Squeak Squeak

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, December 22, 2007

You really can't deny that it's out of the way, but you also can't deny that a temple where rats are holy is probably a sight to see.  Ergo, we climbed onto a night bus and made our way to Bikaner in north-west Rajasthan solely to see this Rat Temple.  (That's not actually what it's called, but I can never remember the real name, and everyone knows it as the rat temple.)

We got into the city in the early morning yet again.  Fortunately we picked the only hotel in the universe that charges by the 24 hrs.  So we had a good sleep and were refreshed for our adventure to Deshnok and the temple. 

But first we attempted to get train tickets out of town, only to be totally confused and come to the conclusion that trains are crap and why is it that everyone else can get around India on the train except for us?  FYI, there are two train stations in Bikaner, and the Bikaner station does not go to Delhi.  We ended up getting a bus. 

Then we made our way to the public bus station where we caught a bus without any ado and were soon on our way to Deshnok.  45 minutes and a mass of hot, talking bodies later, we stepped off the bus and made our way into the tiny town.  The temple is really easy to find, but there's not a rat on it.  We took off our shoes (as you must in all temples) and made our way into the mystery. 

The story behind this temple is that Karni Mata (which, Travis tells me, is the name of the temple), an incarnation of another god, asked the god of death to restore to life the son of a grieving storyteller.  Death god said no, so in revenge Karni Mata turned all dead storytellers into rats, thereby denying Death god of human souls. 

It's supposed to be good luck if a rat scurries across your feet, and not five minutes after we walked in I had one hop right onto my foot and hang out for a second before scurrying away.  We didn't quite know what I expect.  I had envisioned rats, rats, everywhere.  That wouldn't be natural though, since they like enclosed spaces, so they all hang out in corners and scurry in and out of holes and sit on bowls of milk and food and water.  I guess they like coconut, because a bunch of people were carrying around coconut bits.  Where else would you feed rats yummy snacks on purpose?  Rats that aren't your pets, that is.  We were standing over one bowl of food when a rat came over to see about Travis and ended up biting his toe.  It was pretty funny.  So we walked around and looked at the rats scurrying all over and tried to ignore the ones without eyes or patches of hair, because it's extremely rude to disrespect a rat. 

Finally we left the temple and climbed on a bus back to Bikaner.  Some very nice old men gave Travis and me their seats because we were foreign and they were getting off at the next stop.  And they were curious and wanted to talk to us. 

Back in Bikaner we did pretty much nothing.  Watched a movie on HBO (yay for English TV). Found a grocery store - first one in India.  It had cheddar cheese, which was not, in fact, cheddar cheese, but it made a good dinner.  Then we checked out and climbed on our bus to Delhi, hoping that we could get the afternoon train up to Amritsar.  It was going to be a long day.  So its nice that we had a low-key one today. 

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