A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in it's entirety. . . I believe in photography as one means of achieving an ultimate happiness and faith! - Ansel Adams

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Kaas Plateau - Maharashtra's Valley of Flowers - a heaven on earth!

Kaas Plateau - let a million flowers bloom!
Let a million flowers bloom! - Kaas Plateau

Picture yourself at a place where there are rows and rows of blooming flowers on a flat land, as far as your eyes can see - different colours, different varieties - surrounded by verdant mountains, lakes and valleys. If you think I am asking you to recollect a scene from some Yash Chopra film then you are mistaken. I am alluding to a place which is only 6-7 hours drive South of Mumbai and about 2-3 hours from Pune.

Kaas Plateau - Bed of Eriocaulon Tuberiferum flowersKaas Plateau, nestled in the Sahyadris (Western Ghats) in the District of Satara (of Mahabaleshwar fame), is also known as Maharashtra's Plateau of Flowers or the Valley of Flowers (being surrounded by valleys on two sides). As the monsoon sets in, the place comes alive with millions of wild flowers blooming on the plateau and along the slopes of the hills (all naturally occurring). The carpet changes colour every passing day and hour - white, yellow, pink, violet, blue. Add to this the changing hues of the sky, it being rainy season, and you have a magical place - a place fit for the Gods!

For a slide show of complete set of pictures from Kaas Plateau, please click HERE.

Kaas Plateau during monsoon
Gathering Storm
Kaas Plateau - Bed of flowers - countless Smithia Hirsuta flowers
Kaas Plateau - Bed of flowers - countless Smithia Hirsuta flowers

Malabar Crested Lark
The best time to enjoy this nature's bounty is August - October, of which September is perhaps the best. Apart from the flowers, keep an eye on the fauna as well - birds such as the Malabar Crested Lark, Bonneli's Eagle, Indian Robin, Crested Bunting, etc; reptiles - we saw a man holding Vine Snake on our way to the plateau; and myriad insects.

According to Dr. Sandeep Shrotri, there are over 1,500 types of plants in Kaas - 156 botanical families, 680 genera, 1452 species, 400 medicinal plants, and about 33 endangered varieties in Kaas and the neighbouring Koyna area. Many of these are believed to be not found elsewhere. It thus becomes imperative to protect this place. As such the Western Ghats are a biodiversity hotspot (amongst the two in India, out of a total of 34 world over). Days after we visited the place, a team from UNESCO visited the site in order to assess it for declaring it a World Heritage Site. Achieving this milestone would go a long way in creating awareness about conserving the place.

Some of the commonly found flowers at Kaas, and which are pictured here & in slideshow are - Smithia Hirsute (Mickey Mouse flower), Senecio Grahami, Utricularia Purpurascens, Dipcadi Montanum, Impatiens Oppositifolia, Indigofera Dalzelli, Cyanotis Cristata, Ipomoea Nil, Celosia Argentea, Drosero India, etc. (unable to label them below since it distorts alignment)

Thousands of vehicles lined up beside the Kaas Plateau!
Endless line of vehicles on an overcast day!
Today, this once quaint idyllic place is under threat (it is not a declared protected area!) as lakhs of tourists visit this place. While tourism helps create awareness, it is also a double edged sword. Many tourists blissfully pluck flowers, uproot plants, litter the place and trample upon the flowers & insects - not knowing which endangered species they might be causing harm to. Many also indulge in revelry and treat it as a picnic spot.

When we reached the spot on the first day, there were hundreds of vehicles lined-up on either side of the road along the Kaas Plateau - while the next day (being Sunday) there was absolutely no place to park for miles - the cops had decided to halt vehicles headed for Kaas well in advance in order to avoid a traffic nightmare. I have to say that the cops stationed at the place are doing an admirable job of guiding the tourists and preventing any foul play - but just like entries to a national park are restricted, to conserve the place it is necessary to quickly come up with some mechanism to manage the flow of tourists.

Kaas Plateau - Visitors enjoying the sight of bed of flowers

With the place gaining in popularity over the last few years, things have only gotten worse. What's more, the place is also rich in minerals and one can only dread what could be the fate of the place if it is not declared a protected area!

Soak it in!
We had been to Kaas during the 2nd - 3rd October, 2010 weekend as part of the BNHS programme. Going along with knowledgeable people helps one understand the place better. Though the trip was towards the fag end of the blooming season we got to see enough diversity to be more than impressed with the beauty of the place. It is literally a cornucopia of flowers as you would also realise from the pictures.

