Lord Shiva is worshipped in many forms. He is conceived in his unborn and invisible form as lingum. The "Shiv-Lingum" symbolizes the power behind the creation. It is believed that at the end of all creation, during the great deluge, all of the different aspects of God find a resting place in the Lingam.
Famous cave shrine of Shivkhori situated in District Reasi of J&K state depicts the natural formation of shivlingum. It is one of the most venerated cave shrines of Lord Shiva in the region. The Holy cave is more than 150 mts long & houses 4 feet high Svayambhu Lingum, which constantly baths in a milky lime fluid dripping from the ceiling. The cave is full of natural impression & images of various Hindu Deities & full of divine feelings. That is why Shivkhori is known as "Home of Gods". The route from Jammu to Shiv Khori is full of beautiful & picturesque mountains, waterfalls & lakes.
Khori means cave (Guffa) and thus Shiv Khori denotes Shiva's cave. The cave is a real wonder to be seen which according to the people is unending and believed to have led to Swami Amar Nath cave in Kashmir. As per assessment of local people, it measures nearly half a kilometer in length but Yatries are allowed to go only upto 130 meters. Rest part of the cave is still a mystery as no one could go further due to lack of oxygen. It is believed that some Sadhus who dared to go ahead never returned. The cave is in the shape of Lord Shiva's Damroo i.e. wide at the two ends while very congested at the center. The width of the cave is so less at certain place that a person can barely crawl through whereas at places it over a hundred feet wide and quite high too. There are many features, which can be observed in the cave; however, the best of them is the natural water dripping from the top to the Shivlingum.
The opening of cave is a mammonth hall of nearly 20 feet wide and 22 feet hight. It is nearly 80 feet in length. While entering into this mesmerizing hall one can see the natural depiction of gigantic snake like formation believe to be Sheshnag. Pigeons are also seen here like Amarnath cave. After crossing the narrow passage, yatry reaches in the main cave area where sanctum sanctorum is situated. The open part of cave has a four feet high naturally formed Shiv-lingam at the heart of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Just above the shivlingam a cow like formation is visible believe to be Kamdhenu and can be identified by her udders. The natural water dripping from nipples of udders on the Shivlingum symbolizes the eternity of the holy river Ganga. It is believed that milk used to ooze out during old days but turned into water in Kaliyuga.
To the left of Shivlingam Maa Parwati is sitting whose image can be identified by impression of her holy feet. Along the image of Maa Parwati, Gauri kund is also visible which is always full of holy water. Image of Kartikeya is also seen in left of Shivlingam. At nearly 2.5 feet above the Kartikeya, image of five headed Ganesha is clearly visible. To the right side of Shivlingam one can see Ramdarbar having images of Lord Ram, Lakhshman, Sita and Hanuman. The whole cave is abounds with a number of other natural images which have been described as images of 33 crores hindu deities and their vahanaas. The cave roof is etched with snake like formations, the water trickles through these in the cave. 'Three pronged lance' (Trishul) 'Oum' and 'Six Mouthed Sheshnaga' (Shkshthamukhi Sheshnag) are seen on the roof of the cave. The main part of cave roof has round cutting mark signifying construction of cave by Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Vishnu. In the second half of the main chamber Mahakali & Maha Sarswati is present. The potsherd of Mahakali is always full of holy water, which devotees use to sprinkle on themselves. Little above from the Mahakali, Panch- Pandava are present in natural rock form (pindies). Infront of the Mahakali on other wall of cave, natural rock image of Lord Shiva lieing down on floor is visible. A holy foot of Maa Kali is also visible on body of lord shiva. The whole environment inside the cave is so mesmerizing that a devotee feel himself in abode of god's place and whole nature appears turned spiritual.
The Shiv Khori Shrine is situated amidst lush green mountains at 3.5 Kms tracking distance from Ransoo, the base camp of Holy Shrine of Shiv Khori. Ransoo (Tehsil Reasi) is situated at a distance of 80 Kms from Katra (the base camp of Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi) & 110 Kms from Jammu. Buses and light vehicles go upto Ransoo.
The pilgrims coming to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi can easily club their tour with Shivkhori and can make his Darshan complete by paying obesceince to both Shiva and Shakti. The light Vehicle are available for Ransoo at Katra and Jammu on the rates duly approved by the Tourism Department of Jammu & Kashmir State. Another route to the Shiv Khori Shrine is available from Jammu via Akhnoor-Bhambla . The village Ransoo is at a distance of 6 KMS from the Reasi-Rajouri Road which branches off from the spot known as Kanda Morh.
There is no well-researched history about the Discovery of this Historic Shiva Cave and all history is based on various myths. According to the most important myth, the Shiv Khori cave is believed to be discovered by a Muslim Shepherd, who in search of his missing Goats and by chance reached inside the cave. After reaching there he was very much startled to see a number of Saints inside the cave, who were impressed by Lord Shivas divine power. The astonished shepherd also started Pooja there. Later on, after coming out from the cave, the shepherd disclosed this to a number of other people despite of his promise to 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 myths 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.
The Bhasmasur legend
A number of legends have propounded about the discovery of this holy cave. One of the most important legends among them is related to famous demon Bhashmasur. Bhashmasur after a long meditation of Lord Shiva obtained blessing to end the life of any one by keeping his had on his head. After obtaining it, the said devil tried to end the Lord Shiva. On seeing the evil design of the demon, the Lord Shiva ran alongwith Maa Parwati and Nandi cow to save himself from the power of the demon. While running when Bhashmasur was far behind lord Shiva stopped at a place near present Shivkhori for rest. But the demon reached there and started fighting with lord Shiva. A dreadful battle took place ther. Due to this famous battle that place was named as Ransoo (Ran= battle, Soo= Ground) means battle ground. Ransoo is now base camp for Shivkhori yatra. But, to keep dignity of his own blessings the Lord Shiva decided not to kill Bhashmasur and proceeded ahead. Then while running Lord Shiva threw his Trishul, which created the famous Shivkhori cave. Lord Shiva entered in this cave and gone into meditation. After this, Lord Vishnu in the guise of Parvati 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 Parvati, the said demon took his hand at his head and with his own power, he was himself destroyed. After destruction of demon lord Vishnu alongwith other deities went inside the cave with the help of Kamdhenu . As per the legend 33 crores deities exist in this cave in shape of pindies.
The Amarkatha Legend
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 shepherded. He was infact 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 handled. 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.