Velas is located in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, with mountains on three sides and a seashore on the fourth side. The village has an important place in history as it was the birthplace and hometown of Nana Phadnavis, who was an influential minister of the Maratha Empire.
It is a village of farmers who largely depend on the cultivation of rice, coconuts, cashews, mangoes and arecanuts. But of late the village is gaining popularity for a different reason, which is, the hatchery of turtles.
The village would have been just one of those villages like any other if not for the Olive Ridley turtles who hatch their eggs here. The turtles have put Velas on the tourist map and the village witnesses a large number of visitors during the hatching season which begins from the month of February and goes up to April.
The baby turtles come out of the golden-black sands and begin their journey straight into the water of the Arabian Sea. The beach here is so secluded that it would make you fall in love with the surroundings.
The Best Time To Visit Velas
Velas is a place which can be visited at any time of the year, provided seeing the turtles is not in your priority list. In case you want to see the turtles, the best time to visit would be from the months of February to April.
How It All Began
For many years the turtle eggs were either being stolen or consumed by the local villagers. Pollution and large scale hunting drove the Olive Ridley turtles to the verge of extinction. But things took a turn in 2001 when an organisation called Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM) found a large number of turtle nests at Velas.
PC: Brad Flickinger
In 2002, SNM with the help of villagers began the conservation project to save the turtles at Velas and they slowly grew across the Konkan coast. The efforts of the members of the organisation and the villagers released more than 30,000 hatchings back into the sea.
The female turtles visit the beach during the month of November to lay eggs in pits which measure about two feet in depth and after laying the eggs they cover it with sand and return to the sea. The female turtle lays about 100 eggs at a time.
Once the mother returns, the volunteers transfer the eggs into the hatcheries and incubate them for around 50 to 55 days after which the hatchings emerge and make small depressions in the sand. Once hatched, the turtles are transferred to a basket and taken closer to the sea.
The Turtle Festival
Every day between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM the hatchings are released into the sea as during this time the sand temperatures are stable for the little ones to begin their journey towards the Arabian Sea. A large number of visitors make it a point to visit the beach during this time and they could help the volunteers in releasing the turtles into the sea.
PC: Caulier Gilles
Every year the organization organizes the Turtle Festival, which begins from the month of February and continues till April end. This year the final batch is scheduled to be held on the 22nd and 23rd of April. There are plenty of options for food and stay made here. One can also stay at Harihareshwar and visit Velas for a day.