August 16, 2022
CM Content Team
Do you know that Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world that dates back to the 10th-5th century BCE? The Zoroastrians fled to India to protect their religion during the Arab conquest of Persia and came to be known as Parsis. They first settled in Gujarat and later in the 18th century, Mumbai became the key centre for Parsis. Mumbai today houses the most number of Parsis in the country.
The community has influenced industry, science, arts, and culture in Mumbai and the country for centuries. Jamsetji Tata, Homi Bhabha, the Wadias, the Godrej family, Madam Bhikaji Cama, and Boman Irani are just some of the renowned Parsis of India.
Zoroastrianism is an interesting religion to know about. Learn some exciting facts about the holy places for Parsis below:
India has 150 Parsi worship places or fire temples. Listed below are some of the top fire temples in the country with a little bit of history:
The Fort area in Mumbai houses the oldest surviving fire temple in Mumbai—Seth Banaji Limji Agiary. The Zoroastrian fire temple was constructed in 1709 by Limji. There is an interesting story on how the sacred fire of the Parsi worship place came to being.
Mehrwanji Limji was a successful businessman in Kolkata. In his home, a priest maintained a fire from a lightning strike for two years. Later, Limji transported the fire to Mumbai with Zoroastrian rites to establish the temple and enshrine the sacred fire.
A fire broke out in the Fort area in 1803, which destroyed most of the temple. But the city’s Parsi community rebuilt the temple in 1845. The temple’s architecture resembles that of a fortress and the temple has fire motifs on the front facade.
Constructed in 1735, Maneckji Seth Agiary is the second-oldest fire temple in Mumbai. The architecture of the structure is a mixture of Persian and Greek Revival styles. Two lamassus statues stand outside like they are guarding the temple’s entrance.
The Dar-e Mehr in Hyderabad is one of the three fire temples in the city. The Parsi religious place caters to close to 1000 Parsis living in Hyderabad. The compounds of the three fire temples house residential flats where 430 families reside.
Seth Jamshedji Edulji Chenoy and his brothers built the agiary in the memory of their late father. The temple was consecrated in 1847 during the reign of Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan. The Parsi population in Hyderabad and Secunderabad is the second largest after Mumbai in India. The fire temple recently became 175 years old.
The Iranshah Atash Behram or Udwada Atash Behram in Udvada, Gujarat is the oldest fire temple in India. Atash Bahram was kindled in 721, a few years after Parsis came to India after taking permission from the Hindu King, Jadav Rana. The ritual devices for consecrating the fire were brought by priests to Sanjan from Eastern Iran by land route. The sacred temple represents the historical religious and cultural links of the community with Iran.
Among the prime holy places for Parsis, the temple attracts Zoroastrian pilgrims from around the world. The current Persian style temple building housing the sacred fire was constructed in 1742 by Motlibai Wadia. The temple structure houses the Dasturji Koyaji Mirza hall and a museum.
Situated amidst the calm atmosphere near the Prayagraj High Court, the structure is surrounded by lush green gardens. The foundation stone of the temple was laid by the honourable Burjorjee J Dalal, a high court judge in 1928. A winged human figure of Asho Farohar sits at the roof of the temple. Prayagraj has only about 27 Parsis who visit the temple during festivities like mariages.
The Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar-e Mehr or Royapuram fire temple is a Parsi fire temple at Royapuram in Chennai. Built in 1910 by the philanthropist Phiroj M. Clubwala, it is the only fire temple in Tamil Nadu and the surrounding regions of Puducherry and Kerala. The flame burns continuously in the temple as the priest stokes it five times a day.
Out of about 177 fire temples in the world, India houses 150. And within India, the highest number of fire temples—about 50—are found in Mumbai. Do not miss exploring the beauty of these amazing historic Parsi worship places as and when you get a chance.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.