The busy office life was killing me with boredom and after returning back home all I wanted was to escape this world and get lost into the wild. At 8pm I thought I should go somewhere beautiful and at 10 I boarded the bus to Khed. I had heard about a secluded beach village 'Velas' in the Konkan region of Maharashtra which came into my spotlight with the news that the turtles we're nesting there and I wanted to see baby turtles hatching. Sounds amazing isn't it?
So I reached Khed at 4AM in the morning and had some vada pav with fried green chilli and poha along with a hot cup of strong tea from the bus stand. The next bus was to Mandaingarh at 6 am and from there I boarded the bus to Velas village.
Firstly Velas is a small coastal village not famous or known to many and so everyone was a bit surprised seeing a Sardar with a rucksack going to such a remote village.
I reached Velas at around 11AM and as soon as i stepped out of the bus, everyone around was a bit surprised. There was an old Mandir nearby and I went inside to explore and saw some wild roosters running around while a group of kids kept staring me. The temple was quiet old and had some ancient looking sculptures. After that I went around the village and very soon people started asking me what was I doing there and so I asked if there was any NGO or forest official looking after turtle conservation project. After a bit exploration someone told me that there was a person named Mohan Upadhaya who was looking after the conservation project.
I asked a few people about his house and as I reached, it was an old coastal bunglaw with dogs in the front verandah looking at me with their necks high and some wild hens sitting on the wall. The front walls of his house had turtles painted on them and it really gave me the vibes that I was at the right place. The door bell rings and a mid aged man opens the door with an astonishing expression on his face. Are you 'Mohan Upadhaya?'
"Ji Ji ayie andar"
As I entered his house sat on his sofa I was even more amazed to see the paintings on his wall depicting dolphins, vultures, turtles and a cute kitten jumping on his lap. He told me all about Olive Ridley Turtles, vulture conservation projects, pangolins and his wild experiences. Later he told me about a homestay in the village where forest officers usually stayed when they were in the village and so took me there to Satnaik Amma.
Satnaik Amma was an aged woman just like my grandmother with a charming smile and motherly warmth. She took me to her home which was really cute with Krishan ji painted on a wall and a typical konkani kitchen that had my eyes amazed. She showed me my room and cooked upama for me with fresh coconut grinded on it with a cup of sweet tea. I swear that was the best upama I ever had in my life and the magic of chirping bird sounds added to it.
After this delicacy I slept like a baby till 2pm and when I woke up Satnaik Amma had lunch ready for me. The lunch had yellow dal which was sweet unlike from what I used to have in Punjab and Bhindi (lady finger) and another sprouts stew.
After lunch and talking to Amma for a while, I decided to explore around and so Satnaik Amma showed me her orchards full of coconut trees, cashewnut trees, cardamom, elaichi, papaya, mango trees etc.
From her orchards she showed me the way to the beach. The way was beautiful with backwaters and mangroves accompanying me towards the beach.
The beach was bordered by tall oak trees and after crossing this tree belt, I could see the beautiful beach with no one else around but only the sound of water kissing the sands of Velas.
Later a sharabi came to the beach playing with an empty bottle and sun setting at it's back. These moments were really a treat for my eyes and as soon he saw me he came running towards me with happiness of the whole world on his face welcoming to his village in his native language.
After watching the sun drowning in the waters of the sea me and this old drunk man started our way back to the village. While going back we noticed a female turtle dead on the beach. It was a very heartbreaking scene looking at her dead while making a nest. Not uploading that picture here for sure but the big thing is that we all need to start saving our nature before we're too late!!
the day ended with delicious konkani food made by Amma and a hot cup of tea. After a bit chat with Amma about her family in Mumbai and her granddaughters I went to sleep.
It was 5:30 AM in the morning when I woke up hearing Amma doing some work in the kitchen. I went to see her and she made a cup of Chaa for me after which I put on my shoes and went for a walk outside to do some birdwatching. I saw many beautiful birds but couldn't capture them due to very little natural light available in the morning. Later, I went ahead and saw a herd of cows and buffaloes going in lines towards the far side which I hoped that it would lead me to the beach. The shepherd was a very nice man and took me along with him, through the hilly forests and then the sight of this beautiful Velas beach. There we saw a Brahmini Sea Eagle flying above and Mohan Upadhaya had told me that it was a rare sighting these days and there was only one pair of the bird in the whole belt of three coastal villages. We were on a big rock on the hill and couldn't find any good way down to the beach so he suggested we should climb down this big rock that leads to the beach. I was a bit reluctant as it was a very high and steep rock but with his motivation I slowly climbed down with all the energy left in my body. This big hard rock had some bird nests on it which were made by the bird's sliva as what the shepherd told me.
This beach never fails to impress those who love nature. Beautiful birds flying a few feet above the sea waters was a bliss to see and the bubbler crab on the beach!! Bubbler crabs find their food in the sand and they make very tiny sand balls as a record to know that they've had that batch of the sand.
Went to Amma's home after that and there after bathing and getting ready Amma cooked me and Mohan Kanda Poha with fresh coconut garnished over it. It was so tasty that I had two full plates of it.
After breakfast Mohan took me on his bike to Anjarle Beach. Now the way towards Anjarle was through Dapoli and believe me it was worth traveling. The road went through mountains, Backwater lakes and went right through beaches and fishing villages. This journey was really amazing and we also had Kokam Soda which was a regional cold drink of the area.
As we reached Anjarle and went to Mohan's friend's house which was just a few metres away from the beach. Her mother there had cooked delicious konkani chicken for me and I also had Aamras from the fresh mangoes of their village. People in Velas told me that Anjarle was the best beach in the whole of Ratnagiri district but I found it filthy and nothing that impressive. There was a fort nearby but the hot humid weather didn't let me walk down to that fort. Met a few tourists from Mumbai and later I thought I should before it gets too late. Sadly the only bus from Anjarle to Dapoli was cancelled and so I had to take a boat to a near by plateau village where most of the people were fishermen. From there I took an Auto to Dapoli and then Dapoli to Mangaon.
From Mangaon the last bus to Pune didn't come and so I had to hitchhike in the back of a milk truck and reached Pune in the morning.
At Velas and Anjarle the total money that I spent was 960 Rupees and around 600 on traveling.
This was my first solo trip and that too to a remote village so I learned a lot of beautiful lessons.
Being close to nature is being close to your inner self, solo trips can be difficult, frustrating at moments but the beauty of the fruit that it pours into your soul is truly amazing. We all should have days when we don't speak a word and just listen to the sounds of nature, the sound of the wind, the water touching the shore, birds chirping, the sight of sun setting into the waters, the sky with all it's colours and a lunatic playing with an empty bottle of wine on the beach. This is a life that we all should taste once a while. Live to explore the magical world both inside and outside your soul!!
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