Shiv Khori, Katra lies in Jammu’s Reasi district in India and is a popular destination for devotees and tourists alike. It is famed for the shrine of Lord Shiva, which is inside a cave believed to be his abode. Khori literally means cave and Shiv Khori translates to the cave of Lord Shiva. It is said that this is the cave Lord Shiva built with his trident to seek refuge along with his family from the demon Bhasmasura. This shrine is in Ransoo village and Shiv Khori is situated amid a hillock. The natural cave is 140 km (86.9 mi) away from Jammu and 80 km (49.7 mi) from Katra. To get to Shiv Khori, travelers have to walk nearly 3 km (1.9 mi) from the base camp at Ransoo. This popular pilgrimage spot lures innumerable devotees throughout the year. Getting to Shiv Khori, Katra can be a tiring journey, but the scenic landscapes and serenity that permeate the atmosphere make the otherwise daunting journey a memorable one. Here is a guide to Shiv Khori, Katra
Things to do/highlights
Shiv Khori, Katra, is also said to be the abode of Lord Shiva. This is a naturally formed cave that houses a self-made lingam or Shiv-Ling and is seemingly unending. The cave’s mouth is quite wide and is capable of accommodating nearly 300 people! Here are some more highlights about Shiv Khori, Katra:
The 4 feet (1.2 meters) high lingam inside the Sanctum Sanctorum of this natural cave is apparently unending as per people.
Shaped like a two-headed drum
The cave resembles a damru or the two-headed drum, which is held by Lord Shiva.
Natural milky water drops from the cave
Inside the cave you find natural milky water, which is symbolic of the River Ganga, dripping from the top onto the Shiv-Ling or lingam. This is symbolic of the holy river’s eternity.
The cave has a massive hall that stretches 80 feet (24.4 meters) and is 22 feet (6.7 meters) high. It is 20 feet (6 meters) wide and has a natural formation that resembles Sheshnag, the mythical five-headed serpent in Indian mythology. This is also symbolic for Hindus as Lord Shiva has a snake wrapped around his neck.
Above the Shiv-Ling you can espy a cow-like formation that is reminiscent of Kamadhenu, said to be the wish-fulfilling cow in Indian mythology. You can also see formations that resemble udders and it is from these that the milky water drips.
Images of Gods and Goddesses
You can also espy the feet impression of Goddess Parwati, Lord Shiva’s wife. This is to the lingam’s right. His son Kartikeya’s image is naturally formed to the lingam’s left. Rising above Kartikeya’s image is that of Lord Shiva’s other son – Lord Ganesha in a five-headed form. The cave is replete with images of other Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu Pantheon, including the Ramdarbar.
Auspicious symbols inside the cave - Trishul and Om
Inside the cave’s roof, you can also see the Trishul, which is Lord Shiva’s three-pronged lance. You can also see the Om symbol on the roof.
When to visit?
The best time to visit is from October to April as the temperature is conducive to exploring the area and trekking to the cave. If you want to avoid crowds do not visit in February during Mahashivratri. Visit early in the morning prior to 8am to avoid the rush.
The Shiv Khori or Mahashivratri festival is held every year in February and is a three-day-long affair. This is an auspicious time and if you want to experience a charged atmosphere make sure you visit during the festival.
How should I dress?
Dress conservatively and warmly so that you are comfortable during the trip.
Carry a first aid kit, snacks, and water for your journey as it can be tiring if you are trekking to the shrine.
People might try to lure you for palanquin and pony rides to the shrine suggesting a lower price. However, the prices are fixed for these and there is no point getting lured as they may change the rate once you have boarded the pony or palanquin.
If you are above a certain weight you may be refused a palanquin ride as the journey to the shrine from Ransoo is treacherous and long. Please remember that the passage in the cave is narrow so an obese person may face difficulty.
How to get there
Once you get to Ransoo base camp you can trek to the revered shrine. Take a palanquin or pony ride up to the shrine if you don’t wish to walk. The trek from the base camp to Shiv Khori cave usually takes 90 minutes and the pony ride takes 30 minutes. The price for these is fixed and you can’t bargain. Getting to Ransoo is quite easy and features a scenic journey. Here is how to reach Shiv Khori from Ransoo:
Take the train
You can reach Jammu Railway Station or Udhampur by train and then drive down from here to Ransoo.
Take the helicopter
You can take a helicopter from Katra to the helipad at the Shiv Khori shrine. The journey is approximately 20 minutes and the one-way fare would be around 4000 INR (56 USD).
Take a flight
You can take a flight to Jammu from your location. Jammu Airport is the closest to Shiv Khori and then you will need to drive down to Ransoo from here.
You can take the Reasi-Rajouri Road to get to Ransoo and this route is well connected with Jammu, Udhampur, and Katra. You can take a bus from any of the big cities of North India to either Jammu or Katra. Post this you need to switch to a cab or a different bus to get to Ransoo base camp.
The J&K Tourism Development Corporation also has vans, tourist cabs, and temp travelers that ply from Jammu/Katra to Shiv Khori.
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Shiv Khori, Katra information
Shiv Khori, Katra
Opening hours: Summer: 5am - 7pm (daily); Winter: 6am - 6pm (daily);
Official website: Shiv Khori Katra
Department of tourism: JK Tourism
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