Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kaas Pathar - Plateau of Flowers

The earth quenches its thirst
As the rain pours down hard
You see a yellow flower first
Bloom has got just got a start

When you google for 'valley of flowers' in India, Kaas Pathar (Sahyadri Hills, Satara region of Maharashtra) is one of the three popular searches that pop up (other two being Valley of Flowers in the Himalayas and Sikkim!).  Come monsoon and newspapers invaribly carry articles about Kaas Plateau and lots of trekking groups conduct trips here.  Kaas Pathar has caught the eye of environmentalists, photographers and the curious traveler because as a plateau lush with flowers (varied colours depending on the month in which you visit).

The Plateau gets its name from Kaas Lake south of the Pathar which now has water projects in the catchment areas.  The Kaas Plateau is blessed with unique biosphere (rains, altitude and flat-land) which is conducive to various types of flowers which bloom during the monsoon.  Government of Maharastra and environmentalists both strive hard to maintain this place and manage the burgeoning crowds. 

I was fortunate to visit this place two years ago with my parents. We drove down from Pune (day trip) during end of September on a hot Sunday morning.  By the time we got to the plateau, it was noon and the crowds were present in large numbers (bus-loads of people, literally!).  After patiently waiting for almost 45 minutes for the bus (non-polluting bus!) to take us up to the plateau (you could choose to walk up as well – 15-20 minute walk) we reached the Pathar and were greeted views of lush purple, yellow and pink beds of flowers swaying to the gentle breeze.

We walked around the Plateau examining the flowers closely.  We saw two variants of purple flowers – the wild flowers and purple flower with long thorn-like stems.  Then there were the poppy like whimsical cottony white flowers, in huge clusters, which lent to the heavenly aura of the Plateau.  But my favourite flower was the yellow monkey-face flower! Not only did they look comical, but they fascinated me because it seemed like a million little flowers were gaping at me with the same awe as I was at them! 

We were fortunate to come across a couple (both environmentalist) who were keenly photographing the flowers, while educating many a tourist like us about the scientific names and traits of the flowers.  Rather interesting to bump into them!

By the time we had walked and photographed to our heart’s content, the sun was beating down on us (noon!), like little respite from the rain.  The Plateau is a non-litter zone and even bringing food is restricted.  We finally gave into our hunger pangs and descended the Plateau to reach the parking area.  It was then that the rains graced us. 

Tip: If you wish to visit Kaas Pathar, you could drive from Mumbai to Satara through the night, visit Kaas early morning and return to Mumbai the same night.  While monsson is the best time to visit, I suggest going to Kaas twice to see different colours/ types of flowers bloom based on the month of visit.  Oh yes, don’t forget your camera and macro lens!

Note: To avoid damage to flower bed, designated walking area has been demarcated and this may take away from the experience, but that’s a small sacrifice for environmental preservation.

Urge: Preserve the Plateau, may your kid's kids also get to enjoy its beauty!

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