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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Karni Mata Temple (a.k.a Rat temple) Bikaner, Rajasthan

If you're following me on social media you might have noticed that I had a short trip to Rajasthan recently, on invitation from the newly launched Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner. During this trip we visited several places of interest in and around Bikaner. My next few posts will be on them.

I learnt about this Karni Ma temple, also known as Rat Temple on our first day at Bikaner. The brief history goes as below, as told to us:

Karni Mata used to fulfill wishes of her disciples way back in 14th century, taking care of well being of villagers and particularly the poor, oppressed by others. She is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga and never denied any wish sought by people worshiping her. One day her sister's son drowned in the village lake and died. Hoping that Karni mata would bring him back to life, her sister rushed to Karni Mata with the dead son. Unfortunately Karni Mata couldn't bring the dead back to life, but she assured her sister that her dead son will be born as a rat. This logic extended into belief that every dead person in the village will be born as a rat and every dead rat will be reborn in someone's home as a human. The sum total of no. of rats and no of people in the village would thus remain constant.

On the net there're multiple variations of this story- use your discretion.

Because of this belief, villagers think one of the rat in the temple is indeed their family member who might have died recently. Thus rats are fed well and treated with lots of respect here.

Karni Ma ka Rat temple is located at a town called Deshnok, some 30kms from Bikaner. On the main road, a board invites you to this 'world famous' temple. It was built in 15th century by the Raja of Bikaner.

As we entered, first thing I spotted was this large Kadai
The outer view of Rat Temple below- looks at par with any other temple in the region and doesn't give a clue to the experience you will get once you step inside.


There are lots of intricate carvings on the main door
Notice rats in the carvings. It is said that dogs and cats in the vicinity never harm the rats. However wired protection could be found on the ceiling to prevent the birds from harming rats or taking away all the food meant for rats.
Interior looks like any other temple but the main difference being presence of rats everywhere.

Above left: Garbha gudi of Rat temple, notice lots of rodents on the floor.
Above right: As I kept my camera bag on the ground, one curious and brave rodent came close and sniffed it intensely in search of food.
Below: A walking corridor around the Garbha gudi- notice the rodents in the corner.

Below: A rat escaping into its hole as I moved the camera closer... Not the most hygienic place but in whatever close-up pics I clicked, rats appeared fairly clean enough.
The cooking area for rats





A musician was entertaining the visitors- I could see that he has been singing here for decades- take a close look at the keypads of the harmonium

A brave rat stood still for several minutes while I clicked some closeup pictures...
The lucky white rats:
The campus is believed to have very few - 4-5 white rats and sighting them is deemed auspicious and will make your wishes come true. I said I want India-US return ticket for Rs 10000, but unfortunately didn't spot any white rat for this to happen.

Silver compensation: If you kill or harm a rat, you're required to donate a silver rat of same size and weight.

The Museum:
There is a small museum next to the temple depicting life story of Karni ma. 

Photography inside the Karni ma temple costs Rs 30 per camera, video Rs 100. It was open early in the morning when we visited (like 6.30-7 AM). Toilet facilities are available in the campus and few petty shops sell rat food and other materials needed for temple visitors.

If you have someone in your group who are extremely scared of rats, visiting this temple will change their perception of rats or help reduce fear of rats. The rodents co-exist with humans here without harming each other. Though it might appear dirty and scary at present, you will appreciate yourself for going through the temple and experiencing a temple full of rodents.

With this I end year 2016. See you next year with more stories and photos. Thanks for your support.

Indian Bloggers

17 comments :

D.Nambiar said...

That's a very interesting travel story and the legend behind the temple is equally interesting. Thanks, Shrinidhi. Totally share-worthy. :)

Is that kadai at the entrance for offerings in the form of food, or something?

Too bad a white rat didn't give you darshan. :-|Hey, and I'm curious -- did you see any silver rats in there?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks DN. No I didn't spot any silver rats

The Kadai at the entrance was just lying there- I guess not in use. It was empty.

rupam sarma said...

Amazing , Thanks a lot for sharing.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rupam

Sapna said...

Beautiful pics and very informative write up with lots details.

Mridula said...

I am so so so scared of rats! I jump every time I see one. I wonder if I will be brave enough to visit the place ...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Mridula- Do visit- you've done more scarier adventures in life... walking along rats is nothing


@sapna: Thanks

Yogi Saraswat said...

It is very popular there . great write up . There is one more rat temple in Udaipur , Rajasthan but it is small and not so much popular .

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Yogi for the additional info

Indrani said...

First of all excellent captures of the rats! I am keen to take similar pics. The post is informative, thanks!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Indrani, best wishes

divsi said...

Had heard about this temple, but never knew the details. Thanks for sharing Shrini!

"India-US return ticket for Rs 10000, but unfortunately didn't spot any white rat for this to happen."

Hahaha :D

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Divysi- Thanks..

Nisha said...

The first photo is a killer shot! Don't tell me you tried it with your Nikon 55 mm prime. :)

Good information on the temple but I am still very scared of rats.

So sad, you didn't get your US ticket wish fulfilled. :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes, it was clicked with the 55mm prime, but cropped in post processing for closer look and increased light.

Best wishes for your trip

R Niranjan Das said...

Nice images from the unique temple.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Niranjan