The Gujarat Express pulled in a few minutes after 9am and there was a small commotion getting out of the compartment. This must be the time Udvada was waiting to see its community back home coming to celebrate the Iranshah Udvada Utsav. Other times this sleepy railway station is desolate and the 60 odd residents here rarely have visitors.
Udvada for most is a small town in Gujarat, but for the Parsis this is where their history in India begins way back in the 10th century A.D.
Much of the fabric of old Udvada seems intact and I was excited to spend some time here to relive a bygone era. The old Parsi houses reflect a distinct culture.
As I entered more narrow streets, I could see more beautiful homes. Most were locked, must have gone for their Utsav. Here, I was walking down in complete isolation, marveling at the huge houses sort of greeting me with their warmth.
A few blocks away was the Iranshah Atash Ashram, the Parsi Fire Temple.
The structure is just 400 years old, but the Fire residing in had been lit more than 1200 years.
While the fire temple is out of bounds for all non-Zoroastrians, fortunately, the town isn’t. The houses are huge; the streets are narrow; women continue to cover their heads with scarves; men lounge around in their sudreh and kusti. It is like walking into one giant Parsi baug, only quainter and quieter.
There isn’t much else to do in Udvada and its charm is exactly that. When you’re not feasting ,wander its quaint streets, admire the architecture and find a rocky perch over the beach to take in the fantastic sunset.