Navsari, one of the oldest cities of Gujarat, has a history of over 2000 years. According to the Greek historical writings, a celebrated Egyptian astronomer and geographer named Ptolemy mentioned Navsari’s port in his book written about 150 A.D. The geographic location he showed as Narispa, is in fact, the Navsari of today. Navsari lies to the south of Surat in Gujarat and is also said to be Surat’s twin city. Located near the Purna River, the city lies at a height of 9 metres above sea level.
According to historic records, the Parsis were the first settlers in the city. They gave the city its original name, Navu Sari. Navsari is recognized as the birthplace of the great business tycoons such as Dadabhoy Naoroji, Jamshetji Tata and Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy. Like the rest of the state of Gujarat, Navsari too experiences extreme climate. The maximum temperature in the region hovers around 40° Celsius during summers while the minimum temperature during the winters can reach around 10° Celsius.
Dandi Beach is one of the prominent beaches located in Dandi village and is one of the cleanest beaches in the Arabian Sea. Popular for the Salt Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi, one of the major attractions of this village is a pillar called Kirti that is believed to have been constructed in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi. Another attraction of the village is the Safe Villa, which was constructed in 1961 and served as the residence of Mahatma Gandhi. There is a library and a museum in the villa that display various artefacts and pictures belonging to Gandhiji.
2. Unai Village
Unai village, situated in Vasanda Taluka of Navsari District, is popular for various hot water reservoirs. It is believed that Lord Rama called many Brahmins for a yagna here. For fulfilling the need of hot water of the Brahmins, he shot an arrow in the land that resulted in producing a flow of hot water of River Ganges. The Unai Mataji Temple in the village has an idol of Ushar Ambaji installed by Lord Rama’s consort, Sita. Visitors can bathe in the hot spring attached to this famous temple of considerable historical significance.
3. Dastur Meherji-Rana Library
The Dastur Meherji-Rana Library displays various pictures that belong to the ancient town of Navsari. The library also has various sacred manuscripts of the Parsi community. It is believed to have been constructed by Navsariwala Seth Burjor Bamanji Padam, a Parsi, in 1872. The entire structure, including the interior, is believed to have been renovated in 1999 with the help of the funds of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. These funds have also helped in adding facilities like a reading room, apartments for visiting scholars, conference hall and laboratory for storing rare books.
4. Somnath Mahadev Temple
As believed, the Hindu gods Moon, Sun, Bhimadeva and Lord Krishna worked up their magic to construct Somnath Mahadev Temple near the Arabian Sea in Navsari. It was believed to have been made of gold, silver, and wood, and has a towering dome that rises up to 108 ft. However, the temple was renovated later on the lines of Kailash Mahameru Prasad style. The rivers Kaveri, Kharera and Ambika flow at the temple site and render a sacred ambiance. During the month of shravana, a special fair is held at this temple as with other shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva.
5. Vansda National Park
Vansda National Park, also known as Bansda National Park, is a protected area which represents the thick woodlands of the dangs and is situated in the Vansda tehsil, Navsari district. Riding on the banks of Ambika river and measuring roughly 24 km2 in area, the park lies about 80 km north-east of the city of Valsad. The best time to visit is post-monsoon season till winter when the forests are lush green and streams are full. Predominantly covered by very tall teak trees, mango groves and gigantic creepers, the forest is extremely dense and some parts are dark even during normal daytime. It is a habitat of monkeys, deer, a few leopards and a wide species of birds.
A weekend getaway for the dwellers of South Gujarat, Ajmal Gadh is a heritage destination on the Sahyadri hills near Vansda town of Navsari district. It served as a cantonment during Chhatrapati Shivaji’s reign. It also served as a shelter to Zoroastrians or the Parsi community, when they wandered in the forests of Ajmal Gadh seeking protection for their sacred fire cauldron. Tourists coming from Surat, Valsad, and Navsari can easily visit this place to spend time in emerald green landscapes.
7. Jamshed Baug
Built in 1849, the Navsari baug is one the best-kept Parsi dharamshalas in India, with rows of sloping roof-tile topped low buildings standing around a wide courtyard.The architecture is distinct from those found in the Indian sub continent and resemble closely the old architectural style prevalent in China and South east asia. This could be possible due to the extensive trade links Navsari once had with China. Only Parsees can stay here. An old well dug sometime in early 1900s still supplies water to the dharamshala.
8. Gandevi Taluka
The Gandevi Taluka is regarded as an ancient city, where various carved stones belonging to the Solanki era have been found. The major attraction of this taluka is Bilimora that is popular for a temple dedicated to Sati Mata. Another prominent attraction is a fair that is organised on the day of Kali Chaudas, a day before Diwali. Various temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama and Lord Shiva are situated here.
Several people from the Parsi origin also come to visit Navsari as this was the first dwelling place of the Parsis who migrated to Gujarat. The excellence of the Parsi architecture can be well understood from the various edifices of this place that are built in the authentic Parsi style. These were our top picks for visiting this historic town, but you need to pack your bags and plan your trip to visit these and explore many more.