Discover India - Karni Temple

Karni Temple

Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, Rajasthan is one of the strangest holy spots in India. The temple is also called "The Rat Temple" and is also a famous tourist attraction in Rajasthan. This temple is devoted to Karni Mata, who is considered an incarnation of Durga and is home to thousands of rats. The rats are believed to house the souls of Karni Mata's departed devotees and are worshipped here. 

How the Rats became Holy? 

The story goes that Karni Mata once tried to restore the dead child of a storyteller back to life but failed because Yama, the god of death, had already accepted his soul and re-incarnated him in human form. Karni Mata, famed for her legendary temper, was so inflamed by her failure that she announced that no one from her tribe would fall into Yama's hands again. Instead, when they died, all of them would temporarily inhabit the body of a rat before being reborn into the tribe. Karni Mata is said to have reincarnated her devotees into rats.

The Lucky Rats

Thousands of mice, big and small run everywhere freely and fearlessly. One has to be alert where they step. Temple priests warn tourists, not to tread on them. These rats play around in the temple without disturbing the devotees; rather they sit on their laps, shoulders, head, hands that the devotees think to be the divine spirit and blessings of the Goddess. The beauty about these rats is that despite being their food and shelter within the temple. The offerings like milk, sweets, cereals, water and groundnuts are first offered to these holy rats and then distributed among the devotees. Sighting a white mouse is considered auspicious. It is also good luck when a rat runs over your foot. It is believed that the Maharaja of Bikaner had a vision in which the goddess asked him to protect the rats and for this reason, there is bronze wire mesh across the temple. The respect for these rats is so complete that if someone accidentally steps on a rat and kills it, they are expected to give the rat's weight in gold and silver to the temple or endure bad karma forever. The rats of Karni Mata are called kabas, which means "little children", in their local language. 

About the Temple 

The Karni Mata temple is a 600-year-old temple. It is home to the world's only temple where rats are the main creatures of devotion. It is believed that the souls of dead Charans (the devotees of Karna Mata) reside in these rats. It was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style. The entrance is lavishly decorated with beautifully sculptured marble panelling full of intricate patterns, and delicately worked doorways, pavilions and balconies. He built the whole temple with marble. The domes of the temple are made of silver and gold. On the occasion of Navratri Festival, this temple hosts a fair, which attracts hordes of pilgrims from places far and near. Whenever the wishes of the devotees get fulfilled, they offer silver and gold to the goddess at the temple.

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