“Flowers are the music of the Earth”
Most people have heard of the valley of Flowers National park Uttarakhand but very few may have heard about Kaas – Maharashtra’s own Valley of Flowers.I am fortunate to have seen both these beautiful sites.Kaas is not as majestic as the National Park whose beauty is enhanced by the majestic Himalayas, but both these sites have been declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Kaas Plateau, also known as the KaasPathar or KasSadas, is a plateau situated 25 kilometres west of Satara city in Maharashta,India. It falls under Sahyadri sub cluster of the Western Ghats and became part of World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2012 .Major portion of the plateau is a Reserve Forest.The name originates from the Kaasa tree whose leaves turn red during the month of March giving a red hue to the plateau.
It is a biodiversity hotspot known for various types of seasonal wild flowers and numerous species of endemic butterflies seen annually in the months of August and September.The plateau is situated at an altitude of 1200 metres and is approximately 10 square kilometers in area. Kaas has more than 850 different species of flowering plants out of which 39 species are unique to Kaas.The flowers bloom for 2-3 weeks depending on the monsoon and other weather factors.The flowering plants include orchids, pink balsams,impatiens,yellow smithia and shrubs such as the karvy and carnivorous plants such as Drosera Indica and many more.
The most convenient way to travel from Mumbai or Pune to Kaas Plateau is by taking the NH-4(marked as NH-8) on Google maps.This is the Mumbai-Bengalaru highway and then take the exit for Satara City.Kaas plateau is located at a short distance of 25 kms from Satara city.The distance from Mumbai is 280 kms and it takes roughly about five and half hours depending on the traffic.From Pune the distance is 125 kms.The drive from Satara to Kaas is scenic, the roads are winding but motorable. The vehicles have to be left at the parking lot which is about 400 m away.There are ST bus services available from the parking lot to and fro at Rs 10 per person. The entry fee to Kaas is Rs 100 per person for three hours.The biodiversity of the region is threatened by influx of tourists every year during the flowering season and conservation is the need of the hour.Hence there is a restriction of 3000 visitors per day. About 6% of the species belong to the Red data species.(endangered) Thus it has become necessary to take effective measures to protect this whole area in order to conserve the diverse, rare and endangered flora of Kaas plateau.
It is advisable to visit the place on a week day. However if one plans to go on a weekend, it is advisable to book the tickets online.
For those wishing to spend a day with beautiful wild flowers and be close to nature, then Kaas is the place to be.Visiting Kaas was in my to do list for a long time and I joined Treks and Trails in October last year for the trip to this amazing place.According to the schedule I was to be picked up at 11 pm from Nerul .I reached the pick up spot well in time and called up the group leader to keep track of the vehicle but could not sight the vehicle even after waiting for 45 minutes past the scheduled pick up time. On calling up the group leader again, to my utter dismay I learnt that they had missed the planned stop.The time being around midnight, I got worried as there were no public transport to take me back home and also frustrated at not being able to fulfil my desire to see the beautiful flowers,but to my relief the vehicle came back to pick me up. I felt immensely relieved and after settling down on my seat, I soon dozed off. I woke up after some time to find that we were stuck in a traffic jam as at night, the heavy vehicles take to the road. I was also a bit nervous that our vehicle was stuck in between gigantic trucks at about 3 in the morning !!!.finally the traffic started moving and our traveller also chugged along and soon I dozed off again.
We reached Kaas about 5 in the morning and we were lucky to witness the spectacular sunrise.It was a cold October morning.Arrangememts for simple breakfast of Poha and Tea were made in a Homestay where we also freshened up.
After a quick breakfast, we set out for a tour of the plateau .The plateau was resplendent with hues of different colours- the dominant colour being violet – the colour of the karvy flower which bloom once in seven years.So we were lucky to see them blooming on our visit.
Karvy is a parasitic plant known for very good quality of honey, which is thicker and darker than regular honey. Karvy has 250 species of which 46 are found in the Western Ghats. Of these, five species are found near the Kaas Plateau and its surroundings. The species of Karvy found on Kaas are Common Cone Head, Ground Karvy, SupushpaKarvy, Inverted Bowl and PatriKarvy. During bloom, the pink and blue buds bear bluish-purple flowers, so much so that there are entire fields are swaying in pink-purple vibrance. Being rich in nectar and honey, these flowers attract many birds, butterflies and insects such as honey bees, carpenter bees and so on.
There is fencing on both sides and a muddy path in between the fencing for visitors to admire the flowers. At some places, there are guards to keep a watch on the visitors.The guards are quite knowledgeable, and guide the visitors to the places where one can see maximum flowers.Please be careful not to stamp on the flowers. Our visit day being a holiday, the place was very crowded but we walked further where the crowd had thinned out.We were there for about three hours during which everyone got busy clicking photographs of the lovely blossoms and admiring the breathtaking view of the plateau.
Some of the flowers we spotted were the yellow Smithias more popularly known as the mickey mouse- there was a large stretch of these flowers,Karvy was also a dominant flower and there were large stretches of these flowers.We also spotted the carnivorous plant Drosera Indica.We also spotted some very pretty butterflies and an amazing Lizard which a zoologist amongst us claimed is found only in Kaas.
From here, we proceeded to the lake which was very crowded and therefore we did not spend much time there and moved on to Thoseghar Falls which is about 25 kms and takes about half an hour to reach.On the way we spotted many windmills at Chaklewadi.
Thoseghar falls is a popular waterfall in Maharashtra in Satara District .It is a seasonal waterfall which can be seen only during and after the monsoon.Since we visited the place in October, the waterfall was in its full glory! the waterfall drops into a series of cascades with a total height of 500 m and falls into a deep gorge.There are view points at various places which provide a clear view of this spectacular waterfall.The waterfall is amongst a dense forest which gives it a mystic ambience.You cannot go down to the waterfall but you can walk a bit and see the starting point of the waterfall.However venturing inside the water is inadvisable as the water is treacherous and the guards posted there also stop you from taking the unnecessary risk.
The Origin of the waterfall
After clicking some photographs and enjoying the cool breeze, we commenced our return journey, stopping at a restaurant for lunch. Satara is famous for its pedas and all of us tasted some and also packed some.We returned home in the evening with Flowery memories 🙂
For those who are unable to visit the Valley of Flowers, should seriously consider visiting this place as there is no gruelling trek but only a scenic drive of five hours.The flowers last till mid October. Mumbaikars and Puneites especially need to get going to this beautiful plateau .I have already mentioned how to get there and the only travel tip is to carry a good camera.I would like to thank Treks and Trails for their special effort in picking me up after inadvertently missing my pick up spot. They are a professional group and the group leader took good care of all the members.
“Flowers make me Irrationally happy”