The city of Bikaner is a treasure trove for travellers of all sorts. It doesn’t matter whether you are a history enthusiast, cultural aficionado, or adventure junkie, Bikaner won’t disappoint you. Known for its grace and timeless beauty, the city has so much to explore that one visit is not enough.
Of the several places to visit in Bikaner, Karni Mata Temple is one of the most sacred temples that is visited by thousands of devotees throughout the year. The temple is dedicated to Karni Mata and is situated in Deshnok, a small town in Bikaner that lies 30 km from the main city. As far as the story of Karni Mata is concerned, many believe that she was the reincarnation of the goddess Jagadamba.
As the temple is home to thousands of rats that are highly revered here, it is also known by the name of the Temple of Rats. At this temple, rats are venerated and considered holy, and thus they are fed and worshipped by visitors. These rats may jump over the feet of pilgrims and devotees but they never bite or harm anyone. Besides seeking the blessings of Karni Mata, it is the rats of the temple that more than anything evokes curiosity in people and attract them in great numbers not just from across the nation but the world.
History & Legends
Speaking of the history of Karni Mata Temple of Bikaner, it includes different versions of stories. As per the most popular legend, Laxman, the stepson of Karni Mata, was once drowned in Kapil Sarovar when he was trying to drink water from it. When Karni Mata got to know about this incident, she implored Yama, the god of death, to revive her son. The god of death initially rejected her plea, but later on, gave in and agreed to allow the reincarnation of Laxman and all the sons of Karni Mata as rats.
Another famous folklore focuses on the presence of rats in Karni Mata Mandir. As per this legend, around 20, 000 soldiers once decided to desert a battle and returned to Deshnok to save their lives. When Karni Mata came to know about this act, which was a sin of deserting their responsibility, she got furious and wanted to punish them by the death penalty. However, later, her heart melted and she decided to spare their lives but turned the entire army into rats. On being spared of their lives, the army expressed their graduate and promised to serve Karni Mata forever.
Although there has always been a debate regarding the existence of rats at the Karni Mata Temple due to chances of spread of disease like the plague, nothing as such has happened to date. When a rat dies in the temple, it is replaced by a rat made from silver. Devotees who visit this temple offer milk and prasad to feed these rats.
The grand temple demonstrates Mughal architectural style. The construction work of the present structure of this holy temple was completed in the early 20th century which was commissioned by Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji of Bikaner.
In the front of the Karni Mata Temple is a striking marble facade that has intricate carvings on it, revealing the artistic brilliance of the artists of that time. Further enhancing the beauty of the facade are solid silver doors which look absolutely magnificent. As you move in, you notice more such doors, depicting several legends, associated with the Goddess. The idol of Karni Mata is placed in the inner sanctum of this temple where people go to catch glimpses of the divine deity and seek her blessings.
The Mystery of the White Rat
The temple of Karni Mata holds so much importance among her devotees that for them, the best Bikaner tour package is one that includes this divine place. On your visit to this temple, you will spot many black-coloured rats but if you are able to spot a white-coloured rat, consider yourself lucky as it is considered holy and people believe that this white rat is the manifestation of the deity, Karni Mata, herself. So, be watchful when you get the chance to visit this Bikaner temple of rats.
Worship and Fair: Activities at Karni Mata Temple
The chief priest opens the temple early in the morning at 4 am to perform Mangla Aarti and then offer special food, bhog in the worship of Karni Mata. After this ritual, visitors and devotees can offer prasad and milk to the rats which are deemed quite auspicious.
At the temple, two kinds of the offering are made: ‘Dwar-bhent’ which is meant for priests and workers and ‘Kalash-bhent’ which is used for the development and maintenance of this shrine.
The Karni Mata Temple organises fairs twice every year. The first in the month of March/April during Navaratri which, as per the panchangam, is held from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi. The second fair is again organised during Navaratri in the month of September/October from Ashwin Shukla Paksha Prathma to Ashwin Shukla Paksha Dashmi. It is during these times of the year that Karni Mata Temple receives maximum footfalls of devotees. Besides, for rituals like Jadula (the first haircut of children), Rajputs visit this temple with their children and seek the blessings of the goddess.
Timings to Visit
Karni Mata Temple of Bikaner is open all days of the week. The timings of this temple in Deshnok are between 4 AM and 10 PM. However, on special days, these timings might be changed. There is no entry fee and photography is allowed on the premises. Speaking of the location, it is Karni Mata Niji Pranyas, NH 89, Deshnok, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334801.
Nearby Places to Visit
When you visit Karni Mata Mandir, you can explore other temples such as Temde Rai Mata, Vishwakarma, and Om Baana. Besides, you can try delicious Rajasthani food at local eateries. And if that is not enough, then you can head to the Bikaner city which is just 30 km away and has many points of interest such as magnificent Lalgarh Palace, iconic Rampuria Haveli, and the proud Junagarh Fort of Bikaner.
Karni Mata Temple in Popular Culture
Not many people know about this fact but Karni Mata Temple has been featured in an American reality show, The Amazing Race. Besides, it was featured in a documentary film called Rats which was directed by Morgan Spurlock.
In case you are planning to visit Bikaner anytime soon, make sure you pay a visit to this sacred and unique temple.