Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar

8th Apr 2018
Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

I had this wildest dream after I saw this web series “TRIPLINGS”, a story of 3 siblings messed up in their lives, going on an adventure long trip. One day, I thought I would do the same, may be not a long long road trip, but yes a short rejuvenating experience, to do something different from the usual routine.

So it was 7 April, from last few days we were planning to go to “VELAS”. It was like from last few days we were trying to finalize the plan, but all in vain. The trip was on 7 April, just a day back I called the coordinator asking if there were some seats left, and to my surprise there were many seats left. First it was four of us, me, accompanied by my Best friends (Nidhi & Ashish), and my sister (Vrushali) along with us. But on the actual day of travelling and last minute plans, there was another addition. We were taking my brother (Swaraj) also making our count to 5. So now we were a small group in ourselves.

I was sleeping the whole day, without any preparations as most of the time Saturday is a sleep day for me, after travelling from Mumbai to Pune, I hardly get out of my bed. We were going to “Xtreme trekkers”, this was our first trip with them, and we were really worried, how the things will end. We were going to board our bus at 7pm from the Chandani chowk, which was also the last pickup point.
After a rush rush, Nidhi taking a half day off in office and same with Ashish, we all reached the Chandani chowk on time, the bus was late by few minutes, but we were tracking the bus with the help of the WhatsApp, soon the bus reached, and we were boarded, another group of 5 was going to join, we were waiting for them. After reporting of all the members the bus started.

For first few minutes, everyone was engrossed in the groups, discussing the office stuff, the usual problems, troubling boss, back bitching colleagues, and so on, the list of topics was endless.

Soon our Co- ordinator (Prateek khardekar) introduced to himself. And then there was a round of introduction for all of us, about our profession, what we like, what is our dream and many things.

Prateek introduced us to the schedule we will be following till Sunday. According to the schedule we will be reaching the Bankot Fort around 12.30 -1pm. After that there we will set up our tents, we will also be waiting after 1 hour for the dinner.

So I was  fascinated by the stories of Bankot, Prateek told that there was a Queen, and she loved the “White champa” flowers, so win her rule, she planted many trees, but she never got a chance to witness the  magic of “white flowers”, But now even after so many years she comes to the fort for the flowers. Champa flowers don’t usually blossom around the night, but on fort we can smell the bright flowers, and feel her around. It was nice to hear that we were visiting haunted place. First thing was checked out from the list of camping at the Haunted place.

After our wait at one of the hotels for dinner, we had the dinner packed from our homes. Talking & resting for some time, we again started our bus journey.  
This time, the bus was full of old & new songs, “Antakshari” was going on, some people preferred to take a small nap before reaching the place. After that half of the people were enthusiastically singing the songs while others were clinging to their seat were sleeping peacefully.

We reached Bankot around 1.45am. After that started the task of putting our own tents. We were divided in the group of 4 -5 people and each group has to set the own tent. For me and Ashish, it was not a new experience, but for Swaraj, Vrushali & Nidhi it was different. Within some time we were able to set up our own tent, but something was weird and the tent was not looking the way it should like, we tried figuring it out, but something was odd, so we moved to another tent.

After the campfire was set up, we went inside the fort, inside the fort it was quite dark, but still we managed to roam the fort. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the tree, fully bloomed with White Champa flowers, the smell was dwelling everywhere, and I thought may be the queen is somewhere watching her favourite flower’s blooming. The only thing which happened was not a single girl left the hair, as it was believed    during Night time you should not leave your hair open, as there is a chance of spirits entering your body through hair.

The camp fire was good, the music was awesome, and we enjoyed the company of one another, making some new friends. We danced and let ourselves down, Enjoying the best of Music from “Manali Trance “to “Nucleya” to some “Punjabi songs” to “English numbers”. After we had enough of dancing we decided to sleep. We went to the tent, First the weather outside was “Hot “and we left open the window of our tent. We chatted for some time, in our cozy tent, and all we could feel was the sound of the waves, we were not able to see anything, but can feel the sound of waves.
Around 1 hour, I woke up and saw it was 5.15am and fog was already so much making it difficult for me to see. The weather was cold, just opposite to what we experienced one hour back. The “ Azaan” sound can be heard far away in mosque. It was one of the soothing moments. Such a calmness!!!!
We received several wake up calls from our co-ordinators and finally we were all up, packing our tents and moving our bags out. It was around 6am in the morning, and we were in bus, from the long the sea can be seen, the sea was clean & deep, it was refreshing to see such a clean gray beach and the sound of waves, the birds over the sea. The sound of waves hitting a rock.

