Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers!
I was having Kaas in my travel wish list since the time I have seen the amazing photos of flower beds spread over acres across the plateau. Satara is quite near to Pune but things were not moving. I was extremely bored due to post-accident treatments and what could be rejuvenating than to see colourful hues of flowers? I immediately called Amol, my friend In Satara and planned the tour.
On a rainy afternoon, I board Shivshahi bus from Swargate in Pune to Satara. The journey was pure bliss. The rains were just over, and the soothing greenery was spread across the valleys. Some bright yellow flowers were peeping their heads through sideways. The bus service was amazing, and I reached Satara depot in just 3 hours.
The first day went in exploring the area around my friend’s home. He was blessed with a mighty mountain just in the backyard. The children playing around offered some wildflowers from nearby farms and already started having that Kaas feeling (Haha). It was so interesting to get to know about Kaas from these little ones. Their innocence and cheerfulness made my day.
Next day with a sumptuous lunch, we embarked on the journey to UNESCO World Heritage Site which hells an answer to Maharashtra’s paradise of flowers. Moving out of the city, we were travelling to high hills situated in Sahyadri range in western ghats. Just before Kaas plateau, I witnessed an eloquent beauty of bright yellow flowers spread across the land and jumped in excitement having a thought that it is the very place, haha. It was much similar to the stills from the movie- Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. In less than 10 minutes, it started raining heavily which lasted for an hour.
It was still dripping when we decided to move ahead because Amol said the weather here is Unpredictable. Going ahead it started raining again and the sun was about to set. It was not my day. So, we decided to explore Kaas lake. Adding another shimmering dimension to the beauty, it is situated quite close to the valley itself. It homes some underwater flora which makes it a delightful expedition for botanists. Kaas lake is also a perennial source of water for the western part of Satara city.
The weather was pleasant and cloudy. The silver lining, cool breezes and chirping of birds was adding to the serenity of the place. We sat near shore for some time looking over the green mountain ranges. The road back home was so scary. It was about to dark when we were passing through dense jungle. There was hardly any vehicle on the road and the unwanted silence was threatening all the way.
The next morning, the sky was clear and perfect to visit plateau. Generally, visitors reach the entry gate and then they can enter the narrow pathway covered with a wired net on both sides to see the flower beds. But, I wanted to get closer to flora and we decided to trek from another side of the plateau. In no time, we came to know it was a risky decision. We started from Kaas lake through dense jungle trails with no traces of human around. The small plants were reaching up to the chest and I can hardly see even my feet. Everything was waterlogged due to heavy rains and I was so scared to step on some creature down. After about an hour, we managed to hike the steep edge and reached to top.
I literally cried in joy to see the reality in front of my eyes. The varied blossoms of the valley were standing in stark contrast to the azure of the sky with numerous delicate butterflies fluttering their way through this kaleidoscopic maze. The flowers were dwelling their heads with cool breezes. The sheer variety of colours, shapes and sizes is a delightful sight to behold. It was a blooming beauty of endemic flowers such as Anjani, Paner, Sonki, Kondal, Deepkadee and Kaasa. These flowers bloom themselves on the basalt rocks formed by volcanic eruptions under a thin layer of soil and stay for about 23 weeks.
It covers about 10 km area with about 850 different species of wildflowers. Explore the area by barefoot. However, be careful and try not to crush flowers beds while walking. Kaas has a beautiful terrain where you can have some amazing photos with flowers and azure sky as a backdrop. Although flower beds are inside a net, there are some open areas where you could go near to flowers. Also, you could spend leisure and quality time with family and loved ones while looking over the beautiful landscapes.
Kaas not only homes flowers but also few animal species. Tiger beetles are found mating throughout the monsoon. Fairy shrimps are seen in the puddles. I also saw hares and some ruddy mongoose in the surrounding area. It takes about 2 hours to see all the variety of delicate flowers.
On the way back, we came down from the same route but this time I was a little confident. We passed through some flat terrains of grass and crossed small puddles. I also saw some peacocks roaming around catching snakes in the grass. I was roaming leisurely as there were more flowers than upside plateau. Though risky but unusual trails can be advantageous sometimes.
The tasty food is available in nearby resorts with Misal-pav and Vadapav being most famous. Misal pav is a bread served with hot and spicy moth beans served with Chiwda, onions, coriander and topped with lemon. Vada Pav is also known as Bombay burger, a bun stuffed with potato patty served with spicy sauce, groundnut chutney and fried green chillies.
There are several threats to the present ecosystem. There is a road that passes through plateau towards Kaas lake which creates a disturbance of tourists around. Famers also leave cattle for grazing and both of them led to trails of bare land among the flower beds. The invasive weeds because of the foreign soil also damage the indigenous flora and fauna. Increase in a number of tourists is a serious concern though there are limited entries for tourists every day. Go through the official website of Kaas and read how we can contribute to Kaas reservation.
Some tips in travel itinerary-
How to reach?
Air– Nearest airport is Pune. From there one can reach to Satara city by bus and then can reach to Kaas by taxi from the city.
Rail– The nearest railway station is at Satara and then one can hire a taxi to plateau.
Road– Kaas lies near NH 4 and easily reachable by public buses. The plateau is just 22 km from Satara city and can be reached through a hired taxi or few state buses that ply on the route from Satara to Kaas. If you are driving by your own car, you would need to park a little ahead of the main area and walk for about 1km. State transport buses ply from parking to plateau and cost INR 10 person on each side.
Weekdays: INR 50 (for visitors above 12 years of age)
Weekends/ Government Holidays: INR 100 for three years (for visitors above 12 years of age)
Senior Citizens: Free, Government ID proof required as proof of age
Parking is free and only 3,000 guests are allowed per day. Make sure you have registered yourself on the official website before.
Best time to visit
Visit towards the end of the monsoon season, it being the best season to watch the flowers in full bloom. I will recommend mid-September to last week of October.
Things to keep in mind
- Carry your own raincoat, umbrella, sports shoes compulsory, an extra pair of clothes and socks, cap, goggles, foodstuff, water bottle and sweater.
- Washrooms are not available near the Kaas Plateau.
- Mobile network is bleak in this region.
- Although parking facility is free, it is quite far from the actual Kaas Plateau site.
- Do not litter the premises.
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