Gujarat’s Udvada Is The Heart of Parsi Culture; Here’s Why

by Vaishalee Kalvankar
Gujarat’s Udvada Is The Heart of Parsi Culture; Here’s Why

The Parsi community of Udvada, a charming Parsi village in Gujarat, is entirely distinct from Gujaratis in terms of their cuisine, customs, and architectural style. It truly just takes a day or two to visit the quaint town; more time is not necessary. This quaint place is known to be the heart of Parsi culture and is a must-visit! Here’s why.

Gujarat’s Udvada Is The Heart of Parsi Culture

The closest train station to Udvada is located approximately 15km distant in Vapi. From there, you may take a car to any location in Udvada. It’s a seaside town in the Valsad district of Gujarat, is close to Surat and is highly revered by the Parsi and Zoroastrian communities. 

Udvava roughly translates to “grazing ground of camels,” which was the town’s original state before it developed into a fishing community. 

The Portuguese-style houses in Udvada are the area’s second point of interest. Every home is distinct and lovely, with a verandah that is built in a style that is both basic and rustic, giving it a special charm that is unmatched in urban areas.

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Atash Behram, the Parsi or Zoroastrian Temple

Atash Behram, the Parsi or Zoroastrian Temple, is the primary draw of Udvada. You can only take pictures from the outside. This is because you are not permitted to enter this magnificent piece of architecture if you are not a Parsi.

Despite its size, the Iranshah Atash Behram is almost completely obscured by whitewashed walls and a ring of homes that serves as protection.  The little streets, the vendors of sandalwood, and the activity around the fire temple are intriguing even though access to the temple itself is restricted to Zoroastrians.

It is believed that sixteen fires, including those from lightning itself, a burning corpse, a shepherd’s dwelling, a goldsmith’s hearth, and a potter’s kiln, combined to create the Iranshah. Rather than waiting for a lightning strike to start a fire, the high priest Nairyosang Dhaval is said to have meditated for days until the sky opened up, at which point he captured the fire and carried out his rites.

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Delicious Parsi Food

You should not miss out on Udvada’s cuisine. Take some time to enjoy one of the village’s main meals. In Udvada, there are several locations to eat. Delicious Parsi food is served in Cafe Farohar, Globe, and Ashishvangh.

You should definitely try the Fried Boi, Patio (a tomato-onion sauce made with fish or prawns) and Tareli boi (fried mullet).  Mutton Dhansak, Salli Boti, and their Lagan nu custard with raspberry jelly for dessert are must-try too. 

It’s interesting to note that you may purchase special ingredients and carry some with you. The markets there sell everything from vinegar to sukka boomla no patio (pickled dried Bombay duck). They also sell dhansak powder, Parsi curry, and vindaloo masala.

Try a votive candle,  known as a prayer light, if you have to carry something enduring back. Its little glass has the Prophet’s kind visage engraved on it and is encased in German silver filigree. Don’t forget to get the wicks and floaters. As long as you honour its holiness, you don’t need to be a Zoroastrian to light it.

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Have you ever visited this little village?

Cover Image Courtesy: @GujaratTourism/Website

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