Karni Mata Temple (करणी माता मंदिर) is a famous Hindu Temple which is dedicated to one of the faces of Goddess Durga i.e Goddess Karni. It is located at Deshnoke which is 30 km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan, India. It is famously known as the Temple of Rats.
The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 Black Rats that live in the temple. These holy rats are respectively called "KAABA" by the local people, and many people from the country and around the world travel great distances to pay their respects to the Goddess.
I myself belong to the same village Deshnoke, so I visit this Temple on a regular basis when I am there.
The Goddess Karni Mata was a part of the "Charan" clan in her lifetime. She is believed to live 150 years. The followers of the Karni Mata believes that once they die, they will be reincarnated as a rat and subsequently when a rat dies, it will be reincarnated as a human again and so the cycle continues. This belief exists because of the blessing which Goddess Karni took from Yamraj, the Life Taker.
The Charan People believes that the Rats of the Karni Mata Temple are their ancestors and they worship these holy rodents.
The hard to digest fact of this place was that even during the worst of the plague, the town of Deshnoke in Rajasthan was not affected at all.
An interesting fact about the Rats of the Temple which came to know when I visited that these rats never leave the temple even though they are free to do so. That is very strange when it comes to rats to roam around in defined area although they are not tamed.
Apart from thousands of Rats in the temple, there are a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy. It is considered very lucky to spot a white rat inside the Temple premises and I being always lucky to see one.
They are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and her four sons. Having a glance of a white rat is a special blessing. Visitors put in extensive efforts to bring them forth by offering "Prasad", a sweet holy food. Sometimes it becomes difficult to spot one only because of hoards of tourists and pilgrims who keeps on chasing after them to catch a glimpse.
Didn't I told you that you have to enter the Temple premises barefoot- I mean naked feet between the Rats? Can you imagine it now??
Yes! One must be prepared to walk through a lot of Rat poo, Rat food, dirt and I hope that you don't have a Rat phobia because there are high probabilities that you will have a rat run over your toes. But believe me that this would be your best adventurous travel ever done.
TIPS TO WALK INSIDE THE TEMPLE:
Be very cautious while walking inside the Temple. Don't let your feet kill any Rat or you may be cursed. I advise the visitors to walk without moving one's feet in the air. In fact, crawl your legs which will reduce the accident of Rats being killed or injured.
NOTE: If one of them is killed, it is said to be replaced with one made of solid silver.
But you know what? you couldn't afford to miss out this attraction for the world. The Karni Mata Rat Temple was one of the most unique experiences one will ever have in his lifetime.
Devotees perform the morning Aarti at Karni Mata Temple:
Whether it is summer or the chilling winters, the devotees of the Goddess Karni Mata never fails to skip the morning aarti which happens early in the morning at 4.00 a.m. The temple is thrown open to the public early in the morning.
"Charan" priests perform the Aarti and offer Bhog (special food) in worship. The devotees of Goddess Karni make their offerings to the rats, which roam about the temple in large numbers and are considered very auspicious. There are two kinds of offerings made: the 'Dwar-bhent' is attributed to the priests and the workers, while the 'Kalash-bhent' is utilised for the temple maintenance and development.
Nearest Railway station is Deshnoke or Bikaner Railway Station which is well connected by Cities like Mumbai & Delhi etc.
Deshnoke is located 30 kms from Bikaner
Public Buses leave regularly from Bikaner between 20-50 Rs
One can also hire a Taxi from Bikaner at a cost of Rs. 800-1000 (Depending on your bargaining skills and ofcourse the driver)