The Velas Turtle Festival is dedicated to the conversation of Olive Ridley turtles & takes place in Velas, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
Since 2006, the village of Velas has organized (Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra) this festival from February to April.
During this time, fifteen local families volunteer their homes to host tourists. The villagers offer warm hospitality to their guests and ensure their safety. The festival is a model for community-based biodiversity conservation.
You can experience the local lifestyle and the Konkani food by staying in one of the homestays.
During this festival, you can watch these turtles’ hatching and watch them make their first journey towards the ocean.
The Olive Ridley turtle is a migratory species that makes its way to the Konkan coastline yearly. These beautiful creatures can grow to two feet long and weigh from 34 to 50 kilograms. They live for about 100 years and lay 100 to 150 eggs. The turtles make nests around 12 to 20 inches deep in the dry sand.
It had an “endangered” conservation status, but recently, due to the constant efforts by various organizations, the conservation status is now “vulnerable.”
You can attend the Velas Turtle Festival by both public as well as private transport.
Located near Dapoli, Velas is around 200 kms from the city of Mumbai. MSRTC runs two local buses to Velas from Mumbai; one leaves at 12:30 AM and reaches 7:30 AM.
The 2nd bus leaves at 12:30 PM & reaches 7:30 PM. The ticket fare ranges from INR 330 – INR 500.
There’s only one local bus that runs to Velas, which leaves at 9:00 AM and reaches 4:30 PM, the bus costs INR 200.
If you want to travel by train, the closest railway station is Chiplun, and from there, you can take a local taxi or a local bus to Velas.
Reaching Velas in your vehicle will take around 6.5 – 7.5 hours, covering a distance of 240 kms. Get Directions
From Pune, the distance is around 200 kms & takes between 5.5 – 6.5 hours. Get Directions
During Velas Turtle Festival, most of the villagers in Velas offer their own homes to travellers & various travel groups as homestays. They also provide all three meals along with the stay. An average night stay with food will cost anywhere between INR 750 – INR 1500.
There aren’t any hotels and restaurants in the village; however, you can find local food joints.
It is essential to book your stay in advance because it is a high season, and most of these homestays get booked in advance by various travel groups. Here’s a list of a few of the homestays that are listed on Google Maps and have the highest ratings
Read about another such natural phenomenon happening in Maharashtra every year just before the monsoons.
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The fort is located at a distance of 5km from the village of Velas. It is one of the main attractions near Velas. Not much is known about the origin of the Bankot fort. The fort was known to be under the control of Adilshahi, and later in 1548, the Portuguese took control over it. Later, Marathas, under the able leadership of the great Kanhoji Angre, took control over Bankot. They rechristened the fort as Himmatgad. It is a historical place because it was the first residency in the Southern part of the Konkan coast of British.
Harihareshwar Temple & Beach:
You can also visit this historic temple near Velas, located around an hour’s drive from the village.
Harihareshwar temple is a Hindu temple and one of the most renowned temples in the Konkan region. It is built on top of the Harihareshwar hill, and inside the temple, you will find idols of Lord Shiva, Parvati, Vishnu, and Brahma. A pradakshina path goes around the temple, along the seashore.
A huge boulder is also divided into two segments just behind the temple. It is believed that Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, broke a massive boulder into two separate pieces since it stood in the way of the temple.
The beach is located at a distance of 30 kms from Velas; it will take around an hour to reach here via car.
It is one of the cleanest beaches in the Konkan region and one of the least crowded beaches. There are many hotels and eateries near the beach where you can indulge in the local Konkani cusine.