Rendezvous with the Rats of Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Rajasthan | 29

Bikaner was not a planned destination during our trip to Rajasthan but happened as we need to break the long drive from Jaisalmer to Jaipur. Since we had made a halt here, we decided to explore it as well and on checking with the locals, heard about an unusual temple at Deshnok – just for Rats!

Yes, you heard me right – this temple known as the Karni Mata Temple is home to over 20,000 rats. These rats known as Kabas, are quite auspicious and care is taken to feed and nurture them. If they run over your feet, it is considered to be lucky and spotting a white rat is supposed to be extremely lucky for you.

Swati, my friend was quite kicked about it and was keen to visit it. ME? I was a little squeamish about it. I suppose it did not take too much of convincing on Swati’s part to get me going – but only because I wanted to see it for its strange facts and not because I was fond of the rats!

Vessels outside Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Vessels outside Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Deshnok is around 30 kms from Bikaner, not really on our way to Jaipur but not too much of a diversion either. The roads are alright and we headed there around noon. I expected to see a lot of these rats outside the temple but to my surprise there were none in sight. Two huge vessels were kept outside, which the folks at the entrance told us were used to cook food for the rats.
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
The temple isn’t too ancient and was built in the 20th century by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. Interestingly, there are two marble lions outside the temple. Not sure of the significance of the same but purely from the perspective of art, the same are gorgeous.
At Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
At Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

The detailing on the marble is quite astonishing. I did not really get the time to dwell on them but having captured them into my camera, can spot figures of people and animals in various settings. I love the floral setting in this particular picture.

Carvings on the Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Carvings on the Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

And here are some more of these exteriors.

Exteriors of Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Exteriors of Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
The doors and the windows of the temple are made of silver and this is where you see some rats inscriptions. These doors were said to be added later and were donated by a rich jeweler who currently, resides in Hyderabad.
Silver Windows of the Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Silver Windows of the Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

As I stepped into the temple barefeet, I suddenly went on my tippy-toes. And that was not all – my daughter screamed and leapt up my hubby’s back – only to get down once we exited the temple. RATS! All over the temple floor – not just in corners but running across the floor.

Inside Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Inside Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

Once I got over the initial shock, amusement took over. These wriggly fur-balls were so caught up with their treats. Some were crowded around a whole vessel of Kheer.

Rats around the vessel of Kheer at Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Rats around the vessel of Kheer at Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

Some were just chasing each other or snoozing in corners.

Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
I tried pointing out these sights to my daughter, still piggybacking on my hubby but she was still spouting tears and urging us to finish fast and come out of the temple.
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

The main shrine was a small one with an idol of Karni Mata with her Trishul (Trident). There were rats around her too and they say that she is always surrounded by them. A lot of it is related to the story of Karni Mata. Karni Mata means Miraculous Mother and the lady is said to have had some extraordinary power to heal people. Though not from Deshnok, she wandered around to ultimately settle down in Deshnok. It is said that when one of her sons died, she met the God of Death – Yama and demanded that his son’s life be given back. However, God Yama said that his son has already been reincarnated as a rat and going forward all her family members will be reborn as Rats before they die again and get a human life. Well! That is some story, isn’t it?

At Karni Mata Mandir, Deshnok
At Karni Mata Mandir, Deshnok
This place is really, a Mickey Mouse’s paradise – what with the amount of free food that these guys get. Ratatouille too, would have loved this temple. Belief has it that any food that is offered to these rats and is left over is very auspicious and devotees actually take it back and eat it. 😀
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Scurrying out – pretty much like its inhabitants, we headed back to Jaipur. If you ask me, what was the experience like? I frankly for once, don’t know – pleasant? amusing? Squeamish? Within the temple, I saw these two sculptures. With the absence of a guide or a sign, I am guessing that one of them is Maharaja Ganga Singh. I am not sure, but hey, if you find out, let me know 😀


Me at the Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok
Me at the Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok

What do you think? Share in your comments with me here.

