Bikaner is known for its mythical culture, magical temples and forts all across the globe. Karni Mata Temple is one of them. Located south of Bikaner, almost 30 km, Karni Mata Temple is also known as the Temple of Rats, or simply The Rat Temple. The temple houses over 20,000 rats, who are worshipped as mythical creatures. The temple is religiously visited by devotees, and also by curious tourists and travellers across the globe.
The current structure of Karni Mata Temple was built under the supervision of Maharaja Ganga Singh ji of Bikaner in the early 20th century. The Temple resembles Mughal architectural style, with a marble front and silver solid door, looking majestic and breathtaking. Walking further into the temple premises, you will be welcomed by a few more splendid silver doors that are a true depiction of several legends directly linked with Karni Mata. The inner sanctum of the temple houses Karni Mata in her full glory.
The year 1999 saw a few additions being made to the temple by Kundanlal Verma, owner of Hyderabad based jewellery store, Karni Jewellers. A magnificent marble carving and extraordinary silver gates were donated by him.
About the temple
Popularly known as the Karni Mata Mandir, this temple is the most called upon tourist attractions in Bikaner. The temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, who the locals believe is an incarnation of Goddess Durga, the protective Mother Goddess in Hindu religion. Karni Mata was a Hindu warrior sage from the Charan caste, who lived in the fourteenth century. Living the life of an ascetic, Karni Mata was highly revered by the locals and earned many followers too. Having received requests from the Maharajas of Jodhpur and Bikaner, she even laid the foundation stones of the Mehrangarh and Bikaner Forts. Although there are many temples dedicated to her, this temple in the town of Deshnoke at a distance of 30 kilometers from Bikaner is the mostly widely recognized.
The Karni Mata Mandir in Bikaner is popular not for its location or architecture, but for being home to over 25,000 rats that inhabit and freely meander around the temple complex. These creatures can be seen emerging out crevices in the walls and floors, often passing over the feet of the visitors and devotees. Consuming food items that have been nibbled on by these rats is in fact regarded as a holy practice here. People from different corners of India and abroad come to witness this astounding spectacle and also bring milk, sweets and other offerings for these sacred beings. Out of all the rats, white rats are held specifically sacred as they are believed to be the incarnations of Karni Mata and her sons. Visitors put in enormous efforts to draw them out often through offering of sweets. However, hurting or killing a rat, even by mistake, is a serious sin in this temple. People perpetrating this crime will have to replace the dead rat with one made of gold, as penance.