Karni Mata Temple is an interesting Hindu temple
located at the town of Deshnoke, at a distance of nearly 30 km away from Bikaner
, which is dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga
. This pilgrimage spot is visited by millions of devotees from various parts of the country and is also referred to as the `Temple of Rats
`. Almost 20, 000 rats reside in this ancient temple and they are greatly revered as `kabbas`, being considered holy. Tourists from all across the globe throng the temple premises to catch sight of the innumerable holy rats dwelling here. Karni Mata Temple was constructed in its present appearance in the initial portion of the 20th century by Maharaja Ganga Singh
of Bikaner, in a special Mughal architectural style
. Catching sight of the white rats is considered to be a divine blessing of Karni Mata and therefore the devotees invest additional efforts to attract the white rats by their offerings of `prasad`, a sacred, sweet food
Legend of Karni Mata Temple
As per a Hindu
legendary tale, `Laxman`, the stepson of Karni Mata had drowned into Kapil Sarovar, Kolayat Tehsil when he was trying to drink water
. Thereafter, Karni Mata had besieged Lord Yama
, the God
of Death to restore his life, to which the God had initially refused. However, later he complied and granted life back to Laxman on the condition that he and all the other male children of Karni Mata would be reincarnated as rats.
There exists yet another folklore associated to the Temple of Rats. According to the tale, 20, 000 soldiers had retreated from a battlefield and sought refuge at Deshnoke. When Karni Mata leant about their sin of deserting the war midway, She was infuriated. Though the punishment for such a sin was death, Karni Mata took pity on them and transformed them into rats. They were ordered to reside in the temple grounds for the rest of their lives and serve them lifelong. The custom of the temple is that if one of the pilgrims accidentally steps over any rat, it would be akin to a sin which would only be redeemed if the sinner would replace it with a rat composed of pure gold
. It is believed that if one eats the food which has been nibbled at by the rats is said to be quite honourable.
Architecture of Karni Mata Temple
Visitors will be greeted by an exquisite marble fa‡ade and beautiful silver doors at the entrance of the temple, and the doorway is adorned with more silver doors ornamented with panels which portray the numerous legends of Karni Mata. A yellow-marble statue of Karni Mata is placed in the inner sanctum sanctorum of the temple and the innermost shrine has been created out of logs chopped off from holy `jal` trees
and rough pebbles. A grand marble structure surrounds the Karni Mata Temple, which received further modifications by a man known as Kundanlal Verma of a Hyderabad
firm, in the year 1999.
Worship at Karni Mata Temple
The pilgrims are permitted to offer prayers at the temple, starting from dawn and `Charan` priests perform a special prayer known as `Mangla-Ki-Aarti
` and offer a traditional food to the Goddess
termed as `bhog` for the purpose of worship. Vast quantities of rats wander about the temple premises in gay abandon as they are regarded as sacred. There are two types of holy offerings which are made to the deity which are known as `kalash-bhent` and `dwar-bhent`. While Kalash Bhent is employed for the maintenance of the temple, dwar bhent is made for the priests.
Karni Mata Fair
Karni Mata Fair
is organised two times annually at the town of Deshnoke. The first fair is comparatively large than the second one and it is conducted during the period from March till April, in the occasion of the Navratras
which constituted the time from Chaitra
Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi. During September to October, the second fair is held which continues from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi. Innumerable devotees travel to Karni Mata Temple by foot during Navratri.