the   AGIARY



BRIEF HISTORY     HISTORY form "The Bangalore Parsis"       



Full Name : Bai Dhanmai and Cawasji Dadabhai Dar-E-Meher

Agiary is a :  DADGAH

Postal Address :  

15 Queens Road

Bangalore 560 001


Telephone No. : +91(80)  22867488 

Telephone No. : +91(80)  22864535

E-mail :


Visiting Hours : From Seven AM to Eight PM .

Landmark : Opposite the Indian Express building.




Date of Consecration / Founded :  Monday 8th February 1926 / Roj Aardibehest, Mah Sherevar, Y.Z. 1295

In 1924 Late Seth Meherwanji ManeckjiMerchant set out to construct a Dar-E-Merchant set out to construct a Dar-E-Mehernd collected nearly Rs.50,000/- for the project at hand.  In 1925 the “Bangalore Parsee Zoroastrian Anjuman” was formed.  Late Seth D.and collected nearly Rs.50,000/- for the project at hand.  In 1925 the “Bangalore Parsee Zoroastrian Anjuman” was formed.  Late Seth D. Cawasjionated Rs. 25,000/- towards construction of thedonated Rs. 25,000/- towards construction of the Daremeherin memory of his late parents.  The foundation stone of the Dar-E-in memory of his late parents.  The foundation stone of the Dar-E-Meheras laid on 21was laid on 21stt  December 1924. The work on this building progressed under the supervision of Mr. December 1924. The work on this building progressed under the supervision of Mr. Hormusji Markar.  By 1925, end the construction was nearing completion and the Trustees appointed Ervad Pestonji JamshedjiUnvalla ofUnvalla of Udvadaas the first, as the first Panthaki Sahebfrom December 1925 onwards.from December 1925 onwards.


The day of Roj Aardibehest, Mah Sherevar, Y.Z. 1295, i.e. Monday, 8th February, 1926 was fixed for the opening ceremony of the Dar-E-Meher.  The sacred ceremony were started and two Mobed Sahebs of Udvada. Mobed Behramji Jamshedji Unwalla and Mobed Jamshedji Rustomji Katila came to Bangalore with the “Aalat” to Perform this ceremony. This consecrating ceremony lasted four days and on this occasion, the Head Dasturji of Deccan and Malwa, respected Dasturji Saheb, Sardar Dasturji Kaikobact Aaderbad Dastur Naushirwan graced the function in view the special invitation extended to him by the Anjuman. So, on this holy Ordained day, the Holy Fire was enthroned in our Dar-E-Meher. Many well-wisher and staunch Zoroastrians had come to Bangalore in good numbers to witness this sacred ceremony. 

Name of first Panthaki : Ervad Pestonji Jamshedji Unvalla

Mobeds who served the Agiary for long periods:

(1)  Ervad Pestonji Jamshedji Unvalla  (1926 - 1965)

(2)  Ervad Nadirshah P. Unvalla  (1934 - 2008)

(3)  Ervad Tehmuras N. Anklesaria  (1959 - 1969)

(4)  Ervad Jamshed Chinoy  (1967 - 1994)  


Approximate Parsee population at that time and at present :

            In 1925 there were approximately 125 Parsees

            In 2000 there are approximately 800 Parsees.  



HISTORY form "The Bangalore Parsis"




Establishing an Agiary in Bangalore


By now the prominent families in Bangalore were the Belgaumwalas, Mirzas, Dhallas, Malegamwalla, Mervanji Merchant, Boyce, Adenwallas, Markers, Motibai Kanga to name a few.  They were keen to establish a place of worship in Bangalore.  We must remember them gratefully because those were very hard times and it was difficult for families to make ends meet.  Despite all that Merwanji Merchant, Kaikhushroo Belgamwalla, both the Boyce Brothers (Seth Rustomji & Nusserwanji) and others started a fund to collect money to build the Fire Temple.  Mr. Merwanji traveled to Bombay at the persuasion of and with the support of the above gentlemen. He was able to collect about Rs. 40,000/-.  The present day Parsees should try and imagine their plight as those days, soon after the First World War, a deep recession ensued making funds very hard to come by.  The sum of Rs. 40,000/- was not enough to build a Fire Temple and sustain its regular expenses.  Realizing that the amount collected was not sufficient to ensure regular and adequate maintenance they awaited a more appropriate time.


