If development is an odyssey with multiple destinations, then today’s Gurgaon is nothing but a prelude to the prosperity patiently resting on the horizon. Gurgaon, a City built on the shoulders of ambition, has not only made a mark for itself, but has also pierced the surrounding towns—which are the souvenirs of its erstwhile melancholic infertility—to form an unbreakable thread of growth and development.
While Manesar has become the undisputed heir of industrial Gurgaon, the other surrounding towns of Patuadi, Farukhnagar and Sohna too have started feeling the warmth of development. With each passing year, the ever-expanding horizons of this Millennium City are melting into these towns, to provide them a new dimension of growth and prosperity.
Sohna could be a big beneficiary of this socio-economic cum landscape renaissance. “Sohna is indeed the best future residential bet. Both sides of the NH-8 are bright prospects today, but the prices are high, and the scope is limited. The inception of Manesar as an industrial town, and the plans for an Industrial Corridor and Economic Zone around it, have limited any further residential expansion in this area. Sohna has great connectivity – to Dharuhera (and onward to Rewari) on NH-8, by Tauru road; to Gurgaon, by Sohna Road; to Palwal (via the KMP Expressway); and directly to Faridabad also. The just declared Sohna Draft Development Plan 2031 stamps the bright future of this area; and the rise of Badshahpur—from a hamlet to a full fledged town—has also added to the value of Sohna. Badshahpur is already seen as part of Gurgaon City. History is repeating itself. Fifteen years ago, those who couldn’t afford a house in South Delhi moved to Gurgaon, in pursuit of a new elite living; now the people who are unable to buy a home in Gurgaon City have an opportunity to move South, and be an integral part of its new expansion. In the coming decade, this area will be the hub of residential real estate,” says Anish Raghav, a real estate consultant, and CEO of Not Just Flats. He hails from Bhondsi Village (on Gurgaon-Sohna Road).
Sohna: An introduction
Sohna is an old town, situated 25 kms south of Gurgaon, on the Gurgaon-Alwar highway – in the foothills of the Arvallis. It’s surrounded by industrial Faridabad and backward Mewat districts. The town derives its name from the gold dust found in the world famous geothermal spring, in the ancient Shiva temple. Although there is no significant history attached to Sohna, it has been ruled by the Rajputs, Mughals, Jats, and the British. There are old houses and havelies standing today in a very congested area. The town has an almost non-existent fort (only walls). This architecture, and the town being situated in the foothills, gives one an illusion of being in Udaipur, Rajasthan – which probably attests to Sohna being established in the glorious age of Rajputana.
As far as the administrative set-up in concerned, Sohna is one of five Tehsils in Gurgaon district. The others are Gurgaon, Pataudi, Farukkhnagar, and Manesar. It has a Block Committee comprising 72 villages and 57 Panchayats. It has a Municipal Committee, responsible for the town’s sanitation and cleanliness. “This area is going to be a bedrock of future development and growth,” says Roshni Sharma, the Pradhan of the Sohna Municipal Committee.
A tourist destination
Sohna is not among the most hunted tourist destinations in Haryana, but it still has a few spots that attract people. Apart from the world famous Shiva temple geothermal hot water spring, which now is situated in the heart of the town, the other attraction is Damdama Lake, the biggest natural lake in Haryana – spread across 8 Kms, in between the Aravalis. It is a perfect one day holiday destination for people living in the NCR. “Haryana Tourism, for the comfort of people, has opened two tourist resorts – one in Sohna town, and the other in Damdama. People visit the hot water spring for religious purpose also, whereas Damdama is a perfect destination for outings, especially during winters,” says Ramesh Yadav, a Haryana Tourism employee. “Each year, lakhs of people come to take a bath in these divine Kunds. The people have a strong belief that this hot water is blessed by Lord Shiva himself, and it can treat skin diseases. The Trustees of the temple have taken care of the comfort of the people. We provide rooms and other services of comfort to the people. It’s open to the people of all beliefs and castes; and those who can’t afford to pay are welcome to take a bath free. People who can afford it, are given special treatment, and are allowed to take a separate bath with a bucket, in a special bathroom.” says Chander Prakash, one of the employees in the temple. The area is flooded with private resorts, motels and other picturesque retreats.
Sohna is home to people of multiple beliefs. Ahirs, Thakurs, and Gurjars are the dominant castes, who hold the maximum number of agricultural holdings. “This area is adjacent of Mewat, which is predominantly a Muslim area, hence there is a significant Muslim population here also. However, the majority is Ahirs and Gurjars, who collectively comprise almost half of the population,” says Thandi Ram Rawat, a senior official in the Sohna Municipal Committee.
Till the last few years, the area used to be backward in terms of education. However, with the advent of big private schools, the area has seen a dramatic change. While these big schools have not directly helped, their inception has triggered an educational awakening – and there are a lot of small private schools that have come up in the area.
Cities and town blessed with better connectivity certainly hold an edge. Sohna is surrounded by the already developed Gurgaon and Faridabad, and the developing areas of Palwal and Tauru. With the completion of KMP Expressway, this town will be one of the best connected. “Sohna has a big bus terminal, and Faridabad, Gurgaon, Alwar, and Rewari are the major routes from Sohna,” says Harish Kumar, an Enquiry Officer at the Sohna Bus Terminal.
A strategic game changer
With Gurgaon flanked on the East and North by Faridabad and Delhi, and with the West already under development, this Southern area is a good potential expansion zone for Gurgaon, in the years to come. The caravan of development has already begun, south of Badshahpur. Sectors 58 to 67 on the Southern Peripheral Road (SPR) have moved Gurgaon southwards. One day this will be the beginning of the Greater Gurgaon Southern Suburbs. One major builder has already started selling land for plotted housings in Sohna,” says a big real estate consultant.
Draft Development Plan 2031
Sohna has been projected to have a population of 5,80,000 in 2031, from the present 67,785 (2011 census). 6,110 hectares will come under urbanization (excluding the 391 hectares that comprise the current area of Sohna town and adjoining villages). Of the 6,110 hectares, 1,034 will be left as green belts and open spaces, and 425 hectares as forest land (both totalling to 24% of total area). 1,703 hectares will be for residential purpose, 271 for commercial, 1,236 for industrial, 627 for transport & communication, 241 for public utilities, and 573 hectares for public & semi-public purposes. The density of population would be 300 per hectare. An Industrial Model Township (IMT) is also being developed near Sohna town, in 1,500 acres - and HSIIDC has asked for an additional 1,500 acres. Three Theme Hubs – Leisure Hub, Leather Hub, and Sports Hub – are proposed to be developed in this area, around the Kundli Manesar Palwal (KMP) Expressway that passes near Sohna.
All existing roads connecting Sohna with Gurgaon, Nuh, Ballabgarh, Palwal and Tauru are proposed to be widened – to be 60m wide, with 50m wide green belts on both sides.
“Indeed Sohna has a bright future, as it is the only area left ‘untouched’ – despite being so near to Gurgaon. The new Gurgaon will be in and around Sohna, and those who can’t afford a house here will be able to get their dream of having their own home near Gurgaon fulfilled. This new Draft Development Plan for Sohna will take the town to the next level of development; and it will also attract the private builders, to invest more in making this area prosper,” says Kavita Yadav, Chairperson, Zila Parishad, and the member of the District Planning Committee.