Shantivan which means ‘Forest of Peace’ is situated on Mahatma Gandhi Marg on the main Ring Road along the banks of the Yamuna River. This is the Memorial site of Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru who was the first appointed Prime Minister of India.
Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was born on 14th November 1889 to a very wealthy Political family. His father, Motilal Nehru was a Politician and Barrister who along with Mahatma Gandhi Ji mentored the young Nehru to become the youngest leader of the Congress Party. Nehru completed his education from Harrow School in London and did his graduation from Trinity College which was a part of the Cambridge University in Cambridgeshire, England.
In 1912, Pt. Nehru returned to India and began practising law. He married Kamala Kaul in 1916 and joined the Home Rule League party in 1917. Later, in 1919, he was introduced to Mahatma Gandhi Ji and instantly admired Gandhi Ji’s philosophy of attaining freedom without violence and bloodshed and got involved in the Freedom movement campaigns led by Gandhi Ji. He also led the campaign of the Indian Independence movement along with other eminent freedom fighters and founded the Non-alignment movement.
Pt. Nehru became the General Secretary of the Congress Committee between 1926 and 1928 and soon was appointed the first External Affairs Minister and Prime Minister of India. He was the only Prime Minister who served the longest term from 1947 to 1964 up till his death on 27th May 1964 while he was still in office. He is known to have immensely contributed to the growth of the Country during his long term including establishment of numerous world class educational Institutes like primary schools in every corner of India, All India Institute of Medical Sciences [AIIMS], Indian institute of Management [IIM] and Indian Institute of Technology [IIT].
Shanti Van is beautifully landscaped with shady trees and immense greenery and probably for this very reason it was named as the peaceful forest where one of the greatest National Leader of India was cremated. His last rituals and rites were conducted on 27th May 1964 and in his honour a tomb stone was established on the very place where the funeral of Pt. Nehru was held.
Shanti Van is well manicured adorned with beds of plants and shrubs and every step is taken to ensure that the atmosphere and ambience remains serene and unmanned in order to maintain this area as Pt. Nehru’s last resting place. Various Diplomats and Dignitaries and the Heads of the State of India make it an essential point in their busy agenda to visit the Memorial Site and pay their respect and homage to Pt. Nehru during their short trip to Delhi.
Next to Shanti Van, the memorial site of Pt. Nehru, is the Memorial shrine of Sanjay Gandhi who was his grandson and the son of Indira Gandhi (the third and only lady Prime Minister of India and daughter of Pt. Nehru) and Feroze Gandhi. He died in a tragic plane crash which was believed to have been sabotaged by enemies, however, this is still being argued by many and there are no facts or evidences to claim such a reason.
Shanti Van is opened on all days to all visitors, both national and foreign tourists without any entry or photography charges; however, the preferred time to visit is between 0530 hours and 1900 hours. You can pick up some fragrant garland of flowers to pay your homage to Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru at his shrine and ensure that you remove your footwear before stepping onto the sacred area of the Memorial ground as a sign of respect.
On the birthday of late Pt. Nehru which falls on 14th November and on his death anniversary on 27th May, every year, a special prayer session is held at Shanti Van along with a few cultural programmes performed especially by Children like songs and dances in order to show their love and respect for their Chacha Nehru. Pt. Nehru had a special love for children and he was lovingly called by them as ‘Chacha Nehru’ which translates into ‘Uncle Nehru’ in the English language and for this very reason, 14th November was officially declared as the ‘National Children’s day’, when every year, children are remembered for their simplicity and innocence accompanied by various cultural activities and games.