Many of us have heard of the Valley of Flowers in the scenic Himalayas, but how many know there’s a similar yet smaller version of it(Kaas Plateau), a short drive from the bustling city of Pune?
About Kaas Plateau
Kaas Plateau or “Kaas Pathar” as it is locally called is a unique bio-diverse ecosystem located about 5 km from Satara. Nestled in the Northern part of the Western Ghats, amidst the Sahyadris, the one of its kind place takes up a different hue during some months of the year, quite literally! Draped in various colours, purple, pink, white etc. a bed of wild flowers paints the lush green monsoon scapes. Thanks to its high density of endemic flora and fauna, it is commonly called as “Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers”. It has been entitled the status of a World Heritage Site in June 2012 by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Various theories are believed when it comes to how the site got its name. The tree Kaasa i.e. Elaeocarpus glandulosus is found abundantly in the surrounding forests and the place is believed to have been named after that. Some people say that it was named after the lake which is about 100 years old. ‘Kaasa’ in local language means a lake, hence this theory of nomenclature.
So here’s why you must make Kaas this year’s monsoon destination!
- Bliss in blooms: More than 850 species of flowering plants bloom during monsoon and post-monsoon at Kaas. This makes for some really colourful encounters, and a paradise for nature lovers. Here is a look at the immense biodiversity of Kaas:
- ~1500 types of plants
- ~156 botanical families
- ~680 genera
- ~1452 species
- ~400 medicinal plants
- ~33 endangered plants
- For those who love change: The Kaas plateau is known to change colour almost every week, owing to the changing life cycles of the wild flowers. If you want to click your selfie against the backdrop of romantic white and purple, go at the time of the Waytura blooms. For those who prefer the peace and serenity of white, look for the Tooth brush orchid, also called the White Habenari. And there’s something for the kids too—those yellow flowers called the Hairy Smithia which appear to be shaped like a Mickey Mouse. So take your pick of timing and indulge in your favorite color!
- Monsoon mania: Perfect place to enjoy the breezy refreshing monsoon, the Kaas Lake is shrouded in mists on a typical rainy day. It’s like a walk in the clouds, re-energising your very soul and body to the core. Engage in typical monsoon fun like enjoying roasted corn on the cob, or a piping hot mug of tea. Spend quality time with family, it’s a great short weekend break for much needed rejuvenation.
- Learn about conservation, up close: The rich biodiversity of the Kaas plateau is due to the volcanic soil mix. It is primarily basalt that’s directly exposed to atmosphere, with pockets of accumulated water forming typical marshy flora. But in recent times unmanaged tourist crowds and trampling has led to uprooting of this delicate ecosystem, making conservation measures necessary to maintain this rich wealth. Today we see forest officials deployed on the plateau throughout, and tourist management measures implemented. A chat with such locals can give you very interesting insights on how conservation is done in such as sensitive eco-zone.
- You will fall for the falls: The sturdy slopes of the Sahyadris are not just about flowers and flora, the gushing waters make way for some amazing waterfall fun. Of course, getting drenched in the roadside waterfalls makes for the perfect monsoon retreat. But more magnificent than that is the Thosegarh waterfalls a short distance from Kaas, 20 km from Satara city. Now get refreshed in the mist-spray as the water thrashes down into the valley from about a height of 200 m. This is nature at its full fury.
Best time to go: August to October is the best time, but it varies with the local monsoon conditions such as amount and timing of rainfall. Be sure to check out local conditions.
Good to know: In order to maintain the sanctity of the plateau and prevent crowds from trampling over the delicate flora, only 3000 visitors per day will be allowed to visit. It is best to book your time slot (3 hour slots are provided) online on https://www.kas.ind.in/