Sorry it’s been over a week since my last post, but here’s another clip from my India trip. And another one of my favourites…
The Temple of Rats…
Warning: don’t like rats? Don’t go!!
No this was a weird place. Having seen it on National Geographic as a kid I needed to go. It’s not really something you forget! This temple is pretty much what it says on the tin. FULL of rats. Dead and alive. This sounds pretty disgusting but the rats are seen as holy animals/spirits so may are dead from natural causes. People aren’t going in and purposely killing of the rats like in most places around the world. To date there is something around 25,000 rats residing here. Yes 25,000, that isn’t a typo.
Found in Deshnoke 30km outside Bikaner, it’s in the middle of the desert and not really much around. So unless you’re staying in the town it is a bit of a trek. Even if you’re staying in Bikaner then it is still about a 30-50min drive depending on how fast your driver is. As it is a local attraction and attracting locals and tourist from all over the country there are plenty of methods to get there. Worth it though if youre looking for something different, into your temples and to get a look at the weirder side of Indian culture.
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 rat.
Now these aren’t my own words and in local culture this may vary. Another version describes how an army of 20,000 deserted a nearby battle and came running to Deshnoke. Here Karni Mata spared their lives despite their sin of desertion. She did turn them into rats though and offered the temple as a place to stay…hence the thousands of rats present to this day. grateful they then said they’d forever serve her.
There are also a few superstitions that are interesting to know before you enter. I remember walking out the temple to have a rat run across my foot, only to be launched into the air as I tripped over it. What surprised me more though was the reaction of those around me. I expected to be scolded for accidentally kicking one of the sacred animals; however it is supposed to be good luck if a rat passes over your feet or body. Can’t say I’ll be doing that again! Another superstition is the white rats. The legend behind the white rats is that these are the manifestations of Karni Mata or her sons. Now if you see one of these, this is a true blessing! Out of the thousands of rats there aren’t many. We were lucky enough to see one…so overall I had a pretty blessed trip to the temple! If you’d prefer to keep a wide distance between you at the rats though you can buy food to offer to the rats, and leave this in the temple (don’t need to put it in their mouths).
Things to remember:
Remember to take hand gel as obviously there are tonnes of rats! Also you have to be barefoot like most temples but I would recommend taking a pair of socks you don’t mind throwing away…you will be stepping in a lot of rat pee etc. There are places to wash your feet outside but again this water may not be that clean.
So this was a site I wanted to tick of my bucket list and can say I won’t forget or regret seeing. It is weird but at the same time wonderful. Heed my word when I say if you don’t like rats at all, don’t go. There are thousands! Have fun!