Getting here:

  • Bikaner is the closest town to Deshnok. It is just 30 kms and one can reach Deshnok by road through buses or private cabs.
  • Bikaner is the closest railway station as well. It is fairly well connected to all the major cities of Rajasthan.
  • Jodhpur is the closest airport to Deshnok. It is around 5 hours from Deshnok

Travel Tips:

  • The temple is open from 5 am to 8pm on all days.
  • There are no entrance fees for the temple. However, there are minor charges for photography.
  • One has to walk barefoot in the temple. You can leave your shoes at the shoe stall just outside the temple for a few rupees.
  • The temple is full of rats and if you are not tolerant of the same, then, honestly, this may not be a place for you.
  • Keep a check out for the Karni Mata Fair that happens twice a year. Once around March and once around October. It is quite well known and fun as well. The information on this is available on various websites like this one.


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29 Responses

  1. Hi Ami .. nice blog and what a wonderful post. I don't like rats but this is something you got to experience. I have heard many time about this Mandir as i from the Pink City, Jaipur.

    After reading i have to say i will visit this place soon and you have done great job mentioning timings and festival months.

    And one more thing you last line with link is going to , please check if its correct.

    Jaspal via #blogchatter
    Twitter: @jaspals

  2. Hey Jaspal, thanks for the read. And the alert. I have corrected the link as well. 🙂 Do check out my other posts. Cheers

  3. hello,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences
    this article is really interesting and so many information on this post.. great work .image quality good..
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  4. Amazing Ami! The lion pis is awesome… and the detailing in marble is amazing…
    when I was a kid I went to some temple in my hometown which was bull of bats… for the life of me I cant remember which one it was… but this post reminded me of tht visit…
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Cheers, Archana –

  5. I have heard about this temple and I envy every person who goes to Rajasthan. I have not seen Rajasthan as yet. Each picture is exquisitely captured Ami and the details about the place is awesome too 🙂

  6. Interesting place Ami, and a good write up too. Loved the pics of the floral carvings and the height of superstition of eating the leftovers eaten by rats….

  7. Heard about this temple a lot … but damn can't visit I am scared of rats 🙁

  8. I have heard about this temple and its on the list. The carvings on the exterior are truly amazing.

  9. Very interesting temple! It must be an interesting to maybe make a time lapse there on the life of a few rats there because they live in the open there.

  10. This is a big "no thank you." The site may be neat, but yeah, no.

  11. Thank you so much. 😀

  12. Thanks Archana. Am glad you liked it. Found a lot of bats in Jaisalmer… am not sure if you were referring to that

  13. Rajasthan was on top of my list for a long time before I finally managed last year…would love to go again. Thanks for stopping by

  14. Thank you Malathi. Glad you liked it.

  15. One thing that I can tell you is that the rats have so much food that they tend to leave us Humans alone 😀 . If that helps, then maybe you can try visiting the place

  16. Yep, the exteriors are lovely. Thanks for dropping by Arun

  17. Frankly Neeraj, all I knew was – grab a few snaps and get my bawling child out of the temple 😀

  18. 😀 I know what you mean Rob and Chris. Like I said earlier – maybe you should just give the Rats the benefit of food 😉 They definitely leave you alone.

  19. I will be as scared your daughter, me too not a fan of rats, they actually scare me!

  20. 😀 I guess I just braved the experience since I was there.

  21. Oh man. I think this is one of those "only in India" moments. Lol. It'd kind of be fun to go, though.

  22. It is a local belief…and unusual and interesting one.

  23. So good to revisit this place through your photos. I found this place scary!

    Check this out in d meantime:

  24. I have heard about the rats of Karni Mata temple but have never been there. The pictures with the carvings are beautiful but your post makes me want to go there once to experience the rats, at least once. 🙂

    • Am not sure if I liked it or not but yes, am glad to have seen it once

Would love to know what you think