There are a lot of things to do in the area of Bikaner. You can take a jeep and go watching the rising sun and the does in the desert! You can also visit a typical village or a camel farm. There is also Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, and a few steps farther, the Shri Karni Goshala.
Before going to India I declared: NEVER! I will NEVER walk bare-foot among rats even in a Hindu temple! But when we arrived at Karni Mata Temple, I let myself go with the flow and the ambiance!
To be sincere, I did not find this temple really beautiful except a few marble carvings at the entrance offered by Maharaja Ganga Singh from Bikaner who wanted Karni Mata’s protection. I had the feeling of getting into a huge hamster cage! It smelt like a petshop! The only thing I liked was the floor which was made of black and white marble. The rats, also called Kabbas when sacred, were everywhere. They were actually little brown mice. Some of them were prostrate and looked sad, (Yeah, I am a rat psychologist during my spare time!). Worshipers had come with holy food called prasad. The place was less frightening than expected but it had no magic to me who does not worship Karni Mata.
Our guide told us that if we saw a white kabbas, we could make a wish and it would come true. I did not see any white rats but a brown rat saw my white foot (I cheated a little, I had kept my socks on) but I do not know what wish the rat made. Maybe it was a wish about bananas or laddu. Rats have little ambition!
Or maybe the rat wished he could become a bard again! Indeed the origin of this temple is based on a legend! Actually, Karni Mata really existed in the 15th century. She had miraculous cured her haunt so people thought she was the incarnation of goddess Durga. One day, the son of her bards died. She wanted to revive him but Yama, the god of Death said « No way! » because he had already been réincarnated. So, Karni Mata asked Yama to reincarnate all the people from her clan into rats so that she could keep them under her protection. And Yama agreed because it is always difficult to refuse something to a goddess.
Please, make a link to my blog if you use my pictures on yours!
Once we got our shoes back, my socks would be stained with kabbas poo for ever, we walked behind the site to visit a cow shelter called goshala (गौशाला). Go (गो) means cow and shala (शाला) house or school. There are goshalas everywhere in India. There, volunteers look after ill, wounded or abandoned cows. Orphan calves are bred and bulls are trained to work.
This place was well-organized and really moving. Our guide did not forget to tell us once again that his name, Gopal, meant cowherd (I didnt say cowboy!) and that it was the second name of Krishna because he looked after the cows. You can see him (him is Krishna, not my guide!), drawn on the sign below, with his flute and his white cow. Actually, Krishna is not really a gopal, he is the son of a Prince but he had to be protected from an evil called Kamsa, so he was sent to live in the countryside and he was surrounded of plenty of pretty gopinis.