• Ajaz Shaikh

Velas Turtle Festival - Olive Ridley Conservation

Velas is famous for the Olive Ridley Turtle, which is an endangered species of sea turtles. Velas is a small village about 5 kms from Harihareshwar across the Bagmandala creek. Every year the Olive Ridley turtle population visits Velas to lay its eggs.

Ten years ago, before the conservation effort started, most of the Olive Ridley turtle eggs were either consumed by humans, dogs and other wild animals. An NGO named Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra and the Kasav Mitra Mandal (KMM), the committee has taken the initiative to conserve olive ridley turtles by providing protection to their eggs during the period of February to March. The NGO also organises the festival which offers the experience of witnessing the first steps of the baby Olive ridleys

If you want to know all about Olive Ridley Turtles and Velas Beach Turtle Festival. Here is the detailed travel guide for your tour planning and plotting. If you don’t want to plan to join group tours of Adventure Geek.

Velas is a beach on the western coast of Maharashtra State in India, where the fest is organized annually. The Velas Turtle Festival dates are not fixed as it depends on the eggs laid by Female Turtles. Mostly, it is in the month of March. Velas Beach Turtle Festival is organized by Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNMC) which decides the annual fest dates and share with tour operators like Adventure Geek.

At 7 am, when most are waking up to a lazy weekend, Ratnagiri's Velas Beach is buzzing with activity. Visitors stand on either side of a roped aisle, cameras in hand for what's one of the years most waited for red carpet walk. As volunteers release the day's first batch of Olive Ridley Turtle hatchlings cameras go off. Babies Turtle make their way into the sea guided by the morning sun.

Locals are involved in every step of the process: surveying the beach for eggs, collecting and transferring them into artificial hatcheries which is monitored till the eggs hatch. The babies are then collected and released twice a day i.e. in the morning and evening. Timings are Morning 7 – 7:30 am and Evening 6 – 6:30 am. The sightings of a baby turtle is on pure luck. Visitors are requested to follow announced dates as they are predicted by an NGO with the constant study. Every turtle hatched out of egg goes back into the sea on the same day.

Only to Return

On release, when the hatchlings head to the sea, they record the place's geomagnetic field intensity, remembering it till they return as adults. This is a key moment in their lives. Fifteen years later, the females from the batch will reappear to nest and lay eggs at the exact spot of their birth. They will hatch 50-60 days later and the cycle goes on.

No Luxury Hotels Or Delux Rooms

Velas Turtle Festival is a 2D/1N tour from Mumbai and Pune. Thus, making it the best weekend getaway at the end of winter. You can directly drive down to the destination else you can opt for group tours of Adventure Geek. There are no luxury hotels or Deluxe rooms for Velas Beach Stay. A full-fledged homestay system was started to accommodate visitors during the festivals. Besides getting to simple village life and home-cooked Maharashtrian Food you're indirectly supporting the cause, 10 per cent of the homestay earnings go toward the turtle conservation project. SNMC/Tour Operator/House Owner arranges a video session at night for all visitors with detailed info about the fest and turtles of Velas Beach to generate awareness.

Bankot Fort

Bankot Fort is a very old coastal fort. After conquering, it was renamed as Himmatgad by Marathas. Later, after the fall of Suvarnadurga, the British changed the name to Fort Victoria. Bankot fort used to hold the commanding position on the traditional trade route of Savitri River. Approximately, it takes half an hour to reach the entrance of the fort. There is a wide and safe route to reach the top of the fort. There are two entrance gate & one Nagarkhana from where Savitri river is visible. A beautiful piece of history can be explored on Bankot Fort. On the Velas Turtle Festival tour, you will be visiting Bankot Fort on day one of the Eco-tour.

Harihareshwar Beach & Temple

Kalbhairoba Temple on Harihareshwar Beach should be visited first before visiting the main Shiv Linga. There are two Beaches with pristine beauty. Certainly, it is the most preferred destination for people from Mumbai & Pune. Harihareshwar beach is less crowded and one can relax in a natural ambience to make a weekend trip amazing. Thus, it makes the best weekend destination for tourist from all over Maharashtra. On the second day of the tour, Harihareshwar Temples and beach exploration is planned by the majority of the tour operators.

To summarize, Velas Turtle Festival is one of kind experience that one should have once in a lifetime. But, make sure you check the Velas Turtle Festival dates and then visit the Velas beach. As there are no hotels, your stay will be in rural Velas Beach Stay Homes on sharing basis during the Festival.

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