Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok: Mystical history, significance, and unique rat worship tradition behind Rajasthan’s popular pilgrimage site

Location: Deshnoke, 30 km south of Bikaner, Rajasthan, India
Dedicated to: Shri Karni Mata
Significance: Most important pilgrimage site for Charani sagatis after partition of India
Unique Feature: Home to numerous holy mice called kābā
Foundation: Originally constituted around 1530 CE
Construction Period: 15th – 20th century
Affiliation: Hinduism

The Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, Rajasthan, is a significant Hindu temple with a unique tradition – it’s dedicated to rats. Also known as the “Temple of Rats,” this historic site attracts visitors from across the globe for its one-of-a-kind spiritual experience.

The Legend of Karni Mata

Karni Mata, the revered deity of the temple, was an embodiment of Shakti (divine feminine power). According to legend, she was a celibate figure who married her younger sister to her husband to continue the lineage. When the death-god Yama refused to help reincarnate the son of a grieving storyteller, Karni Mata promised that male storytellers would be reincarnated as rats in her temple.

Significance and Worship of the Rats

The temple is famous for its unique inhabitants – thousands of rats known as “kābā,” which are considered sacred and believed to be reincarnations of Charan caste members. Devotees feed and revere these rats, viewing them as ancestors. The rats are fed various offerings like grains, milk, and coconut shells, with their leftovers believed to bring good fortune.

History and Architecture

Karni Mata’s compassionate nature led her to ensure that her descendants would be born as rats or Charans and serve her eternally. The temple, constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries, is managed by the Depavats families, with priests living alongside the rats and conducting rituals. The temple’s design caters to the rats’ needs, emphasizing their care and protection.

Karni Mata Fair

Twice a year, during the Navratras (a Hindu festival), the Karni Mata Fair is held at the temple, attracting pilgrims from far and wide. Devotees offer prasad (sacred food) and seek blessings during this vibrant celebration of devotion and tradition.

Visiting the Temple

Visitors are drawn to this unusual temple, where it is considered auspicious for a rat to run over one’s feet. The presence of albino rats is rare but seen as lucky. Shoes are not allowed inside the temple, emphasizing respect for the sacred space.

If you’re planning a trip to Rajasthan, make sure to add the Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok to your itinerary for a truly extraordinary spiritual experience. This unique pilgrimage site, where faith intertwines with age-old traditions, is a must-visit destination.

Shree Karni Mata Temple, Deshnok, Rajasthan – Map