Karni Mata Mandir Bikaner

By Sanjeev Nayyar esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net | 2013

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30 kms from Bikaner is the Karni Mata Mandir, also called as the Temple of Rats by some as it is only temple in the world where rats move around freely. The temple has outer wall in the shape of a fort that you see in the picture. It is located in the town of Deshnok ie slightly less than a 2 hour drive from Nagaur.

"Entrance to temple. Why rats? ""Thus, Karni Mata, being an incarnation of Goddess Durga, restored the life of her son. At this point of time, she announced that her family members would die no longer; in fact they would incarnate in the form of rats (kabas) and ultimately, these rats would come back as the members of her family. In Deshnok, there are around 600 families that assert to be the descendants of Karni Mata."" "

The temple was built in the 15th century. Entrance to temple has got o/s carvings. Just above the first door is this arch. Centre of the arch is the main temple. First door made of silver, second is a wooden one. Note the elephants on either side of the entrance. Temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. To know more about why this temple Click here

A close up view of the top portion above the entrance. Image of three ladies with I think Sitar, looks like Ma Saraswati although this is a Durga Mandir.

A close up of one of the silver doors. Very good work. Reached about 5pm, was full of devotees then. Most people I saw were intrigued with the rats and tried their best to keep away from them. The silver doors were donated by Maharaja Gaj Singh on his visit to the temple. If you can, go in the morning before 10am. The temple faces the east, visiting it with rising sun rays falling on it could be a different experience.

My first interaction with rats happened as I crossed the second door ie the wooden one. U see a couple of them. Interestingly there are no rats outside the temple including in the big open area that you saw in pic 1.

As one entered on my right saw these women. Behind them is a huge enclosure ie full of rats. I saw some halwa (sweet) lying there that the rats kept on nibbling away. U can see a rat on the right of pic. Love the colorful lehenga of Rajasthani women.

Arch entrance of main temple. Intricate work though not as impressive as the main entrance. There is a huge open area around the temple where you will see rats moving freely. Next pic has them drinking milk.

This is a common pic. When I did parikrama round the temple the driver asked me to watch my step carefully such that I did not step on a rat. According to tradition if a rat is killed under your feet you have to place a silver rat in the mandir or its equivalent. "The Rajputs bring their children on Jadula (their first hair cut) and place them at the deity''s feet for blessing. "

Centre image is of Karni Mata. "The image of the goddess is placed with holy things at her feet. Surrounded by rats, Karni Mata is holding a trishul (trident) in one of her hands. The image of Karni Mata is 75 cms tall, decked with a mukut (crown) and a garland of flowers. On her either side, images of her sisters are placed". Rats walk over the prasad, the same prasad is given to devotees, no one has ever fallen sick. "The idol of Karniji is made of the golden-coloured rocks found in Jaisalmer".

Some more rats in one corner of temple. "The temple has app 20,000 rats that are fed, protected and worshipped. Many holes can be seen in the courtyard of temple. In the vicinity of these holes, one can see rats engaged in different activities" as u see in the pic.

A collection of rats. If you see a white rat, it is auspicious, consider yourself lucky. Rats are small, move quickly and always searching to eat something. When I entered the temple a rat walked over my feet, was taken aback first but after that it was ok. The temple does not stink of any foul smell inspite of so many rats. Also people who live in the vicinity of the temple have never suffered from plague.

The next seven pics show carvings at entrance of temple. Centre below is elephant, man with a mace. Centre top is lion. Above that are ladies. Note the intricate work. On either side of the temple main door is a intricately carved platform like this.

This is to the right of the platform that u saw in the earlier pic. A similar arch design carving exists on both sides of the temple entrance. Left of pic u see standing image of a person playing musical instrument, see close up in next pic. What is on the right of pic u will see in pic no 16.

A close up of the carving. "Twice a year, a festival is celebrated in the honor of Karni Mata. A grand fair is organized during this time and people come here to seek the blessings of the Goddess."

A close up of carving. Right of pic is a man sitting on a swan. "The fine marble work of the main gate was done during the reign of Maharajah Ganga Singh. His minister, Sethji engaged a mason called Heerji to make the temple. Heeraji called his brother and a famous mason called Ganga Ram along with many other masons from his village."

A close up of the Jharokha that forms part of the arch.

Carving in the base of the arch area. Stone is all marble, very impressive.

Platform on the right of entrance. Note the intricate carving. To know more about this very unique temple http://rajasthantourism- Click here

I was fortunate to see a white colored rat. A very memorable visit. Post visit to this mandir started looking at and thinking of rats differently. Something has changed!