Located on the magnificent Dastur Street, Atash Behram is also known as Iran Shah, i.e. the 'King of Iran' in memory of the overthrown Zoroastrian king of Persia. As promised by the earlier Parsis to not let any non-Parsis enter the temple, Atash Behram is inaccessible by non-Parsis. Hence, I could only admire it from the main gates of the compound.
The present day temple was built by Dinshaw Dorabjee Mistry from Mumbai. The main entrance has the statues of two priestly figures. The roofed top floor of the temple mostly has a wooden construction with windows and ventilators. This structure stands on the top of Persian column capitals with large scrolling forms and horned bulls on it. I was really amazed to see how the bulls played a significant role in Zoroastrianism like Hinduism. The entrance of the inner part of the temple is guarded by a pair of winged, half human - half bull. I later found that these designs were inspired from the Gate of All Nations, the ancient palace of Achaemenid king, Xerxes 1 of Persepolis, Iran.
To get an overview of the fire temple and know more about the religion, history and tradition of Zoroastrians, I visited the museum, Zoroastrian Information Center further ahead of the new JJ Dharamshala on the coastal road.
Zoroastrian Information Center
Open throughout the week from 09.00 am to 6.00 pm.
After walking for about few hundred meters, I reached the museum known as Zoroastrian Information Center. Again in an old Parsi bungalow, this small museum is a great place for information on Zoroastrian history, culture and traditions. I spent about a couple of hours reading about the Zoroastrian history. There's also a room which displays various items used in religious ceremony and has a model of sacred fire to give an idea to the non-Parsi visitors.
A nearby shop sells mementoes that one could carry home as a souvenir of quiet Udvada.
Other Places of Interest
Coastal road of Udvada
I later proceeded to the road on the coastal side of Udvada. On the way, I came across other beautiful old bungalows and took their photos. Some of the abandoned houses looked eerily attractive with overgrown creepers. Khurshid Villa on the line of the new JJ Dharamshala and Sir Ratan Tata Building really astounded me.
The entire road was full of such old bungalows. Some old mansions are still operational and were inhabited by locals or used as a weekend homes by the Parsis staying elsewhere.