The Karni Mata temple is situated in Deshnok. It is 30 km from Bikaner. The temple is dedicated to an early 15th century mystic, considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Durga. This temple is quite famous for a large number of brown rats running around the temple complex fearlessly. It is believed that the souls of dead Charans (traditional bards, the devotees of Mata) reside in these rats.
It is considered good luck seeing a white rat or when a rat runs over your foot. During the time of aarti, these rats are offered sweets, grains, etc by the devotees. The thing which strikes everyone with wonder is the presence of thousands and thousands of rats in the temple which freely moved about unscared of anyone despite the presence of the pilgrims in great numbers. There was no incidence of plague in past at all . Devotees deem this as an miracle of Karanimata. In the whole world this is a unique temple where rats freely move out.
The Temple was constructed by Ganga singh, the former ruler of Bikaner. Karni Mata temple, Rajasthan has silver and gold domes, even the mandap and the panels above the image are made up of gold. The main gate of the Deshnok Rat temple, Bikaner has been intricately worked upon.
Devotees from all over India and even abroad pay a visit to the temple. At the time of Navaratri, a fair is held at the temple. Devotees from places far and wide flock to the temple at that time, some even on foot. Day by day, the faith in Karni Mata is increasing, attracting more and more devotees to the place. Whenever the wishes of the devotees get fulfilled, they offer silver and gold to the goddess at the temple.
Legend and History of Karni Mata
Karni Mata was an ascetic who led a righteous life dedicated to the service and uplifting of the poor and downtrodden of all communities. It is believed that she possessed supernatural powers. The foundation of Deshnok was laid by her and she has been worshipped as a goddess by her principal followers, Charans, as well as the rulers of Bikaner, who regarded her as the patron deity.The whole life of Shri Karni Mata was full of miracles and even after her disappearance from the earth; her innumerable devotees have experienced her merciful blessings in form of help in their life. The word disappearance has been used, because it wasn’t a natural death of Shri Karni Mata, rather her human body disappeared in divine light at her desire.
The temple is also famous for its holy rodents who are revered as ‘Kabas’.The legend goes that Karni Mata, a mystic matriarch from the 14th century, was an incarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory. At some point during her life, the child of one of her clansmen died. She attempted to bring the child back to life, only to be told by Yama, the god of death, that he had already been reincarnated. Karni Mata cut a deal with Yama: From that point forward, all of her tribes people would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan.In Hinduism, death marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one on the path to a soul’s eventual oneness with the universe. This cycle of transmigration is known as samsara and is precisely why Karni Mata’s rats are treated like royalty.
Karni Mata was the daughter of Meha Ji Kiniya, Karni Mata incarnated on 28th Sep., 1387 at Suvap Village in Tehsil Phalodi of Jodhpur District. She was married to Depaji. She belonged to Charan caste. Her father was Mehaji and Deval Bai was her mother. At the time of birth Karni Mata was named “Ridhu Bai”. She was the sixth child of her parents. All the five children born before her were females. A night before her delivery, Deval Bai (Ridhu Bai’s mother), dreamt that a Goddess appears and blesses her with the words that the Goddess will be born to Deval Bai, as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Deval Bai told her dream to everyone, but all the members of her family took it lightly. After the birth of Ridhu Bai, her aunt (sister of her father) being much disappointed, patted the head of Ridhu Bai with her hand and then with a fist said, “Again a stone has come”. To the astonishment of everyone, her fingers momentarily got stuck to each other. After the birth of Ridhu Bai the economic condition of Mehaji improved a lot. Later on, after few years her aunt came to see her from her-in-laws’ house. One day her aunt was combing Ridhu Bai’s hair with one hand. Ridhu Bai asked her the reason for not using the other hand. Her aunt told her the story of how her hand got defected. Ridhu Bai took her defective hand in her own hand and said “Where is the defect, it is all right”, and surprisingly, her hand got cured in a moment. Influenced by this miracle and recalling the past dream of Deval Bai, her aunt there and then renamed Ridhu Bai, “KARNI” (Meaning- She will do something miraculous on the earth).
When Karni Mata was six years old a snake bit her father in the jungle. She put her hands on the effected limb and removed the poison. This way she saved the life of her father. Meantime, the stories of the miracles of Karni Mata had begun to spread far and wide.
By this time Karni Mata became over aged & her parents became anxious for her marriage. Inspite of their best efforts, they could not find a suitable match for Karni Mata. Seeing her parents anxious & worried, Karni Mata herself suggested her father to go to village Sathika and talk on her marriage with Depaji, son of Rao Kelu- a great Philosopher of that area during that time. According to history, the marriage took place in 1416 AD, in a quite simple manner. When the marriage procession was returning to Sathika from Suwap, the people, horses and cattle felt thirsty, but there was no water nearby to quench their thirst. Karni Mata at that time indicated a certain place behind a sand-dune for water. Everyone was amazed to see a tank full of water. The bridegroom Depaji went to Karni Mata’s doli (palanquin) and raised its curtains to thank her. He was amazed to see that, inside was a Goddess sitting beside a lion. After a few seconds Karni Mata transformed herself into human body. She told her husband to marry her sister Gulab Bai, mentioning that she was born on the earth only to serve people. On the way to Sathika there was a village named Kaluja. The villagers already aware of her miracles requested her to solve their water problem. She blessed and told them to put her idol made of clay in the well and abstain from cutting trees. Soon the well was found to be full of water and still exists. Today this well is known as “Shri Karnisagar”.
A dispute arose between Karni mata and the servants of Rao Kanha to vacate the jungle near Deshnoke as the area fell under him. Karni mata, peacefully told them that, “I have come here with the blessings of Goddess Awad Mata. The image of Goddess is lying in that wooden box, if you put the box in my chariot; I will go away from here at once”. All the men of Rao tried to lift the box individually as well as collectively but couldn’t succeed. At last Rao Kanha himself tried to do so with the help of elephants but failed. During the attempts to lift the box one of the stands of the box broke. This Box of Karni Mata containing the idol of Goddess Awad Mata (whom Karni mata worshiped during her lifetime) is presently situated in Temre Rai Temple in the middle of Deshnoke city. Karni Mata made her permanent residence in the jungle near Deshnoke, at a place which is now known as “Nehriji”. When she began to reside at Nehriji, she marked certain areas around that place upto two kilometres in radius. She then planted bushes of red berries all around. These green bushes on one hand served as fodder for the cattle and on the other presented fine natural scenery. In order to churn the curd a supporting stick was required to be tied-up with the iron ring. A rope was required to rotate the apparatus called “Zerna” which is a long stick of wood, having three to four prongs at its lower end, to churn the curd. This stick is called “Nedi”. For this purpose, Karni Mata planted the stem of a tree to churn the curd. This Nedi stick in the long run became the tree of Khejri since drops of curd fell on the stick in the course of churning. This Khejri tree, which is presently inside the Nehriji Temple surprisingly, contains the marks of curd visible on its bark.
The temple is 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 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.
- Location Deshnok → Bikaner – Rajasthan
- Dedicated to → Karni Mata (Reincarnation of Goddess Durga)
- Main Attraction → Thousands of Rats
- Main Festival and Fair → Karni Mata fair is held in March-April & September-October during the Navratras
- How to reach by Air → the nearest airport – Jodhpur
- How to reach by Rail Nearest railway station → Bikaner and well connected with all metro and major cities
- How to reach by Road → Bikaner is well connected by road with the major and metro cities