Rat Worshipping.  World’s Weirdest Temple?

Rat Worshipping. World’s Weirdest Temple?

Rats are dirty. After the plague it may seem like common knowledge, but being surrounded by thousands of rats makes it clear just how dirty they are. In the Karni Mata temple, reputedly home to 20,000 rats, there’s not a single foot’s worth of space without rat poop on it. As hardened feces attempted to pierce the soles of my feet I thought of something more amazing: the Indians weren’t grossed out, no, they had come to worship the rats.

Aww, how cute?  Two vermin hanging out together…

The American in me wanted to start laying traps or at very least let a couple cats loose, but these weren’t sewer rats, they were sacred rats. What makes a rat sacred? If it’s the reincarnation of sacred humans. How do we know they are reincarnated humans? Faith. As with any religion this is key, if you don’t believe you may find yourself standing in a rat temple thinking, eww, gross, but with faith you’re standing on holy ground, hoping oh so much that a rat will run across your feet…a holy event you may remember for your next several lives.

Got faith?  This man does!  May his pilgrimage to the rat temple fulfill all his wishes…

How did this temple come about? Legend has it that the temple’s namesake, Karni Mata, asked the god of death, Yama, to restore the life of a storyteller’s fallen son. When Yama refused to do it Karni Mata, a reincarnation of Durga, reincarnated all storytellers as rats, thereby depriving Yama of these souls. The astute reader will wonder, if Karni Mata could reincarnate the dead, why didn’t he just reincarnate storyteller’s son himself? I can’t begin to understand the story myself, or why people 600 years later still make pilgrimages here, so if you know more please enlighten me in the comments below…

Want to learn more?  The walls tell the whole story…

Did I leave a believer?  Nope.  Maybe it’s my jaded monotheistic upbringing.  Maybe it’s my over sanitized society.  Maybe it’s that I’m a cat person.  Or maybe, just maybe, rats are gross.

OK, I’ll be honest, a couple of them are kind of cute…


  1. Karni Mata is located in the tiny village of Deshnokh, about one hour away from Bikaner.  Bikaner is accessible from most cities in Rajasthan by bus and train.
  2. You can’t wear shoes in the temple, so accept that you will be barefooting it over rat feces.
  3. Look for the white rats (which I believe are actually mice).  It is very good luck to see one and extraordinary luck if one of these runs across your feet.
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» Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) :
Oct 5, 2012

Yikes! I saw this temple many seasons ago on the Amazing Race (one of the challenges involved people having to walk through the temple to get a clue), and it skeeved me out then and skeeves me out now. I think rats are cute, provided they are from a pet store, but man, I don’t think I could walk through their feces barefoot.
Read Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)’s awesome post Sadness & Serenity in Hiroshima

» Donna :
Oct 5, 2012

Amen … and as my cat, Simba, would say, “the only cute rat is a dead rat!” He oughtta know … he’s a good mouser and moler!!!


» jill :
Oct 5, 2012

Can’t never see a rat without going ‘Aaaww, what a cute rattie!” We used to keep pet rats – they’re the best – they’re distant cousins of these wild ones, but both are cute.
Read jill’s awesome post Trekking on Matanuska Glacier – Anchorage

thinkCHUA Reply:

LOCAVORista also had pet rats, so she was warmer to them. Still, this isn’t your childhood home, this is rural India…think of the place you’d least want to drop your toothbrush, then some, now imagine thousands of rats are there. Now you have an idea of the rats I’m talking about!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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