by - 15:23

Inside the Indian temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Karni Mata which is over-run by 20,000 large RATS (that scurry around the feet of visitors and are even worshipped)

  • The Karni Mata Temple in Rajasthan, India, has become is known for its devotion and care of the furry creatures
  • Measures have been put in place to protect the rats by building netting and grills to keep out dangerous predators
  • Scores of tourists flock to the Hindu location each day to pay their respects to the vast number of rodents

While rats are considered vermin in many cultures, in one Indian temple there are 20,000 of the rodents that are fed and worshipped.
The Karni Mata Temple in Rajasthan, India, has become is known for its devotion to the furry creatures - with temple visitors prohibited from harming the

swarms.
In fact, measures have been put in place to protect the rats by building netting and grills to keep out predators such as raptors.

Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
While rats are considered vermin in many cultures, in one Indian temple there are 20,000 of the rodents that are fed and worshipped
Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
The Karni Mata Temple in Rajasthan, India, has become is known for its devotion to the furry creatures - with temple visitors prohibited from harming the swarms
Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
In fact, measures have been put in place to protect the rats by building netting and grills to keep out predators such as raptors
According to folklore, there are two stories about the rats which explain why they are protected and revered in the temple.
One is that all children were once born as rats and the other says that the 20,000 rats used to be soldiers - either way, the rats now hold a high place in the temple life.
Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are even a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy.
These are believed to be manifestations of Karni Mata and her four sons. A sight of these is said to be a special blessing and visitors attempt to lure them out with sweet-tasting food.
Photographer Nicolas Economou from Germany visited the temple and captured hoards of balding rats drinking milk from bowls, and scurrying through the legs of visitors.

Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
According to the folklore tradition, there are two stories about the rats which explain why they are protected and revered in the temple
Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
Super furry animals: One legend is that all children were once born as rats and the other says that those 20,000 rats used to be soldiers - either way, the rats now hold a high place in the temple life
Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
Photographer Nicolas Economou from Germany visited the temple and captured hoards of balding rats drinking milk from bowls, and scurrying through the legs of visitors
Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
Hands-on experience: A worshipper feeds one of the rats, which are known as kabbas. Many travel great distances to visit the temple
'I was worried not to get bitten, it was weird,' he told MailOnline Travel.
'It is not like the other Hindu temples, there was movement everywhere, you could hear the rats above you, near you, behind you and it was terrible when the rats were touching my feet.'
The 27-year-old Greek, who was born in Germany was travelling to the country to photograph the area of Rajasthan and Thar desert.
'I was not scared of the rats, as I remember myself when I was a child it was funny to hunt them with plastic guns, although I am aware of the infection they can transmit to the human body.'
Small children can be seen playing and interacting with the rats - while scores of tourists flock there each day to catch a glimpse of the unique spectacle.

Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS

Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
Small children can be seen playing and interacting with the rats (left) - while scores of tourists flock there each day to catch a glimpse of the unique spectacle (right)
Karni Mata Hindu Temple in Rajasthan, India is over-run by 20k RATS
Many visitors offer sweets and other candy to the vermin. The food nibbled by the rats is also considered holy and is sometimes consumed by a devotee - even if it has been half eaten by rodents

Priests at the temple treat the furry inhabitants with serious devotion and warn visitors to walk carefully within the temple premises to avoid trampling them
The rats use passage ways and holes in the temple walls to navigate their way round the buildings and make nests
Putting faith in his furry friends: A man prays surrounded by a group of rats in the temple in Rajasthan, India, which is home to around 20,000 of the creatures
Many visitors offer sweets and other candy to the vermin. The food nibbled by the rats is also considered holy and is sometimes consumed by a devotee - even if it has been half eaten by rodents.
Priests at the temple treat the furry inhabitants with serious devotion and warn visitors to walk carefully within the temple premises to avoid trampling them.
According to the temple rules, stepping accidentally on rat and killing it is a sin.
The perpetrator is then bound to buy a gold or silver rat statue and place it in the temple as a payment of sin.

Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are even a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy
According to the temple rules, stepping accidentally on rat and killing it is a sin. The perpetrator is then bound to buy a gold or silver rat statue and place it in the temple as a payment of sin
Star attraction: Hundreds of people queue to offer their prayers at the temple in Rajasthan, India, where the rats are worshipped
Paying their respects: The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings as well as curious tourists from around the world
VIP treatment: The rats are allowed to scurry through the temple, where they are worshipped, fed and protected

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