J&K has many religious places for pilgrimage. The state at one time was the main centre of Shaivism sadhana and you get to see innumerable Shiva temple spread all around J&K. We know about Amarnath caves, what many are not aware of is the Shivkhori caves in Raesi district. 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. The caves are naturally formed where you see naturally formed deities like Shiva, Parvati, Kamdhenu, Trishul and so many. Though Shivkhori is not a very popular pilgrimage place to visit but it has its own importance. And a visit to the place takes our faith to another level.
The walk from the moment you enter the cave and reach the inner sanctum is sheer thrill. It is nothing short of a divine heavenly experience filled with adventure at every step. The pathway is too narrow at places and even low. You need to stoop low, crawl or bend sideways to move ahead. They have lights placed yet it is quite low and at many points it’s almost dark. Oxygen level also gets low as you enter deep into the cave. All factors together makes things bit suffocating inside. The cave is supposed to be protected by Naagraj Vasuki. Some say its protected by Sheshnaag. But one interesting thing to see is the walls of the cave. It looks exactly like a snake skin!
River Doodh Ganga flows at this point and water of this river trickles inside the cave. When you reach the inner sanctum you see a swayambhu shivling, interestingly just above it you see water from river Doodh Ganga dropping over this shivlng nonstop. Here you will find natural impression on rocks which would resemble not just Lord Shiva but also Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesh, Nandi, Kamdhenu, Sudarshan Chakra etc. It’s a place where all Gods are present in their natural form. In this cave there’s another cave which directly goes to Amarnathji according to a saint who lived there named as Baba Ramesh Giri. It is now closed as some sadhus who dared to go ahead never returned.
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. Bhasmasur wanted to kill Lord Shiva to test the boon. So Lord Shiva fought with him but could not kill Bhasmasur. Fearing his wrath Lord Shiva threw his Trishul that made indents in the earth’s crust creating the now famous Shivakhori (Khori means Cave) 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 killed the asur through trick. 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.