When it comes to temples, Rajasthan is known for its opulent and grandiose architecture. However, there is one temple in the state that stands out not for its architecture, but for the unusual inhabitants it houses – rats. The Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, Rajasthan, also known as the Temple of Rats, is a unique attraction that draws visitors from all over the world.
History and Legend
The Karni Mata Temple was built in the 15th century in honor of Karni Mata, a mystic who is revered as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. According to legend, Karni Mata was a powerful spiritual leader who performed many miracles and had the ability to bring the dead back to life. She was known for her compassion towards all living beings and is said to have blessed rats with the ability to reincarnate as humans.
The Legend of the Rats
The story goes that when Karni Mata’s stepson, Laxman, died, she pleaded with Yama, the god of death, to bring him back to life. Yama eventually relented and allowed Laxman and all of Karni Mata’s male descendants to be reincarnated as rats. It is believed that if a rat from the temple dies, it will be reincarnated as a human in Karni Mata’s family. As a result, the rats in the temple are treated with utmost reverence and are provided with food, water, and shelter.
The Temple of Rats
The Karni Mata Temple is home to thousands of rats, which are considered sacred and are worshipped by devotees. The rats are everywhere in the temple, scurrying around, climbing on the walls, and even running across the feet of visitors. Despite their large numbers, the rats are surprisingly docile and do not bite or attack visitors. In fact, it is believed that spotting a white rat, which is rare, is a sign of good luck.
Visiting the Temple
Visiting the Karni Mata Temple can be an unforgettable experience, but it is not for the faint-hearted. The temple is located in Deshnok, a small town about 30 kilometers from Bikaner, and can be reached by road. Visitors are required to remove their shoes before entering the temple, and it is advisable to wear socks to protect your feet from the rats. The temple provides a special area for feeding the rats, and visitors can purchase sweets and other offerings to feed them.
The Karni Mata Temple, with its unique inhabitants and legend, is a fascinating and unusual attraction that is worth a visit. The temple is not only a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan but also a reminder of the compassion that exists towards all living beings. While it may not be for everyone, those who do visit the Temple of Rats are sure to come away with a memorable experience.