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Timings : 4:00 AM - 10: 00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner Overview

The Karni Mata Temple, also popularly known as the Nari Mata Temple, is a highly popular tourist spot amongst devotees that is dedicated to Karni Mata, who is believed to be an incarnation of Maa Durga. She is supposed to have laid the foundation stones of two of the most famous forts in Rajputana, and numerous temples dedicated to her can be found all across the country. What is unique about this temple, however, is not its architecture or location, rather the fact that 25,000 black rats live, and are worshipped, in the temple. In fact, the food that is eaten by them is considered to be holy and is later served as 'prasad'.

These holy rats are known as kabbas, and people from all over the world travel great distances to come and visit the temple to pay their respects to these rats. This is why the temple is also popularly called the 'Temple of Rats'. This Hindu temple is 600 years old and is located in a small town of Deshnok, which is 30 kilometres to the south of Bikaner, Rajasthan in India. Numerous tales and legends are associated with the temple and the rats that live here, but no one knows the exact history of this unique shrine.

The Karni Mata Temple is also noteworthy for its architecture that has been influenced by the Mughal style of construction. The beautiful temple is adorned with a fantastic marble facade and marble carvings that further add to the charm of this place. While the entire concept of this temple may seem as gross or weird to some, it is a unique experience altogether and is something you should not miss out.

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Legend of Karni Mata Temple

There are different versions of stories that surround the history of the Karni Mata Temple. According to the most popular legend, Laxman, who was Karni Mata's stepson, drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar in Kolayat Tehsil when he was drinking water from the lake. Karni Mata prayed to Yama, the god of death, to save her son's life. The Lord first refused, but eventually gave in, and allowed reincarnation as rats to Laxman and all of Mata Karni's male children.

According to another version, an army of 20,000 soldiers deserted a nearby battle and fled to Deshnoke. When Mata Karni came to know about their act of desertion, which was considered to be a sin and was punishable by death, she spared their lives but turned them into rats. The temple was offered to them as a place to stay, and the army of soldiers expressed their gratitude by promising to serve Karni Mata forever. 

Architecture of Karni Mata Temple

The present structure of the temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner and dates back to the 15th century. The entire structure is influenced by the Mughal style of architecture.The beautiful facade of the Karni Mata Temple is built entirely in marble. Pairs of silver doors can be seen inside the temple complex before the main shrine of the goddess. These solid silvers doors were donated by Maharaja Gaj Singh when he had visited the glorious temple. Across the doorway, one can spot more silver doors with panels that depict the various legends of the goddess.

The image of the goddess is placed in the main shrine, along with holy things at her feet. Surrounded by rats, the 75-centimetre tall image holds a Trishul (trident) in one of her hands. Her image is complete with a crown and a garland of flowers. Images of her sisters are placed on either side. Further beautification of the temple was done by Kundanlal Verma of the Hyderabad-based Karni Jewellers in 1999. He also donated the marble carvings and the silver gates that lead to the temple.

Rats at the Karni Mata Temple

The 25,000 black and few white rats that live here are all considered holy and are worshipped. The rats are allowed to move freely all around the temple. These small creatures appear from crevices in the marble covered walls and floorings and pass over the bare feet of the devotees. 

If any rat is killed by mistake, it must be replaced with one that is made of solid gold as penance for the crime. Sighting a white rate is considered to be especially promising, and people all around can be found luring the white rats out of their holes by offering them, various sweets.

Karni Mata Fair at Karni Mata Temple

The Karni Mata Fair is a major event that takes place twice a year at the temple. The first and larger fair takes place in March to April during the Navratras from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi. The second fair is held in September - October, also during the Navratras, from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi. During these fairs, thousands of people visit the temple by foot.

Karni Mata Temple Timings and Entry Fees

The temple opens to the general public at 4:00 AM, following which the Charan priests perform Mangla ki Aarti and offer bhog in worship. Devotees also make offerings to the rats during this time. The temple closes by 10:00 PM. There is no entry fee to enter the temple.

Interesting Facts about the Karni Mata Temple

1. While there are many myths and legends related to the temple, the Charin clan or the people of the Charan caste believe the rats to be their ancestors and hence worship them. They also think that they too will be incarnated into rats after their deaths. 
2. Shoes are not allowed inside as it is considered auspicious for a rat to run over your feet. 
3. Sharing food that has been nibbled by the rats such as milk and grains are considered to be 'prasad' and are said to bring good fortune. 
4. There are around four white rats in the temple, and it is deemed to be fortuitous to come across a white rat as it is believed to be Karni Mata and her sons who are reincarnated in the form of rats. 

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Best Time To Visit Karni Mata Temple

The best time to visit the temple is March-April, or September-October when the fairs and festivals are in full swing. One can, however, visit the temple anytime to offer bhog and seek the blessings of the goddess.

Tips For Visiting Karni Mata Temple

Beware of the rats around you and be sure to not step on them as they are considered to be religious.

How To Reach Karni Mata Temple

The temple is located on NH 89, 30 kilometres to the south of Bikaner. It is easily accessible by regular buses from Bikaner and Jodhpur. One can also opt for taxis that can easily be hired from anywhere in Rajasthan.

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