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Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner
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The Karni Mata temple, Deshnok is situated 30 km from Bikaner. The temple is dedicated to an early 15th century mystic, considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Durga. This temple is quite famous for a large number of brown rats running around the temple complex fearlessly. It is believed that the souls of dead Charans (traditional bards, the devotees of Mata) reside in these rats. It is considered very lucky seeing a white rat or when a rat runs over your foot.During the time of aarti, these rats are offered sweets, grains, etc by the devotees.The thing which strikes everyone with wonder is the presence of thousands and thousands of rats in the temple which freely moved about unscared of anyone Despite the presence of the pilgrims in great numbers. At no time in the past plague broke out here. There was no incidence of plague at all. People deem this as an miracle of Karanimata. In the whole world this is a unique temple where rats freely move out.

The priests of Shakta cult worshiped the Goddess. The rats are fed on Milk and Laddu. The descendants of Karnimata who are Depawats of the Charan Community worship the Goddess. Whenever someone's whishes are fulfilled, he prepares prasadam in two big cauldrons of iron. This prasadam is distributed amongst who are present and all who visit.

The idol of deity is one feet three inches wide and two and half feet tall. Bikaner's ruler Ganga Singh had the whole temple built in marble. The domes of the temple are made of silver and gold. The manadap and the panels above the image are also golden. Devotees place offerings in silver and gold when their prayers are answered.The elaborate works on the main gate of the temple is a tribute to the fine craftsmanship of the artisans of those days. The principal temple alongwith the circumambulatory path and outer walls is built of red stone but the main gate is grand and high and it is made of marble on which beautiful carving work has been done. Infrornt of the inner temple marble has been elegantly used. The entire floor of the temple is also of marble. Inside the inner temple the small shrine which is said to have been made 600 years ago by Karni Mata herself is present. This shrine the small one and it was built with brick and round stones.

Legends

The temple is also famous for its holy rodents who are revered as 'Kabas'.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. Karni Mata cut a deal with Yama: From that point forward, all of her tribespeople would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan.In Hinduism, death marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one on the path to a soul's eventual oneness with the universe. This cycle of transmigration is known as samsara and is precisely why Karni Mata's rats are treated like royalty.

According to another legend, the Maharaja of Bikaner had a vision where Karni Mata appeared and asked him to protect her rats. The Maharaja then built the Karni Mata temple with marble and silver adornments.

Places of Interest

ShivBari Temple - Built by Dungar Singhji in the late 19th century. An embattlement wall surrounds the temple. It has four-faced black marble Shiva statue and a bronze Nandi facing the Shiva-Lingam. There are two large reservoirs of water known as bawaris.

Sri Kolayatji Temple - A famous pilgrimage spot with a temple dedicated to Kapil Muni (saint). The temple is the venue for an annual fair held in the month of Kartik (Oct-Nov) when the thousands of devotees gather in a large number to take a sacred dip in the holy waters of the Kolayat lake (Kapil Sarovar) on the full moon day. A cattle fair, especially for the trading of camels is a part of he festivities. The small oasis town is now an ideal picnic spot.

Nagnechiji Temple -  Situated in the southeast of Bikaner city, has a historical importance. The statue of 18 armed Goddess having different weapons in her arms was brought here from Jodhpur by Rao Bikaji.It was one of the 18 heirlooms which the founder king got after a confrontation with the then king of Jodhpur.

Bhandeshwar Jain Temples - Beautiful 16th century Jain temples, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar Parshvanathji. Other important shrines of Bikaner include the Lakshminathji, Ratan Biharji, Shiv Bari and Nagnechiji temple. The Bhaironji temple at Kodamesar, about 40 kms from Bikaner is another popular site.

Laxminath Temple -  Erected during the reign of Rao Lunkaran boasts of the superb archeological skills of artists and artisans. Statues of deities Vishnu and Laxmi stand here. Rao Bikaji laid the foundation of Bikaner here in the year 1488 A.D. It being a historical monument has special identity.

Getting there and Around

By Air - Jodhpur is the nearest Airport. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is well connected by Regular flights from all the metros cities of India - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

By Rail -  A good rail network with cities connects Bikaner like Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur and Allahabad.The "Palace on Wheels" luxury train also covers Bikaner in its eight-day tour of Rajasthan.

By Road - Bikaner is connected by road with the major cities in India. National and State Highways link Bikaner with the other major cities and metros in India. Delhi is 456km, Jaipur 334km and Jaisalmer 333km from Bikaner.

Accommodation

The hotels in Bikaner offer enough accommodation options to travellers. The city is dotted with several heritage hotels like Basant Vihar Palace (Heritage), Gajner Palace Hotel (Heritage), Hotel Lallgarh Palace (Heritage), Karni Bhawan Palace (Heritage) and Laxmi Niwas Palace (Heritage).






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