Clouds covered the trail in the distance, as the path vanished into nothingness. On both sides of the path there were hundreds of little purple blooms, adding color to the greyness.
I am in Kaas, the poetically named “Plateau of Flowers”. Walking in the clouds, I begin to think that this weekend was probably not the best one to be up here. But then every now and then, the cloud cover lifts for a bit, the sun peeks with its brilliance and I am instantly reminded as to why this little gem of a place got it’s name.
Kaas is small little plateau about 24 km from Satara in Maharashtra. This little spot is now a UNESCO Biodiversity World Heritage site. Situated at a height of about 1200 mt above sea level and sprawled over about 1000 hectares, and composed mainly of volcanic rocks, the plateau is not much to look at. That is until the monsoons arrive.
During the monsoons (approximately between August and October), the place explodes into a riot of colors and wildflowers carpet the entire plateau. The bio-diversity at this site is astonishing, with Kaas hosting nearly 850 species of flowering plants over its small surface area. in addition to the astonishing number of plant species here, you can also see a large number of butterflies, assorted caterpillars and other insects that live off the plants.
We reached Satara fairly early in the morning, after a long overnight trip from Mumbai. After a quick breakfast we were at Kaas at about 8:00 in the morning. Kaas has about 2-3 marked trails that one can walk on to see the wildflowers. We began walking on one such trail.
The trail mainly had purple blooms of Impatiens Lawii, on both sides of the trail. It continued for quite some distance, occasionally vanishing in the passing clouds. We spent a fair amount of time on this trail clicking photos of the various blooms we could find. We also spotted a number of insects in the flowers, like this lovely snail gently dropping off a flower.
One of the caretakers there told us of the fabulous Nyphoides Hydrophylla (locally called Kumudini), a kind of a water plant with lovely fringed white flowers. These were to be found in a small pond at the end of a long trail.
After seeing the photos of the flower, we knew we had to find this particular flower and went up that long trail. Along the trail, we saw numerous other flowers including the tiny and delicate Eriocaulon Sedgwickii, that resembles a small ball. Since the trail was long, we kept veering off the trail whenever we spotted some water. But those little ponds by the trail were not our destination. And finally, after many false starts we had success !!!
By now it was about noon, when we started walking back towards the road. I was amazed to see the sheer number of people who had turned up to see the flowers. At one point it seemed that there more cars and people than wild flowers in Kaas. While it seems that local body maintaining Kaas only allows about 2000 people a day there, it’s only a matter of time before this unique ecological miracle is overrun by the number of people trying to enjoy it. On that sombre note, we bid goodbye to Kaas, turning back on the lovely purple carpet of flowers.
Kaas is about 22-24 Km from Satara, a town in Maharashtra. Satara is located about 100 Km from Pune and about 250 Km from Mumbai. Satara is well connected by bus to both Mumbai and Pune. For a convenient weekend trip to Kaas, consider joining an organized tour from Mumbai or Pune. Moments Photo Shoot does regular trips to Kaas during the flowering season.
Best Time to Visit
To catch the wild flowers, Kaas is best visited in months of September and October. Generally mid-September to early October is a good time visit, as by then it is the peak flowering season on the plateau. To enjoy this place in a serene and undisturbed manner, try and get here as early as possible, as the weekend crowds can get quite maddening as the day progresses. You can also plan to visit during the week.
Where to Stay
Kaas is probably best done as an overnight journey from either Mumbai or Pune. If you must stay in Satara, try the MTDC resort at Satara which will provide economical stay options.