Rat Temple | Bikaner
Once upon a time (about 800 years ago) the goddess Karni Mata lived in a temple in Deshnoke near Bikaner, Rajasthan. Karni Mata lived for 150 years and, legend has it, when she died she was reincarnated as a rat. Followers of Karni Mata believe that when they die they are reincarnated as rats, and when a rat dies it is reincarnated as a human, and so the circle continues. Other folklores claim that when an army deserted after a nearby battle, they were spared death as a punishment but turned into rats instead and given the temple to live in. Yet another version claims the rats are children of Karni Mata who again were spared death but instead turned into rats.
Whatever the story, there are now reportedly 20,000 black rats roaming around the temple. There are also some 'lucky' white rats hanging around and it is said that if you spot one, one of your wishes will come true. I didn't see one. It's also said to be lucky if a rat walks over your feet . . . again this didn't happen to me, thankfully.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you have to be barefoot to enter the temple. Yes, your bare feet mingling amongst rats and rat poo - delightful! Even for someone like myself who likes rats, it's a bit much and a little gross. However, it is a very pretty temple. Reincarnated rat or not, Karni Matha has a serious eye for interior design.
Would I recommend a visit? Yes, definitely. It's an experience, as the English are fond of saying. Honestly though, when would you ever get the opportunity to wander around barefoot in a pink temple with thousands of rats in the middle of a desert?