I was visiting the Shiv Khori Cave and Yatra Jammu, which was possibly the most mystical place that I had ever heard of. Located in the Udahampur district, the route to the caves was dotted with unparalleled scenic beauty with mountains and waterfalls. I braced myself and listened intently to all the legendary beliefs about the place from my newest friend, philosopher and guide, Kabir.
He began by explaining it to me that khori means cave, so the ‘Shiv khori’ stood for the caves of Lord Shiva. People believed that the caves were unending and stretched as far as the Amarnath caves in Kashmir. The devotees were allowed only to a certain distance and were not allowed further. There was lack of oxygen further in the caves. I saw for myself when we reached how people with innate beliefs made their way into the caves while reciting the name of the God. There were plenty of other facts about the place that were presented to me. The cave was supposedly in the shape of the Damroo of Lord Shiva - wide at the ends and constricted in the middle. A snake like image inside the caves led people to believe that it was indicative of the Sheshnaag of Lord Shiva. The open part of the cave had a naturally formed Shiva-lingam with naturally forming water dripping over the lingam. It was also said that in the olden days, milk oozed on the lingam but now that it is Kalyug, the milk had turned into water.
Various formations in the Shiv Khori Cave and Yatra Jammu depicted the entire Shiva family restoring all Hindu beliefs in their deity and also in the magical formations in the caves. It is true that people see what they believe, so whether the caves were truly magical or not still remained a mystery to me but the visit was surely an eye-opener for me about all the mythological beliefs of the Hindus. The trip now needed a lighter turn as I needed the shopping and bazaars of Jammu to spoil me further for choices at buying all that I wanted to pick up for my friends and family.