Even the drive from Satara City to Kaas Plateau (about 20-22 Kms) is very scenic. One can see the Kanher Dam and Urmodi Dam on either side of the drive respectively - separated from the road by scenic valleys. There are number of farms dotting the place where one can see people going about their simple yet strenuous routines. After visiting Kaas, one can spend a good hour or two photographing the panoramic landscape, birds and other flora around here. Then there is also the Kaas Lake which is a must visit - its azure waters surrounded by forests,and the cool wind blowing on your face provide a nice tranquil and refreshing feeling. Apart from this, I have been told, there are a number of historical temples and gushing waterfalls nearby.

 En-route Kaas

En route Kaas Plateau
En-route Kaas

Kaas Lake
Kaas Lake

Kanher Dam panorama (stitched)

Most importantly do not miss the evening at Kaas Plateau - the sunset and the changing hues of the sky are absolutely surreal and have an out of the world feeling about it.

Sunset kid

Cars lined up beside the Kaas Plateau

Kaas Plateau @ sunset time
Kaas @ Sunset time!

We ended our trip on Sunday afternoon by enjoying sumptuous Maharashtrian food at a place providing homestay options - located between Satara City and Kaas. These people were very passionate about nature and had planted a number of flowering plants in their courtyard. The flowers you will see towards the end of the slideshow are the ones cultivated by these folks and are not to be mistaken for the wild flowers of Kaas Plateau.

Travel tip... To reach Satara, one can either drive down from Mumbai or hop onto the many buses that ply regularly between the two cities. There are plenty of stay options in Satara. Kaas Plateau is located about 20-22 Kms from the city on the road that leads to Bamnoli village.
Do not forget to carry a sunscreen lotion and an insect repellent cream (if you are comfortable applying it). Being rainy season, carry adequate protection for your photography gear. Importantly buy Dr. Sandeep Shrotri's book 'Kaas - Plateau of Flowers' - it has a wealth of information on the place, flora and fauna and in it he also makes a passionate plea to protect the place. A two day weekend, I believe, is good enough to explore the place - you may want to go more than once to check out different carpets.

Satara City - through the valley - panorama

Thank you! Do write in with comments / questions.
Conserve nature! Protect our future!


Ganesh Prasad said...

After reading ur post, Kaas Plateau is in my list of places to visit. That was a great article with nice photographs. I absolutely agree with ur opinion, such places deserve immediate attention. I appreciate ur concern. It is sad to see how our nature is being spoiled day by day, by our own people. Western ghats is in great trouble in Karnataka as well. Hope our great politicians get some time to think about things that matter!

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Ganesh for your comment and for sharing your concerns. Lets hope that better sense prevails and we can protect the few pockets of diversity that are left around us.
I hope you get a chance soon to visit Kaas and may you have a memorable trip.
Cheers :)

shigeteru said...


I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

I have added your site to my site.

Please link my site to your site.

Thank you!


Online Tutor said...

Lovely...the photos are awesome :)

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much @shigeteru and @Umamaheswari :)

Avi said...

thank you for a wonderful & informative blog. U got me hooked to the place. Avi Sabavala

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Avi. Hope to see u at some BNHS programme and welcome to my blog :)

joshi daniel said...

beautiful place and images! first time seeing pics from this place!

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks a lot Daniel...the place is a must visit...hope you get an opportunity soon!

Anonymous said...

I can almost picture myself there! Looks beautiful. And you have a really nice blog. I'm definitely coming back to read more. Rolling you :)

~ shivya

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Shivya for your wonderful comment :) Hope to see you more often on my blog!

makeshiftworld said...

Great work Maneesh... simple, stunning images; quite beautifully unfolded :)
Thank you for sharing

The Legend Returns said...

@makeshiftworld: Thanks so much for that wonderful compliment :) Welcome to my blog!

Tanya Boracay said...

Its beautiful, lovely place.

Just like to share with you a famous quote...

"The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven's lieutenants. " -- Shakespeare

You can get more famous quotes at http://quotelandia.com

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Tanya!

RanJan said...

a grt work indeed, some of the flowers i have seen at Valley of Flowers Garhwal, Uttarakhand. kindly post if there's any other such less popular places in India.

The Legend Returns said...

@RanJan: Thank you so much Ranjan for your words of appreciation. Unfortunately I have been wanting to visit Uttarakhand's Valley of Flowers for long... hopefully I can make it someday. Will surely keep posting about places as and when I visit :)

Brad Dugg said...

man never knew of such place till I read this.....great info...great pictures and a wonderful blog...good work and thanks for sharing marking this a visit in september this year

Sunil & Shalini said...

Could you provide the homestay details?

The Legend Returns said...

Hi Sunil & Shalini,

Thanks so much for writing in. Unfortunately we had just stopped over for lunch at one of the home-stays and I did not note down their details. These homestays are mostly located outside Satara city (en route Kaas) and you'll be able to spot those bungalows while driving.
Apologies for not being in a position to offer much help.
Have a great trip.

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This work by Maneesh Goal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.