Karni mata temple is located in Deshnok, 30 kms from Bikaner,Rajasthan and is dedicated to Karni mata, a famous mystic of her times, believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga (known to remove evil, misery, pain from our lives). Karni mata was the sixth daughter of Mehoji charan and Deval devi born in the fourteenth century in a village of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. A night before when karni mata was born, Deval devi, dreamt that a Goddess appears and blesses her with the words that the Goddess will be born to you, as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The royal families of Bikaner and Jodhpur officialy worship Karni mata.
It is one of the strangest temples in the world. The temple is home to over 20,000 rats which are treated as sacred. It is considered very lucky to spot a white rat in the temple. Apparently, even during the worst of plagues, the town of Deshnok was not affected. Strange but true, eating food that has been nibbled by the rats is considered to be a ‘high honor’. It is regarded auspicious, if a rat runs across one’s feet. It is considered as that after Karni mata’s death, she became a rat. The Charan clans believe that once they die, they too will be re-incarnated as a rat and subsequently when a rat in the temple dies, it will be re-incarnated as a human again.
Karni mata lived for 150 years and remained young and beautiful. During her lifetime she performed many miracles and led her whole life to help all the needy people.
The temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh ji of Bikaner, which dated back to 15th century. There is beautiful marble facade in the temple which has solid silver doors, which are made in Mughal Rajput architecture style. The silver doors were donated by Maharaja on his visit to temple. The temple contains foot prints of Mata ji so symbolize her visit to the place. There is idol of karni mata holding Trishul and Mukut surrounds by the rats.
To see the temple in full glory, visitors should come late at night or before sunrise, when the rats are out in full force, gathering food.
The karni mata fair is also very popular among the devotees and tourists. It is held twice a year. The first in March-April during Navratras and the second is held in September-October, also during the Navratras. During Navratras thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.