Bikaner is home to several renowned tourist attractions, with the magnificent forts and exciting camel rides being two of them. However, this colorful state is also home to a rather unusual attraction in the form of the Karni Mata Temple, also known as the Shri Manshapurna Karni Mata Temple. The uniqueness of this temple stems from a fascinating tradition followed here since a long time. Here, rats, lots of them, are extended the same respect and looked upon with the same devotion as the deities presiding at the temple. For that same reason, this temple is also known as the “Temple of Rats.”
There is an interesting tale behind how the rats came to be accorded a divine status in this temple. It’s believed that the Goddess Karni Mata, as part of the Charin clan during her lifetime, lived for around 150 years while retaining her youthful looks and beauty. Upon her death, she was converted into a rat. Followers of the Charin clan believe that upon their death, they are reincarnated as rats while the rats, upon meeting theirs, are reincarnated as humans. Naturally, the Charin People regard the rats of Karni Mata Temple as their ancestors. In other words, it’s an exchange of reincarnation, of sorts!
As if all this wasn’t captivating enough, it has also been observed that the rats prefer not to leave the premises of the temple despite the absence of any obstacles in their way. It’s easy to understand why, though. It’s the “kingdom of the rats” here!
Then, there is the case of the white rat. Coming across one is considered to be extremely auspicious and if you do spot one, it’s your day. However, the chances of spotting the elusive white rat is next to none. The devotees swarming the temple always keep him on the steady, and before you know it, he scampers back in his hole before you can even blink.
However, watch your step when you are in the “Temple of the Rats.” Trampling a rat to death, or harming one in any way, would prove to be costly not only religiously, but also financially. In case you stamp on a rat and kill it, you will be required to buy a gold or silver rat statue and place it in the temple as a means of compensation. Moreover, the offerings made by the devotees, whether in the form of milk or sweats, are gorged upon by the rats. It’s considered a privilege to partake the food which is touched and consumed by the rats here. Surprisingly, or so it’s believed, no devotee who has visited the temple has ever fallen ill. It’s one of the most fascinating places to ever come across, and undoubtedly, is worth visiting.
How to Reach:
By air: The Karni Mata is located just 30.5km from Bikaner airport, and one can avail private taxis from there to reach the destination.
By road: The temple is connected to Bikaner City with NH 89. Tourists can hire private conveyance such as cab, rickshaw, taxi and auto rickshaw to reach the destination.