Watching the newborn Turtle take their first step in Velas, Maharashtra

Tripoto
8th Apr 2016

Olive Ridey Turtle taking first flipper-step towards to the new beginnings of life

Photo of Watching the newborn Turtle take their first step in Velas, Maharashtra by Avani
Day 1

They say that the unplanned trips are usually the best ones. My trip to Velas - a quaint beach in the Ratnagiri district of Konkan, Maharashtra - was one of them. Apart from the soothing beach and calming waves, this beach is known as one of the very few conservation site for endangered Olive Ridley Turtle.

Prior to the intervention of Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM), an NGO based in Maharashtra, the eggs of these Turtle were either consumed by villagers, dogs and other wild animals roaming around the beach. However, the villager are now vigilant about it and take active participation in ensuring that the eggs are safeguarded from the venturing predators on the beach.

While browsing through for places to go near Pune, I came across the Turtle festival that was ongoing in a beach near Ratnagiri - Velas. After going through few sites and posts, my friend and I decided to take part in it.

Distance:

By Road:

From Mumbai: 218 kms.

From Pune: 194 kms.

By Railways:

Nearest railway station is Khed.

By Air:

Nearest airport is Pune/Mumbai.

You can either book a cab from Pune or Mumbai and take the road or take the State Bus from Pune or Mumbai Depot.

We had taken the bus from Swargate depot of Pune to Velas. There is one direct bus from Pune at 10:30 AM (please check the timing with the depot as it might have changed now. You can also book your ticket in advance on their website). Other option is to take bus till Mandangad and then change at Mandangad for Velas. If you reach early, you can share a shuttle that runs between Velas and Mandangad. Last bus to leave from Mandangad to Velas is at 6:30 PM. Velas is 36 kms from Mandangad and can take 60 to 90 mins to reach in the bus. It took us 8 hours to reach from Pune to Velas.

Bus Fare: INR 280/ticket

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) Bus Depot at Mandangad

Photo of Mandangad Bus Depot, Dapoli, Maharashtra, India by Avani

Accommodation:

For accommodation, there are home-stays available in the village. You can contact Amol Soman on +91-2350-220-279 or Milind Nijsure on +91-2350-220-629. There are multiple options available for the room; you can either opt for the dorm which costs as low as INR 200 or choose private room. You can also book room on AirBnB, now. We had booked a private room that had cost us INR 800 which included lodging, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Backyard and Bagicha of the Homestay at Velas!

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

We reached Velas at around 8 in the night. It was late to go to the beach as it is a good 1.5 - 2 kms hike from the village. However, it was not late to catch the documentary organized by the SNM which narrated the history of the village and how it got converted into a sanctuary for the Olive Ridley Turtles.

After a simple, yet sumptuous dinner we retired for the day.

All our meals were served on the Banana leaf. This was our dinner on the night we reached comprising simple Konkani daal, chapati, cabbage sabzi, aam ka achar, salad, papad and rice with buttermilk.

Photo of Watching the newborn Turtle take their first step in Velas, Maharashtra by Avani
Day 2

The day they took their small, yet determined flipper-steps.

We woke at 6 in the morning, the next day. All ready and wanting to catch the sunrise. I have always fancied sunrise at the beach. As we neared the beach, walking through the village, careful of the Crabs that scuttled across looking for their morning meal, the soft crashing of the waves and the saltiness in the air made us realized that we were nearing the beach.

The soft crashing of the waves and the saltiness in the air indicated that we are very near the beach. Beyond this trees laid the beach and the endless waters of Arabian Sea.

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

Doesn't look like the Forbidden Forest from the Harry Potter books?

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

Few hundred meters from these trees was the nesting ground of the Turtle. The official of the sanctuary had ensured the safety of the eggs and the hatchlings by drawing fence around the circumference so that predators cannot touch them. Following photographs show the fence and few posters around it for the general public.

One of the many posters that highlighted the need for the conservation of this species.

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

Again, one of the many posters.

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

This one explained the lifecycle of any Sea Turtle.

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

This one had 4 individuals nests inside the fence. The sticks around helped measured the depth of the nest. If you look closely the nest are blanketed with the sack for protection.

Photo of Velas, Maharashtra, India by Avani

The day we were in Velas was the day of Gudi Padwa - Marathi New Year. It saw the birth of the 11 baby Turtles that made their way to the Sea, their home.

I do not have any documentation of the Turtles making their way from the nest to the Sea, because the moment was so mesmerizing and I did not want to miss it. It was a sheer delight to watch those babies make their way in the sea and make their first attempt to swim and then they just went in. I hoped in my heart that they soon find others and be able to move freely in the sea. And maybe, one day they would be back on the beach to build a nest of their own!

Morning was well spent on the beach, just relaxing. We returned back around 9 AM and had our breakfast. Once done we were invited by our host in their Bagecha for a tour. It was full of spices and vegetables that they use for preparing their meals and to sell the excess in the market.

Rest of the morning was spent in just delving in the quietness and the peace of the village. We decided to leave for Pune the same day after visiting Harihareshwar which was a nearby beach with the Shivji Mandir. One could take the ferry to the Harihareshwar from Velas. It costs INR 25 for a one-way ride. We decided to take the bus to Pune from Harihareshwar and returned the same night. We reached Pune at around 11 PM.

The complete trip cost us INR 1800 and we completed it in 36 hours.

Other Nearby Attractions:

Dolphin beach in Dapoli.

Diveagar beach.

Shrivardhan beach.

Konkan coast is lined with beautiful and serene beaches. And then there are gems like Velas that soothes your soul. Also, a personal request do opt for home-stays rather than staying at resorts in beaches as it is a source of income for the villagers. They also make for a great conversations, as there are always stories they have to share with you. Not to forget the opportunity to taste the local food.

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