Ever since I started traveling, my travel goals included visiting places that are relatively unexplored and yet unique at the same time. Thanks to my better half being a Zoroastrian, I got the chance to visit Udvada ( pronounced Udwara), a small coastal town in the south of Gujarat. This place is one of the most offbeat travel destinations that might not boast of stunning natural landscapes or a vibrant nightlife, instead the highlight of this town is more about the history of Zoroastrianism in India and authentic Parsi ( Zoroastrians ) culture. With great excitement, I was looking forward to visit Udvada and experience the aura of this place. This was probably the most unique travel experience I have had since my journey through Tana Toraja two years back.
Zoroastrianism and Udvada
While it is a known fact that the largest population of Zoroastrians live in India, what is interesting is the arrival of Zoroastrians in the country around the early eighth century as per scarce historical sources. After fleeing the Arab invasion and execution in Iran, a contingent of Zoroastrian merchants and religious leaders arrived at the port city of Sanjan, also in Gujarat, carrying the holy fire. The first seeds of Zoroastrianism were sown at Sanjan with their arrival and the community continued to live there till the early 14th century when the port city was attacked by the then Delhi Sultanate and the community had to flee again into the nearby caves of Barhot hills. After further subsequent journeys through Bansda and Navsari, eventually, the fire of holy fire was brought to Udvada town where the holy fire temple Atash Behram was built in 1742. Since then the holy fire has been housed in the Atash Behram of Udvada and the town became a pilgrimage site for Zoroastrians from all over the world.