Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

Bikaner district, Rajasthan

Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

Hindu temple, 31 km from Bikaner

should-see attraction

Opening hours: 4:00am-10:00pm

Address: Deshnok, Bikaner district, Rajasthan

Ticket price: Free, camera/video ₹30/50

Visit duration: People typically spend 30 to 45 minutes here

Karni Mata (Temple of Rats), Bikaner district, Rajasthan
Entrance of Karni Mata (Temple of Rats), Bikaner district, Rajasthan

About Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

The extraordinary temple is located in Deshnok, a town 31 kilometres south of Bikaner city. The Karni Mata Temple, also known as the Temple of Rats, is home to over 25,000 black rats and a handful of the rarest white rats. It is said that if you can spot a white rat amidst the crowd of black ones, you are fortunate!

The deity of the temple, Karni Mata, attracts thousands of devotees not just from Rajasthan but also neighbouring states like Gujarat, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. The temple has featured in several international documentaries spreading the word about its uniqueness to tourists from all over the world.

History of Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

There are different versions of stories that shroud the origin of Karni Mata Temple. One of the most popular stories is that Karni Mata was a Hindu warrior sage from the Charan caste, who lived in the fourteenth century. She was believed to be the reincarnation of the Hindu Goddess Durga.

Now, the story proceeds that Karni Mata’s stepson, Laxman drowned in Kapil Sarovar while he was trying to drink water from the lake. On hearing about his son’s accidental death, Karni Mata implored the god of death, Yama, to revive her son’s life. At first, Yama refused but it was her consistent pleas that persuaded him to bring Laxman back to life. This came with a condition that Karni Mata’s male children would be reincarnated as rats. This explains how the temple shelters and reveres thousands of rodents.

There’s another quite popular legend that talks about Karni Mata’s magical powers and her kind heart. When 20,000 soldiers returned from the battlefield rejecting their responsibility to fight for their land, Karni Mata got furious and was ready to punish them with the death penalty. Later, her heart melted and she spared their lives and turned them into rats. The rat army showed gratitude to Karni Mata for sparing their lives and promised to serve her forever.

There have been several debates about rats infesting the temple. Miraculously, there has not been one incident of plague or any other disease reported in the area. Devotees worship Karni Mata and the rats, who are called kabas here. They offer milk and food to the rats as a sign of their devotion.

Prayers at Karni Mata (Temple of Rats), Bikaner district, Rajasthan

Architecture of Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

You need to enter the temple through a wide and tall gateway. The walls of the gateway have prevailed with stucco craftsmanship. At the facade of the gateway, there are marble sculptures of two lions sitting on a white marble rectangular stage which is also ornate with carvings of floral and arabesque designs. The gateways transform into a pink wall as it stretches on both sides of the temple and encloses it. Even the brackets and the archways have detailed carvings. The theme of the carvings is mainly arabesque and floral patterns complimenting the illustrations of animals and goddesses.

Beyond the gate is a courtyard with several complexes within while the temple is situated in the centre of the courtyard. Another gateway leads to a small veranda that is varnished with black and white marble slabs that mirror the image of a chessboard. The courtyard is enclosed by an open gallery on one side that is supported by numerous columns. The pillars also have been carved with floral patterns.

The significant edifices of the premises like the archways, the columns and the temple are built from marble stone whereas the doors are made from silver. The room is situated opposite the doorway where resides the idol of the goddess of the temple. The altar is enveloped by a silver archway filled with stucco illustrations and sculptures made from metals like gold and silver of the goddess that protrude from the walls.

These finely carved and detailed illustrations on every archway and bracket of the temple along with the stucco craftsmanship showcase the efforts put on by the workers while building the temple.

Courtyard at Karni Mata (Temple of Rats), Bikaner district, Rajasthan

Entry fee and timings

Entry to the Karni Mata Temple is free for all. There is a nominal photography and videography fee of ₹30 and ₹50 respectively to shoot inside the temple premises.

The temple opens its doors to devotees and tourists from 4:00 am to 10:00 pm. You can spend around 30 to 40 minutes exploring the temple and feeding the rats.

Facts and tips about Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

  • Rats are considered so holy in the temple that when a rat dies, a silver idol is made in its honour. It is also considered auspicious to have a rat run over your feet. Devotees also consider it fortunate to get prasad (edible offering) that is eaten by rats.

  • Karni Mata Fair is held at Deshnok twice a year. The bigger fair is held during March and April while the second one is held during September and October. During these months, Hindus observe Navratri and several devotees from far and wide travel to the temple on foot.

  • You need to take off your shoes before entering the temple since it is considered a sign of respect for the deity and the rats inside.

How to reach Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

Karni Mata is located in the town of Deshnok, 31 km south of Bikaner. It takes 40 minutes by car to reach the temple.

Other attractions near Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

  • Bikaner - 31 km
  • Jodhpur - 212 km
  • Mandawa (Shekhawati) - 220 km
  • Jaisalmer - 348 km

FAQs about Karni Mata (Temple of Rats)

1. Can everyone visit the Karni Mata Temple?

Yes, everyone can. However, the entire time you will spend inside the temple you will be surrounded by thousands of rats. So, in case you have a phobia then this experience is not for you. But there is also nothing to be worried about as it is a unique experience.

2. Who built the Karni Mata Temple?

The Karni Mata Temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.

3. Is there any particular feeding time for rats in the Karni Mata Temple?

There is no definite feeding time to offer milk or food to rats. You can put milk in the bowls for rats to have or scatter grains on the floor.

4. Why are there rats in Karni Mata Temple?

There are various legends associated with the existence of thousands of rats inside the Karni Mata Temple.

Woman and rats, Karni Mata (Temple of Rats), Bikaner district, Rajasthan
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