A 1,200-Year-Old Flame Draws Parsi Pilgrims


January 23, 2015

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The town of Udvada, in India’s northern state of Gujarat, is home to the holiest Zoroastrian site in India: a flame burning since around 800 A.D. Zoroastrians revere fire as a link to divinity and pray or meditate in fire temples.

Several hundred priests once tended to this fire temple, called Iranshah, in Udvada, and many more Parsis lived in the village. In recent decades, most have moved to Mumbai, a few hours to the south and visit only occasionally. However, moving a fire temple requires painstaking, carefully executed rituals, so Udvada will likely remain Iranshah’s home for many years to come, especially since India’s new government wants to have it declared a protected national tourist site.


By Rosalie Murphy | Pulitzer Center