2. Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnoke, 30km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan, India. It is also known as the Temple of Rats.
The most intriguing aspect of the temple is the 20,000-odd rats that call this temple home. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world.
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 rats.
The story behind rats at the temple is different according to some local folklore. Local folklore say that 20,000 strong army men deserted a nearby battle and came running to deshnoke. Upon learning the sin of desertion, punishable by death, Karni Mata spared the lives but made them rats and offered the temple as the future place of stay. The army of soldiers expressed their gratitude and promised to serve Karni Mata lifelong.
The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 black rats that live, and are revered in, the temple. If one of the rats is killed, it must be replaced with one made of solid gold. Eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is considered to be a “high honor”