We heard a lot about Udvada in Nani Daman and decided to make a short trip. We hired an auto from Nani Daman to Udvada in the morning which is at a distance of 11km. An auto will cost you Rs. 300 for a one way trip. In ten minutes time we reached the bridge on the coastal highway over Kolak River and crossed over to Valsad district in the state of Gujrat. Just before this bridge there is the border check post between the Union Territory of Daman and the state of Gujrat. In another five minutes the driver dropped us at Udvada in front of the Zorastrian Heritage Museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed for renovation to welcome Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi who is expected to visit Udvada in December 2015 to attend the first ever Iranshah Udvada Utsav. However the shop which sells Parsi memorabilia and curios in the same compound was open for visitors. Few meters from the museum is the Udvada beach.
The main attraction of the town is the Parsi fire temple which is called Iran Shah Atash Behram. The Udvada Atash Behram (meaning Victorious Fire) is considered to be the oldest continuously burning fire-temple fire in the world and hence is a major pilgrimage centre for the Parsis from all over the world. It is believed that the original fire was carried by the group of Zorastrians fled from Iran to the west cost of India in the 7th century to escape the Arab Muslim Invasion. Initially the fire was consecrated in Sanjan and during the 14th century it was again moved to the nearby caves in Barhot hills to hide it from the invading armies of Delhi Sultanate. Finally in 1742 it was consecrated in Udvada fire temple. Entry to the fire temple is allowed only to the Parsis and others can only see it from outside.
Few meters away from Iran Shah Atash Behram you can see another fire temple which belongs to a different sect of the same religion.
To experience the spirit of this quaint and sleepy town one should walk down its narrow streets lined with houses with its unique architectural design. These houses with high ceilings, sloppy roofs and quaint porches are more than a century old. Some of them are in dilapidated condition as most of the owners are living either in Mumbai or abroad. There are also some newly constructed modern bungalows and apartments.
By the time we reached Globe Hotel, it was lunch time and their restaurant is the best place where one can relish on authentic Parsi food. We are served with a typical Parsi meal called Dhansak. The Dal cooked with mutton and vegetables, served with brown rice and roti is called Dhansak. The rice was cooked in caramel water to give it a typical colour and taste. Also served was the fish fry marinated in turmeric and chilli powder, locally called ‘boi fish’.
You should not miss the home made mango ice cream and sitafal ice cream which are available in the shops or from vendors who are roaming around in autos. There are Iranian bakeries who supplies the local specialities like mawa cakes, kharis and nankhatais.