I was more eager to watch the baby Olive Ridley turtles. I heard a lot about Velas Turtle Festival tour from my friends. Small Steps Adventures organizes this Eco tour every year in the month of March. I was waiting for the dates to be announced in the month of Feb.
Velas Turtle Festival dates
The Velas turtle festival dates depend on the eggs laid by female turtles on Velas beach. This Velas beach in the Konkan is the most favorite amongst the Olive Ridley turtles. There are few more beaches in the western coast but Velas get maximum eggs every year. Anjarle beach is also the next hot spot of baby turtles where recently villagers started Anjarle Turtle Festival.
We started our Velas Turtle Festival tour from Mumbai. Dadar was our start point. Organizers had arranged 30 seater bus for our batch. Everyone gathered at Pritam hotel near Dadar station on Friday night around 11 PM. Within 15 minutes, we started our journey. “Ganapati Bappa”, yelled our tour leader and unanimously we said, “Morya”. Everyone in the bus was the first timer to visit Velas Turtle Festival 2019.
I asked more about Velas Turtle Festival to the tour leader. He said it is purely on luck to watch baby turtles. He was praying God to make it possible otherwise he was going to face the nervousness of the participants. But, we need to understand that he can’t manipulate the natural process.
Early morning, we reached our destination. As I imagined, Velas was a typical Konkani style small village nestled close to the Arabian coast. Beautiful road beside Sea was a great shot or a frame that everyone would love to capture.
Morning Walk to Velas Beach
Quickly, we freshened up and marched towards Velas beach. We saw many hoardings with the name Velas Turtle Festival. It was a walk of 20 Minutes to the Velas beach but was much more refreshing and soothing than any city walk.
There were pine trees and coconut trees on the shoreline just behind the vast Velas beach. The sand was brownish black with few bushes around the path. We reached the main barricades where eggs were kept safely by guards of forest and SNMC. Around 7 AM, one of the guards gave instruction not to walk around the beach once turtles released into the sea and not to flash while taking pictures.
Velas Turtle Festival Morning Session
He opened the basket, there were many cute turtles were ready to enter into the sea. The struggle of a baby turtle is unimaginable. Out of 1000, only one grows to adulthood.
We enjoyed a morning with baby Olive Ridley turtles at the beach and went back to the home for awesome breakfast.
After heavy breakfast, we explored Bankot fort which is close to the Velas. It was historically important fort to keep an eye of old Sea trade route to Mandangad inside Konkan. The main entrance faces north and is decorated with stone carvings. During our visit restoration work was going on.
Bankot Fort History:
The word Bankot was derived from “Bavanna Kot”. Bavanna means 52nd and Kot means the fort. When our dearest King Shivaji won this fort then it was fifty-second fort and so the name. Fort was also renamed to “Himmatgad” by Marathas. During the british reign, it was called “Fort Victoria”.
After historical visit to Bankot Fort, we came back to our Velas Beach Stay for delicious lunch and rested till evening. It was very sound sleep. I started thinking that there is magic in the air in every village. Before moving to the Velas Beach for Velas turtle festival second session, we had hot tea.
Velas turtle festival Tour Evening session
The evening walk from Velas home stay till Velas Beach and talk with new friends was memorable. But, this time the basket was empty. Not a single turtle came out. For those whom it was the first session got depressed but we were happy as we were lucky to spot them in the morning.
Sunset at Velas Beach
We went to the beach and enjoyed the fresh air and calm nature while watching Sunset at Velas Beach. I am sure that the evening time spent during Velas Turtle Festival tour was the one of kind atmosphere. Few people went ahead to watch Dolphins but we negotiated with sunset only.
Harihareshwar Temple and Harihareshwar Beach
Next day of Velas Turtle Festival tour, we hit the jetty to transfer our bus to the other side of Savitri river. Harihareshwar was on the other side.
Group visited Harihareshwar Temple and Harihareshwar Beach. This temple is said to be “Dakshin Kashi” of India. After lunch, everyone was started thinking of scary Monday and offices. Around 2 pm, we started our return journey to Mumbai.
Overall, Velas Turtle Festival tour was a great tour organized by Small Steps Adventures. Importantly, Velas Home stay was very unique and the food was really tasty. I was planning to visit next year as well. Are you?