Wish You Were Here? - the Karni Mata rat temple

American streets have a unique quality about them. It's a kind of quality that makes you look out of the window and wish you were somewhere else.

On the brightest of days I have imagined the sun falling on my face as I look over the cataracts of the Nile at Aswan, the small feluccas cutting in and out of the sparkling water, and Venice and the red roofs of Florence or the venerable islands of Greece rising from the seas of antiquity.

But there are some tourist destinations I draw the line at. Namely the Karni Mata temple at Deshnok, in Rajasthan, India.

This Hindu temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the early 1900s as a tribute to the rat goddess, Karni Mata.

"Intricate marble panels line the entrance and the floors, and silver and gold decorations are found throughout," states National Geographic.

I'm fine with the panels, less fine with the presence of 20,000 rats who hang out here and are considered sacred.

"The legend goes that Karni Mata, a mystic matriarch from the 14th century, was an incarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory. At some point during her life, the child of one of her clansmen died. She attempted to bring the child back to life, only to be told by Yama, the god of death, that he had already been reincarnated," National Geographic stated.

It seems Karni Mata cut a deal with Yama: From then on all of her tribespeople would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan.

It sounds like a bad deal to me. But the folks at the temple seem to be cool with it, providing the rats with tasty food and even sharing their bowls at time and feeling honored to be bitten by the aforementioned rodents.

The place could probably use a couple of cats.

Now I don't have a phobia about rats. I'd have a nice clean white or black one as a pet. But the scenes from the temple threaten to turn me into Mr OCD on acid. Seldom have I yearned so much for a tin of bleach and some latex gloves. Give me sterile American subdivisions, baby.

Still all this pre lunch talk about rats has me thinking about phobias. A lot of people are rat phobics and I know some people who would not be able to watch this video.

What's your phobia?


  1. Whoa...a few scenes in the video make my stomach turn. Yes, it's what they believe and I totally respect that...just can't see myself eating from a rat dish, side by side with said rats. Interesting though that the temple has never had an issue with the common rate related illnesses. Makes one wonder. Fascinating and creepy at the same time. Good post David!

    1. thanks kiddo - apparently rat-a-two-ee is the favi sharing dish.

  2. I don't have a problem with rats either, but flies make me really nervous. My parents told me that it might be because when I was 4 I swallowed up a fly in front of them. I don't remember but it surely had to be disgusting. Since them even the small ones bother me, I have to kick them out of the room. By the way, that somebody once found rats so fascinating is rather creepy, I mean why would someone do that? I'm not surprised they had to made up such an absurd legend.

    1. 4real Starla - I know.Flies are not the best when you consider where they have been.

  3. I don't mind rats but I've seen that place on TV before and EW. That's a bit much. I have a spider phobia. I'm not crazy about live crabs either...I call them the spiders of the sea.

  4. That video made me shudder. I don't like rats or spiders or snakes. I don't freak out at the sight of one, but anything like that in large numbers would definitely bother me. Also I'm afraid of high, open places and being in water that's over my head.

    1. interesting Daisy - the high open places thing seems a bit like agoraphobia


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