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Karni Mata Temple

Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok in Bikaneris is a heavenly religious place to visit in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The shrine is also famous as Rat temple. Rats are treated to be sacred here and are also given shelter in the shrine itself. There are a few reports linking the temple with Jainism but it is purely associated with Hindu religion. The marvelous architecture got its name from the divine Karni Mata who is also known as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess Durga. The shrine was erected following Karni Mata’s mysterious disappearance.

The Rat Temple treats rats as such divinely that if any one kills a rat in the premises, he is supposed to replace it with a similar one made of gold. But considering the increasing gold prices many fold these days, the one has to offer a silver rat instead of gold. Such rats are sold by the shrine staff itself inside the premises.

The architectural style of the eye-catching monument is of Mughal type and was erected during 20th century by the then Maharaja Ganga Singh. The superbly built monument was further enhanced as late as 1999 by a jeweler Kundanlal Varma. He has donated to the shrine fine marble carvings and the two massive exclusively designed silver gates fitted at the entrance of the main shrine. Kundanlal Varma owns Karni Jewelers of Hyderabad, India.

The rats, also known as “kabas”, in the complex attract considerable respect from the visitors. So much so that it is considered auspicious if they run through one’s feet. Visitors feed the sacred rats with milk and Prasad (the food considered to be a blessing from God). This practice alone helps the temple to generate revenue of more than 2 lakhs every year.

A big sink of milk is built in the shrine’s outer chamber. The sacred rats gather around this basin every morning around 11 AM to have a sip of milk. The current rat count is 20,000-plus. There are around 4 to 5 white rats in the temple which are considered to be the direct avatar of the Hindu deity Karni Mata and her sons. Feeding these white rats is considered to be very auspicious. It is said that sighting these white rats is extremely difficult as they do not come in open much often.

One can see several rat holes in the complex with rats engaged in different forms of activities. The shrine committee has secured the courtyard with grills to prevent the rodents from becoming a prey for birds and other creatures.

Karni Mata’s image is placed in the main shrine. The goddess is seen holding a trishul (trident) and is always surrounded by rats. The image is around 75 cm tall and is decorated with a beautiful mukut (crown). Images of her sisters are placed on the either sides of the main image. The goddess is greeted with placing holy things at her heavenly feet. Thousand of worshippers visit the shrine by foot at the time of Navratri Utsav. The two major fairs at the shrine are held during the months of March-April and September-October every year.


The history of Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok, Bikaner dates back to 15th century. It is said that Laxmanraj, the stepson of the goddess, went to Kolayat fair in 1463 AD. He accidentally drowned away in a lake there while attempting to drink water. After the incident, his dead body was brought to Deshnok. Laxmanraj’s mother Gulab Bai urged Karni Mata to bring her son back to life.

The goddess was known to be blessed with supreme divine powers. She ordered that Laxmanraj’s dead body be sheltered inside a cave. The goddess herself stayed with the body for three days. It is said that the goddess asked Yama (the god of death) to bring Laxmanraj back to life. Yama denied doing so. Then, the goddess herself used her divine powers to bring Laxmanraj back to life and reincarnated him in the form of rat.

She also announced that none of her family members would die henceforth. Since then, all her family members are said to be reincarnated as rats to stay together as a family. Hence, rats are considered to be so auspicious in the temple.

It is said that the temple was built during 1620 to 1628. Though the history of the temple is more than 600 years old, the heavenly shrine did not attract much attention of visitors till as late as 1990s. It came to its present day form by the efforts of Karni Mata Development Committee who rebuilt the monument.


Karni Mata Temple is truly a god’s gift. The unique sculpture is beautifully carved out of marble and stone. The enthralling domes are built out of silver and gold. The eye-catching mandap in the main shrine and section above the goddess’s image is made of gold.

How to Reach

Deshnok is hardly 30 KM from Bikaner.

By Air

Jodhpur airport is the nearest (about 253 KM). You can also reach through the airports at Jaipur, Delhi, and Agra.

By Rail

Bikaner is the nearest railway station. It is well-connected to other major areas of the country.

By Road

Bikaner is about 350 KM from Jodhpur and Jaipur each and 450 KM from Delhi.

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