Coming of the Cawasji Family to Bangalore

At this time Seth Dinshaw Cawasji, came to Bangalore on business.  He was a businessman in Bombay and a good friend of the Boyce Brothers. Seth Dinshaw Cawasji had just purchased a property for his own use in Richmond Town.  He was requested by Mr. Merwanji Manekjee and other Trustees to build the Agiary.

Seth Dinshaw Cawasji at once acceded to the requests of the Parsees to build and donate the Fire Temple. He named it the “Bai Dhunmai & Cawasji Dadabhai Daremeher” in memory of his late parents. This cost him Rs. 25,000/- in the year 1924.  Seth Dinshaw Cawasji wished that the Agiary should be used and frequented by Parsee Zoroastrians only, in accordance with the resolutions passed in 1905 by the Bombay Parsee Panchayat (BPP), observing the regulations regarding admission to religious places.

He donated this Agiary to the Anjuman with specific conditions incorporated in the Trust Deed. These are noted hereunder:

1.   That he would pay Rs. 25,000/- towards the buildings of the Fire Temple and if the buildings are not completed within the above amount, the Bangalore Anjuman should pay the balance.

2.   That a tablet bearing an inscription indicative of the person in whose memory it was built will be put up at the entrance to the Temple.

3.   That he will always have the power to appoint two Trustees who will work in conjunction with the other Trustees appointed by the Bangalore Anjuman.

4.   That in any vacancy amongst two Trustees to be named by him, he will have the right to fill up the vacancy.

To construct the Bangalore Agiary Seth Dinshaw Cawasji agreed to give the entire sum as a donation to the Anjuman.    The Trustees tried to select a plot in the centre of the city and showed it to Seth Dinshaw Cawasji who approved and purchased the plot for Rs. 8,000/-.



The work on the construction of the Agiary was started at the end of 1924

under the supervision of Mr. Hormasji F. Marker, who was Executive Engineer to the Government of Mysore and was also an architect.  Mr. Marker designed the Fire Temple in a somewhat Iranian style.  Mrs. Bachamai T. Kapadia, daughter of the late Seth Rustomji N. Boyce of Belgaum, laid the foundation stone and the work was completed by the end of 1925. 


Search for a Panthaki

With the construction of the Agiary nearing completion, the Trustees were eager to get a Panthaki.  During that time, Seth Dinshaw Cawasji’s business friends, Mr. Rustomji Boyce and Mr. Nusserwanji Boyce came to Bangalore.  They advised him to advertise for a Panthaki in the Jame-Jamshed newspaper of Bombay.  In response to this advertisement many applications were received.

Among these was an application from my father Ervad Pestonji Jamshedji Unvalla.  The Boyce brothers knew my father and so they recommended that the Trustees select him.  My father was called to Bangalore and was asked to advise the architect, Mr. H. F. Marker for the necessary markings, consecration, liturgical prayers, and the type of Hindhores, Pavis, etc. during the last part of the temple construction. His advice was taken for the ‘Urvisgah’.  He gave detailed advice and this Urvisgah was laid down at the North end of the Agiary with Pavis.


Panthaki Ervad Pestonji Unvalla

Ervad Pestonji Unvalla belonged to the Sanjana Tola of Udvada.  He was a full-fledged Priest of Udvada.  Initially, before his marriage, he went to the Nargol Agiary as a Mobed for a few years.  There, he married Bai Meherbanoo, daughter of Khursedji Fatakia.  They had eight children, five daughters and three sons.  From Nargol, Pestonji went to Karachi and worked there for four years.  At that time, before partition, India was united and the Parsee population was sizeable in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Sukker.  The Parsees of Sukker were without an Agiary and so they established an Agiary and my father, Pestonji, was appointed as their first Panthaki on the recommendation of Dasturji Dr. M. N. Dhalla.  In Sukker, my father was so energetic that with the help of the Parsees there he established a Parsee school and a Dharamshala. 

