Shiv Chander Sharma
There is a cave shrine situated on the outskirts of old Jammu city towards north-east on the circular Road on the right bank of river Tawi flowing in the centre of the city, the winter capital of J&K.
This cave shrine is called Jamwant cave while some also call it Peer Khoh cave and is the only shrine in the country related to Jamwant. This is also a famous Lord Shiva cave shrine which is visited by thousands of tourists besides locals every day.
The shrine has a natural Shiv Lingam in the cave as well an idol of king of bears Jamwant, colleague of simian king Sugriva of Ramayan fame who helped Lord Rama in defeating the demon king Ravana of Lanka and setting free his consort Sita. It is also believed that Jammu was named after this Jamwant cave shrine.
Thousands of people visit this shrine on Shivratri day and there is a Mela inside this shrine on that auspicious day. People start visiting this cave shrine also related to Lord Shiva in the wee hours on Mahashivratri and many have to wait in long queues for their turn. The cave has downward stairs leading to the sanctum sanctorum where there is natural Shivlingam. Preparations are in full swing to welcome the pilgrims on Mahashivratri Day, which falls on March 1, this year in the shape of white washing and painting besides other renovation, these days.
However, some believe that Jammu city was named after the legendary king Jabmulochan who had come to Jammu from Ayodhya in Kaliyuga and settled in the city later establishing his rule. But there are many who don’t give credence to this theory and believe that Jammu was named after Jamwant. Some other myths are there on naming of Jammu but those are not of much significance. May it be a belief or myth but it is true that Jammu is perhaps the only city in India which has the shrine of Jamwant which is also called Peer Khoh.
A large number of people including pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi visit this shrine. However, the rush is more on every Monday since this shrine is also related to Lord Shiva. It is also believed that Guru Gorakh Nath had also visited this place and thus it is the main seat of Guru Gorakh Nath in Jammu.
According to a regular visitor of the shrine, J.P Sharma it is believed that this cave became abode of Jamwant after victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
After the war Jamwant came towards Himalayas and settled in this cave on the bank of river Tawi for meditation. He also established a Shivlingam inside the cave, which is reached by climbing down stairs underground. He used to worship Lord Shiva in the cave for which it is also an ancient and famous Shiva shrine.
Jamwant is believed to possess a Mani (a huge precious sparkling stone). As per the myth, Lord Krishna came here in search of this Mani and challenged Jamwant out of the cave. A fight took place between the two warriors.
However, on realising that his opponent was none other than Lord Krishna, (re-incarnation of Lord Rama or Lord Vishnu), Jamwant handed over this Mani as well as his adopted daughter Jamwanti, whom he had found lying abandoned outside the cave on his arrival. Name of Jamwanti also appears as one of the queens of Lord Krishna in literature related to him.
It is believed that later, Jamwant left the cave to settle somewhere else in the Himalayas. However, the people of this area missed Jamwant and his daughter Jamwanti and used to call the place after him which later turned out to be Jama and them Jammu with the passage of time.
To enter this cave one has to descend some 15 steps and the is about 20 mtrs long and two mtrs wide. It has two chambers, one in the north has Shivlingam while the Southern chamber has the idol of Jamwant. This shrine is located on a hill slope.
Guru Gorakhnath also visited this cave shrine and it is one among his famous seats in the country besides some others, which are now in Pakistan.
Shiv Chander Sharma