Bikaner/ Deshnowk Temple, Rat Temple

If someone told me I would go barefoot into a small room with thousands of rats – that wasn’t a Fort Boyade challenge – I would have told them to jog on. But 5 days in and there I was. The Deshnowk Temple, or rat temple, is devoted to a women. Deshnowk is believed to have walked the Royal state of Bikaner in the 14th Century. They believed her to be goddess-like. Story has it that she travelled from village to village, being shunned away, but the men who told her to leave would die the next day. The people saw this as a warning and believed her to have supernatural powers. Later she blessed a man and told him he would be king. Soon after he founded Bikaner and became King.


So what’s with the rats? Some believe that she called upon the Warriors to fight for her, but, scared, they ran away so she cursed them turning them all to rats. Yet others believe that those close to her who followed her were reincarnated into rats and live in the temple to stay close to her. In particular, the Charn’s, a caste of the community, are strong believers of her story and see her as their goddess. Even today, if they were to get married they would go to the temple to ask for blessing. Amongst the 20,000 rats, you will find people offering milk and food to the goddess, then sharing the food with the rats as a blessing.

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