In 1925 our entire family came to Udvada from Sukker (Sind) to perform my Navjote. While there, my father read the advertisement that appeared in the Jame-Jamshed for the post of a Panthaki for Bangalore and applied for the post.  He was selected and came to Bangalore.  After coming to Bangalore, he took charge and gave all the necessary advice to the Parsees about the structural and architectural points to be borne in mind when constructing an Agiary, the rituals required for consecration, etc.  After this, my father went back to Udvada to arrange for two Yozdathregar Mobeds (those who can perform very high liturgical prayers like ‘Yasna’, ‘Vandidad’, ‘Nirandins’, etc). After my Navjote I was admitted to the Dadar Athornan Madressa as a border and our whole family moved to Bangalore.


Consecration of the Agiary

When the Agiary was ready, the opening ceremony was fixed for Roj Ardibhesht Mah Shehrevar 1295 Y. Z. The date was 8th February 1926.  To consecrate the Agiary with a new Dadgah, two Mobeds, Ervad Behramji Unvalla and Ervad Jamshedji Katila were transported from Udvada by car with Bareshnum and Alat. Both these Mobeds were well respected in Udvada and had performed many Nirangdins. They came in a car (1925 model) driven by Seth Dinshaw Cawasji himself, all the way from Udvada.  In those days it was not possible to cover the distance within a day. These priests first halted in Bombay at the Dadiseth Atashbehram Compound, next day they drove on to Belgaum and kept the Alat in the Belgaum Agiary. On the third day they reached Bangalore.  

As part of the consecration ceremonies for the new Agiary, for three days and nights the two Mobeds were engaged in performing three Yazashne and Vendidads, thus consecrating the Agiary.  On the fourth day, the Holy Fire was enthroned in the sanctum sanctorum and Sirdar Dastur Kaikobad Aderbad performed a public Jashan along with my father.  Sirdar Khan Bahadur Dasturji Kaikobad Aderbad  Dastur JamaspAsa of Pune, who was the celebrated High Priest of the Deccan, graced the function. The Bangalore Anjuman Panthaki comes under the auspices of the High Priest of the Deccan (based in Poona). The inauguration of the Agiary was the privilege of the Deccan High Priest Sirdar Dastur Dr. Kaikobad Aderbad JamaspAsa.

It is noted that at that time about 300 Parsee Zoroastrians from Bombay as well as from South India gathered here.  The Dasturji Saheb Kaikobad Aderbad declared the Agiary open and the other Mobeds were presented with shawls and flowers. The Dasturji Saheb officially declared my father Ervad Pestonji Unvalla as the first Panthaki of the Agiary.  

While celebrating the Platinum Jubilee, nobody remembered this opening function.  Mr. Kekoo Parekh, the patron of the Madras Anjuman, who was present on the occasion with his parents from Mercara, recently reminded me of this event.


Construction of the Priests Quarters

Beside the Agiary structure a house was constructed to house the priest’s family. This was the bequest of Bai Motibai Kanga at a cost of Rs.4,000/-.

A water-well is an absolute necessity in an Agiary for high liturgical ceremonies. This was constructed at the South side of the Agiary compound at a cost of about Rs. 500/- from funds offered by Mrs Lam.  The compound wall was also constructed.  The entire construction of the temple premises was complete by January 1926.

 Merwanji Hall

In 1929 Seth Merwanji Manekji Merchant, whose family had arrived from Surat and who had taken great pains to help collect funds for the Agiary, expired.  The Parsees were very indebted to him, especially my father, so they collected funds to build a memorial in his name.  

The present Merwanji Hall was built on the south side of the compound at a cost of Rs. 3,000/-. It serves as an annexe and houses the Holy Dadgah whenever whitewashing and cleaning of the Agiary premises is required. Today the Parsees are worried about their dwindling numbers.  The Parsee population in India was never in lakhs or millions. Throughout recent history we find that our numbers never went beyond 1,25,000 souls worldwide.  We came to India in small numbers in a couple of boats.  We married within the community and increased. Parsees had large families.  This bit I mention because Mr.Merwanji had eleven children.