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Gujarat Tour Diary: Day 03|Entering Gujarat Through Valsad, Dadra and Daman

(If you have come to this page while searching for some travel related information of Gujarat, I suggest you start from Day 0 of this travelogue.)

Early morning we left Mumbai and proceeded on NH8 (Mumbai-Ahmadabad-Delhi). The traffic on NH8 is quite high compared to NH4 (Mumbai-Bengaluru-Chennai).  Around 8.45 am we crossed Maharashtra check post.


Check post and toll gate on NH8 on Maharashtra side

Maps was giving the direction to Sanjan, our first place of visit in Gujarat.

Soon we reached Sanjan, a small town in Valsad district. Frankly speaking, we didn’t even know that we have entered Gujarat; it is so close to the MH border. We asked few localites about the tourist places in the town. “There is no place of tourist interest here”, came the reply from every one. This is what happens when you visit any not-so-famous-tourist-place. The local people are so used to any special place in their village/town, that they think that it is not of any tourist importance. I have experienced this throughout India many times.

We went further down the road. And we saw the Sanjan Stambh on the right side. So here we are, at the right place.

sanjan, gujarat
Sanjan Stambh



{Sanjan was one of the primary Parsi settlements in India. Sanjan Stambh is a memorial column in the town. It commemorates the arrival of Zoroastrians there many centuries ago – a group of shipwrecked migrants who had fled Muslim persecution after the downfall of the Persian Empire and were welcomed to India by Hindu king Jadi Rana.

It states the date of arrival at 936 CE. It was constructed in the year 1920 to perpetuate memory of the arrival of the Zoroastrians in India. There is a Parsi Dharamshala in the complex. The local Parsis of Sanjan celebrate the arrival of the community by celebrating Sanjan Day in November. The ‘Stambh’ is made of Vadodara granite. Its height, including the leaping flames of fire is 50 feet. The column rests on a square platform. There are 23 decorative rosettes. source: wikipedia}


sanjan, gujarat
Name plate giving the history and other details

There is also a Fire Temple of Parsis, close by.


Fire Temple at Sanjan, Gujarat
Parsi Fire Temple at Sanjan


Nargol Beach
From Sanjan we went to Nargol. We went there to see the Agiary (Fire) temple of Parsis. The fire temple was such a small one that it was quite difficult to locate it. We didn’t enter the compound at all. We saw a High School close by.


Tata Wadia High School at Nargol
Tata Wadia High School at Nargol

But we went to the beach. It was a calm and quiet beach. It gave us a glimpse of the Gujarat coastline. Gujarat beaches and coast are quite different from the rest of India’s beach/coast. I will be giving full details about the same once I start exploring Gujarat. Till then let your curiosity build up.

{The beach is wide and lonely with big tidal water level difference. The beach is rarely visited by locals and is not very crowded. It is an interesting holiday destination and sees a few tourists, who come there to enjoy the isolation and peace of mind. The seaside is part of the Gulf of Cambay (Gulf of Khambhat), which has very clouded waters with almost no visibility. This is possibly because of the large rivers that bring their humus to the sea around the bay. source: wikipedia}


children at nargol beach
Children playing cricket in the Nargol beach



Casuarina trees on Nargol beach
Casuarina trees on Nargol beach


Dadra and Nagar Haveli
From Nargol we went to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, a tiny Union Territory wedged between the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Welcome Arch of Dadra & Nagar Haveli
Welcome Arch of Dadra & Nagar Haveli


{The two regions – Dadra and Nagar Haveli are separated from each other by a few kilometers. Both lie on the West coast, at the mouth of the Daman Ganga River. Until 1954, this area was under the Portuguese colonial rule. Between 1954 and 1961, it was self-governing. On its integration with the Indian Union in 1961, Silvassa was made its capital. There really isn’t any order of things that you can do. If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway, Silvassa is the place for you. You can be holed up in any one of the many resorts in Silvassa and surrounding areas, but you let yourself loose only in the lush green sights of the surrounding flora and fauna. source: wikipedia}

We visited few places in DNH, but found none of them very interesting. Gujarat is a dry state. DNH being a UT, alcohol is (must be) cheap here. So it might be a boozer’s paradise. Pardon me if I am wrong, as it is our wild guess. My aim is not intended to hurt any DNH people.

