Tags : Fairs & Festivals
Velas Turtle Festival Dates : March-April
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Come March, the sleepy little village of Velas in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra throngs with travellers for the ‘Velas turtle festival,’ an annual event dedicated to the conservation of Olive Ridley turtles. Held at the Velas beach of Ratnagiri, 200 kms from Pune, the Velas turtle festival has been gaining much popularity in the eco-tourism sector both nationally and internationally. While the activities of conservation of turtle eggs take place at the beach, the natives of the pristine coastal village offer visitors many exhilarant local activities and culinary experiences, turning the festival into a cherish worthy multi-day event.
The laying of eggs usually begins from February, and the process of turtles coming to the beach to the hatching of the eggs continues through April. The festival, mostly a conservation event of sea turtles and a celebration of its natural process breeding, do not have any set dates. However, the activities and tourist influx are at its peak during March and April.
Velas turtle festival is one of the most celebrated eco-festival in India - an event that sees tourists, travellers and volunteers throng from around the globe. Some come to care for the tiny turtle hatchlings, some to capture in their frames the little two-legged creatures crawl their way to the ocean, and some for the wholesome eco-tourism experience by the beach!
It is a memorable experience for travellers — one that lets them enjoy their time while also give back to society and mother nature. The advent of the festival has led to the economic upliftment of the villages around the Velas beach, needless to say, the number of sea turtles has grown invariably.
An experience of the turtle festival is also ideal for children. For the young ones, otherwise buried in the digital universe of tablets and cell-phones, this festival is a welcome episode amid nature.
An itinerary of 2-3 days is ideal for those wanting to experience the entire process of breeding, hatching and releasing of turtles into the sea, as well as enjoy the eco-tourism activities offered by the village community.
Visit the beach at the wee hours or evenings to witness the glorious sight of baby turtles taking their first steps to the ocean. The timings are 7.00 am to 7.30 am and 6.00 pm to 6.30 pm. To watch the turtles' hatch eggs, head to the beach for a stroll at midnight hours.
At the homestays, you can enjoy authentic Konkani meals - the little village is well known for their fresh and delectable coastal preparations. One can relish the organic, local fruits, interact with locals, and enjoy time at the serene ambience. The experience of a peaceful rural lifestyle is a memorable part of the trip for visitors from the city.
There are several multi-day packages for the ‘Velas Turtle Festival’ offered by travel agents and tour guides. Volunteering opportunities, usually for one week or more, are provided by the Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra NGO.