Shivkhori is a cave-shrine to Lord Shiva in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Literally, Shivkhori means ‘Shiva’s Cave’. This natural cave is about 200 meters long and about 2 meters high. Inside, a naturally formed stalagmite is worshipped as a lingam, the manifest representation of Lord Shiva.
An interesting legend surrounds Shivkhori. Mythology holds that the demon Bhasmasura propitiated Lord Shiva with deep penance and obtained a boon that allowed him to destroy anyone by merely placing his hand on their heads. Bhasmasura’s intent was to kill Lord Shiva in the same way. Sensing his enemy’s motives, Shiva escaped and hid in this narrow cave where the demon could not enter. Lord Vishnu intervened. Assuming the form of Mohini, the divine enchantress, he lured the demon away and invited him to dance with her. Smitten, Bhasmasura followed her. Mohini began to perform complicated dance steps, each of which the demon attempted to replicate. When he was deeply engrossed in trying to impress Mohini, she placed her hand on her head. Bhasmasura followed suit and turned himself into ash.
The popularity of this mountain shrine has increased in the last few decades. A three-day Shivkhori Mela takes place every year on Mahashivaratri. Thousands of pilgrims arrive to participate in the festivities and pay homage to Lord Shiva. Over 70% of visitors are from outside the state.
The Shivkhori Mela also sees the participation of people from many faiths.