The places we visited are:

  •  Vandhara Udyan at Silvassa is a riverside park. We found nothing special in this Udyan.
  •  Tribal Museum – it was closed, probably Tuesday is their weekly holiday.{DNH is predominantly inhabited by the tribals. The museum has displayed their ornaments, musical instruments, fishing and hunting gadgets, agricultural and house hold articles, and several other artifacts. The tribal’s way of life is displayed through life size models, wedding dresses and photographs of eventful ceremonies. The museum is popular with the tourists as it offers the glimpse of the native tribals and their culture at one place. source: wikipedia}
  • Tapovan Tourist Complex, Bindrabin: The historic temple of Lord Siva is located (18 Kms from Silvassa and 2 Kms from Khanvel) at Bindrabin. There is nothing much to talk about it.
  •  Vanganga Lake and Garden, Dadra: This was also closed when we went there around 1 pm. We had a look of the garden from outside. And again, there is nothing much to talk about it.
    {A beautiful lake garden, Vanganga is located at the entrance of the DNH. This garden is spread over an area of 7.58 hects. The garden created with Central Island is connected with bridges in Japanese style. The major attraction are its water spread framed with tree line, boats, fountains, restaurants and jogging track on an average 4 lakhs tourists visits the garden annually. The garden is very popular with filmmakers and more than 40 Hindi film hit songs have been posturized here. source:wikipedia}

Again I repeat, we did not found anything interesting at DNH. Probably we might not have explored the place properly also. Sorry if I am wrong.

We finished our lunch on the way and headed towards Daman.


Welcome Arch of Daman
Welcome Arch of Daman

 {The second smallest UT in India, Daman and Diu are two parts located near Gujarat in India. Daman lies on the Gujarat coast while Diu is an islet in the southern fringe of Kathiawar peninsula. The history of Daman and Diu dates back to some 2000 years. Diu even finds mention in the Mahabharata, that the Pandava brothers spent a few days here during their fourteen years exile. Owing to its matchless beauty, Daman and Diu were often gifted to victorious kings and princes.

It was a part of the Chowda Rajputs who were defeated by the Waghalas who in turn were thrown out by the Muslims in1330. The region was ruled by the Muslim rulers for the next 200 years. Finally the Portuguese took charge over the land in 1534 and ruled over it for a period of more than 450 years. Later several attempts were made by the rulers of Gujarat to drive out the British but all attempts were futile. In 1559, Daman was finally also annexed by the rulers of Gujarat. The inquisition which was established in Goa, largely contributed to the downfall of Portuguese Empire in the east.

Under the Constitution’s 12th Amendment Act 1962, Goa was included in the first schedule of the Indian Constitution as a territory of Indian Union. By the 57th Amendment in 1987, Daman and Diu was separated from Goa to become a UT. source: wikipedia}

We found Daman more interesting than DNH. The places that we saw are:

  • Jampore Beach: Nothing special about it.
  • Somanath Mahadev Temple: As it was afternoon, the temple was closed. In size, the temple is quite small.
  • Moti Daman Fort and Church of Bom Jesus: The huge fort dates back to 16th century. A large number of Portuguese gentry used to reside within the confine of the Fort with their families. Even now people live within the fort premises. The church was built by the Portuguese in 17th century and is famous for their impressive rosewood carvings. Don’t miss this church if you happen to be anywhere near to this place.
Bom Jesus Church, Daman
Intricate carvings inside the Bom Jesus Church



Bom Jesus Church
A closer look of the carvings


Bom Jesus Church
One more beautiful carvings

We left Daman and went towards Udvada.

{It is renowned for its Zoroastrian (Parsi) Atash Behram. This place of worship is the oldest still-functioning example of its kind, and has established Udvada as a pilgrimage center for Zoroastrians the world over.

An “Atash Behram” (Fire of Victory) is the highest grade of a fire that can be placed in a Zoroastrian fire temple. The establishment and consecration of this fire is the most elaborate of all the grades of fire. It involves the gathering of 16 different types of fire, including lightning, fire from a cremation pyre, fire from trades where a furnace is operated, and fires from the hearths as is also the case for the Atash Adaran. Each of the 16 fires is then subject to a purification ritual before it joins the others. 32 priests are required for the consecration ceremony, which can take up to a year to complete.

The Udvada Atash Behram is the most sacred of the Zoroastrian fire temples in India and the oldest continuously burning fire-temple fire in the world. It is one of nine Atash Behrams worldwide, eight of which are in western India (four in Mumbai, two in Surat, one in Navsari, and the one in Udvada), and one of which is in Yazd, in central Iran. source: wikipedia}

Udvada Atash Behram Fire Temple
Entrance gate of Udvada Atash Behram Fire Temple

We were not allowed inside the temple. When Parsis came to India at Sanjan, the Hindu King asked them not to let Hindus inside their place of worship. So non-Parsis are not allowed inside their temple.

We strolled in the lanes and bylanes of the village. There are lots of Parsi houses but most of them are vacant. So the whole village looks like a ghostly village.


Deserted streets of Udvada

 Then we reached the Museum.

