Cradled in the lap of the Trikuta peaks, in the proximity of the river Chenab, lies the mystic area of Reasi with the sacred caves and temples of Lord Shiva. Reasi is famous for its striking natural beauty and religious beliefs. Deep inside this land, one can find many famous temples, caves which make an impact on the visitor, who is left with a sense of wonder about the creation of God, enhanced by the effort of man. Reasi district has many historical places that have been beautifully and tastefully crafted and have ever since remained the talk of UT and country. There are several caves and temples in the district which are dedicated to Lord Shiva and hold importance during the religious Festival “Maha Shivratri”. Lord Shiva is the Supreme form of the Trinity in oneness. Lord Shiva is the most popular Hindu God. He bestows numerous boons upon his devotees. Some of the Caves and temples associated with Lord Shiva present in the district are :
Salal Shiv Cave
Salal Shiv Cave is an ancient Lord Shiva cave which was discovered in 2012 by some local youths on the high mountain near Thanpal in Salal area of district Reasi.
The area is tough terrain and nearly 2 hours on foot journey along Surman Khad. On one side there is Salal dam and on the other at high mountain this cave.The locals said that this cave was inaccessible due to its location but as they used to hear some kind of sounds from that area, nobody ever dared to go that side. A daring youth of the area armed with gun and assisted by 2-3 more youth, managed to reach up to the cave using ropes and his mountaineering skills. He saw a Shiva Lingam, stone idols of Shiva family, a statue of Saint and Hanuman. The cave appears to be almost equal to that of Shiv Khori. After this, the youth returned and told this matter to the whole village. The next day, the village Sarpanch and some locals started digging track on the rocky mountain and with in few days they managed to reach there and saw the cave. They saw pindis and a big Shiva Lingam. Pilgrims who visited this cave were astonished to see such a wonderful cave. There are two different routes one via Talwara-Siar Baba and Thanpal using boat over Salal dam and another one via Reasi-Salal and yet another one via Bidda-Dhayangarh-dam site.
Out of the many holy places in district Reasi, there exists a famous religious place namely Baba Dhansar in Karua Village that has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva .Karua village is situated approximately 10km away from Reasi and 14 km from Katra. The village is known for its temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva and karua Jheel. From village, one has to step downhill in around 100 steps. The entire walk is dotted with a number of waterfalls that ultimately join the Banganga River. Near this rivulet, is a naturally formed Shivalingam inside a cave on top of which milky water droplets fall continuously throughout the year. As per Locals belief, when Lord Shiva went to the Amarnath cave to tell Parvati the story of his immortality, he left his serpent king, Sheshnag at Anantnag . Shesh Nag came in the human form as Vasudev. One of the sons of Vasudev was Dhansar who was a saintly person.
As the local belief goes, in the ancient times there was a demon that lived near Karua Jheel and committed atrocities on the people of village Karua. The villagers sought help of Baba Dhansar to get rid of the Demon. It is believed that Baba Dhansar prayed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva arrived and helped in killing the Demon. The temple of Baba Dhansar and a cave of Lord Shiva near Karua Jheel has become a place of worship.
