]It is always heartwarming to see a new life coming into the world and seeing its first little steps to a new beginning. My recent visit to Velas, a small village in Ratnagiri District for the turtle festival has changed my perspective. In the beginning, I could barely understand the gathering but as I spent two days understanding the whole process from the experts, I have no words to appreciate the people from different background coming together, leaving their work and other commitments behind to volunteer for saving the lives of these little turtles.
Olive Ridley turtles are endangered species and have very low surviving ratio. To conserve their life and protect them, these few good men – villagers and NGO ‘Shayadri Nisarg Mitra’ have initiated a program to conserve these turtle which is widely recognized now. As the hatching season starts in month of March and April, the whole region is full of photographers, volunteers and travel bloggers to capture the moment. As per the experts, it is the only time when female turtles come to the ground for laying eggs; they choose only secluded beaches where there is not much activity or artificial lights for the safety of their kid. Males do not ever come to ground again, another fascinating fact is female also chooses the same beach where they were born as they recognize the sand from the time of their birth. After 55 days these eggs get hatched, but those 55 days are critical as these eggs could be attacked by the predators or could be broken due to external factors. The community works here to keep these eggs safe in a controlled environment and once hatching is done, the turtles are released in the sea. The life is not simple though for these turtle even after as they can be eaten by sea predators, and we leave the rest on nature to protect these babies. The day I visited Velas, there was only one turtle to be released and was being treated as prince charming with all the paparazzi around.
It was phenomenal to be part of the whole process and it actually made me think, if we should par-take in such activities often which add more meaning to our life and offer us ways to contribute to the life by saving one or many.
Apart from visiting the conservation center, I also thoroughly enjoyed the village and beach side of Velas. The simplicity of life and the Konkan houses interested me the most. The colorful houses with a big wooden swing in the courtyard, beautiful garden and well for water at the backyard was soul soothing. I remember having an afternoon nap on the swing, and it was so comforting. One of the elderly men also welcomed us in his house from neighborhood and told us the story of great warrior Nana Fadnavis, who was borne in the same village. He also showed us a golden clock from 1880s. We were offered fresh Tadi/Toddy (Palm wine) which was quite an experience. There are homestays available but you need to ensure an advance booking during the festival and the one in which we stayed was affiliated with MTDC.
Visit Velas for its beauty, simplicity and slow life – just like the sea turtle. J I travelled with ‘Mumbai travelers’ who are an expert in adventure and offbeat travels.