30 km from the city of Bikaner, located in the state of Rajasthan bordering with Pakistan, there is a temple that could make many people be out of control and get in to panic, all this because the temple is habited by a small rodent that is part of one of the most common fears or fears among people. This is the Karni Mata Temple or commonly known as the temple of rats, there live about twenty thousand rats. This temple was built in 1900 as a tribute to the goddess Karni Mata and the legend says that this was a reincarnation of goddess Durga (the goddess of power and victory). It is said that one day, Karni Mata made a deal with Lama who is considered the god of death, it was that all men who died in his clan will reincarnate in rats until they were ready to be born again in the tribe. So all the people who follow the Hindu religion believe that rats are reincarnations of Karni Mata and of his followers the Sadhus, who are considered holy in Hinduism.
Because many of the opinions that are around these animals (considered dirty, nasty, that they bring diseases, etc.) This is one of the places that more cause curious to the travelers and tourists visiting India. For many people it seems incredible to think that there is a place where these are protected, fed and worshiped. Thousands of rats that live in the temple move freely all over the place and it’s almost impossible not to touch them while you are inside. There are trays with milk, water, peanuts and other foods in different locations so that these animals can feed themselves. People that visit them bring gifts, make photographs with them in their hands, feed the rats and perform their ritual prayer as in any other temple.
In all the places that are considered sacred in India is forbidden to wear shoes, in fact I come to think I spent more time barefoot than wearing my shoes, which is why I consider the best shoes that can be worn in India are flip-flops or sandals, because you can take them off and wear them at any time easily. The fact is that for many people would be almost impossible to walk barefoot among all these animals and their excrement, risking you to have it on your feet or step on any of them. In a normal time I would also consider it twice, but the truth is that while I was there, my curiosity was bigger and I did not care anymore. But I do not deny that I was a little scared to have as many rats walking around me, but they are fully accustomed to the presence of people and are indifferent to it so they continue with what they are doing; they know that they are the owners of the place. If you are scrupulous, you can enter with socks or plastic bags on feet, it is what many tourists do.
The people of this city have two beliefs, both related to good luck and good times coming, the first one is, if you visit the temple and one of the rats is passed over your feet and the second one and most especially for believers, is if you have the fortune of seeing the only white rat that lives in the temple. I experienced both, the first left me a good cry, many bad looks from people who were there and a gentleman who wanted me away because I hit him when jumping in fright and the second a good memory and a picture a little fuzzy, I could not repeat it because I did not see it again.
Actually I tell you that the experience was not as ugly as I imagined on the contrary brings me very good memories. In the temple do not feel bad odors, remains very clean and most of the rats are tender with big ears and big eyes, very different from what a sewer rat or which are also seen in India in some stations and routes Train, these are really creepy.
Versión en Español: UNA VISITA AL TEMPLO DE LAS RATAS