Just a few minutes bus journey we had reached the Velas. From here the beach was nearly 15minutes walking distance. There was a small trail which we followed. The surrounding was covered with greenery and different posters about “flora & fauna”. We reached the Beach, I could see the net from a long distance. 
I was the first one to go and grab a seat near the tent. I can see the net and inside the nets were “small baskets”. The net is opened by locals around 7am in the morning, and at 6 in the evening. So there was quite some time for superstars to arrive. I was waiting with all the patience. Before that there was some information round.

In this I learned many new things that this “Olive Ridley” turtles travel all the way just to come back to a place where they are born to lay the eggs. The mystery is still not revealed how there are able to reach back at the same place where they are born.   One Olive Ridley turtle can lay up to 100-150 eggs.  Before few years the situation was terrible for the turtles. People use to think the turtles are vehicle of Lord Vishnu and “lord Vishnu” has sent them as a gift and the locals use to relish the turtle eggs”. This caused the decrease in number of turtles over the years, since last few years all this myths are cleared, and “Olive Ridley” is one of the endangered species, the locals here take the care to conserve them. The eggs laid by the turtles are collected by locals and are brought at one place, where they have already digged holes around (2-3 Ft. deep) they collect all the eggs there, and for protecting the eggs from other predators they have a small basket over it. After 45 days the hatchlings start to come out from eggs. 

They has a systematic count of all the eggs, the number of hatchlings and other things. The survival rate of this hatchling is 1 out of 1000. But our duty is to make them reach safely to the sea. The number of females & males is decided by the temperature of the nest. If temperature is more, more number of females is expected, if less then more number of males is expected. Male turtle never comes back to the sea, it’s only the female turtles. Unlike others, this turtles have to come to surface for breathing, so they cannot stay under water for more time.

At 7am 2 people entered the area covered by the net, after that they started checking each basket one by one. First two baskets were empty, and people were already talking how they were not able to see single hatchlings since yesterday. It was a sheer luck, and we crossed our fingers and hoped for Best. When third basket was lifted, I could see a small hatchling, that moment, I was awestruck, I kept on looking at the tiny creature, and I just cannot stop adoring it. I felt my Velas trip was successful as I got to witness the cute creature. Another basket was lifted, and this time it was more beautiful sight than before. As the little creature was joined by many of his friends. The level of cuteness was raising. And soon the basket was full on the hatchlings. I could see the blinking eyes, we were asked to switch off the flashes of our mobile, as it may hurt the eyes of baby turtles. We took the photos as many as possible.

Then, started the ramp walk of this babies. There were barricades, and people were standing and cheering for “The stars of the day “. It was indeed a moment to witness the baby hatchlings taking their baby steps and soaring the temperature level with cuteness. Each one of them was a cutie pie. There were some hatchlings who were very keen to move to the sea, and walking as fast as possible, and while other baby hatchlings, few of them did not care, and seems to be walking in a wishy- washy way.  I could not believe that another thing was checked off my bucket list. Watching the “Journey of survival “. Each baby hatchling was leaving a beautiful trail of the tiny baby steps, everyone was watching those baby steps in an awestruck manner. Soon they were at the Right place. We waved off, and I was lucky enough to experience the baby closely as it came back with the waves. The locals allowed us to take some photos, and again the baby was sent back to sea.
We were on beach enjoying the beauty, but it was not allowed to enter the sea. So after that we were back again in our bus. We went to one place. It was a home stay, all the girls had a room inside the house, while for boys it was outside. We refreshed ourselves and enjoyed the typical “Pohe”, it was so different, than what we usually eat, it was lushy and soft and as it is one of favourite dish. I tried to eat as much as possible.

Other had already left getting ready for private beach. On the way to Private beach, we had to cross a small river. The river was formed by the sea water, and it separated the beach from the land. It was thrilling experience to step in water, even though not knowing how to swim, but we all together walking hand in hand were finally able to cross the river, while Swaraj breaking his chappals while crossing.
After we reached the beach, I enjoyed splashing in water, and collecting the shells and stones near the beach. I had collected almost 30-40 different types of shells.

