Udvada is a sleepy little town in South Gujarat near Vapi. Its importance is in the town being one of the most important pilgrimage centers for Parsis. The Atash Behram or fire temple here is one of the oldest and it is said the fire here has been burning continuously since the consecration of the temple in 1742. Udvada is perfect for some rest and relaxation and for a taste of Parsi culture.
Udvada is 177 km by road from Mumbai and one can travel at ease on National Highway 8. You can rent a bike in Mumbai from Ziphop or take rental car in Mumbai from Ziphop and make it a memorable journey by driving in a leisurely fashion. Set out in the morning around 9 AM and you arrive close to Udvada where you can have Parsi fooda t the Parsi da Dhaba or snacks at the Dairy Land Parsi Dairy. It is obligatory to enjoy Parsi Dhansak, patra ni machchi and salli par eedu. Then there is the usual offering of alu vada and paneer pakodas if lunch is not on your mind.
What to do
Udvada, or Udwada as the locals call it, is a Parsi stronghold and you will find the streets deserted which is a good thing if you wish to take a leisurely stroll. This is the best way to admire the Parsi villas and cottages lining the streets. Get invited inside and you will see beautiful torans decorating doorways and antique furniture. Get into a convesation with Parsis, young and old, and you could get a bit of history. A visit to the Atash Behram means you can admire it only from the outside since non-Parsis are not allowed inside. However, you can visit the Udvada Museum that is a repository of everything related to Parsis. The sightseeing done you can go on to the beach and relax.
If you like you can extend your stay and go on to Navsari, about 70 km to the North. Navsari is a busy city and visit the First Dastoor Meherjirana Library, the museums that were once home to Jamshetji Tata and Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy. Take it a bit further by driving on to Sanjan, a delightfully quiet picnic spot and of utmost importance for Parsis because this is where they first established themselves on arriving in India.
Where to stay
The Globe Hotel and Ashishwan Hotel are preferred by visitors because they offer decent accommodation. You can also dine in the in-premise restaurants that surve Parsi delicacies like deep fried fish, fish curry, brain cutlets, chicken, mutton pulao and dal, and, of course Dhansak and Patra ni machchi. Enjoy Parsi ice cream for dessert and, when you go shopping, visit a few Parsi bakeries and buy cakes, pastries and khari.
The Parsi experience over, you can return to Mumbai, happy in the thought of a weekend well spent.