Zoroastrian Heritage Museum: {Udvada also hosts a Zoroastrian heritage museum, sponsored by the Government of Gujarat. This museum contains summaries of the teachings and beliefs of lord Ahura Mazda, it has a large write up, that tells you about the history of the Parsi’s and Ahura Mazda. It also has explanations and write-ups on the holy ceremony of the Parsis called Navjot. Museum timings: 1000 – 1600 Hrs. source: wikipedia}.

As it is a Tuesday, this museum was also closed. We went inside the compound, and found out that an outhouse is open. This outhouse contains the photos, pictures and write-ups about Parsis. Here we got more details about them. If you are interested to know more about Parsis, just check out the internet.

Parsis have co-existed with Indians since many centuries. They are second to none in their patriotism. Some of the famous Sir-Name (family name) of Parsis are: Tatas, Godrejs, Bhabha (Homi Jehangir Bhabha), Wadias, Modys (Russi Mody), Iranis, Engineers, Ghandhis, Manekshaws, Mistris, Contractors, Vyravalas, Narimans, Sorabjees, Kapadias etc. The list is endless. Their population is dwindling. May their tribe increase.

From Udvada we went to Tadkeshwar.

Tadkeshwar Mahadev Mandir: It is a renowned old temple in the town of Valsad. It is famous for the special type of Shivling (A swayambu stone in sleeping position). The ceiling is open above the Shivling. The sun rays fall over the Shivling all the time during Day. Hence the name ‘Tadkeshwar’. Tadka means Heat, Fire, Sun etc (Remember the dish Dal Tadka?)

Tadkeshwar Mahadev
Swayambhu Shiva Linga in sleeping position at Tadkeshwar Mahadev Mandir



Tadkeshwar Mahadev Temple
Vertical panorama view of the Shiva Linga and the top roof-opening


After taking the blessings of Tadkeshwar, we went towards Tithal Beach.

Tithal Beach: {Tithal beach is one of the most attractive beaches in Gujarat that you will find during your tour of this fascinating state. The plush blue of the Arabian Sea encircles Tithal Beach. You will notice that the sands of the beach are black in color instead of the usual white or golden. Magnificent temples of Shri Sai Baba and Lord BAPS Shri Swami Narayan are also situated here. Many of the appealing characteristics of the beach have made the Government to take action and thus they have built some nice and pretty platforms close to the beach. source: wikipedia}

Now something from my side:

On Day 1 of this tour I have told you that, we wasted nearly an hour to find a suitable accommodation. Let me explain a bit more on our preferred choice of lodges.

Every day after the morning chores, we vacate the room and start as early as possible. We start seeing places one after the other. We do this sight-seeing-cum-travelling till sun set. At this point of time, we decide on the place to settle down for the day. Then we search a suitable lodge for staying. We have our dinner, discuss about next day’s itinerary and sleep. So a Lodge for us is only a place to spend one night. We are not much interested in other facilities like TV, swimming pool, Gym etc. We want a decent place to sleep and do the morning chores.

I have followed this on all my tours so far. And in most of my tours, each day I used to waste around 1 hour searching for a suitable lodge.

But on first day in Gujarat (3rd day of the tour), a visit to the Swami Narayan Mandir gave us a big breakthrough in our tour. It was a turning point in any of my tour. While MKR was taking sun set, beach and Mandir photos, I went to the Mandir guest house. I told the reception: “We have come all the way from Bengaluru on a Gujarat Yatra, and we want an accommodation for only one night. We will vacate the room as early as possible in the morning; and definitely not later than 7 am”.

He heeded to our request and gave us a room. The room rent was well within our budget. (I am not giving the rent here, because it depends on the type of the room and not on the number of persons occupying it). It was a neat and clean room. It had separate toilet and bath room. There was facility to dry the cloths also. And hot water was available 24 hours. What else we want to spend a night. Added to this, the dinner and breakfast were also free for the inmates.

Without worrying for anything else, we settled in the room. We visited the Mandir bookstall, and noted down all the branches of BAPS Swami Narayan Mandir in Gujarat. Later we had Darshan of the closing down Pooja, and had dinner. It was our first typical Gujarati dinner. It was neat, clean, hygienic, filling and tasty.


BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir at Tithal Beach
BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir at Tithal Beach


Swaminarayan Mandir at Tithal Beach
Inside the Mandir Sanctum sanctorum


Sunset at Tithal Beach, as seen from SNM building
Sunset at Tithal Beach, as seen from SNM building

With great satisfaction of having started our Gujarat tour on a happy note, we called it a day.

For more details on BAPS Swami Narayan Mandir, you may look here:


gujarat tour map
The day’s route map from Google Maps


Total distance covered: 310 kms.

Click to read Day 04 of my Gujarat Tour Diary: Following the footsteps of Mahatma to Dandi…
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