Afterwards I was just sitting near the waves enjoying and enriching every moment. The plan of making a small castle stuck me, and I was all in sand making a small home, using my legs as the base, and decorating the home with the shells I have collected.

Soon we started getting bored, so we decided to go back and rest for some time, but our coordinator asked us to stop as we were going to have some group activities.  First we were divided in the group of 8, and in 3 groups, and my siblings were in different groups. It was going to be a tough match as we all were in different groups. I and Nidhi were in same group. We decided to play Pirates, There was a circle which was having some bottles, in every group, and the members were numbered as 1 to 8, and once the coordinator calls the number that member has to run and grab the bottle from the circle and have in his team’s circle. The second bottle can be picked up from any other team’s circle. The total count of 3 bottles has to be fulfilled, the team full filling the condition wins.

Our team lost first 3rounds, then we had a plan, we decided to  have some strategy, whatever may be the number called out, the player who will run was previously decided, and other will act as if everyone is ready to run, we were able to win 4 rounds continuously with help of this strategy.  Finally I and Vrushali were face to face in one round- at that was the moment, I won, and she lost. And our team made to the finals.
After that a cricket match was played between the wining team and first runner up team, this time me and Ashish were in one group, while Nidhi & vrushali decided to sit away from the sun. The match was long of 8 overs. At one point, I was balling and Swaraj was batting, It was all together a different experience, we never played cricket like that before. Finally Swaraj’s team lost and we won again.
Now after playing so many hours under the sun, all our energy drained out, we walked back to our homestay, we all were able to walk , but Nidhi’s face had turned red, and she was not able to walk, with the hot sand, it was like a “Agneepareksha” to make the way till water . I felt pity for her, but was helpless. We decided that this time we will go by land and not crossing the river as our clothes were dried and did not wish to wet them again, but it was difficult for Nidhi to walk and we took the water route, and we were wet again. We all 3 were drenched in water & sweat.
After reaching to Homestay, we took a bath, and had our lunch. The plate was full of typical Konkani cuisine like “Varan bhat”, “bhendi masala” “mataki batata” “papad “ “ salad” and “Solkadi”. We took a nap at the same for few minutes, everyone was almost exhausted after a heavy play session. We also had “solkadi” again while leaving.
We were on our way to “Harehareswar” a famous Hindu Temple. The locals at the Home stay were warm and helpful. There were even having a small tortoise in their home, a big pet dog. After our bus journey, it was a time for a ferry ride. The ferry did not arrived, and the temperature was getting hotter, so we decided to go out of bus, and there were ladies selling out fishes of different types. The weather was hot, but cool breeze was blowing and making it bearable to stand.  

We entered in the ferry with our bus, we went to the top of the deck, and as soon the bus started we started watching the water, and other small boats. It was a small journey of 10minutes, again there was a journey of bus, but soon we reached. Everyone was tired, and as promised by our coordinator that no more walking it’s nearby, everyone started walking.
On the way we could see many shops, but everyone was panting for water. After our darshan in the temple, we went out to the point from where we can see the waves. We had a lemon water and the “Panhe”, we took many pictures, and then decided, it’s a time for a Group photo. We buyed some local items from the store. We waited at many places, while travelling our home back, the roads were bad and the bus was almost jumping on the roads.

Next day none of us, out of five, were able to go anywhere. I was unable to travel back to Mumbai, as it was not possible to have another 3-4 hour journey & reach in time. So I stayed back home. Vrushali & Swaraj were at home, not going anywhere. But Nidhi & Ashish also have to take a day off.
So this was our story, I think more you travel together , more you come to know about each other and more strong is the bond which you have. So altogether it was a different experience, till that time I use to think that only when you climb or go  for trekking your legs start paining, but it is not only while trekking, it is also when you enjoy too much on a Private Beach!!!.

Turtles making way

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

People gathered for fest

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Baby turtles

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Champa Flowers At Bankot

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Harehareshwar beach

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

We Five

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Our Tent

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Perfect lunch

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Campfire at Bankot

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble


Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Best Friends

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble


Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Triplings ????

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

The Group

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble

Best Friend

Photo of Bankot Camping, Turtle Festival & Harehareshwar by Shrushti Kamble