A One day Trek to Kaas Plateau/ Pathar : Western India's very own Switzerland!
If ever you have wished to be surrounded by a bounty of colourful flowers and nothing else for quite a distance, the Kaas Plateau or as locals would call it "Kaas Pathar" is where you should be going this September. The metamorphosis that takes place here during the monsoon season is like witnessing Mother Nature unfolding a miracle for the world to be astounded with. This picturesque plateau is an ideal location for nature lovers and photography aficionados.
Kaas has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the reason is quite clear - it is acknowledged as home to endemic life forms that are found nowhere else in the world! But what truly amazes, and presents a breathtakingly colourful picture, is the blossoming of thousands of flowers during the monsoon season when the plateau becomes covered with sheets and drapes of innumerable tiny flowering plants in a riot of yellows, pinks, blues, purples, and so on. The show that starts sometime late in July continues, changing dramatically, throughout August and into September. September is the time when it is in its full glory! Visiting this heaven on earth was an outstanding experience of my life!
The distance from Mumbai to Kaas is approximately 279kms. If you are traveling by air, then Pune is the nearest airport. If you opt for a rail route, Satara is the nearest station, which is connected to most of the cities. And if you are an adrenaline junkie like me (I love road trips!) then Mumbai-Pune Express way it is! So, we started off from Mumbai very early at 4am for obvious reasons of avoiding the city traffic as it was a weekend, as Mumbaikars generally love hopping around places nearby Pune & Lonavla over the weekends (I am one of them obviously???? ) Coming back to the topic, we took the Mumbai-Pune Express way to reach Pune. By the way, we had to pick up our friends en-route and so we reached Pune around 6:30am. It had rained the entire night & to my ultimate joy, the weather was amazing!!
We had to make our first stop at Pune, to fill the gas at a petrol pump. And while the car was getting its fuel, we thought of relishing on the garma garam "Kanda Poha"& tea. After a yummy breakfast, we continued our journey on highway 47 to Satara. None of us knew the exact route & neither of our GPS was working. So, the best way to reach the Kaas plateau was by taking help from the locals (that's the fun part you see!) . Once you feel the freshness in the air and a soothing breeze, you know that you are on the Kaas road. The drive is pleasant most of the way with the views getting remarkably spectacular as you begin the last leg of the ascent to the top of the plateau. The surroundings include distant views of the massive Shivsagar lake and Sajjangadh fort. You are not allowed to carry any food items on the plateau, but before you reach the top, there are a few tiny food and beverages stalls. Not to be missed is the district's famous sweet delicacy known as 'Kandi Pedhe'.
As you reach the Kaas Pathar, the volunteers greet you with entry fee receipt of Rs. 10 per person and additional Rs.50 for camera. Surprisingly there is also Rs.10 fee for mobile camera! Soon enough, the land is covered with the golden-hued Smithias and Sonkis. Not to be left behind are the carpets of pink, lavender and purple of the Balsams. Then there is the dazzling white from the blooms of Gend - Eriocaulon with their head-like flowers. Taking this glamorous show forward is the universe of the ground orchids, including Habeneria digitata with its greenish-yellow flowers. Some of the other unique species found here include the Ceropegia, whose lantern-like appearance gives it its appropriate vernacular name of 'Kandil Kharchudi'. As a "Botanist"that I have in me, I took time to study each type of flower & apart from admiring its beauty, managed to click some amazing photographs.
Towards the south of the Kaas Plateau, a little downhill, is a wonderful lake, which is known as Kaas Lake/ Kaas Talav. The shore of the lake is flat and sandy like the ocean shore, making it a great spot to hang out or even pitch a tent for the evening. Further 30 Kms towards the south of Kaas Lake are the backwaters of the Koyna Project. We also spotted an entire "colony of fruit-eating bats". Man they were scary!
Apart from these there are number of other scenic places like caves, picnic spots, boating places, temples etc. which not only attract tourists from India, but also from other parts of the world. There were various boating packages that one could opt for. We planned on exploring the Shivsagar lake. A beautiful moss-green colour of the lake, was the best boating experience of my life. And after an hour of the "water ride", we were super hungry and were told by the locals that the chicken curry and the rice bhakris were a delicacy that we shouldn't absolutely miss. And mind you, you can never.. and I repeat never afford to miss this "fit for king"meal. And I was literally like "this tastes good! Mmmmmm yummy! What a delicious dish! What a nice chicken! ... "
And after spending some more time and enjoying an afternoon dip at the Kaas lake (a good sunscreen with high SPF is a must), we headed back to the city of dreams, Mumbai, with the beautiful memories of this one day adventure trek. A weekend gateway this September! Visit my Facebook page for more exciting stuff Continue reading "First blog post"
This blog was originally published on 'Bring out the Adventurer in YOU!!'