On Friday, 17 March 2006 we visited the Karni Mata temple in Deshnok, Rajasthan, India. The temple is also sometimes called “The Rat Temple”.
This Hindu temple is devoted to Karni Mata, a goddess who is said to have reincarnated her devotees into rats upon death. Today the temple is home to hundreds of rats which represent the reincarnated. Hindus come to worship at the temple and bring offerings of sweets to the rats. The rats are sacred, and it is said that if you kill a rat (by accidentally stepping on it), you must replace the rat with its weight in silver.
Because of the somewhat sensational nature of the temple, it has also become something of a tourist attraction; however when we visited the temple we only noted one other western tourist walking among the Hindu worshippers and rats.
Visiting the temple
Most tourists visit the temple as a half-day trip from Bikaner, the nearest large city to Deshnok. We had a guide and driver for the day and our journey to Deshnok was included. As with all Hindu temples, visitors must remove their shoes before entering. It is allowed to wear socks and this is recommended. The temple floor is not filthy, but you do run the risk of accidentally stepping on some rat droppings as you tour the temple and courtyard.
It is said that it is good luck to see a white rat at Karni Mata, and during our visit there were plenty of young men who offered to find a white rat for us. It is also good luck when a rat runs over your foot. This is easy to accomplish; there are some heavy rat-traffic areas along walls between rooms, and if a foot is placed in the path, it will get some rat prints on it.
Here is a short video we took while at the temple.