“Turtles may not be the fastest or strongest or smartest animals , But that doesn’t stop them from being totally awesome”.
Velas is a small ecofriendly village in Ratnagiri district around 24 km from Harihareshwar which provides remote home to the Olive Ridley turtle. Maharashtra is blessed with 720 kms long coastline shared with Konkan, Ratnagiri districts. Many marine creatures visit here. In the year 2000-01, it was observed that a species of turtle, Olive Ridley is a prominent visitor to the shores of Maharashtra for breeding purposes. A local NGO – Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra Mandal, have taken efforts since 2002 to conserve and protect the species.
Beaches and marine life has always been attractive to me. I happened to visit this place with friends with more over an intention to explore the remote beach of Konkan and witness the young turtle experience of first crawl to the shore.
The beach of Velas I visited is one of the finest sea shores in India, located in the Konkan coast in Maharashtra. Deep forest woods near the shore and shiny black sand are one of the rare sights. There are lot of turtle footsteps seen near the shore early morning, sometimes even the sight of mother turtles are witnessed. The volunteers of NGO – Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra Mandal – guard and conserve the turtle eggs near the shore in artificial nest with regular checks in the morning and evening. Truly watching the tiny little creatures making their first crawl towards the sea shore is an emotional experience. Their first crawl is like – “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step”. The beach has lot of natural beauty to explore, shell crafted rocks and caves near the sea. This beach is more of the private beach at night. My favorite spot was sitting on the rock near the shore at night and gazing stars in the sky with solace. People seeking Solitude can make a visit here.
“Try to be like turtle at ease in your own shell”
young turtle hatched from the egg
Turtle hatching in Brief: It is a culmination of a lengthy process, which starts when, under the cover of darkness, mother turtle emerge out from the rolling waves to lay her heap of 100-120 eggs on the sandy beach. Average eggs laid by a female turtle are 100. The incubation time required for these eggs is between 50 – 55 days. Once the emerging of the hatchling begins, their moments creates small depression in the sand, these mark increase as the days go by. Thus experts can then determine the activity in the nest. One the hatchling emergence from the nest, they make their first crawl to the sea.
“It’s better to be like a turtle who walks patiently and enjoys every step of the way. Rather than to be a rabbit who runs fast but missing every detail in life”
A small fishing village filled with mist and smell of interior of Konkan. The old structure of house and the kitchen view with traditional cooking, early morning rooster alarm and the local home cooked food was truly a fresh experience with village life. There is no lodging, restaurants and hotels in the village. Each house has its own specialty and simplicity. – “Happy Mind, Happy Life” . The entire village contributes toward the conservation of turtle species and creates awareness.
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” – unknown
There is a local documentary show and drama held inside village in the evening to create awareness about wildlife in Konkan and gets us close to Konkan culture. Evening with music, friends, games and localities makes it more memorable.
Bankot Fort: Apart from turtle Velas also has other interesting options like Bankot fort to visit. Not very famous as it doesn’t have great history associated, but a nice spot to visit to witness the view from the top – dotting the coastline of the Konkan strip, the fort of Himmatgad, now popularly known as Bankot. This was the first residency of the British Raj in Southern Konkan. Bankot is a square shaped fort made up of Jambhya stones a peculiar type of stone adorning a purple shade and peculiarly it is incapable of storing water as the water invariable percolates through it owing to its much porous nature.
From Velas it’s a small 10 mins ferry ride to Harihareshwar crossing near river Savitri entering Arabian Sea. The ride was calming and soothing.
Harihareshwar: It is also known as Dakshin Kashi by virtue of its importance in the spiritual arena of India, especially with an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. We visited the temple of Lord Shiva and Bhairavji – the atmosphere was filled with devotion and godliness.
“Temples are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting. They are built of trails and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service”.
There is a small pathway of steps from temple which heads to the Harihareshwar beach. The view from the top was tranquil and picturesque. Harihareshwar beach is the main attraction clean and elegant. Harihar hill on the sea shore adds to the beauty of the beach. I will say, Harihareshwar is a place of beauty with the pleasant ambience, temples, beach and dense woods.
Shrivardhan nearby to Harihareshwar is connected to the city by sea and road. It’s known for its water spots in vicinity.
Overall it was a nice trip and close meets with nature of Konkan – place for solitude.
Best time to visit: November to March.
How to reach:
- One can take trains till Chiplun and then onwards private vehicles can be hired to reach velas.
- From Mumbai : Private Vehicles –
Mumbai – Panvel – Pen – Mangaon – Lonere Phata – Goregaon – Ambet – Shenale – Mandangad – Dapoli – velas village
Food: Coconut water – a must try, Local home stay food cooked with coconut – has a touch of Konkan cuisine, coconut mint chocolates on ferry, local homemade kulfi and small frozen cola pepsi candies.
- Home Stay in Vela’s village is easily available with home cooked Konkani food.
- Don’t go with the intention of Turtle hatchling as it’s a natural process and can be disappointing. Please contact NGO – Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra Mandal (Mr. Mohan Upadhyay) to know about the status of nest completion days and hatchling.
- Water sports are only available at Shrivardhan beach in the nearby spots.
“Good Times and Crazy Friends make the Best Memories”