I first visited the Shiv Mandir in Old Airport Road when I was around 13. The place then looked so amazing. That was when Kemp Fort was'nt constructed. There was a huge vast marble adorned space in front of the massive statue. It was the most serene and peaceful holy place one could hope for. The Lord could be seen even as you drove along the Old Airport Road. I had a wonderful experience there. Even though I am not overtly religious, I kinda liked that place. It was said that you make a wish n toss a coin into the pool in front of the lord, the wish would come true. It did for me n I was thrilled. I still dont know why I dint visit that place all these years. My aunt stays just 5 minutes away from there. I have visited her a million times, but never the temple.
Fast-forward 10 years n I'm at the temple now. I just cant recognise the place. Total Mall stands tall in front of the beautiful statue. The new entrance to the temple had me spooked. It looked like a cave bathed in blood. The entrance is so narrow that I'm not sure a person above 60 kgs can pass through it. The new Lord Ganesha statue is good, but would have been been better had it been placed right next to Lord Shiva. The entry passage is too dingy n maintained poorly. You have no place to wash your feet even.
The most traumatising part was the "Linga Yatra". The cave passage holding all the Shiv lings present all over India. The Lingas are good no doubt, but you cant pray when there are so many other things around that scare you. There is a lady's head hanging from nowhere right next to the first Shiv Ling. That was really scary. Yeah its fake but when you look at it in dim red lights, you cant help but be spooked. That was only the beginning. There are a lot of idols around whose eyes keep blinking or hands move at random intervals. That was insane. At one point I actually felt that I was at the scary house in Garuda mall. The most scariest thing was a head of a buffalo kept in a box right next to a ling. The head jerks every one n then. My mom nearly jumped out of fear when she saw it. Finally when we got to the Shiva idol, we could hardly see it clearly. Earlier it was like you could circle around the idol n its holy water falls on you. Now, all you can do is pass in front of the idol. The miracle spot still exists though. By the time you finish and come out you fell so freaked out n exhausted. Why such a beautiful place was spoiled I dont understand. I came out feeling weird. I just dint understand what I went through.