Karni Mata Temple - Rats- Rats and a Goddess

Attributes: Unusual Travel Places in India, Religious

What’s This:

Of all the temples that we have visited in India, the temple of Karni Mata in Bikaner, Rajasthan is by far the strangest. You could almost call it bizarre. Rajasthan itself is one of the most colorful states in India and offers many unique sights to the tourist but the temple of Karni Mata is unique.

Legend has it that Laxman, Karni Mata‘s stepson (or the son of one of her storytellers), drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar in Kolayat Tehsilwhile he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats

The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 Black Rats that live, and are revered in, the temple.  If one of the rats is killed, it must be replaced with one made of solid gold. Eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is considered to be a “high honor”.

What to do there:

The temple was completed in its current form in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.

In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.

The temple was further enhanced by Kundanlal Verma of Hyderabad-based Karni Jewelers in 1999. The silver gates to the temple and the marble carvings were also donated by him.

Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy. They are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and her four sons. Sighting them is a special blessing and visitors put in extensive efforts to bring them forth, offering  prasad a sweet holy food.

Karni Mata Fair is held twice a year at Deshnok:

The first and larger fair is held in March-April during the Navratras from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi.

The second fair is held in September-October, also during the Navratras, from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi.

During Navrati, thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.

How to Reach:

By Road: Karni Mata Temple is well connected by roads. It is 343 km from Jaipur, 220 km from Jodhpur and 360 km from Jaisalmer. Local and inter-state bus services via Bikaner.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Bikaner about 30 km away. It is well connected to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Agra, Jaipur, Allahabad, etc. The luxurious ‘Palace on wheels’ also covers Bikaner in its eight-day tour of Rajasthan.

By Air: The nearest airport is at Jodhpur 220 km away.

Tags: Unusal Travel Places in India, Religious places in India

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