“Darling, it’s just a tiny little coastal village in the interiors of Konkan. Why would someone want to go there? Like, there is no 5 star resort out there, not even a decent hotel (or “Hotel Decent” for that matter). Okay okay, agreed that the beach there might be pretty and all but what would I do there yaa? Forget about shacks or hammocks on the beach, there’s not even a Nariyal Pani wala bhaiya. And you know what? If you don’t have a car then you gotta change like 30 modes of transport to reach there. What will happen to my freshly painted toenails in filthy bus?” – Said Yuyu Kilawala, Maya Sarabhai’s distant niece.
Here’s why you must NOT ever go to Velas
1. Feel one with nature (like a baby in womb)
As clichéd as it may sound, this was my exact feeling while lying bare-torso on the Velas beach on a lazy Friday evening. Cool sand of the surface was giving way to warmer layers beneath under my weight. After a swim in the cold sea, absorbing heat from ground was the best way to warm up. Contact between sand and skin was like an umbilical cord connecting me to mother nature.
It was first day after Purnima (full moon). Time had slowed down for me in that brief period when the sun had set and moon had not yet risen. On my back, I was gazing into the infinitude of the heavens above. An all engulfing, slow and steady breeze was no less than amniotic fluid protecting us from harsh universe outside.
There was no one else on that vast beach except our little group. No one was in a mood for chat. ‘Gunja sa hai koi iktara’ was playing softly from someone’s phone. Waves in the ocean were playing their own “iktara”, which felt like mother’s heartbeats matching with our own.
There are 2 kinds of people in this world – those who divide the world in two kinds of people and those who don’t. I am of the former types.
So there are two kind of travellers – those who love to be pampered like queen in the most expensive & luxurious hotel suites. And those who don’t mind collecting their used dishes after a meal and keeping them in the sink. If you are of latter type, you would find hospitality in the homestays of Velas better than any 5 star resort. Sure there will be a little inconvenience but the warmth and love shown by the homestay owners is more than enough compensation. Even their pets would love you as much as the family members. Also, the healthy, sumptuous meals prepared from homegrown organic veggies are delightful.
3. A corner of this round earth
Every time I walked that 1km patch between village and beach, I felt that it was the most disconnected place in the entire world. There is hardly any vehicle or human activities beyond the village on this road. You need to leave behind the main road and walk on a narrow strip of land surrounded by water on both sides, then you cross an interesting looking bridge and then pass through a canopy of pine trees to finally meet the vast, open beach. It feels like paradise, as if all your quests in world are over. You have finally found a small corner for yourself on this globe. It is so calm, so serene, almost always deserted.
There are lots of fireflies around, which is a great indicator for the healthy ecology of this place.
4. Luxury of space
People who have spent most their lives in a crammed up city, would definitely consider “space” a luxury object. In Velas, you can see land as well as water as far as your eyes can see.
5. Luxury of time
A few are fortunate / enlightened enough to be able to enjoy the act of doing nothing. This act becomes even more fun when you know that there are others souls who equally enjoy doing nothing. There is no network in Velas, so it’s a compulsory “look up” for everyone. Time gets slowed down when you are doing nothing and it is quite possible that in the process you will be carried away somewhere far away where you never thought was going possible.
All these reasons – apart from the main attraction of turtle hatching – should be enough to dissuade you from going there. Still if you want to ignore my advice and go there, below points will come in handy.
How to reach
There is a direct ST bus from Bombay Central to Velas at 12.30 am. Make sure you book in advance. If the seats are full, then you can take any Konkan railway train, get down at Khed, take a bus to Mandangad, take another bus to Velas. You can also go by ferry hopping via Alibag – Murud – Harihareshwar – Velas.
Food & Accommodation
Food and accommodation is available at about 20 homestays. Contact details can be found on their website.
What to do
- Watch the baby turtles take their first steps of what is going to be a great journey.
- Learn to climb a tree to pluck out fresh coconut / neera / kaju.
- Visit Harihareshwar temple by crossing across the creek. There is a nice little hike above the temple. View from the top is awesome.
- Enjoy sunsets, star gazing, conversations, silences and laughter.
- Become a young fool again
What NOT to do
Do not camp on beach. Do not drink / smoke / litter / honk or do any other such activities which may jeopardize peace of mind for villagers.
Things to carry
Odomos, sunscreen lotion, water bottles, hat, sunglasses, torches, newspapers.
Things NOT to carry
Mobile phones, negativity, office problems, family problems, prejudices.
Approx 350 per person per day for vegans as of March 2015 + travelling costs
Best time to visit
February to April for turtle hatching / nesting. Monsoons for obvious reasons.
Photo courtesy: Dhwani Sheth