After endless plans to start my blog, finally my trip to Velas has motivated me to get this rolling. Because it truly defines what I want to accomplish through my blog – share genuine and liberating travel experiences with you.
My love for travel has taken me on many journeys and left me with thoughts of travelling full time. But lets admit not all of us can afford to pack our bags and fly away. So now I travel on weekends , plan some long vacations in a year and also explore the off beat places in my city. This is my way of keeping my passion alive. Through this blog I want to share my experiences and keep the wanderer in us alive and kicking. My stories would also tell all – who want to travel but put it off thinking we don’t have time – that it doesn’t always have to be a long far journey; delightful travel experiences are just a weekend or a few kms away . Velas happened during one such weekend when I was looking for a offbeat place to escape Mumbai’s madness and embrace nature.
Velas is a small beach village on the Konkan coast. Around 220 kms from Mumbai , it makes an ideal offbeat weekend getaway for someone seeking to escape the city’s madness and feel oneness with nature.
Velas is a place to experience the rustic charm of a village and the joy of simple things in life.
The village welcomed us with inviting narrow lanes which transported me back to my childhood of a 90’s small town. The houses with thatched roof added to the beautiful charm of the village. I experienced life in a very different way – there was no rat race but the joy of living simply. The villagers woke up at dawn, cleaned their house, prayed in local mosque/ temple, cooked food, children played in the village lanes, took an afternoon nap, enjoyed evening chit chat over tea and slept early. My so called successful life in the city of Mumbai started to feel nothing. It felt like I so needed this big pause amidst the race in Mumbai – where I could just breathe the untouched fresh ocean breeze. Suddenly a swing at your entrance, a well which provides water to you and the plantations seemed like the luxuries which I want to have and not the high rise flats or the city nightlife. This peaceful way of life is definitely worth experiencing for all city dwellers – where life is not about moving from one to do list to another. But it is about enjoying it NOW.
Witness a spectacular sunset, spot baby turtles and go for a rejuvenating morning run on the beach.
Velas beach is clean, serene and untouched. Since the sea is rough to indulge in a swim, we sat by the sand with our feet dipped in water. As the sun set, the soothing orange combined with the flapping waves on our feet; it was nothing less than a truly meditative experience. My mind stopped racing and I was just there in the moment -enjoying the beauty of sun dipping in the ocean.
Velas beach also hosts the annual turtle festival from late Feb to early April- an ecotourism festival which helps in conservation of endangered Olive Ridley turtles. The forest department protects the eggs laid by the turtles on the beach in the nesting season and upon hatching – releases them in the sea. The footsteps of a baby turtle when released in the sea as captured:
Next day we went for an early morning run at the beach. Running on a clean stretch of beach which doesn’t seem to end, with your feet splashing in the water or pressing against the soft morning wet sand is mesmerizing. A workout which I would love to do every single day in my life.
After our morning beach run we all jumped in front of a pump which was gushing water towards the plantations and had a blast. We soon transformed into a bunch of kids having the best time of our life. An unforgettable experience!
We tasted the best Konkani food and explored the local plantations.
A hike around the plantation of our home stay took us on an exploration of our own food. Jack fruit, pepper, betel nut, mango, cashew nut, nutmeg, kokam and coconut were the major crops being grown. These plantations serve as the major source of income for the village.
Our hostess prepared the food using her traditional recipes, home grown spices and “wood fired chulha”. The wood fired chulha added to the flavors and lent it a smoky flavor. No wonder the food we were tasting was the best we ever had.
Our trek to Bankot fort with the village locals helped us understand the history and appreciate the wild habitat.
Our host took us for a beautiful hike to nearby ruins of the Bankot fort. We crossed porcupine’s house, mango plantations, tasted the fresh water from a waterfall, and relished some local berries on our way. The experience of drinking unfiltered water right from a stream (which was also used by the animals), needed some courage and persuasion by our host. The water was as natural as it can get and we did not fall sick :P.
The Bankot fort dates back to 1st century AD and has a rich history. Portuguese, British and Maratha have ruled it some time in the history. The fort was being reconstructed and shall be soon open to tourists. It stands at a very dramatic location overlooking the surrounding valleys and beaches. Hence offers some bewitching views, we could spot the Harihareshwar beach from some of the windows in the fort wall.
Velas has been one of the best weekend getaway around Mumbai. It was truly immersive experience and more so because its still not ruined by tourism and pollution. We should all pledge to travel responsibly to let places like Velas be the way they are.
Velas can be reached through public transport- train or a few change of buses from both Mumbai and Pune. The best way to reach is by a private vehicle though. Hope to hear your thoughts on this very first travel blog from TraveLove!
Our trip to Velas was booked with Swadesee- who specialize in community based local travel experiences. You can reach out to them @ https://swadesee.com/. Neither the trip and nor the contents of the blog is sponsored by Swadesee.