Every March, the otherwise quiet and quaint village of Velas in the Konkan region of Maharashtra comes alive and buzzes with tourists flocking in from all over the country—the reason is the Velas Turtle Festival. An annual event in March, the Velas Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. It is dedicated to the exotic and highly endangered wildlife species, the Olive Ridley Turtles.

This festival is held at Velas Beach, which is located in Ratnagiri. The beach is also a nesting site for the Olive Ridley Turtles. Over the years, the region and the festival have gained much popularity in the eco-tourism sector both in India and overseas. While the number of people coming to see this beautiful creature is increasing, it is quite unfortunate that these treasure marine species are battling a steep decline in their population. 

About Olive Ridley Sea Turtles 

The Olive Ridley Sea turtles are one of the most fascinating creatures. Here are interesting facts about them.These turtles usually weigh about 50 to 60 kgs and can grow up to 3 feet in length.

  • The Olive Ridley turtles have a nail on each front limb, which looks very similar to oars.
  • The female turtles hatch eggs on the seashore and leave the nest. When the nesting time is near, these turtles return to where they left the egg and nest using a specific technique called 'arribada.'
  • The eggs typically take about 45 days to 2 months to hatch, and once they come out of the egg, the tiny thumb-sized turtles begin their journey to the sea to find their mother. The site of the tiny turtles making their long and arduous journey is a spectacular sight and worth seeing!

About Velas Turtle Festival

The Velas Turtle Festival is organised annually in March by an NGO (Non-Government Organisation) named SNM or Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra in collaboration with the residents of Velas village. The NGO primarily works for the welfare of animals, and the main objective of organising this festival is to spread awareness about the beautiful Olive Ridley Turtles and work towards their conservation in different areas across Maharashtra, including Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. 

If you think the Turtle festival in Velas, Maharashtra is all about conserving the turtle eggs, and watching the tiny hatchlings, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Of course, the turtles are the main attraction at the festival. Still, the local villagers offer the tourists a chance to indulge in many other fun activities and taste the local coastal cuisine. They put food stalls around the beach, turning the festival into a multi-day event! 

Velas Turtle Festival Date 2024

If you are wondering when the Velas Turtle Festival Date is in 2024, well, it starts on March 15 and continues till the end of the month. The festival is a wonderful way for you and your family to get away from the routine and have the experience of a lifetime. 

Why should you go to the Velas Turtle Festival?

The festival is a great chance to learn about Konkan culture and taste their cuisine. If you eat non-vegetarian food, you must try the range of seafood preparations available at the festival. Nowhere else can you taste the most authentic Konkani food.

If you are a pure vegetarian, don't worry—you will also have plenty of food options to treat your taste buds. Also, going to this festival is a great way to help your children learn about these beautiful creatures and, more importantly, develop a sense of responsibility to care for wildlife, which is a precious gift of Mother Nature to humans. 

The NGO officials and many turtle experts organise fun and educational events for the kids during the festival. Make sure to attend these events and workshops with your child, and you may learn a new thing or two about the Olive Ridley Turtles. 

Visiting the Turtle Festival with your family gives you a wonderful chance to learn, experience the humble rural lifestyle, and see the close-knit village communities. You can plan a trip for 2-3 days and enjoy living in a homestay. During your trip, you can explore the village and enjoy the beautiful views of the scenic landscapes. 

Important things to remember while visiting the Velas Turtle Festival

  • As cute and tempting as it may seem, don’t touch or try to pick up the baby turtles under any circumstances.
  • Avoid using any kind of light or sound at the beach, as it may distract the baby turtles from their path to the sea and cause them to lose their way.
  • If you encounter an injured turtle, immediately inform the members of the organising committee or any forest department official. 
  • The Velas beach is a strictly no-plastic zone, so please don't litter around the area and avoid using plastic items. 
  • As you walk around the beach, in the designated area, you may find barricades placed; never try to cross or enter these zones as they are the spot from where the turtles enter the sea. 
  • Don’t venture out in the water for a swim alone; Velas Beach has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous beaches in the Konkan region. 

Best time to visit Velas Turtle Festival

The female or mother Olive Ridley Turtles usually start coming to the shores to lay eggs from early to mid-February and continue until March. Since the hatching process takes about 45-60 days, the female adult turtles return to their nests by mid-March and continue nesting until the end of April. 

The best time to visit the Velas Turtle Festival is from February to April. However, the peak tourist season is between mid-March and early April. During this time, you can enjoy doing plenty of other things besides just watching the turtles. If you don't like crowded places, you can come to Velas in early February to see the adult females lay eggs or by the end of March.

During this time, there is not much rush, and you can enjoy watching the tiny hatchlings at your own pace and clicking some stunning pictures of the beach and, of course, the turtles without any disturbances. 

Places to visit nearby Velas Beach

You can make your family holiday at Velas Beach one to remember by exploring the nearby places. Here are some of the well-known places you must visit:

  • Bankot Fort. It is a beautiful fort known for offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the Velas beach. The fort is made entirely of Lateritic rocks and is an important tourist attraction in Ratnagiri. 
  • Shrivardhan. This place is another quaint beach town with pristine beaches and scenic landscapes. 
  • Harihareshwar. A popular trekking spot in Maharashtra, Harihareshwar Fort is perched atop a hill, and the trek up is an enthralling experience that you must not miss. 
  • Shri Rameshwar and Kalbhariva temple. Both temples are important religious sites in Ratnagiri and have a unique history attached to them, which is worth knowing. 

How to reach Velas?

Travelling to Velas Beach is quite easy. The town is close to Ratnagiri, and you can easily make your way to the festival by road, air, or rail. 

 

  • Travelling to Velas Turtle Festival by Road

 

Travelling from within Maharashtra, you can take the state transport buses to Dapoli or Mandangad. From here, you can take a rickshaw to reach Velas. If you are coming from outside of Maharashtra, you can reach Ratnagiri by road or rail. From here, take a local transport like a bus or rickshaw to reach the festival spot. 

 

  • Travelling to Velas Turtle Festival by Rail

 

No matter where you are from in India, you can take a train to Ratnagiri and get off at Chiplun. It is the closest station to Velas Beach. From here, you can hire a private vehicle or take a rickshaw to your destination. 

 

  • Travelling to Velas Turtle Festival by Air

 

The closest airport to Velas Beach is Pune International Airport, which is about 200 km away. Pune is well-connected by flight to almost all major cities in India, and almost all major airlines operate regular flights to and from Pune. From Pune, you can book a taxi or take a bus to reach Velas. 

So, now that you know about the Velas Turtle Festival, plan a holiday soon. Make your way to the quaint town in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra and enjoy seeing the beautiful and super cute turtles taking their first step towards the sea. And, yes, while you are in Velas, don't miss the chance to get a taste of the king of the fruit: Mangoes. The Alphonso mangoes from Ratnagiri are world-famous, so indulge!

  • Experience

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Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.

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