Myriad colors of Kaas

23 Sep
Kaas – Ever since I had heard about this smaller version valley of flowers closer to home, I had wanted to visit it. This is a stunning landscape, a macro photographers delight, a botanist’s mecca, a nature enthusiast’s paradise and much more. As I was day dreaming about this place yet again, an email landed in my mail box, saying that the Jungle Lore was taking a travel group there. Well, I certainly did not need to be told twice and quickly caught the Jungle Lore bus embarking towards Kaas.
The pink carpet all over the plateau #kaas #maharashtra #travel

Kaas is a plateau in the Western Ghats and until a few years ago, was a relatively unknown and unexplored destination, tucked away quietly in a small corner of Satara (in Maharashtra). Though its much smaller than the actual valley of flowers in Uttarakhand, it is much easier to reach and as beautiful. According to Dr. Sandeep Shrotri, there are over 1,500 types of plants in Kaas – over 156 botanical families, 680 genera, 1452 species and 400 medicinal plants. Some of the species here are rare, endangered and some endemic (only found in one particular location) to Kaas. It is such a unique ecosystem that in June 2012 UNESCO declared this area as a Biodiversity World Heritage Site.
One stalk of Eriocaulaceae amongst a local grass

One stalk of Eriocaulaceae amongst a local grass

Well what makes Kaas so unique? The Kaas plateau is classified as a volcanic plateau (i.e. produced by volcanic activities) and is mainly formed of two types of rocks – basalt and porous lateritic (which is red in colour and rich in iron and aluminum) allowing most of the water to seep through or drain off. There is only a thin layer of soil which supports vegetation mainly during the rainy season. This is what makes Kaas so unique and when you visit you can actually see the rock and understand how thin the layer of soil is. In the Western Ghats, there are 2 – 3 more such flowering plateaus but they are all inaccessible. Each year, come the monsoon and these plants start flowering in a riot of colors creating an illusion that the rainbow has come on land.

The volcanic rocks in Kaas

The volcanic rocks in Kaas

The best time to visit Kaas is between mid – August to mid – October, as majority of the flowers bloom during this period. However I have heard that there are few flower varieties that bloom at different times in the months (even during the same day), hence no two pics of any two weekends can be alike. And after one visit, I am sure that this is true.

Carpet of Smithia bigemina

Carpet of Smithia bigemina

For my visit to Kaas with Jungle Lore, we went to Satara by bus. The journey takes about 6 – 7 hours from Mumbai to the Satara city and the Kaas plateau is another 22 kms further from the city. Jungle Lore tour had an interesting bunch of enthusiastic people for the trip and we were accompanied by Alok (as our botany expert) and Amit (our group leader and our host 🙂 ). Though we reached Satara in the afternoon, we saw some other sights around Satara and kept Kaas for an early morning trip the next day.

Compositae (Asteraceae) Sonki

Compositae (Asteraceae) Sonki

On the evening of the first day, Amit and Alok took us through a detailed power point presentation that introduced us to the biodiversity of Kaas, its delicate ecosystem, the kinds of flora and fauna that we would see, but most of all they kind of sensitized us to that place and made us aware about how small and insignificant things done by us can cause damage to this precariously balanced ecosystem.

The mickey mouse flower, Smithia

The mickey mouse flower, Smithia

The day 2 of our trip started bright and early, we were all ready at 6am to take pictures of the gorgeous Satara sunrise and then proceed towards the Kaas plateau. The sunrise didn’t disappoint us at all and we captured some beautiful shots of the vibrant colors of the sun as it emerged from its blanket of clouds.

Sunrise over Satara city

Sunrise over Satara city

The drive to Kaas from Satara is also very scenic. There are flower covered hills everywhere, the Kanher and Umrodi dams on both sides and lush green valley below. The are also small farms interspersed through the entire drive and we saw the local farmers going about their daily life. But the best was yet to come with the Kaas plateau. Though flowering starts much before the actual flowering area, and the first sight of Kaas is one to behold and no camera can ever hope to capture it. It is like seeing rows and rows of blooming flowers (both in myriad shades and variety) as far as your eyes can see, followed by lush green mountains and a pristine blue lake. The flowers bloom so close together and in such abundance that it seems like a carpet and the colors provide an illusion of multi colored designer bands.

Carpet of multi colored flowers

Utricularia and Eriocaulon

Utricularia and Eriocaulon

We spent around 3 hours here and photographed numerous flowers, grasses and orchids. Amit and Alok showed us some varieties of flowers and grass that we would have surely missed had we been by ourselves. Also Alok explained the nature of these flowers, their mechanism of pollination, which left us completely in awe of mother nature and its ability to adapt.

An orchid amidst a bed of Eriocaulaceae

An orchid amidst a bed of Eriocaulaceae

Cyanotis fasciculata

Cyanotis fasciculata

Paracaryopsis lambertiana

Paracaryopsis lambertiana

Apart from the flowers, we also see numerous birds, reptiles, butterflies and insects here that are important for pollination and sustenance of this plateau.

