JC Chaudhary, the founder of Aakash Educational Services Ltd, has purchased a 5-acre farmhouse in south Delhi for around Rs 96 crore, three people aware of the deal said.

Chaudhary’s purchase of Pushpanjali Farm at Bijwasan is his second big-ticket real estate transaction in the last two months and comes close on the heels of ed-tech platform Byju’s acquisition of the tutorial chain in a cash and stock deal for $950 million.

In the first week of April, Chaudhry bought a 2,000 square yard property in south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar area for over Rs 100 crore.

The Covid-19 pandemic has dented Aakash’s growth plans.

Revenue has dropped to Rs 1,000 crore in FY21 from Rs 1,200 crore in FY20.

“Chaudhry was in the market looking to acquire new property for quite some time … The Vasant Vihar property was facing the main road and was one of the most expensive properties in the area,” one person said.

A spokesperson for Aakash declined to comment.

More people are looking at farmhouses amid the ongoing second Covid-19 wave, said property brokers and developers.

“Between the two waves, high-net worth individuals have realised the importance of open and independent spaces. That is the reason why we are seeing a lot of traction in south Delhi and Lutyens Delhi,” said Pradeep Prajapati, head of luxury residential services at IQI India.

Huge farmhouses in and around the national capital are in demand.

Wealthy businessmen and executives are looking for sprawling properties after being home-bound during the lockdowns last year and now.

Over 50 such transactions have been closed in the past six months, compared with an average of two to three deals a month before the virus outbreak, according to property brokers.

They said about 300 farmhouses ranging from Rs 10 crore to Rs 150 crore are on sale in areas such as Westend Greens, Sultanpur, Pushpanjali, Vasant Kunj, DLF Chhattarpur, Radhey Mohan Drive and Ansal Satbari.

Delhi is the only Indian city to have designated certain areas for farmhouses in its master plan. These areas are in clusters around Mehrauli, Panipat, Bijwasan, Rajokri and Chattarpur.

“Farmhouses in the Delhi NCR region are at the luxury end of the residential market, often with carefully maintained ambience and infrastructure. They are largely under personal use by the owners or leased out to long-term tenants. In either case, offering them up for tourist use would not be a concept that would appeal to many of these farmhouse owners,” said Anuj Puri, chairman of ANAROCK Property Consultants.

Similarly, Karjat and Khopoli near Pune, Igatpuri near Nasik and areas next to Thane near Mumbai are also generating interest for farmhouse developments. The same is true for many outlying areas around Bengaluru and Chennai.

Recently, India’s premium sanitaryware company Jaquar purchased three farmhouses in Delhi’s Westend Greens for around Rs 235 crore.

There are about 4,000 farmhouses in 18 villages in and around New Delhi, spread over half an acre to 2.5 acres each.

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