One tough lady and a lot of well fed rats

The Hindu religions have hundreds if not thousands of gods – but don’t let that deter you. If you have good knowledge of just a small handful of the most famous you’ll have a much more enjoyable and culturally enriching experience in India.

This is one of these must-know gods,  the warrior goddess known as Durga:

Fortunately she is one of the good gods, so evil spirits are well advised to keep clear of all these terrible weapons she is holding.

But she’s not the tough lady I’m talking about.

Interestingly, about the same time as Christopher Columbus realized he missed his goal of India and wound up in the New World instead, there was a famous woman living in the deserts of northeast India named Karni Mata. Something of an ascetic, she founded a number of temples, including this famous temple in the village of Deshnok:

This is what the temple looks like from inside, and in the shot below you can see from the rats drinking from a bowl of milk in the center why it’s known as the Temple of Rats.

Here’s a closeup that I took around breakfast time:

And here’s a shot of the kitchen:

The truly faithful will sit on the ground and eat together with the rats out of the same bowl – and there were plenty of them doing that when I visited – but out of respect I didn’t take any snaps.

By the way, as shown in the snap above and as with all holy places in India, no shoes allowed: so when you go into the temple your feet may be clean, but when you come out they will be covered with rat feces so thick you‘ll need a butter knife just to scrape it off.