The 600-year-old Karni Mata Temple is famous for its resident population of rats which are venerated in the temple. The temple, also known as Nari Mata Temple, is dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga.
The idol of Karni Mata wields a trishul (trident) in her hand. It is popular belief that Goddess Durga lived in place where the temple stands today and performed miracles during 14th century. The deity is believed to protect the erstwhile royal family.
Karni Mata is believed to have laid the foundation stones of two of the most important forts in Rajputana. Most temples dedicated to Karni Mata were built during her lifetime. The Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok is the most famous from all other temples dedicated to her, mainly because of the rat population.
There is a popular belief that Karni Mata’s stepson, Lakshman was trying to drink water from a tank but he ended drowning in his attempt to quench his thirst. Karni Mata called upon Yama, the God of Death to bring Lakshman back to life but Yama refused. Karni Mata was persistent and Yama eventually gave in to her demands and allowed Lakshman and all male children of Karni Mata to be reincarnated as rats.
The temple is famous for its rat population. The rats move freely about in the temple and appear from crevices in the marble covered walls and flooring. Many people offer sweets, milk and other edible offerings to the rats. The food nibbled by rats is also considered holy and consumed as prasad.
There are about 20,000 rats in the premises. Rats have free run of the place and if anyone is killed, then an idol of the rodent made of solid gold has to be donated as penance for the crime.
White rats are considered especially holy and are believed to be reincarnations of Karni Mata and her sons. Sighting of a white rat is considered very auspicious. Many devotees offer sweets and food to lure the white rats out of their hiding places.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BIKANER
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