The Mastigudi temple, situated on the banks of the Kabini river in Balle Shibira, is dedicated to the Goddess Mastamma. Mastamma means ‘the great wife’ (Maha + Sati + Amma), a name of Goddess Parvati and ‘Gudi’ means temple. It stood next to the old Mysore – Malabar road and has since been submerged after the construction of the Kabini dam.

While the temple is dedicated to the Goddess Mastamma, the main idol is that of Lord Ganesha. Carved on the face of a large rock it is stunningly beautiful in its simplicity. Standing next to Lord Ganesha is the Goddess Mastamma. Every year during the summer, when water is released for irrigation from the reservoir, the idols rise like a phoenix above the receding waters.  The temple structure has been destroyed totally and only the idols remain.


The Mastigudi Temple – Photograph: Vikram Nanjappa


The temple of Goddess Mastamma or Goddess Masti (as she is popularly known) is believed to be endowed with powerful spiritual powers and devotees passing through the forests would seek her blessing and protection for their journey. 

In 1973 the famous kannada movie ‘Gandhada Gudi’ was filmed in these forests. The mega star Dr. Rajkumar, who starred in the film, would visit the temple everyday to seek the Goddess’s blessings and protection.


Puja preparations at Mastigudi Temple – Photograph: Vikram Nanjappa


The film was not without incident, during the climax the gun used by the villain was fired accidently wounding Dr. Rajkumar. It is believed that Dr. Rajkumar escaped with his life due to the protection offered by the Goddess. In fact, when the movie ‘Gandhada Gudi – Part 2’ was planned in 1993, Dr Rajkumar insisted that his son and hero of the film take the blessings of Goddess Masthamma before commencing shooting.

In 2016, in an unfortunate incident of a stunt gone wrong, two actors lost their lives on the sets of a movie titled ‘Masti Gudi’. It is believed that had they taken the blessings of the Goddess Mastigudi, the unfortunate tragedy would have been averted.


Annual Puja at Mastigudi – Photograph: Vikram Nanjappa


Every year, when the temple emerges from the depths of the Kabini, all the Naturalists and Safari drivers from the resorts in Kabini along with members of the Forest Department, regardless of their religious affiliations, perform a special Puja to seek the blessing and protection of the Goddess Mastigudi and Lord Ganesha for an incident free and safe safari season.