About the Temple
The temple is dedicated to Karni Mata who is regarded as the incarnation of Goddess Durga. Karni Mata temple is nestled in a small town of Deshnoke which is 30 km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan. The temple is popularly known as the Temple of Rats due to the presence of the resident population of sacred rats in the temple. Karni Mata is believed to be 600 years old. It is known as Nari Mata temple.
During the 14th century, Goddess Karni is said to have performed many miracles for the poor and underprivileged people. Karni Mata was mysterious and it is believed that she had laid the foundation of Deshnoke town.
Temple History and Architecture
The history of the present temple dates back to the 15th century. It was established the king of Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh. The forepart of the temple is constructed out of marble. The main shrine of the Goddess has a pair of a silver door which were donated by Maharaja Gaj Singh. The doorway also has some more silver doors with panels displaying the legends of the goddess. The temple was further renovated in 1999.
The idol of Karni Mata is enshrined in the inner sanctum. The idol of the goddess can be seen surrounded by rats in the main shrine. The idol of Karni Mata is 75 cms tall, adorned with a crown and a flower garland.
The temple has around 20,000 rats. If any rat dies, then it is replaced with one made of solid silver.
As per the legend, Karni Mata's stepson, Laxman drowned in a pond in Kapil lake. Karni Mata prayed to Yama, the god of death, to revive him. Yama eventually fulfilled her wish by permitting Laxman and all of Karni Mata's male children to be reincarnated as rats
Another story behind the existence of rats according to some local folklore states that an army of 20,000 soldiers abandoned a nearby battle and came to Deshnoke. As a punishment for committing the sin of desertion, Karni Mata turned them into rats. To express their gratitude, the soldiers promised to serve Karni Mata.
According to another legend, Goddess Karni Mata was a part of the Charin clan. She lived up to 150 years. After her death, she became a rat. The followers of the Charin believe that after their death, they too will be reincarnated as a rat and when a rat dies, it will be reincarnated as a human.
These sacred rats are worshipped by their followers as the Charin people believe that these rats are their ancestors.
Festivals, Puja and Celebrations
A very popular Karni Mata Fair is held twice in a year at Deshnok.
The first and the biggest fair is held during March–April on the occasion of Navratras from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi.
Another fair is held during September–October, on the occasion of Navratras from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi.
During the festival of Navratri, thousands of people visit the temple by barefoot.
How to Reach
By Road: The temple is easily accessible by buses and taxis from Bikaner and Jodhpur.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Bikaner Junction which is 24 km away from the temple.
By Air: The nearest airport is Bikaner airport which is 25 km away from the temple.