The Rat Temple of India

Deshnok, Karni Mata Temple

The Rat Temple of India

In the land of mystical cultures, traditions, innumerable temples and shrines, India has always been the prime choice for mystery seekers all across the globe. Only in India will you find a new language, a new tradition, diverse set of myths and beliefs at every street corner. There is always going to be something that will truly leave you mesmerized every time you decide to travel in the country!


Karni Mata Temple is one such place!

Exciting, astonishing and exotic, the Karni Mata Temple is house to 25,000 rats that eat, sleep, roam in the temple premises, protecting the same and also blessing the devotees. Without any fear of their life ceasing, rats live an unruffled life without any fears in one of the most popular tourist destinations and religious places in India.


The whole experience of visiting the temple, flooded with a family of rats running around the floor and nibbling at the food offerings is intriguing. Protective wires ensure that the rats, or locally known as Kabbas are safe against other prey animals. This thrilling experience of animal and human coexistence is truly one of a kind.

The legend

The legend of Karni Mata temple dates back to the 1300s, when in the Charan clan, Karni Mata was born. The mystical woman was known to be the reincarnation of fierce, powerful and ever-victorious Goddess Durga. Karni Mata made a deal with the God of Death, Yama to reincarnate her drowned son. When Yama refused to help her, she promised her clan that the Charan Caste would live perpetually as rats and shall be reincarnated as humans again upon being dead rats in the future.


Sounding like a folk lore, the cultural tale is considered a true, mythical legend among the locals. Considering the Hindu traditions, where death is not the end but the beginning of another life often ensures the sanctity of the story. Paying respect to the rats in the temples, therefore is considered a potentially good deed for the Hindus. Doing so brings good fortune, health and prosperity into their lives. Pilgrims from all across the world visit the temple in Bikaner built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the 1900s.

rats in karni mata temple

Temple’s architecture

The temple architecture hugely resembles Mughal architectural style and feel due to its silver, magnificent doors and a mesmerizing marble front. Majestic and breathtaking, the temple is a splendid historical marvel.


Once you move closer in the temple premises you will rightly get to notice the shimmering internal sanctum, surrounded by its intricate crisscross patterns across the floor. Moving further, the inner sanctum houses Karni Mata in her full glory, surrounded by rats scrabbling and scampering the floor and ledges, back and forth in their sacred home.

Blessed by the rats!

Of all the legends that surround the temple and its tales, the most bizarre yet the most followed myth is drinking water directly from the bowl where rats play and bathe in. Eating the leftovers of the rats is also considered a pure blessing from Karni Mata’s family. Devoted pilgrims often wait around the temple premises for the one sight of the famous white rat. It is said, even one glimpse of the white rat among thousands of black rats is the direct blessing from Karni Mata herself. When she died at the age of 151, she reincarnated as a white rat, looking after her family in the temple.


Everything here is pure, even with thousands of rats being involved. Hindus believe these rats to be chaste and sacred, and not a sign of plague or diseases as westerners believe it to be. There is a direct connection between rats, religion and luck here.


चूहे पूरे मंदिर प्रांगण में मौजूद रहते हैं। वे श्रद्धालुओं के शरीर पर कूद-फांद करते हैं, लेकिन किसी को कोई नुकसान नहीं पहुंचाते। चील, गिद्ध और दूसरे जानवरों से इन चूहों की रक्षा के लिए मंदिर में खुले स्थानों पर बारीक जाली लगी हुई है। इन चूहों की उपस्थिति की वजह से ही श्री करणी देवी का यह मंदिर चूहों वाले मंदिर के नाम से भी विख्यात है। ऐसी मान्यता है कि किसी श्रद्धालु को यदि यहां सफेद चूहे के दर्शन होते हैं, तो इसे बहुत शुभ माना जाता है। सुबह पांच बजे मंगला आरती और सायं सात बजे आरती के समय चूहों का जुलूस तो देखने लायक होता है।

the white rat in deshnok bikaner

Karni Mata Rat Temple in Bikaner, India

Temple of Rats in India