A remote village called Velas would have remained unknown had it not achieved international attention for the turtles that come here to lay their eggs. The sight of turtle hatchlings just out of their nests and making their laborious way to the Arabian Sea can be an exhilarating sight indeed and rather than watch it in a wildlife film, you can now go to Velas and witness this phenomenon for real.
Located in the Mandangad taluka of Ratnagiri district, Velas is protected by mountains on its three sides and a beautiful shoreline on the fourth quadrant. The village holds historical significance as the birthplace and hometown of Nana Phadnavis, an influential minister and statesman of the Maratha Empire during the Peshwa administration in Pune. Primarily a village of farmers, Velas’ economy thrives on the cultivation of rice, coconuts, beetle nut, cashew nut and mangoes. Now of course the turtles have added to the economy since the hatching season brings in its wake hundreds of curious onlookers and wildlife enthusiasts.
The time when you must visit Velas is when several Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings emerge from the golden sand, wasting no time as they follow the scent of moisture in the air and commence their seemingly never-ending voyage to the Arabian Sea. This is after the mother turtles have come ashore under the cover of darkness about 45-55 days ahead to lay their clutches of eggs. The Olive Ridley has one of the most extraordinary nesting habits in the world. Large groups of turtles gather offshore and then all at once they come ashore to lay their eggs. At Velas, the turtles can come ashore without fear of human intervention thanks to the efforts of a project started by Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM) in 2001.
How to reach
By Road: One can drive to Velas by taking NH 17, Mumbai-Goa Highway. On reaching Goregaon, take a right turn to go to Velas. State Transport service is also available.