Although i am not scared of Rats but these little creatures make me feel eww. Despite of this feeling I still wanted to visit Karni Mata Temple famously known as the Rat Temple whenever i visited Rajasthan. Being so close to Bikaner i could not miss this chance.
The Temple is situated at a place called Deshnok 30 kms from Bikaner and houses the official deity of the royal families of Bikaner and Jodhpur. Although i had expected what i would see here, still the whole feeling of being inside a temple with Rats running here and there made me a little uncomfortable. But everything just disappeared once I was inside. The Entrance of the temple was beautiful with typical Rajasthani architecture, carvings and marble walls.The doors had carvings of Shiva and other gods alongwith carving of tiny rats . The Marble carvings at the entrance were just brilliant.
Once inside the complex you see Rats everywhere. Thousands of Rats either sleeping or running or feeding on food given to them by visitors. There were large bowls of milk kept here and there, and the rats were busy drinking from it in a very systematic way. Although the smell was replusive, yet the place had a spiritual feeling. These Rats are considered sacred and are taken care by the priests and the devotees. It seemed as if these tiny creatures were not bothered by the number of people visiting. They were happy in their own world. They dont bother you , so you dont bother them.
You can see the powerful idol of Karni Mata inside the temple and Rats all over the idol, it seemed like home to them and the goddess their mother. Goddess Karni Mata, is said to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga and hence a lot of people visit the place to seek her blessings. I could see the rats feeding on the Prasad, but it looked like an every day affair.
The story goes as such, that a devotee of Karni Mata came to her with her dead child and she promised to help, by bringing the child back to life. However, she failed because Yama, the god of death, had already taken away his soul and incarnated him in a human form. Disappointed as she was, Karni Mata announced that her clan/tribe would die and be reborn as rats and then as humans but would not fall into Yama’s hands. And thus, the Rats inside the temple are considered to be Mata’s devotees.
Some say, if your bitten by them its good luck, while some say its auspicious even if they just run over your feet . Our driver told us that there are 1-2 white Rats in the temple complex which are not so easily spotted. But if you happen to see them then that means with whatever wish you have come here , that wish will be fulfilled. I was hoping and praying that i see atleast one those white Rats but hard luck 😦
Here i was trying to avoid stepping on one of the rats and there i saw this little boy playing so peacefully with them. He cuddled them, petted them till they fell asleep. Strange, but I found it cute .
While some might find this whole thing bizarre, for me and some others this connection between the Lord and the rats is a spiritual experience which is beyond words. The place is an experience in itself . And I would recommend it ro anyone visiting Bikaner just to see the uniqueness of this Temple, where thousands of tourists come to worship these long tailed rodents.