Many of us would scream, shout go crazy at the sight of rats. Imagine a few thousands, 20,000 to be precise all in one place. Don’t get scared we are talking about this unique yet amusing place in Rajasthan, India – The Karni Mata Temple which is a very famous holy shrine dedicated to Goddess Karni, a reincarnation of Maa Durga. Nestled in the small town of Deshnoke, at 30 km from Bikaner in Rajasthan, the temple is a cozy home to over 20,000 black rats that live, eat and are worshiped here. Even protective wires have been put in place to safeguard the rats from being preyed upon. Known as ‘kabbas’ people from across the globe flock here to watch this amazing human-animal coexistence, some come for blessings others just to marvel at this uniqueness of the temple and its inhabitants, the rats. Surprisingly, the mice and humans live in great harmony day-in-day-out and visiting this place could devoid many of the fear of rats.

The Legend says…Legend has it, that in the early 14th century, once when the youngest son of the Goddess Karni had drowned, she has asked the God of Death -Yama to bring her son back to life. It is believed that at first Yama refused, but then Yama eventually relented and blessed that all of Karni’s male children and their descendants would be reincarnated as rats. Although traditional local folklore says that when a 20,000 strong army deserted a nearby battlefield and came running to Deshnoke, considering desertion as a sin, Goddess Karni did not punish them with death, instead turned them into rats and the Temple as a home for the rats and a promise to serve the goddess lifelong.

It is believed…There are a few white rats too, and it is believed that seeing one can be a blessing. Also having a mouse run across your feet is supposed to be auspicious. The rats here can be seen eating sweets offered to them and having milk from huge metal bowls. It is said that eating the food that has already been nibbled by the rats is holy. Similarly harming or killing a rat is a sin and if it happens, the sinner must replace the rat with a gold or silver one.

Le temple de Karni Mata (Deshnoke) (8423353617)

Rats can be seen in each and every inch of the temple, either eating, running around or idling somewhere in the corner, one can hear, touch, get walked over and even eat with the rats here. The temple dedicated to Goddess Karni, Maa Durga’s reincarnation, was built by the Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. Built with marble, a pair of beautiful silver doors adorn the entry to the main shrine of the Goddess which was donated the Maharaja Gaj Singh on his visit to the temple. The temple opens to the at 4 a.m in the morning. A festival is also celebrated twice a year dedicated to Goddess Karni along with a grand fair. First one from March–April during the Navratras and the second one September–October also during the Navratras.

Deshnok, Karni Mata Temple (6271597223)

Prasad and rats inside karni mata temple

How to Reach Karni Mata Temple:

This place is well connected by road with regular buses from Bikaner at 30 km from here & Jodhpur at 220 km. A better way to reach here would be via hired car or personal car that can be booked from any of the major cities in Rajasthan.

Featured Image Credit: amanderson2