Read, Write, Run, Roam

One more for the travel chuck-it list: The Shrine of Karni Mata


I wrote about my travel chuck-it list a while ago, and when I saw this destination to awfulness I decided to add…

Deshnoke, Rajasthan, India

Specifically, the shrine of Karni Mata.

Perhaps you’re thinking, But RHOB, it’s a temple! You wrote about places of worship every Sunday for a year! 

Yes, yes I did. But you know what was never in those churches, temples and mosques?

Thousands of rats.

The Secret of Nimh is…yogurt drinks. Who knew?

Karni Mata was a Hindu mystic born in the 1300s or 1400s, depending on the source. National Geographic notes that at one point, a child of her clan died. Karni Mata tried to bring the child back to life, but was told by the god of death that the child had already been reincarnated as the Hindu faith prescribes. It’s not clear whether the child was reincarnated as a rat, but it was decided that the rest of Karni Mata’s clan would be reincarnated as rats until they could be reborn as humans. (Why no one chose a less…infectious in-between state is beyond me.)

The rats are referred to as children, and given food and drink. National Geographic claims that “eating food or drinking water that previously has been sampled by a rat is considered to be a supreme blessing.” With respect to Karni Mata followers, you know what a blessing is? Winning the lottery. Not eating rat-masticated grain.

Despite the rat’s reputation for spreading disease, there have been no reported cases of plague or other rat-linked sicknesses around the temple. Then again, if these rats are eating gourmet meals, I guess there’s not a big incentive to take a bite of worshipper.

There are at least 20,000 rats in the temple. And that, readers, is 20,000 reasons why it’s on my travel chuck-it list. Going to India? Yes, please. Going to Karni Mata’s temple? Nooooo thanks.

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