In an immensely polluted and populated city like India’s capital Delhi, places like Sanjav Van are hard to find. The correct expression would be that places like Sanjay Van are nowhere else to be found. What is Sanjay Van? Sanjay Van is known as the Green Lungs of Delhi. Amid the crowded and congested huge tall buildings, this beautiful forest is the place destination for people wishing to find someplace to halt for a while from their life same as the pace of a bullet train.
This peaceful forest is situated near the Vasant Kunj area of South Delhi and is right beside the Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU). This forest spread over 3 sq km is like a paradise for lovers of nature in Delhi and people are often seen enjoying the soothing and calm air of the woods while taking walks and cycling. The place is also apt for short treks or at least someplace of it.
About Sanjay Van:
This picturesque location is bliss during the day and is home to many avifauna species. This place is full of beautiful birds and there are also plans midway for making this place a bird sanctuary. You will be amazed at the wide range of species (nearly 150 species Can you believe it?) found in this vegetation when the entire area is surrounded by a polluted city. Sanjay Van is home to Asian Koel, white-breasted Kingfisher, purple sunbird, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Indian silverbill, Grey Breasted Prinia, Brahminy Starling, Crested honey Buzzard, rufous treepie, Booted Eagle, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, and the list goes on. Not only birds, but Sanjay Van also provide a haven to animals like Jackals, snakes, adorable butterflies, and hares but the main attractions remain the sambar deer and nilgais.
This is the perfect location for bird and wildlife photography in Delhi and most of the admirers would generally be found lurking during the day. A walk-in winter among the thorny vegetation and the Keekar and neem tress is an ideal leisure activity. Long story short, it is a safe, calm, and beautiful haven during the days and especially winters. But do you think it is the same scenario at night?
This beautiful Sanjay Van, just as beautiful as its name, turns into a complete nightmare after sunset. I mean, it is obvious for people to be scared in a forest at night not knowing which direction are they headed especially when you have so many creatures residing in the woods, but this place is especially eerie because of various stories that people have sprouted from their experiences. People believe that this forest is haunted!
Like many other places, these stories about Sanjay Van also stem from the fact that there are many graves inside the forest scattered here and there and numerous mausoleums of Sufi saints. People are scared to visit the places nearby these mausoleums due to suspicion of paranormal occurrences near them. According to the folklores, someone lights candles in the forest to illuminate the pathways, and a 14th century Sufi Saint Hazrat Sheikh Shahbuddin Ashiqallah whose mausoleum is built in the forest walks along the illuminated path.
Others say that when they pass by the mausoleum and graves at night, they can hear screams, cries, and clawing noises from inside the graves! A person who is weak at heart would straight away faint!
Just like these, another haunted story linked to the place is that people see a woman in a white saree staring at them with her piercing stony eyes when they pass by the road nearby. Some of the bikers have experienced driving right through her! She sometimes sits in the middle of the road or asks for a lift and walks alongside and suddenly disappears! If these stories are real, it is justified why anyone in his or her right mind would not want to even venture anywhere near the entire area after sunset.
But some people say that they have walked through and passed through these roads but haven’t experienced anything out of the ordinary. So, these stories can be called just “rumors.” But do you want to verify these stories just like a paranormal investigator? Some might think, this is the perfect idea to feel that adrenaline rush and some might refrain from it but the truth can only be known once you experience this yourself.
Developments in Sanjay Van:
Sanjay Van, spread over 784 acres of land along the beautiful Aravalli hills (did I miss mentioning the mesmerizing Aravallis earlier?), is now being converted into a beautified attraction for the ultimate safari experience in the capital by the constant efforts of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and a citizen’s group, Working With Nature (WWN) founded by Air Vice Marshal (retd.) Vinod Rawat.
If you want to feel the thrill and serenity of standing above the entire city, you need to visit the watchtower in Sanjay Van which gives you a bird’s eye view of Delhi. You can also have a fun 45-minute golf cart ride through the forest now. There are also efforts made by the two bodies to expand the forest. A network of small lakes has also been on the agenda and people can enjoy the breezy lakes surrounded by these woods, a perfect picnic spot (as long as you leave before sunset though).
So, what do you think about the place? Worth a visit? Well, you must because the DDA has been making a lot of efforts over the years to make this place a total eye candy. What better escape from the usual grey concrete structures you see throughout Delhi than a paradise of more than 150 bird species and lots of butterflies.