Velas is a seaside village located in the Mandangad Taluka of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. The hamlet is wrapped by majestic mountains on three sides and a gorgeous seashore on the fourth side.
The village has a historic significance as it is the birthplace and hometown of Nana Phadnavis who was an influential minister and governor and belonged to the Maratha Empire and also during the administration of the Peshwas in Pune.
Velas would have been a forgotten land, but it walked into the hall of fame; all thanks to the Olive Ridley Turtles who come to this seashore to lay their eggs. The beautiful sight of the turtle hatchlings who are just out of their nest and trying hard to make their way to the Arabian Sea is indeed a breathtaking sight.
How To Reach Velas
By Train: Pune Junction is the nearest major railway station to Velas which is located at a distance of 121 km from here. The railway station is connected to the major cities of Maharashtra. It is also linked to cities like New Delhi, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai etc.
By Road: One of the best ways to reach Velas is by road. The town is well connected by roads and there are regular buses which operate from major cities to Velas. The total driving distance from Mumbai to Velas is around 225 km.
Best Time To Visit: Velas is a year around destination, however, the months of February and March are considered to be the best months to visit here as one could catch the little Olive Ridley Turtles making their way towards the sea.
PC: Another Believer
There are two routes which one could choose to reach Velas from Mumbai, which are as follows:
Route 1: Mumbai - Navi Mumbai - Rasayani - Durshet - Kolad - Mangoan -Goregaon - Mandangad - Velas via Mumbai - Pune Highway
Route 2: Mumbai - Navi Mumbai - Rasayani - Durshet - Roha - Mhasala - Kolmandle - Velas via Mumbai - Pune Highway and SH 92.
If you are opting to travel by Route 1, it would take you around 5 h to reach Velas, which is located at a distance of 225 km from Mumbai.
This route takes you through some of the well-known towns and cities of Maharashtra such as Navi Mumbai, Durshet, Kolad etc.
If you are opting for Route 2, it would take you around 5.5 h to cover the total distance of 203 km via the Mumbai - Pune Highway and the SH 92.
Short Stop At Durshet
Since the travel time on the route 1 is around 5 h, one can make a short stop at Durshet, which is around 150 km away from Velas, for some refreshments and one can enjoy the sights here if you are willing to take a short deviation from the route.
Durshet has a number of forts and temples in its kitty for one to explore. The place is home to two of the Ashtavinayak temples of Maharashtra namely Ballaleshwar of Pali and Shri Varad Vinayak of Mahad.
Apart from the two temples, one can visit the forts of Pali, and the mountain forts of Sarasgad and Sudhagad.
One also indulge in water sports on the banks of the Kundalika river which offers rappelling, river rafting, river crossing etc.
Being a seaside town, there is the beautiful Velas Beach which doubles up as the artificial hatchery to the Olive Ridley Turtles from mid-November till the months of March - April. Besides the beach one can visit the Bankot Fort here.
The Bankot Fort is also known as Himmatgad and is said to have been captured by Adil Shah from the Portuguese in the year 1545.
The fort is now in ruins, which shows the once glorious structure in bits and pieces. One also finds a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha and a graveyard in the outer regions of the fort.
Another attraction here is the ancient shrine of Harihareshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva. The place is also home to the confluence of river Savitri and the Arabian Sea.
The temple is also known as the Kashi of the South as people come here in large numbers to perform the last rites for their loved ones.