Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Udvada Gets New Railway Station Building

Udvada Railway Station recently got a massive facelift. Below is an article on the history of the Udvada Station by eminent historian and our dear friend Marzban Giara.

Marzban writes…

There was no separate railway station for Udwada on Bombay Baroda B. B. & C .I. Railway. One had to alight at Pardi station and travel eight miles to reach Udwada. Seth Behramji Nusserwanji Seervai (1824-1914) started his business as a railway contractor and carting agent in 1864 for B. B. & C.I. Railway.

Seth Behramji Nusserwanji Seervai wrote a letter to Mr. J. K. Duxbari, the railway company’s agent on 16th October 1868 and stressed the need for building a small station at Udwada where Parsis go on a pilgrimage to the ancient Atash Behram and if the railway company wants he offered to pay the expenses for constructing the station.

On 11th June 1869 Mr. C. Curry, the railway company’s agent replied to Seth Behramji Seervai that a small station will be constructed at Udwada by the railway company but if he or his friends could improve the road from the station to Udwada village.

Seth Behramji on 20th October 1869 wrote a letter to Mr. T. C. Hope, Collector of Surat and offered to pay half the expenses for repairing the road. Mr. Hope accepted the offer by his letter of 8th January 1870 to Seth Behramji and stated “… the Local Fund Committee will undertake hereafter to improve it as far as the means at their disposal will allow.”

Thereafter Seth Behramji on 8th April 1870 deposited Rs.2,000/- in Surat’s Government Treasury for the road to Udwada village. The railway company constructed a small temporary station at Udwada and inaugurated it on 23rd December 1869. The road to the Udwada village was built on 25th May 1870.

Bai Motlabai Jehangirji Wadia contributed Rs.68,000/- ( Rs.38,000/- for constructing the permanent road and Rs, 30,000/- for its repairs)from Udwada station to the Atash Behram. The railway company demolished the 25 year old temporary station and built a permanent station 3/4th mile away and inaugurated it on 1st January 1896.

(Source: Parsee Prakash Vol. Ii Translated from Gujarati into English by Marzban Jamshedji Giara)

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Two years after tragedy, a new dawn for Udvada station

Article by Rajendra B Aklekar Mid-Day

The new look of Udvada station

Even as Aspi Sepoy, 46, who lost his legs to a railway accident at Udvada, has got on with his new life, the station has a spanking new face after renovation was completed. mid-day’s reports on the reasons for Sepoy’s accident got the revamp rolling. The town’s railway station has been in the spotlight ever since Sepoy, a resident of Ava Baug in Navsari, lost both his legs in an accident at the station on September 15, 2017.

He told mid-day on Friday, “I am doing very well and am once again independent. For a year now my new assignment has been caretaker of Zoroastrian Information Centre at Udvada.” Sepoy now zips around on his modified three-wheeler that was given to him from funds collected after his accident.

“An indomitable spirit, he travels from Udvada to Navsari and back all alone on his three-wheeler,” said Dinshaw Tamboly, chairman of the World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust (WZOT), who helped garner funds.

The waiting halls are air-conditioned a comfortable with separate ones for men and women

Western Railway chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar said the 123-year-old station has been upgraded to a ‘Pilgrimage Destination Station’ at a cost of R3.2 crore in addition to the complete rebuilding. Built in 1895, the station has retained its original glory and the entire project was being monitored by a reputable architect Prashant Chokhawala from Valsad.

“The daily footfall is approximately 2,500. It now has a new AC waiting hall, VIP Room and ladies and gents waiting halls with all basic facilities. Platform number one has been extended to accommodate 24-coach trains for easy entraining and detraining in addition to building a boundary wall along platform 1 and along circulating area for security purposes,” he said.

The station also has a new reservation-cum-booking office, new toilet blocks for men and women and the differently-abled in addition to renovation of old seating arrangements and water booths. The concourse hall has been done up with murals on one wall and cornice flowers on the ceiling,” he added. He said work was carried out keeping in mind Railway ministry’s directives to develop stations with facilities suitable for pilgrimage destinations.

Holy city for Parsis

Located around 182 km from Mumbai, the small town of Udvada is one of the holiest cities for Parsis and is a global pilgrimage centre. It is one of the oldest and most important spiritual centres for Zoroastrians in the world. At the Iranshah, the holy fire that was consecrated in 1742 when the Zoroastrians came to India to escape religious persecution in Persia is still burning.