoo to cave shrine, railing from the base camp to cave, additional facility of 15,000/EfnrKing water reservoir, proper sanitation, provision of 25 KV capacity electric transformer, clock room, starting of permanent bus services from Katra, Udhampur and Jammu, Police post and Dispensary and a STD PCO are under active consideration of the Shiv Khori Shrine Development Board.
To meet the ever growing rush of devotees in having smooth darshans of the Lord Shiva, an exit tunnel has been constructed by the shri Shivkhori Shrine Board this year in February.
Recently, the management and development of the Shiv Khori has been taken over by Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board who is looking after VaishnoDevi pilgrimage.
Important places near Shivkhori
- Baba Dhansar
- Bhimgarh Fort
- kalika Temple
- Siar Baba
- Official Website of Shri Shivkhori Shrine Board
- Shiv Khori Cave Shrine Information website
- Shiv Khori Cave - thedivineindia.com