In the Rat Temple

Sacred rats at Bikaner (Rajasthan, India)

Rat Temple near Bikaner
Rat Temple near Bikaner

Near Bikaner, thousands of sacred rats are worshipped in a temple. We enter the marble courtyard barefoot through the heavy silver gate, and already the first of the mostly not exactly healthy-looking beasts are to be seen. They are fed at various points and squat in hundreds in a heap around a large bowl of milk. Inside the temple there is even more going on, it is impossible to avoid one running over your foot. The pilgrims bring food and also eat from the rat food – what madness religion can drive people to… (Merry Christmas, by the way). After all, most Indians who come here seem to see the whole thing more as an obscure attraction.

On the return journey through the semi-desert, we sit on the roof of the full bus. There are no bullock carts here, which slow down traffic in other parts of India – the fully loaded carts are pulled by camels.

Bikaner itself is yet another city in Rajasthan, with fort, bazaar etc. Same same but different…

In the meantime, winter has set in in northern India, too. Only in the midday sun is it warm enough to take off my sweater, in the evening I walk around in fleece and gore jacket.

Read on