Don’t Tell Yourself you have been to India If you haven’t visited the world’s weirdest and scariest temple: The temple where 35000 rats are the GODS.
A little town-hopping, partying at some famous beaches, clicking some exotic locations and trying out some famous local cuisines you had preplanned before arriving here – that about covers your itinerary if you are a tourist in India. But, If you are a real traveler you wouldn’t be satisfied with just that.
To feel the beating pulse of India, its culture, its people and its mysticism, you have to dig a little deeper and look for places that are beyond an ordinary tourist’s perspective.
A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.- ZEN Quote
This section of Hippiebaba has been initiated to do just that: To make you aware of those hidden gems and their unique unheard stories that will make you stop in your track and just wonder. The first such place in our list is : KARNI MATA MANDIR IN BIKANER (RAJASTHAN)
So, Here is its story and the reasons which make it weird, very weird.
10 FACTORS MAKING IT WEIRDEST
NOT JUST ANOTHER TEMPLE
This Temple is built in honor of rats. Here, the holy creatures are the 35000 odd black rats called “KAABAS”, who are believed to be the children of Mata Karni (the chief Goddess of entire rat clan). They believe the rats contain the souls of their dead loved ones
RAT TASTED SWEETMEATS BECOME PRASAD
What devotees eat as GOD OFFERINGS or PRASAD here is actually the rat-tasted-sweetmeats. What is more, This sacred offering is widely believed to be a cure for several ailments and diseases including plague.
LEGEND OF WHITE RAT
There are 4 white rats amongst thousands of black rats. Spotting any of them is supposed to bring luck. White rats are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself.
PUNISHMENT OF HURTING ANY RAT
Tread carefully or you may hurt any rat. And if you do so, then folklore says that you must present one of a similar weight in silver/Gold to the deity Karni Mata.
WORLD’S MOST LUXURIOUS ABODE OF RATS
There are rats and rats everywhere inside the temple and not a single one outside(surprisingly!!). Rats live a life of respect and luxury here.
NERVE WRECKING EXPERIENCE
No Shoes allowed inside. You will have to walk barefooted or at best in a thin shocking, amongst 35000 rats. You will have to tread on their feces and urine, being careful not to squeal when a rat touches you. Not screaming when a misguided rat scurries over your foot or treads upward to your knees require a lot of courage.
RATS ARE EVERYWHERE
You have to walk amongst thousands of rats, some dead, some half dead. And not to forget, in their muck and excrement.
Not a single case of illness or disease reported to date. No smell of dead Kaabas or attacks on the Kaabas by cats or desert snakes. One more astonishing fact is that though all rats are fed with ample food, the Kaabas are all of one size.
UNIQUE MODEL OF COEXISTENCE
Can a deer coexist with a Wolf? Or, a beautiful girl with Donald Trump, for that matter. But this temple is modeled on the theme of coexistence. Paintings and engravings show both predators and prey woven together in the branches of trees.
SIMPLE BUT UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE
Massive entrance doors are silver-made.These were donated by the Maharajah of Bikaner. Look closely and the whole image resembles a large wheel, with the rats’ tails forming the spokes.
It is a very famous and equally interesting tale which every child must have heard from her Grandmother.
I am presenting the same story to you as heard from my grandma.
The story of Mata Karni is related to that of Devi Hinglal whose temple is located in Hingol National Park in Baluchistan, Pakistan.
Devi Hinglal got rebirth as Karni Mata in the home of a Charnan Brahmin couple who only had daughters. Being an incarnation, this child showed miraculous powers since her childhood. In one such deed, She cured her paternal aunt off her paralyses. It was she, who then gave her the nickname of “Karni’ which means, ’the doer’.
But, her actual manifestation came when one of the children of her sister died. She was heartbroken and approached Lord Yama (God of Death) asking him to spare the life of that child. But Yama expressed his inability saying this would be an intervention in the natural cycle of life and death.
Karni knew that Yama was right, but being a very caring and compassionate lady, she told Yama that from now on She will herself manage the life and death of her family members.
She decided two things: All newborns will take birth in two forms- as rats or Kaaba and as men (Charans). Secondly, Both of these will remain in her service in the temple, and the temple space will be reserved for them for eternity. Even now, The priests of this temple come from the special Charnin Brahmin category.
Now, You must have understood the reason such importance is given to these rats in the temple precincts.
WHO SHOULD COME
If you like the Tom and Jerry cartoon: You will be happy to see millions of Jerries waiting to eat by your hands. Must visit temple.
For those ready to push themselves out of their comfort zone: Walking barefooted on rat feces and urine is certainly not for the fainthearted.
For children: They have the most open mind and unlike elders, get quickly over their reservations of rats.
For those believing in Mythology: Many travelers become a pilgrim here. you will have rats potentially walking over your feet, a test of bravery and faith.
For those wanting to experience the extremes of amazing versatility and diversity of India’s spiritual and religious traditions: A real cultural crossroad. Revering those whom we are used to treating as vermins will certainly be a cultural shock for many.
Those searching for Trip highlighter: The pics and videos you take of the rats will be seen in your family for many generations to come.
For those afraid of rodents: If you see rats as nasty and infectious creatures, then you will certainly become desensitized after this experience.
Off beaten attraction: For open-minded and prepared to visit something incredible and unique.
For depressed souls: This is unexplainable. But for some reason, when you come out of the temple after living amongst these tiny and friendly rats for some time, you feel lighter. Once out of this place, everything seemed so great.
For extreme adventurists: You are not a traveler worth its name unless you have been here.
Extreme emotions: You will either love it or hate it. No middle way. Either you will love the rituals and bizarreness of this temple or you will hate walking barefooted amidst rat poops along with a constant fear of getting your toes nibbled..
For lovers of bizarre: You will be horrified at the sight and find the place eerie, disgusting, frightening with unbearable stench. But after your nerves cool down, you are sure to find it one of its kind, and a once in a lifetime experience. Mark my words: It will be a ONCE SEEN, NEVER FORGOTTEN type of experience.
LOCATION & HOW TO REACH
- It is located in a small town of Deshnok, which is located at a distance of 30 km in south of Bikaner in Rajasthan in India.
- It’s very close to the Deshnoke railway station and the visit takes under an hour.
- Open from 5 am to 9 pm. Entry is free.
- You can’t go in shoes but shocks are allowed.
- CAMERAS not allowed ordinarily. But on extra payment, you can carry it inside.
- The only other place worth a visit is the New Karni Mata Museum, which is a little away and will take another hour Max.
- Do try malai ke laddu at the shops outside the temple. There is particularly one shop popular with this mithai.
If you are one of those traveling the world just for the sake of it, don’t bother coming here. But then, never insult the “traveler community” by calling yourself a traveler.
However, If you are one of those rare breeds for whom traveling means to experience new things, foreign to us; then you must come here.
You may either totally love it or hate it. But, you will have a memory that will surely last you a lifetime.