Hindu temple, 31 km from Bikaner
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Karni Mata is located in the town of Deshnok, 31 km south of Bikaner. It takes 40 minutes by car to reach the temple.
See location on Google Maps
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.
The Karni Mata Temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.
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.
There are various legends associated with the existence of thousands of rats inside the Karni Mata Temple.