Karni Mata Temple – The Rat Temple of Rajasthan

Written By: The Planet D

Bikaner may be known for its camel safaris and impressive fort in the state of Rajasthan, but it is its unique temple in the town of  Deshnok that attracted us to the area. The Karni Mata Rat Temple just may be the freakiest attraction we’ve ever been to.

The Karni Mata Temple just may be one of India’s strangest attractions.

What is the Karni Mata Rat Temple?

rat temple of india karni mata rats drinking milk

Karni Mata houses thousands of rats. Yes rats.

And pilgrims make regular trips to Deshnok to worship these long-tailed rodents.

The Story of Karni Mata goes like this

karni mata rat temple of rajasthan | altar

As our guide explained to us…

The Goddess Karna Mata was a part of the Charin clan in her lifetime.  She lived to be 150 years old and remained young and beautiful. After her death, she became a rat.

The followers of the Charin believe that once they die, they too will be reincarnated as a rat and subsequently, when a rat dies, it will be reincarnated as a human again.

And so the cycle continues.

Rat Temple of India

karni mata temple goddess

These holy rodents are revered by their followers as the Charin People believe that the rats of the Karni Mata Temple are their ancestors.

The Rat Temple yet another fascinating stop in India.

rat temple bikaner feeding the rats

Apparently even during the worst of the plague, the town of Deshnok was not affected.

Worshippers make pilgrimages to the Karni Mata Rat Temple not only to worship the rats, but to also heal their ailments.

An interesting fact that everyone told us was that these rats never leave the temple even though they are free to do so. I say, why leave when you are given a steady stream of tasty milk and treats.

The White Rat of Karni Mata Temple

Lucky white rat of karni mata rat temple

It is considered lucky to spot a white rat and we managed to see one scamper around the grounds.

I understand why it is so difficult to spot one though, the minute it comes out of hiding, hoards of tourists and pilgrims chase after it to catch a glimpse. 

It isn’t long before it runs back into a hole in the wall.

We pondered the thought that this poor rat probably says to its buddies. “Why don’t I ever get a chance to eat in peace like the rest of you? Every time I come out for a bite, I am chased by these silly humans.”

white rat karni mata temple

It is also considered auspicious to have rats scamper over your toes. 

Well, Dave and I must have some good fortune in our cards because they scampered over to us more times than I would like to admit.

Maybe it was our stinky feet from not showering for days that attracted the rats so often.  Or maybe we are just the chosen ones.

Did I tell you that you have to enter the rat temple barefoot?

bare feet at the rat temple

Be prepared to walk through a lot of rat poo.

Rat food, dirt and grime. And I hope you don’t have a rat phobia, you will have a rat run over your toes.

But you know what? I wouldn’t miss this attraction for the world.

The Karni Mata Rat Temple was one of the most unique experiences we’ve ever had. If you’re going to visit a temple, it might as well be full of rats.

rat temple karni mata worshipers

Karni Mata Information

  • Deshnok is located 30 kn from Bikaner and 6km from Udaipur
  • Public Buses leave regularly from Bikaner and Udaipur for 20 Rs
  • Vijays Guest House AKA The Camelman offers trips for 800 Rs. Shared with 4 people it is only 200 RS each.
  • Provides good guide and a stop at the camel farm on the way.
  • You can book day tours from Udaipur or Bikaner in Rajasthan to Karni Mata Rat Temple.

Watch our video to see what fun we had at the Rat Temple of India

karni mata rat temple rajasthan

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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23 thoughts on “Karni Mata Temple – The Rat Temple of Rajasthan”

  1. That is just too neat…and a bit gross. I’m not particularly fond of the rats, but I love knowing that bit of story behind it!
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Confession…My SEO Job aka Why I’m Not a “Real” Backpacker =-.

  2. Wow, that is awesome! I love any place that worships animals, esp. the animals typically abhorred by most other people. I personally think that rats have a bad rep. They are really smart and interesting little creatures. Of course this is coming from someone who actually had a pet rooster in San Diego and thought it was just fine. No wonder I got kicked out of that place! hahaha…

    Anyway, it’s great they scampered all over your toes and that you were brave enough to experience it. I am def. going to put this on our must do list for India. I just read your post to Randy, I can’t say he shares the same enthusiasm but I think it’s cool!
    .-= Bethany´s last blog ..Blood, Drugs & Sangria – How To Vacation In A War Zone. Part one of a five part series. =-.

  3. It’s funny how we think squirrels and chipmunks are cute, but rats and mice are not – they’re all rodents, the only difference being the length of their fur and a hairless tail….personally I have no trouble with any of them, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to worship a rodent. Live and let live is as far as I’ll go.

    But on the whole I think it’s a good sign that you got to see the white rat and that they seemed to like your feet – maybe that will bring you great luck for the rest of your trip!
    .-= Trisha Miller´s last blog ..A Blog is Like a Baby: How to Parent It =-.

    • Trisha, you are absolutely right. What is the difference between a squirrel and a rat. The squirrell is just cuter. I don’t mind them too much either, but when they ran over my feet, I was pretty freaked out.

  4. I remember reading about this awhile ag and being totally grossed out. Ewwww! Our house is kind of a mouse temple. Maybe I should market that.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..History vs Progress =-.

    • I tell you Candice, you could have Pilgrims coming regularly. Charge a fee, and sell food and you will be rich. We had a loft that had a mouse in it every season change. I hate killing anything so we would always try to catch them with a towel. We almost always set them free. It was not an easy task because my cat Spoofy (RIP) was great at catching mice. I would always have to yell at her to let the mouse out of her mouth. Then we would grab it and put it outside:)

  5. Neatoh! I’ve always been bond of mice and rats. Probably due to my love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles throughout a good potion of my childhood. Splinter would be right at home here.

    Loved the pics!
    .-= Corbin´s last blog ..Photo Du Jour – Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia =-.

  6. It almost reminds me of the New York Train Tunnels but a bit more civilized (if that is even possible to say when rats are involved).

    Interesting story though!
    .-= Bryan @ Tourfolio.com´s last blog ..Our Favorite Travel Tweets of the Week Jan 17-Jan 23, 2010 =-.

  7. Ok.. Sorry but this might be the only post that I skip reading it. Just the name already gives me goose bump. I have seen a picture somewhere on the web before so I have no interest of seeing it again. 🙂 Definitely this place will not be on my list. I have a rat phobia so I probably have a heart attack being in that temple.
    .-= Amy @ The Q Family´s last blog ..Chasing Sunset in Los Angeles =-.