Karni Mata Temple

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Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple is located in Rajasthan
Karni Mata Temple
Location in Rajasthan, India
Karni Mata Temple is located in India
Karni Mata Temple
Location in Rajasthan, India
Coordinates 27°47′26″N 73°20′27″E / 27.79056°N 73.34083°E / 27.79056; 73.34083Coordinates: 27°47′26″N 73°20′27″E / 27.79056°N 73.34083°E / 27.79056; 73.34083
Country India
State Rajasthan
District Bikaner
Location Deshnoke
Sanctum Durga
Architecture Mughal & Rajput
Date built 15th - 20th century
Creator Maharaja Ganga Singh

Karni Mata Temple (Hindi: करणी माता मंदिर) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan, India. It is also known as the Temple of Rats.

The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live, and are revered in, the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world.[1]

The legend[edit]

Legend has it that Laxman, Karni Mata's stepson (or the son of one of her storytellers), drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar in Kolayat Tehsil while he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni mata's male children to be reincarnated as rats.[2]

The story behind rats at the temple is different according to some local folklore. According to this version, a 20,000 strong army deserted a nearby battle and came running to Deshnoke. Upon learning of the sin of desertion, punishable by death, Karni Mata spared their lives but turned them into rats, and offered the temple as a future place to stay. The army of soldiers expressed their gratitude and promised to serve Karni Mata evermore.

Eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is considered to be a "high honor".[3] If one of them is killed, it must be replaced with one made of solid silver.


Marble carvings at The Temple.

The building was completed in its current form in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.

In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.

The temple was further enhanced by Kundanlal Verma of Hyderabad-based Karni Jewelers in 1999. The silver gates to the temple and the marble carvings were also donated by him.[citation needed].

White rats[edit]

'White rat' at the Karni Mata temple

Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy. They are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and her four sons. Sighting them is a special blessing and visitors put in extensive efforts to bring them forth, offering prasad, a sweet holy food.

Worship and fair[edit]


Devotees performing the aarti at Karni Mata Temple.

The temple is thrown open to the public early in the morning at 4.00 a.m. Charan priests perform Mangla-Ki-Aarti and offer bhog (special food) in worship. Devotees make offerings to the rats, which roam about the temple in large numbers and are considered auspicious. There are two kinds of offerings made: the 'dwar-bhent' is attributed to the priests and the workers, while the 'kalash-bhent' is utilised for the temple maintenance and development.

Karni Mata Fair[edit]

Karni Mata Fair is held twice a year at Deshnok:

  • The first and larger fair is held in March–April during the Navratras from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi.
  • The second fair is held in September–October, also during the Navratras, from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi.

During Navratri thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.

Appearances in media[edit]

The temple appeared on the first season of the American reality television series The Amazing Race.[citation needed]

Because of its revered rat population, the temple was featured in the 2016 documentary film Rats, directed by Morgan Spurlock.[4]

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rats. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Dr. Michael Blum, Ed Sheehan, Bobby Corrigan . Discovery Channel, 2016. Netflix. Chapter: Temple of the Rats
  2. ^ Deshnok – Kani Mata Temple India, by Joe Bindloss, Sarina Singh, James Bainbridge, Lindsay Brown, Mark Elliott, Stuart Butler. Published by Lonely Planet, 2007. ISBN 1-74104-308-5. Page 257.
  3. ^ Langton, Jerry (2007). Rat: How the World's Most Notorious Rodent Clawed Its Way to the Top. Macmillan. pp. 125–128. ISBN 0-312-36384-2. 
  4. ^ Rebecca Hawkes (26 September 2016). "Rats: is Morgan Spurlock's new horror doc the most disgusting film of the year?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 December 2016.