Sometimes, a place gets known for all the wrong reasons. This as I have come to know is the case with majority of the places that have been tagged as haunted. Most of these places have either a rich history to them or are quite scenic, or have several other reasons to be known for; but, sadly enough, the only thing that puts them on the map are the creepy ghost stories. One such example of a place is Sanjay Van of Delhi; a sprawling city forest area near Qutub Minar in Mehrauli. Spread over 783 acres, it is one of the most densely wooded areas of Delhi and also, supposedly, one of its most haunted.
Say the word “park” and you will hardly get anyone’s ear. Say the word “haunted park” and you have everybody’s attention. Why is that? Because a park could be interesting but a haunted park is definitely intriguing. This very word has over a period of time become the identify of an otherwise perfect place to spend some time with your families on a Sunday evening; a place which if developed properly would have been perfect for even school picnics. The reality however is quite different.
Not many people know of Sanjay Van. I have lived in Delhi for a very long time but never knew of a Sanjay Van; until started to list down the so called haunted places in India and visit them one by one. The same applies for a lot of people living in this over crowded city. Only a fraction of the entire population would have heard the name; and the ones who did are either people living in a nearby area or someone who has interest in spooky ghost tales. Type Sanjay Van in Google and I can guarantee that majority of the articles you will find will be in reference to it being haunted; with at least 5-6 articles calling it either a top haunted site in India or at least in Delhi.
Is it true though? I strongly doubt it. What it indeed is though is a dense forest like area which is rapidly degrading and in some urgent need of restoration. Thankfully that restoration is now actually happening with joint efforts of DDA and a citizen’s group. Inside this forest are some centuries old graves and a few “mazaar” of Sufi saints. To be honest, at some places it almost looks like an abandoned graveyard which it may as well have been in ancient times. It is spread over a vast area and except for early morning and evenings, rarely anyone comes in here.
Haunted Sanjay Van
Put all this together and you get a dense forest with graves inside in one of the most superstitious communities of the world. Final answer, there has got to be a ghost in there. If not, let us all just mutually believe that there indeed is and come up with some tales to tell. That is what happened with Sanjay Van. The story that originated has been used so many times with so many places that it is almost a cliche now. Yes, the one of a woman in white Saree asking people for lift.
As the legend or myth or superstition (or whatever it is) goes, this woman has been seen by several people on the road that goes through the forest. She appears at night and can be seen walking through the forest, or sitting alongside the road or asking people for lift. Some people even claimed that she ran after their motorcycles when they did not stop. The spooky part however is that she disappears without a trace if you stopped. Some bikers say that she was standing in middle of the road and they just rode through her clean. The best one however is the claim of her sitting in the trees. Per the lore, as you walk on the road through the forest, you will notice her sitting up in a tree; staring at you with her cold and dead eyes.
So we have a woman who can climb tall trees wearing a Saree. Now that has got to be a national talent. How many women can do that? Get her down that tree and send her to Olympics.
Sanjay Van Ghost
Interestingly enough, the same story is also associated with another so called haunted places in Delhi. Yes I am talking about the Lady in White of Delhi Cantt who too runs after people. Question that comes up though is whether this site is really that surprising for people of Delhi? A woman standing next to the road, in a dark place, waving at people passing by; is it really a sight that rare? I do not think so.
If you have traveled through Delhi in middle of the night, around between 12 to 5 AM, you will find these women all over the city. No they are not dead, but their life is not that good as well. Women offering their bodies willingly in exchange of a few hundred Rupees can easily be found in secluded or remote areas of Delhi. Whether they wear a Saree white in color or not is totally irrelevant; they are ghosts of real world, a dead section of our society whose existence is a hard one to accept.
Also Read: The Haunting of Delhi Cantt
Final answer, a few people saw some women waving at them in the night at a secluded forest like place. The wave was for an entirely different reason but they reached home and said, “Hey I saw a ghost tonight you know. She was calling out to me. Thank god I did not stop”. And hence Sanjay Van became haunted.
Sanjay Van Ghost Stories
But that is not all. There are several other cliche stories of haunting as well. Sounds of a baby crying, a woman laughing, a strange feeling of being followed or watched; a wisp of air around the neck, all the other standard haunting stuff. There are some graves and mazaar of Sufi saints in here; and the broken ramparts of Qila Rai Pithora, the city that was initially established in today’s South Delhi. Some of the other ‘ghost’ stories are of someone lighting candles in the night under trees and a saint that walks along the illuminated path. The saint is believed to be the 14th-century Sufi saint Hazrat Sheikh Shahabuddin Ashiqallah whose mausoleum lies in the backyard of the forest in the middle of many other graves.
As is is expected from any unguarded secluded area, there have been several incidents of murder and bodies found in Sanjay Van that also attribute to its haunting status.There is also a crematorium nearby due to which this forest also supposedly became home to souls of people cremated there.
Sanjay Van – A Perfect Park for Walk
If you however look beyond all this rubbish, you will in the end have a forest which if properly developed will be much like the Central Park of New York. It is huge, it is green and it is right in the heart of Delhi. Other tourist places like Qutub Minar too are nearby. All that Sanjay Van needs is some serious funding, some restoration work and it can be turned in to crown jewel of the city of Delhi. There are ongoing efforts right now to restore it and eventually turn it into a bird sanctuary. Even right now, it is a heaven for anyone interested in bird watching or photography. Over 150 species of bird have been found and documented here.
There is also a so called “lake” inside the forest but now it has been reduced to just a polluted water body. This lake I believe is called Neela Hauz but now is filled with completely green water. To be honest, it looks more like a village pond than a lake now.
If you are a cyclist, the 20 kilometer long cycling trail through the forest is a perfect weekend activity.
In the end, a visit to Sanjay Van is must for everyone living in Delhi. Do not go here looking for any ghosts or signs of haunting though, because you will not find any. You can also not forget that it is a dense forest and illegal or anti social activities at such places are frequent. Do not risk walking through here at nights just because you wanted to be adventurous or a “ghostbuster”. There are no ghosts here but you may across a living someone who will want to hurt you for your worldly belongings. Visit Sanjay Van or a morning or evening of Saturday or Sunday and you will be pleasantly surprised.
If you have been to Sanjay Van; or have an experience or opinion to share, please feel free to do so either in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum.