Udvada : Unearthing the Mystical Charms of India’s Coastal Gem !

In the mesmerizing tapestry of India’s cultural diversity, there exists a coastal gem that holds within its shores an array of mystical charms and timeless traditions. Welcome to Udvada, a place where history, spirituality, and natural beauty converge in harmonious symphony. As we delve into the heart of this enchanting destination, we invite you to embark on a journey of discovery that will leave you captivated by the allure of Udvada’s hidden treasures.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Udvada Beach

Udvada is known as ‘Makkah’ for Parsis. As soon as we hear this word ‘Parsi’, some names start coming to mind, like Jamshedji Tata,  Dadabhai Navroji,   Field Marshal Sam Bahadur Maneksha,   Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy,   Ardeshar Karamji Khabardar,   Bhikhaiji Kama,   Homi Vyarawala,   J. R. d. Tata,   Homi Bhabha,   Homi Wadia,   Ratan Tata,   Ardeshar Irani,   Sohrab Modi,   Nusli Wadia,   Pil00 ModiMehr JessiaBachi KarkariaYazdi KaranjiaBoman Irani and many others. A look at these names also gives an idea that, be it industry, art, literature, cinema, defense, science, etc., the Parsis have not spared any effort in cultivating it.

A Glimpse into History of Udvada

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem.

Udvada, a quaint town nestled along the pristine coastline of Gujarat, boasts a rich historical tapestry that dates back centuries. Founded in the 8th century, this coastal haven has borne witness to the ebb and flow of empires, each leaving an indelible mark on its landscape. The architecture here is a testament to the confluence of various influences, from Persian to Portuguese, resulting in a unique blend of styles that adorns the town’s streets. Wander through the labyrinthine alleys, and you’ll find intricately designed Parsi homes and fire temples that narrate stories of a bygone era.

What actually happened when Parsis arrived in India?

It is known that after the Persian Empire began to fall against the Arab invasion in 651 AD, the Parsis, who were originally from the Khorasan province of Persia, decided to leave the country due to the increasing persecution of heretics. The Parsis were followers of the Zoroastrian sect, founded by Zarathushtra. The fire is worshiped as sacred in this sect.

It is said that the ancestors of the present Parsis migrated from Persia (Iran) to Gujarat at the end of the eighth century. The Parsis, who left Persia and came on a ship, first landed at the port of Diu. Parsis brought with them the sacred fire. Around 785 AD, they moved to the port of Sanjan in south Gujarat. Sanjan was ruled by a Hindu King Jadi Rana. The king gave shelter to the Parsis.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
An Indian Zoroastrian or Parsi woman walks by figures of ‘knights’.

The earliest known history of the Parsis in Hindustan dates back to the seventeenth century, in a book titled “Qissa-e-Sanjaan” by the Parsi cleric Bahman Kaikobad. As mentioned in it, when the Parsis sought permission to settle with the King of Sanjan, the king put five conditions in place in return for the permission:

(1) The Parsis will have to give the king extensive knowledge about Zoroastrianism; (2) Adoption of Gujarati as a language; (3) Parsi women to wear saris as dresses; (4) Surrender all weapons to the King; and (5) Take out the wedding procession at night and not during the day.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
An Indian Zoroastrian, or Parsi, priest gestures as he explains the significance of the Asho Farohar (Angels) to a young girl at a Parsi Fire Temple.

After presenting this condition, the king asked the Parsis, who had surrendered to him, to keep watch in the middle of a wide plain. An elderly cleric named ‘Hatma Afargan’ came forward to negotiate with the King on behalf of the refugees.

“Travelers from a distant land, what is your demand? The king questioned the religious leader.

‘Your Majesty, we have come here to freely practice and protect our religion.’ The priest said, “Give us a small piece of land to cultivate, so that we will not be a burden on your people.”

“Your demand is valid. The King said, But what will you do for this country in return?

The old priest requested to bring a cup full of milk, added a spoonful of sugar to it and asked the townspeople, ‘Can anyone see the sugar mixed in milk?’

The answer was obviously negative, then the old priest said, ‘We will be blended in your land and people like this sugar did with this milk’.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem.

The King and all the townspeople were satisfied with this answer. The King gave shelter to the Parsis. After five years of living in Sanjan, the Parsis installed the sacred fire ‘Iranshah’ brought with them from Iran in ‘Aatash Behram’. In the tenth century, they began to settle in various parts of Gujarat. Due to this, the scope of work of the religious leaders began to expand, and it became difficult to meet the religious rituals. As a result, the area of ​​work of religious leaders was divided into five sects namely Sanjan, Navsari, Ankleshwar, Bharuch and Khambhat.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Houses in Udvada

The Kingdom of ‘Sanjan’ was invaded in the 15th century. The Parsis supported the kingdom during the invasion. The surviving Parsis came to Navsari with the holy fire ‘Iranshah’ and established it in 1516 AD. After that, due to a dispute between the religious leaders, Iranshah was shifted to Udvada in 1742 AD. Thus, for three quarters of a century, Udvada has been the main center of the Parsi faith.

Even if the tale about the cup of milk is a myth, it is a fact that even though this Iranian immigrant community is in the minority, it has mixed with the culture of Gujarat like sugar in milk and like sugar, it has been spreading sweetness wherever it goes. While mixing with the local people, they have kept their traditions alive to a large extent.

Cultural Kaleidoscope

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Atash Behram in Udvada

Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of Udvada’s cultural celebrations, where traditions are celebrated with exuberance and fervor. The Iranshah Udvada Utsav, a vibrant festival that pays homage to the town’s Zoroastrian heritage, is a spectacle that must not be missed. Colorful processions, traditional performances, and mouthwatering feasts come together to create an atmosphere of joyous revelry. The festival is a testament to the town’s commitment to preserving its cultural roots while embracing the modern world.

Parsis never claimed privileges for himself. They have adopted Gujarati to such an extent that the literature of his religion is still found in Gujarati. Similarly, Sarees are becoming a prominent part of Parsi women’s attire. There is a common impression that Parsis are humorous, rooted in the Parsi Gujarati dialect with a special accent that they developed. This dialect sounds so sweet and special to hear that it leads to the misconception that all Parsis are funny. Of course, Parsi’s sense of humor is also prominent.

Here comes the crazy world

Visiting this town, which is barely fifteen-twenty-five kilometers from Vapi or Daman, one feels that the cycle of time has been reversed by one hundred or twenty years. A visit here as a non-Parsi becomes even more interesting after knowing the significance of Udvada for Parsis.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Entering the Town

Udvada, a small village on the coast, has a population of around 6–7 thousand. The seacoast here is rocky and not very attractive. The main attraction of Udvada can be said to be the place where Atash Behram, where the holy fire is kept, is located in Dastoor Street. Non-Parsis cannot enter Atash Behram, but there is no need to despair. There are many things that non-Parsis can experience about Parsi culture.

As the area of ​​Udvada village is very small, it is a pleasure to stroll on foot. The streets, houses, and roads here create a feeling as if we have come to the distant past. The old thatched mansions of the Parsis have made a major contribution to conveying this feeling. The architecture and beauty of these houses are breathtaking. Some of the houses are in disrepair, yet they have a secluded beauty. Most houses have a well in the courtyard, and water has special significance in Parsi rituals.

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Street of Udvada

Parsis are famous for keeping their possessions for years, be it old furniture or vehicles! (Many will remember the scene of Parseebawa wiping his scooter with a cloth to make it shine in Hamara Bajaj’s cool TV ad.) If a local Parsi allows himself to enter their house, it is truly a blessing to see their house from the inside. Beauty, artistry, and grandeur can be seen everywhere in such a house.



Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem

Udwada has a small museum called the Zoroastrian Information Center, which introduces Zoroastrian culture, Zoroastrian customs, and their religion. Various items used in Zoroastrian rituals can be found here. Also, a model of the holy fire has been placed here for non-Parsi visitors to understand.


‘Bhikhaji Unvala Zoroastrian Library’ was founded in 1928. The books containing Parsi history and literature are preserved here. About 6 years ago, ‘Parsi Festival’ was held. Parsis from all across India came to enjoy it. The ornaments and decorations made during the festival, many things of artisans scattered in one place.

Gastronomic Delights

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem

No exploration of Udvada would be complete without savoring its culinary delights. In spite of visiting the whole village in a day, a visit to the city would be incomplete without the taste of food and drink. The town is renowned for its delectable Parsi cuisine, a delightful fusion of flavors that tantalizes the taste buds. Indulge in iconic dishes such as Dhansak, a flavorful meat and lentil stew, or Patra Ni Macchhi, succulent fish marinated in a fragrant blend of spices and herbs, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed to perfection. Each bite is a symphony of taste that reflects the culinary legacy of generations past.

Parsi food

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Doodh na puff

Parsi dishes include both non-veg and veg. Parsis’s excellence in making bakery dishes is well known. Cakes made in Parsi bakeries, such as butter biscuits, jeera biscuits, mawa cup cakes, etc., have a very different taste. In Udvada, there is Bhakara, and Nankhatai of ‘Hormazad Bakery’ is very famous. The Parsis use the vinegar of sugercane in different ways, which is also beneficial for the digestive system. The vinegar is sold in different sizes.



Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Mango Ice-cream


Spices used by Parsis as well as powder for the well-known Parsi dish ‘Dhansaak’ are also sold in shops here. Dhansaak is made in veg and non-veg, both. Dhan means grains like moong, chana (grame), tuvar dal (pigeon pea), and saak means vegetables. Dhansaak, made with a certain combination of these two, is served with rice.




Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Sunta drink

Another specialty dish found in Udvada is ‘Dudh na Paff’. This drink with cardamom cloves in foamed cold milk tastes delicious. A local soft drink called ‘SUNTA’ comes in spices, raspberry, and ice cream soda flavors. It is also worth tasting. For non-vegetarian diners, there are many seafood dishes available as well. Vegetarians should clarify while ordering, as a dish with the same name (e.g., dhansaak) is available in both options.

Udvada, which is sitting while maintaining parsimony, gives a unique feeling of the entire Parsi culture and parsimony within a period of only six-eight hours.

Embracing Spirituality

Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem

Udvada’s essence is steeped in spirituality, as it holds the esteemed title of being the holiest city for the Zoroastrian community. At its heart lies the Atash Behram, the sacred fire temple that has been burning continuously for centuries, embodying the eternal flame of devotion. Pilgrims from around the world converge here to seek solace and connect with their faith. The air is infused with reverence, and the tranquil ambiance envelops visitors in a sense of serenity that is truly unparalleled.


Serene Seascapes


Udvada Unveiled: Unearthing the Mystical Charms and Timeless Traditions of India's Coastal Gem
Parsi home in Udvada

As the sun sets over the Arabian Sea, Udvada reveals yet another facet of its allure—its pristine beaches. The coastline stretches languidly, offering tranquil seascapes that invite visitors to unwind and connect with nature. The rhythmic lullaby of the waves provides the perfect backdrop for moments of introspection and relaxation. Whether you’re strolling along the shore, partaking in water sports, or simply basking in the sun’s warm embrace, Udvada’s beaches offer an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Preserving Heritage

12 2Udvada’s timeless charm is a product of its commitment to preserving its heritage and traditions. The locals take immense pride in their town’s legacy and work tirelessly to ensure its longevity. Efforts to restore historic structures, promote sustainable tourism, and impart cultural knowledge to younger generations are commendable endeavors that contribute to Udvada’s continued enchantment.

Discover Udvada, Gujarat

Greetings, fellow traveler! If you’re planning a visit to Udvada in Gujarat, here’s the essential information for your delightful journey:

Category Information
Location Udvada, Gujarat, India
Google Location Udvada on Google Maps
Famous For Known for the Iranshah Atash Behram, the holiest fire temple of Zoroastrianism
Best Time to Visit Plan your visit between October and March for pleasant weather
Climate Experience a coastal climate with moderate temperatures
Attractions Explore the Iranshah Atash Behram, Udvada Beach, and the Parsi Museum
Accommodation Choose from guesthouses and hotels reflecting the Parsi culture
Local Cuisine Savor authentic Parsi dishes and delightful sweets
Transportation Nearest airport: Surat International Airport (approx. 200 km away)
Nearest railway station: Vapi Railway Station
Language Gujarati, Hindi, and English are commonly spoken
Currency Indian Rupee (INR)
Safety Tips Respect the cultural heritage, follow local guidelines, and enjoy the tranquility
Local Etiquette Observe the customs and traditions of the Parsi community with reverence
Emergency Numbers Police: 100, Medical Emergency: 108

Good to know Before you plan your Trip:

Planning a trip to Udvada, India’s coastal gem, is an exciting endeavor that promises a unique blend of history, spirituality, and natural beauty. To ensure a seamless and memorable experience, consider these essential points before embarking on your journey:

(1) Weather and Best Time to Visit: Udvada’s climate is most pleasant during the winter months, from November to February, when the weather is cooler and more comfortable for exploring. Avoid the monsoon season (June to September), when heavy rains can disrupt travel plans. However, experiencing the monsoon is also worth it. The beach at this place can be visited, as very few visitors come here. The beach is full of mud and rocks. If you want to enjoy the beach, it is more advisable to visit Devka or Jampore Beach in Daman, which is about 17 km away.

(2) Accommodation Options: Udvada offers a range of accommodation options, from cozy guesthouses to luxury resorts. Make your reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure the best choices. There are Zoroastrian inns for Zoroastrian visitors. The time of day is enough to explore this place.

(3) Cultural Sensitivity: Udvada holds great spiritual significance for the Zoroastrian community. When visiting religious sites, dress modestly and behave respectfully to honor local customs and traditions.

(4) Local Cuisine: Indulge in the delightful Parsi cuisine that Udvada is renowned for. Sample iconic dishes like Dhansak, Patra Ni Machi, and Sali Boti to savor the authentic flavors of the region.

(5) Exploring Attractions: Plan your itinerary to explore Udvada’s attractions, including the Atash Behram fire temple, Iranshah Udvada Utsav, and the picturesque Arabian Sea beaches. Research opening hours and entry fees in advance.

(6) Language: English and Gujarati are widely spoken in Udvada, making communication relatively easy for travelers. Learning a few basic phrases in the local language can enhance your interactions with the locals.

(7) Local Customs and Traditions: Take the time to learn about Udvada’s cultural heritage and traditions. Respect local customs, such as removing shoes before entering temples, to show your appreciation for the community’s way of life.

(8) Transportation: Udvada is well-connected by road and rail. Udvada is a small station midway between Mumbai and Surat. Some trains, like the Gujarat Express, Firozpur Janta Express, and Saurastra Express, stop at the railway station. The main town is about 6 km from the railway station. Consider hiring a local guide or using public transportation to navigate the town and its surroundings efficiently.

(9) Currency and Payment: Ensure you have enough local currency (Indian rupees) on hand for smaller purchases. Most establishments accept credit and debit cards, but it’s wise to carry some cash.

(10) Health and Safety: Prioritize your well-being by staying hydrated, using sunscreen, and adhering to safety guidelines. Carry essential medications and a basic first aid kit, and be cautious while enjoying water sports or other outdoor activities.

(11) Local Shopping: Explore Udvada’s markets for unique souvenirs and handicrafts that reflect the town’s cultural heritage. Bargaining is common in local markets, so brush up on your negotiation skills. Local items used by Parsis are easily sold here, as like floating lamps known as ‘Floaters’, molds for making Rangoli, special insens sticks, sandal wood, various bakery items, etc.

(12) Photography: Capture the beauty of Udvada, but be mindful of any photography restrictions, particularly at religious sites. Always seek permission before photographing people.

Also know that there is a general impression that Parsis are smiling and friendly. But that doesn’t mean that they’re funny all the time. They may invite you into their home and take you around if you converse nicely, however, it is not mandatory.

The ‘Zorastrian Information Center’ remains closed on Tuesdays.

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In conclusion, Udvada stands as a testament to India’s rich cultural heritage, offering a captivating blend of history, spirituality, and natural beauty. Its hidden charms and timeless traditions are an invitation to embark on a journey of exploration and discovery. As you traverse its winding streets, bask in the glow of its sacred flame, and savor its culinary delights, you’ll find yourself captivated by the magic that is Udvada. This coastal gem is not just a destination; it’s a tapestry of experiences waiting to be woven into your own story of wanderlust and wonder.

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  1. Very well explained and content of your blog is really very amazing you really made us understand the whole religion from history to its cuisine everything you explained is in a simple and engaging manner

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