It is time we celebrate the rich history of Sohna
The historic town of Sohna, a few kilometres away from the city of Gurugram, is well known for its hot sulphur springs, which were first discovered in 1000 AD. The town derived its name from the gold dust (sona) or more likely the yellowish mineral content that was found in the beds of the neighbouring streams after heavy rains.
Sohna, which, according to historical records, traces its origin from 11th century onwards, was occupied by three races in succession: namely the Kambhos, the Khanzadas and the Rajputs. Gazetteers mention that Nawab Qutb Khan Khanzada defeated the Kambhos and took over the town in 1570. The Khanzadas were expelled in 1620 by the Sisodia Rajputs. The Rajputs migrated to Sohna, obeying the orders their patron saint who appeared in their dream indicating Sohna as their place of settlement.
A unique feature of the town is its hot springs, which are believed to be operational from and visited by pilgrims since 1647. These were rediscovered in 1872 by the British who developed the surrounding tank, after realizing its medicinal value. Shiv Kund, as it is known today, is covered by a domed construction, and delivers its water into a large cistern. The spring has now been channelled into concrete pools. The tank is considered sacred by the Hindus and is thronged by people who come to take a dip in the holy water on days of solar and lunar eclipses. Further, the tank is also known for its medicinal value of curing of skin diseases.
The present town was founded by Raja Sawan Singh. The town has several historic remains, including those belonging to the earlier Kambhos, an old fort wall on the hill in a picturesque location overlooking the town and several impressive tombs and mosques in red sandstone and quartzite in Tuglaq and Lodhi styles. The beautiful 400-year-old tomb called Lal Gumbad is located in the vicinity of Ansal’s Orchid Estate. Driving through the farmhouse properties on the outskirts of the town, it presents a picturesque view. Made entirely of stone, the structure has a 12-pillared (barakhamba) hall in the entrance arcade that is made of red sandstone crowned with a dome. Attached behind this is the main tomb in stone masonry with a larger dome, exhibiting hybrid architectural styles from Tughlaq and Lodhi periods. A number of such tombs are present throughout the town of Sohna, although this one is truly exceptional in the area.
The Shah Nizam ul Haq Masjid is located in the hub of Sohna in Ward No. 4 of the Khatiqwara mohalla, near the gurudwara. It is built entirely of red sandstone and has many inscriptions. It is also said that Sohna was the resting place of legendary educationist Sir Syed Ahmed’s grandfather, who was buried here.
More recently, Parul Munjal, Associate Professor, Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Ansal University, has carried out a comprehensive study of this historic town as part of her historical research, which throws new light on the town’s history and monuments. Mention of the town in Ain-i-Akbari reinforces the idea of the town being a part of the historic travel route between Delhi and Agra. And she has further investigated historic documents such as records of Archaeological Survey of India written during the visits of Alexander Cunningham to the town.
The town has a great potential for being developed as a part of the heritage tourism circuit for Gurugram. Though an attempt was made earlier by the Haryana Government by creating the resort called Barbet near the picturesque remains, that had an aerial view from the fort wall, it is time to revamp the tourist facilities and develop specific heritage points and walks to relish the rich history of this golden town.
(Shikha Jain is state convenor, INTACH Haryana Chapter and member of Heritage Committees under ministries of culture and HRD. She is coeditor of book ‘Haryana: Cultural Heritage Guide’; director, DRONAH)