Kaas – Really lost in a paradise
Kaas plateau is a biodiversity hotspot situated near Satara at an altitude of 1200 metres. Best time to visit is in the months of August – September when you can see colorful carpet of wildflowers. We have always seen carpet of different species of wildflowers only after hard trekking in high altitudes ( Check out Valley of flowers and Dhela trek). So this time we tried different approach. Our friend Ravikumar joined us in this trip. He does catering and animal rescues. He joined this trip after finishing a wedding catering, so the added benefits were a box full of gulab jamun. We have started eating the jamuns just outside Pune airport itself while we were waiting for our car from Myles.
I am not sure now if Myles had known where we were taking the car, whether they would have given the car to us. We are always early birders, so we started to Kaas very early morning from Mahabaleswar. We just followed the route shown in Google Maps. We watched a beautiful sunrise standing on a cliff edge. The Sun slowly shed its light on the Plateau and the Plateau was slowly changing its color from Green to Golden.
“There is never one Sunrise the same or one Sunset the same” – Carlos Santana
We never miss sunrise especially during travelling to new places. The sunrise always gives new hope for the day. If its in Chennai, we always just lookout to see how harsh the sun is going to be today. But in beautiful scenic places we just watch the sunrise and was amazed everytime when the big fireball comes out from sea or behind a mountain or from distant open land. The color of the world before and after sunrise changes drastically.The drive to Kaas Plateau was one of the very pleasant driving experiences. There was none other than us on the road to Kaas valley of flowers. Finally we reached the end of paved road and there was muddy trail infront of us.
The Google Map was showing us that we were moving in the right direction. Vinod got down and gave directions to Ravi for crossing the muddy trail with car. We were driving through a cliff, so I was clutching myself tightly to the car handle. Vinod walked infront and checked whether there was paved road after this slurry trail. There was no paved road, but the mud road was good after this slurry trail. So we decided to go further, after severe shakes we crossed the slurry trail slowly.If we had got stuck in that trail, not sure how we would have escaped. Luckily we were in the mud road then and we continued the drive. After few minutes, there was a split in the road and we saw paved road in distant. We soothed ourselves that we were going in the right direction but to confirm it other than Google, we saw few locals coming out from a forest trail to go for work. We stopped and asked them about the road conditions. They told us to proceed without fear. We finally saw a junction where another vehicle was coming which seemed to be a company vehicle for picking the labors from this remote place.After 20 minutes, we were on a flat terrain and the place was fully covered with flowers with and there was good paved road.
We got down and enjoyed the misty morning. Habenaria heyneana,Utricularia arcuata were in full bloom. We heard these flowers were in Kaas and we were wondering whether we have reached the valley of flowers already, if so where to pay entrance fee and why there were no other vehicles. We drove further to see carpets of Dipcardi,Strobilanthes callosa and there were fences like we had seen in pictures of Kaas Valley of Flowers to protect the flowers from tourists. Now we were really confused, but the Google Map showing us we have reached Kaas Valley of flowers. We were really lost in a paradise. After few minutes slow drive, seeing all the flowers on either sides of the road, we saw another car parked on the road. We were very much relieved to see another car.
There was a big pond and forest officials were standing there. A guy signaled us to stop the car, so we stopped and waited for him. He came over and asked us something in Marathi. Ravi is better in Hindi than us, so he told that guy to talk in Hindi or English. Then that guy asked why we were coming from opposite direction and the cars were not allowed inside the park. We showed him the Map and told Google directed us here. He told the forest officials wont listen to these stories, so wait here till I finish my job so that I can accompany you and explain to the officials.
We had no problem to wait in that beautiful pond, where we saw many flowers like Kumidini,Murdannia lanuginosa. We just enjoyed the moment without worrying about the consequences of the current events. After few minutes rain started, so with no choice we got into the car and that person also joined us. We didn’t know what was his actual role, but by the way he talked he didn’t look like any Government Official. He told us few flora names which I knew already. When we reached the end of the road, there were guards standing and the road was blocked with barricades and rocks. This guy explained them and asked to give way for us. He came back and asked us Rs.700 which included entry and parking fee. We knew he was not going to give us receipts, but we didn’t want to argue with him. So we gave the fee and after parking the car we walked to the meadow covered with Impatiens.
The weather was windy, so everyone’s hair were flying in all directions and it was very pleasant to enjoy the weather in a mind blowing scenic place. We wandered around the meadow to spot all the flower species that were in bloom.
Larks were singing amidst pink flowers carpet. A short-toed snake eagle took off from a nearby tree. A perfect paradise to really get lost but not without food !! So we headed back to civilization where we can fill our stomach with Aloo Paratha!
We saw so many flowers that we were overloaded mentally ! In the same sense we cannot post all flowers pictures in this post for which we took a few flowers and posted them separately.