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Bharot Caves
A case for preserving Historical Sites

Visual Essays

FEZANA journal of Fall 1995



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In their struggle for survival, the descendant of the Zarathushti refugees from Iran who fled to India in the early part of the second millennium had to make a few mass moves to avert the adversities they were subjected to from time to time.

As a token of their appreciation for their safe landing on the shores of India, the Iranian refugees established the consecrated Iran-Shah fire temple that was to be kept aflame as symbol of their faith and the reason for their flight to India.  However, the changing political climates and the external threats forced the descendants of the original refugees to uproot and seek safer heavens with the Western parts of their adapted land, India.  Every-time they found it necessary to forsake their homes in view of pending threat and to seek new grounds; the Zarathushties took the Iran-Shah fire with them.  The buildings housing the fire had to be abandoned every time.

By fourteenth century, the descendents of the Zarathushti refugees from Iran (Parsis) had spread out from Sanjan, within the locality of one of their original landing point to nearby Navsari, Broach, Cambay, Variav and a few places throughout India.   Around 1393 AD, Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi, the ruler of North Eastern Iran launched an attack into India, and with an army of thirty thousand horsemen descended on Sanjan.  In response to a request from the Rajah of Sanjan, fourteen hundred Parsees  led by a brave man by the first name of Ardeshir went to battle. Mounted on horses and drums beating they marched out with the Rajah’s army as the dawn broke.

Day and night the battle raged.  The two leaders were as dragons fighting each other with the fury of tigers.  The sky was covered with a dark cloud.  Suddenly the battle turned against the Hindus and they all fled, leaving the Parsi comrades unprotected.  Still they fought on bravely.  Blood streamed from wounds and flooded the plain.  For three days the warriors fought, until at last the Muslim army accepted defeat and withdrew.  But the victory was short-lived.  The following day the Muslim Army of Mahmood with reinforced infantry and cavalry advanced to wage another battle.  Ardeshir was in the midst of a deadly battle and fought like a hero, but an arrow pierced his side. He fell from his horse to his death.  The Rajah was also killed, and his lands lay open to the aggressor.

With the fall of Sanjan, the Parsees fled to the nearby mountain of Bharot taking the Iran-Shah fire with them for safekeeping in the Bharot caves, where the Iran-Shah was preserved for 12 years, until they moved on Bansda and nearby mountain Ajmalgadh, where they were able to prosper again. At around 1419 A.D. Iran-Shah was moved to Navsari until 1740 when it was moved again and in 1742 it landed in Udvada, its home since that time.

The Iran-Shah fire, the symbol of faith and existence for the refugees from Iran to India is the longest continuously burning fire  is still aflame to this day.  Bharot  caves have a special place in the history of Iran-Shah.  This slide show capturing the ruins of the Bharot caves are featured here due to their special place in the history of the Zarathushties during the second millennium.