The Western Ghats of our state do complete justice to the name given to them- the Sahyadri or the benevolent Mountains. Their kindness is reflected in the safe haven they provide to several species of plants and animals. Amidst the volcanic rocks of the Sahyadris, is one such place that is home to several species of endemic plants- the Kaas pathar or the Kaas plateau.
Kaas plateau is located within the precincts of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, at a distance of 30 kms from the Satara city in Maharashtra.It is an easily accessible destination from Mumbai, ideal for a one day trip.
What makes Kaas plateau so special?
During monsoon, this region receives about 2000 mm of rainfall. The thin layer of soil over the porous rocks of the plateau springs to life after some weeks of rain. More than 450 species of flowers, orchids and carnivorous plants germinate between the months of September to October on this tableland. A visual treat for all visitors and an absolute delight for photography enthusiasts, a visit to Kaas is a must during this time of the year. Wild flowers of myriad hues are spread across the land.The plateau transforms into nature’s kaleidoscope- since the flowers have a short life span,Kaaspathar embraces a new dominant colour in every few days!
The flowers in Kaas?
Some of the flowers that caught my attention in Kaas in our trip were-
This rare flower is found only on five widely separated sites in the Western Ghats, including Kaas; and nowhere else in the world.
These climber plants have uniquely shaped flowers that are adapted to trap flies momentarily in order to facilitate pollination.
That moment of seeing an insectivorous plant devour a live insect that has ventured close by, is still fresh in my mind.
This flower belongs to the Pea family. Due to resemblance in shape with the famous Disney character- people call it the Mickey Mouse flower.
A purple coloured flower of Commelinaceae family.
The pretty yellow flowers belong to the Asteraceae family.
Pretty purple flowers of Balsam family.
Many of these flowering plants are unique to the plateau and fall in the category of endangered species. The region has been declared by the UNESCO as a world natural heritage site. One can easily walk around and explore the plateau. You may minutely observe the unique structures of these flowers or simply gaze at the multitude of colours around you. A short and easy descend from the plateau will take you to the Kaas lake where you can soak in the serenity of its calm waters.
Does the place deliver what it promises?
As the place bears the sobriquet of being Maharashtra’s miniature valley of flowers, prospective visitors often compare the place with the Valley of Flowers situated in the Garhwal Himalayas. And it becomes an often asked question- Is Kaas really the place to witness the splendor of flower bloom?
Based on my experience, I would like to response in the affirmative. Flower bloom- whether in Maharashtra or Uttarakhand, or anywhere else in the world – is a natural phenomenon. The flora and fauna of each place is different. Every place has something new to offer nature lovers in terms of the plants and animals, the geography and the climate, and ofcourse- the colours and the variety of flowers. Kaas is not a duplicate of Valley of Flowers, but a place with its own identity and natural beauty.
And what really makes Kaas my favorite place, apart from the fairy land like scenery, happens to be its easy terrain and ease of access. People of all age groups can enjoy the magic of flower bloom here, that too, without spending big bucks. In fact, since the plateau changes color quiet frequently, I would not mind coming to this place every weekend during the flowering season- for my each visit would be a new experience in itself!
Conserving the ecology of Kaas
In the times of unrestrained tourism, conservation of biodiversity hotspots have become an absolute necessity. Thanks to social media, the popularity of Kaas has risen exponentially in the past few years. So for the conservation of this eco sensitive area, the local authorities permit entry of only 3000 visitors each day.
At least three-fourth of the plateau comes under protected area and visitor’s entry is restricted here. Devoid of human interference, this area has even more vibrant flush of flowers spread out as far as the eyes can see.
If you are planning to visit Kaas, it is our humble request to take care of the following points to help preserve it in its pristine condition.