Kansi Patta (Gupt Kashi)
It is situated 10kms away from Reasi. The village is known for its temple dedicated to the god Shiva . The ancient name of the village is Gupt Kashi but as the time passed the name changed from Gupt Kashi to Kansi Patta.Its religious importance is considered similar to that of Kashi of Varanasi , believed to be the most pious of all Hindu pilgrimage places.The temple is located on the way to the world famous Shiva Shrine Shiv Khori and close to famous waterfall of Siar Baba. It has the scenic backdrop of river Chenab and with darshan of Lord Shiva and other deities in temple , one gets very good positive vibration and peace of mind.The story behing the place goes like this. Once there was a devil. He worshipped and prayed Lord Brahma (the creator) and gained the blessings of Brahma. The demon performed penance to Lord Brahma and after obtaining boons harassed the virtuous and the learned .The blessing was made according to the devil wish. According to the wish,he asked Brahma to bless him with immortality along with the wish that he will be killed only in Kashi. with his long term worship, Brahma was pleased and blessed him according to his wish. He became very powerful and strong. The devil then ran away from kashi and settled in a village nearby Reasi which was called GUPT KASHI at that time. But he was unaware of the original name of the village. He was thinking that now no one will kill him in Reasi as he was blessed to be killed only in Shiv Bhoomi “KASHI”.He started his evil by troubling locals and the Rishis-Munis of Kashi patta and Reasi. He troubled and destroyed many holy places and started disturbing normal life of locals. No one could stop him. He gathered army and continued his evil deeds. The locals and Rishis found it difficult to tackle him because he became very powerful after Brahma blessing. The saints assembled and evoked LORD SHIVA with their woes and told him the harm caused by the devil. Lord Shiva asked the devil to stop his blatant acts or face death. The devil in return said that he was blessed to be killed only in “KASHI”not in any other place. Lord Shiva said you don’t know that real name of the place is “GUPT KASHI” and he was then killed by “SHIVA”.The priest also said that there is another story of temple which is linked to General Zorawar Singh. One night while sleeping, General Zorawar Singh saw Lord Shiva in his dream who told him to come to Gupt Kashi and build a temple there .General Zorawar Singh then came to Gupt Kashi and build Lord Shiva temple there . The priest also said that the temple has a unique combination of five things which we rarely find together at one place viz banyan tree, peepal tree ,Shiv temple ,cremation ground and pious river Chenab. Locals come in large number to take holy dip here on Somvati Amavasya , Shiv Ratri , Baisakhi and others religious days. Locals also perform last rites of their loved ones at this place.
Nandi Parbat Mahadev Cave
This ancient Lord Shiva cave was discovered recently on the high mountain near Shivkhori (Ransoo).The area is tough terrain and nearly one hour foot journey from Bhamblya village near Kanda. The villagers with their efforts managed to make track up to the cave which is on the steep rocky mountain. The locals said that this cave was inaccessible due to its location. A local man namely Swarn Singh whose goats got missing and in search of them the man along with some other locals found this cave and goats near this cave. He saw a Shiva Lingam, stone idols of Shiva family, Nag Devta, Kali Mata idol and other idols. The cave appears to be almost equal to that of Shiv Khori.The pilgrims visiting this place were astonished to see such a wonderful cave. This new cave is 3 kms away from Ransoo base camp of Shiv khori. The locals also named this cave as Nandi Parvat Mahadev Gufa as the mountain on which cave was discovered looks like Nandi.
Mahadev Aap Shambu Temple Reasi
Mahadev Mandir is a well known religious place in district Reasi and is revered by all the followers. The temple is said to be more than 300 yrs old. The present structure has been built in present form by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
As per the local Legend, there was a herdsman grazing cows nearby this temple. When cows reached a particular point , milk began to dribble automatically through their udders. This was very surprising but herdsman never noticed it. When cows returned to their owners in the evening, many cows did not drip a single dripped and many others dropped a tiny quantity of milk. Villagers and landlords began to blame herdsman for this but he was innocent in this matter. Now shepherd was vigilant while grazing cows. One day he noticed that milk was pouring on a particular spot from cow’s Udders. Herdsman told the fact to villagers. Anxious villagers watched it the next day and decided to dig the spot. On an auspicious day and moment, astonished villagers prayed and started digging the spot. After digging villagers saw divine Shiv Linga and its Jalhari. Seeing this they began to dance and prayed Lord Mahadev and named this area as Mahadev. Later on a temple was build there and named as Mahadev Mandir Reasi. As per local belief, all this happened on the eve of Baisakhi and from that time Baisakhi mela is organized in the temple premises with religious fervor.
Notwithstanding the blessings of natural beauty, various scenic areas of this hilly region are still missing on tourist map of Jammu and Kashmir due to more than a decade long phase of militancy and lackluster approach of Government machinery at the helm of affairs. Nonetheless, Religious tourism too plays an important role in the economic development of an area and one can spot number of towering religious sites here in Reasi apart from scenery and nature. A number of places prevail in the Reasi that provides brilliant opportunities to explore the natural beauty, history and spirituality. Needless to say, Reasi is a Land of Shiva Caves and temples and you all are welcome on this “HOME OF GODS”.