Karni Mata Temple

Today we visited one of the most bizarre temples in India. It is located in the village of Deshnok, 30 kilometers outside of the city of Bikaner in Rajasthan.

According to Hindu legend (as retold in the Lonely Planet guidebook), Karni Mata, a 14th-century reincarnation of Durga, asked the god of death, Yama, to restore the life of the son of a grieving storyteller. When Yama refused, Karni Mata reincarnated all dead storytellers as rodents, depriving Yama of human souls. Perhaps this is the fate that awaits your humble bloggers?

The temple is swarming with holy rodents, in other words, rats! We went during the heat of the afternoon, and were informed when we arrived that many of the rats return to their dens at this time, much to Diane’s relief. There were still hundreds for us to see – drinking from large platters of water and milk,

eating in a room full of grain, climbing all over the shrine, and hanging from anything they could find to escape the heat at floor level.

Like at all Hindu temples, one must remove his or her shoes. Unfortunately we didn’t bring socks, so we had to contend with the rat feces underfoot, the many ants, the bird droppings, and the hot marble floors.

We tried to avoid stepping on any rats, for fear of what we might catch from a bite, and to avoid leaning on anything (as rats were hanging everywhere). It is considered auspicious if a rat runs across your foot, but fortunately none did. We also did not see a rare white rat, which is also considered lucky.

This temple is a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus, so it is important not to show any distaste. Diane did very well.

It was not what Diane expected. Afterwards she said that she had anticipated a clean white temple with rats like pet rats at home — clean, dry, and sleeping in little nests of wood shavings. Instead, we found rats that were dirty, sweating, living in pipes, and sleeping in piles covered by their own feces. One Hindu woman, who obviously hadn’t been there before, wasn’t handling things as well, and started to cry at the entrance to the temple.

As we walked out of the temple, Diane said, ‘That was the most amazing and disgusting thing I’ve ever seen’.

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11 Responses to Karni Mata Temple

  1. ed and lucy says:

    Rats rats and not a good one to eat. or maybe pick the fat juicy one.

    ed

  2. ms_piggy99 says:

    Hi there, sounds like you are having a great time, good for you!
    My 3 week tour was good, even spent 3 days in Uganda. Wed of this week I am going to spend time with Laz and Liz and work a bit at the school. I am going to be supporting an 11 yr old boy, I took off the streets in Katalie. He will be staying with Bishop and Mary and I will support him there, right now he is with us here. I am having Stephen the Headmaster at Soweto coach him as he has had no schooling. So I guess I will have my work cut out for me for the next few years. His name is Charles, his mother died then his father took him into the town of Katalie and dropped him off to make his own way the best he could. He was on the streets for 2 years. Do enjoy yourselves, take care love from aunty Beulah

  3. ms_piggy99 says:

    Hi there, sounds like you are having a great time, good for you!
    My 3 week tour was good, even spent 3 days in Uganda. Wed of this week I am going to spend time with Laz and Liz and work a bit at the school. I am going to be supporting an 11 yr old boy, I took off the streets in Katalie. He will be staying with Bishop and Mary and I will support him there, right now he is with us here. I am having Stephen the Headmaster at Soweto coach him as he has had no schooling. So I guess I will have my work cut out for me for the next few years. His name is Charles, his mother died then his father took him into the town of Katalie and dropped him off to make his own way the best he could. He was on the streets for 2 years. Do enjoy yourselves, take care love from aunty Beulah

  4. A rat temple! Just when you think you've seen it all. Too cool. We used to have a pet rat; they are very social and intelligent. Diane: did you do any of your cute little dry heaves in the temple? (The boys got a kick out of that in Africa.) I found a funny picture of a train in India which is particularly laden with passengers. I'll send it to you. Cliff says: “I think I see Patrick and Diane on it!” Have fun.
    Linda.

  5. Norma says:

    Oh Diane I am PROUD of you!
    Let me tell you I would not have set foot in there no matter what. At that I do draw the linw. My skin is crawling just thinking about it.
    Good on you , my little niece.
    Aunty Norma

  6. Jan says:

    Hi Diane and Pat,

    I have really enjoyed reading your travel stories. Can't wait to see all the photos. I am living vicariously through your adventures and they are really inspiring me to take off travelling again for a while….We have been doing a renovation the entire time you have been travelling. I need to get my priorities straight!!

    I had heard of the rat temple when we were in India. Can't say I'm sorry we didn't get there!

    Diane, you are such a trouper! I can't believe you guys are travelling in non-aircon!

    Keep the stories coming and stay safe.

    Jan
    xo

  7. Patrick says:

    Ed and Lucy – we haven't eaten any rats yet (at least not to our knowledge).

    Cliff and Linda – no dry heaves, but a few squeamish moments. It isn't polite to gag in someone else's church.

    Jan – We've had air-con rooms and trains about half the time. It helps to have 3 showers a day! Tonight we set a new record — our room costs 250 Rp a night (about $6 Canadian a night). Good for you guys on surviving the renovation. Let us know where your next big trip will be.

    P and D

  8. Susan M. says:

    Great photos…especially the one with Diane watching the rats feasting on the huge saucer of milk. They seem rather small and friendly looking…lol! I collected mice as a kid but they weren't of the brown variety! India sounds superb. Enjoy and have fun. Susie Q

  9. Patrick says:

    Susie Q — They were smaller than we'd expected, but much dirtier and even slimier (I guess rats sweat too, but never take showers).

    Diane

  10. Annette says:

    AGHH, I'm sorry Pat and Diane, the first sight of a rat would of sent me flying out the door! I'm proud of both of you to be able to do this.

    Your stories as always are the best.

  11. Patrick says:

    Hi Annette – We think that you would've been fine, as we're confident that you could out run the rats!

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