A Lark

A Lark

We then walked down all the way to the lake and spent some time relaxing and soaking the calmness of this azure lake and forests in multi shades of green all around. The lake was surrounded by mangrove trees and some beautiful small varieties of flowers and grass too. We took some interesting pictures, then just let the tranquil breeze blow through our hair and dipped our hands in the icy cold waters of the lake. It was the most refreshing feeling ever. Given a choice, I could have sat there for hours but we had office the next day. Hence reality dawned and post this relaxing session we proceeded for lunch and then for our long drive back to Mumbai.

The Kaas Lake

The Kaas Lake

Kaas is a place that will not satiate your appetite with just one visit alone. It is a place that will get you hooked and make you visit it again and again for that one new flower, or bird, or butterfly, or view that you had missed the last time. 🙂

I’ll write another detailed post on the things to do around in Satara (some of which we did on our first day), how to reach here, stay etc. So do follow this space for more information.

Tips for the trip –

1. If possible, do visit this area on working days as on weekends entire Maharashtra seems to descend here.

2. Though many people like to visit this as a day trip, I would suggest otherwise. Stay the night in Satara and visit the plateau very early in the morning when all the flowers are in full bloom. Also some flowers close by 11 am.

3. It is recommended that you visit Kaas with a nature travel group, as they normally have knowledegable people as part of the group and this helps you understand this place, the local flora and fauna much better.

4. When you visit this place, please respect it for a biodiversity spot that it is and do not treat it like a picnic spot by littering and trampling all over these flowers and insects.

5. Please do not pluck any flowers and uproot any trees or try to click Yash Chopra pics by sitting on these flowers.

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24 Responses to “Myriad colors of Kaas”

  1. jackcollier7 September 23, 2013 at 22:21 #

    Sweet!

    Like

  2. 2far2shout September 23, 2013 at 23:33 #

    What an extra-ordinary place. I must find out about it, right now.
    What is it about the area that encourages such a wide variety of certain plants? How big is the area.
    Thanks for sharing….

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:35 #

      It is a beautiful place and the area of the area of plateau is approximately 1,000 hectar.The Kaas plateau is classified as a volcanic plateau (i.e. produced by volcanic activities) and is mainly formed of two types of rocks – basalt and porous lateritic (which is red in colour and rich in iron and aluminum) allowing most of the water to seep through or drain off. There is only a thin layer of soil which supports vegetation mainly during the rainy season.

      Like

  3. Aditi September 24, 2013 at 00:08 #

    Splendid!! What a place 🙂 it’s in my list now…thanks a lot for sharing!!

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:35 #

      Thanks Aditi, and this is a definite must visit for everyone in and around Maharashtra 🙂

      Like

  4. Rajesh September 24, 2013 at 05:42 #

    cool place…perhaps I should visit for my macro shots

    Like

  5. Amit Panariya September 24, 2013 at 10:48 #

    Superb Write up…Snigdha…starting to become a fan of you writing

    Like

  6. Niranjan September 24, 2013 at 11:46 #

    Gorgeous place. You have captured it beautifully!

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2013/09/the-silent-observerr.html

    Like

    • Niranjan September 24, 2013 at 12:06 #

      Are there people or guides there to help me see around if am not travelling with any group? Do you have any info on that?

      Like

      • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:39 #

        There were no guides around there, hence you will have to arrange for someone in advance. You can check with any botany students if they are interested to accompany you.

        Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:38 #

      Thanks 🙂

      Like

  7. Nikhil Chandra September 24, 2013 at 14:15 #

    Kaas! I could visit Kaas 🙂

    Like

  8. Sabyasachi Patra September 25, 2013 at 20:20 #

    Good to know that you have been to Kaas. It is a beautiful place, especially in this season.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:42 #

      Yes, it was beautiful and the bloom was good 🙂

      Like

  9. Meera .V Bopardikar September 26, 2013 at 08:40 #

    Hello,
    The information on Kass Lake is very interesting and educative.
    Thanks for sharing your experience on the trip.
    Regards,
    M.V.Bopardikar.
    mbilovewildlife@gmail.com

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:42 #

      Thanks for visiting my blog Meera and the kind words 🙂

      Like

  10. Nikhil September 26, 2013 at 19:53 #

    Great clicks indeed!.
    Planning to go there myself this weekend.
    You are one hell of a photographer. 😀
    Well put .. Well Written.
    Keep up the good work.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 26, 2013 at 22:43 #

      Thanks Nikhil. Have a great trip and I look forward to reading more on your experiences too 🙂

      Like

  11. sindhoooo September 27, 2013 at 16:12 #

    Awesome photographs and your fresh writing has made me to dream of ‘Kaas’ 🙂

    Like

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