Explore the sacred Shiva Cave, Shiv Khori in Jammu.
Our next trip was a long one. We said goodbye to the Ashram, and then we were on our way to the Shiv Khori cave. Time for a final photo before leaving. What a wonderful way to remember so many rich experiences and new friends.
Our road took us up into the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the north west of India, a region of breath taking beauty; mountainous and verdant. From the ashram in Himachal Pradesh we traveled west into the northern tip of the state of Punjab, then further north into Jammu, a beautiful region bordering the Kashmir Valley and Pakistan.
Jammu is a city of temples, we stopped there for lunch with devotees of Swamiji who had heard he would be in town. A hotel ballroom bedecked with flowers greeted us, garlands were given, another amazing banquet, then up into the hills we drove until well after dark.
The road was windy and, the last ten kilometers, was mainly potholes, also saw many areas where there had been landslides owing to the rain. With traffic going both ways on a road that was barely one lane wide, it was a challenge to get up to the top. The drivers were totally amazing, and the logistics for moving two oncoming buses past each other – how they did it I still don’t know, reminded me of how in Harry Potter the buses get skinny to go through cracks in the traffic! I think prayer helped too.
I have noticed in the past that effort is required to reach really holy places, and that discomfort and some level of releasing is required. Many members of our group experienced motion sickness, and some had caught a vomiting bug, so as you can imagine it was with great relief that the hotel was reached after a good 12 hours of travel. Parvati was amazing, giving healing after healing and encouraging people all the way through that winding traverse.
We had dinner around 9.30pm and then proceeded out of the hotel for the 3.5 kilometer walk uphill to the Shiva cave, in which Swamiji had meditated for 14 years. Miraculously, nearly every person felt recovered and energized, and went on the midnight pilgrimage to the Shiv Khori cave, which just happened to be on a full moon.
This cave used to be a cavernous space that could fit 1,000 people and which had 4 other large chambers. It had long been home to solitary sages through centuries of prayer and meditation. It was occupied by Swamiji in the mid 1900’s for a period of 14 years. A very narrow entryway required crawling into the space one by one, and more recently an exit had been drilled into the rock, giving a flat and spacious journey back out to the world, and as events transpired, that ended up being our way into the cave as well. This cave was unknown mid last century. Now it has become a pilgrim place, and the pathway up to the cave is wide and in excellent condition, paved all the way, much better than the road up to it!
Several of us chose to ride horses up to the cave, and it was entertaining seeing 15 pilgrims in Punjabi suits atop mountain horses, crossing bridges and climbing a switchback roadway to the mouth of the cave. After a few dozen steps we were ready for the gentle descent into the cave itself, which now houses a Shiva lingam and is a working temple. The priests were on hand and later we experienced a short puja. People had amazing experiences in the cave, each one different and unique. We arrived at the cave around 11.30 PM and after a little chanting, we were meditating until around 2am. No tourists, just an army escort (devotees of Swamiji) who ensured that we were not bothered by monkeys, human or wild life. In this wild place we felt safe and protected. The energy in the cave was rich and very refined, light and penetrating. Prior to going into the cave (after dismounting from the rather keen horse who would have liked to gallop up the hill…) I could feel my heart chakra expanding and a new level of activation occurring. Om Namah Shivaya!
Our walk back down the hill after wards took about 90 minutes, and it was with joy and relief we hit our beds around 3.30am in the morning, to be up for breakfast at 5am for a 6am departure. Despite the lack of sleep, all 80 members of our party were in good spirits, and our journey back down the mountain was uneventful. We chanted mantras most of the way and time flew by.
We arrived at Jammu airport in good time for our flights. Swamiji and several of the local devotees accompanied us to the airport and waved us off, like a new extended family having formed many bonds of friendship in our short but intensive time together. Some of our party was heading for rest, integration and pampering in Delhi, some were going to visit Sri Sakthi Amma at Peedam and some were returning home or to other places. A group of us traveled to Haridwar, a sacred temple town on the banks of the Ganga River, where the magical mystery tour continued.
At the conclusion of our time with Swamiji, I feel uplifted and clear, and very grateful to all the people who made our journey so wonderful. I would like to thank Swamiji who personally supervised every detail of our journey and made every pilgrim feel loved and welcomed. Also, a big thank you to all the devotees who must have been working for months to have all the driving, cooking, accommodation, flowers, and a thousand other things dealt with in exceptional style. Special thanks to Teji, with her husband Amit who liaised with Shanti Mission ensuring clear communication and ease and grace all round. And a big thank you to Hanumani for all the lovely photos and to Adi Shakti who organized from our end.
The Himalayas are remarkable, there is something about them that is deeply uplifting, the scale of them changes things inside our minds and puts us in touch with something deeper. I encourage you to visit one day, and to feel for yourself the richness of the spiritual energy and the power of all the prayer and practices carried out by countless monks and rishis, priests, sadhus and various schools of philosophy over millennia. Until next time, Holy Himalayas, Swamiji and friends, it is not good bye, it is “see you later”.
(Shiva and Shakti Durga at the banquet in Jammu on the way to Shiv Khori cave)
Om Shanti, Shakti Durga
To join Shakti Durga on a spiritual adventure, click here to find out where she is going next.