If you want an offbeat trekking experience, which can be done over a weekend, you need to go to Kaas plateau which is on high hills. The Kaas Plateau Reserved Forest is also known as Kaas Pathar or Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers. It is a spot where people can go only for a couple of months because it is a biodiversity hotspot. A biodiversity hotspot means it is an important reservoir of biodiversity, a biologically rich area which is also being threatened with destruction, mainly due to human habitation.
It has been declared as one of the world’s natural heritage sites – a ‘Biodiversity World Heritage Site’ by The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2012, where you will see endemic butterflies of various species, meaning you will not find these butterflies anywhere else in the world! It is also a place filled with seasonal wild flowers. Kaas plateau has an area of 10 x 10 kms and is situated at a height of 1200 meters.
You will be amazed to know that there are close to 850 different kinds of flowering plants in the area. Some examples are carnivorous plants like Drosera Indica, shrubs like Karvy and Flower plants like pink balsam flowers, Anjani, Paner, Kaasa, Deepkadee, Kondal, Orchids, Smithia,Sonki, Utricularia, Ceropegia, Drosera and Bladderwort. A particular flower known as the Waytura flower or Aponogeton Satarensis is only found on Kas Pathar Satara and is unfortunately one of the endangered species of flowers. Mostly there are herbaceous plants, some are insectivorous plants, some rare plants and some common plants. There are flowers of all shapes, sizes and colours – purple, green, blue, white, pink, yellow etc.The flowers are also mostly typical or found in just this region owing to the nature of soil that is on top of the basalt.
Located in Maharashtra’s Satara district, about 25kms from the west of the city, this plateau has been developed out of volcanic rocks and is thus a rocky plateau. Kaas Pathar region falls under the Western Ghats (Sahyadri sub cluster) and it has got its name from the Kaasa tree. The leaves of the Kaasa tree turn red from green when they mature.
During your Kaas Plateau tour, apart from flowers and butterflies, you will also see reptiles, birds and wild animals. This eco-sensitive place receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon. A flower festival is arranged here every year and visitors come to see the Kaas Pathar flowers. From the end of August, tourists from nearby areas start visiting the place to see hills hidden behind fogs, to see stretches of flowers covered with colourful flowers and to experience the mist-like rainfall. During the flowering season, this Kaas plateau becomes a must-visit place. It is one of the best hill stations in India to visit during the monsoon in the south.
The Kas Pathar season can be said to be the months of September and October when the wild flowers are in full bloom. The flowers start blooming after a couple of weeks after the stopping of rains and there has been sunshine for consecutive days. It almost looks like someone has laid out carpets made with colourful flowers over the whole plateau! After blooming, the flowers generally remain for about 1.5 to 2 months, depending on the natural factors. The Karvi flowers actually bloom once every eight years and wrap the ground of the valley in shades of pink, purple and blue.
Out of the different species of flowering plants that you will see here, 39 of them are not found anywhere else on this planet! It is an important site for research too as there are new botanical science studies. Iron fences had been put up around the plateau to stop visitors from stepping on the plants or plucking flowers.
Below the valley, there is the Kaas Lake which was built more than 100 years ago and was a source of drinking water for Satara town. It lies in the middle of Kanher Dam and Sajjangad Fort. There is a thick forest around it. There are some flowers in this area which are even missing from the valley. There is a good presence of underwater flora.
There are many waterfalls near Satara. One waterfall which you can easily visit during your Kaas Pathar trip is the Thoseghar waterfalls, and it will take approx 2 hours to reach here from the valley. It is located about 20kms away from Satara in a village named Thoseghar. The waterfall has been named after the village. There are viewpoints and trails marked by the forest department to help the trekkers.
To enter the waterfall area, you have to pay a fee and extra charges if you carry a camera. In Thoseghar, different waterfalls come together to form a waterfall which makes it a great sightseeing place. But during monsoon the windmill electricity project isn’t clearly visible and also the Thoseghar waterfall remains covered in fog. But still July to November is the best time for visiting the Thoseghar waterfalls. The paddy fields, the thick green forests and the streams here makes it a tranquil and rejuvenating place.
Sajjangad is near Satara too. The meaning of the word ‘Sajjangad’ is Fort of Good People and it is a popular pilgrimage place. This was the final resting place of social reformer and saint, Sant Ramdas. Devotees visit this fort in the daytime. While on your way to Thoseghar waterfalls, you will be able to see the windmills and Sajjangad Fort. Other famous Indian waterfalls like Vajrai and Kelavali waterfalls are located in Satara too. You can also visit the lovely little village named Chalkewadi where there are many windmills, making the view look amazing.
There is also the Ajinkyatara Fort near Satara. The name Ajinkyatara means The Impregnable Star. The town of Satara is encircled by seven hills. This fortress is on one of these hills and falls on the Sahyadri mountain range. The fort is built on a mountain having the same name and is 3300 feet above the sea level. Ajinkyatara Satara has played a significant part in Marathi history. It currently works as a television tower for the whole town.
You can visit Shri Kshetra Yeweteswar temple, Bamnoli Lake Club and Vasota Fort. And then there is a beach named Dapoli which is a 4 hours driving distance from the valley. Kaas Pathar is near another hill station too, which is Mahabaleshwar.
The trek to the Valley of Flowers can be done by solo trekkers, couples and even families. It is more of a walk, a beautiful one at that. It is one of the most visually splendid holiday destinations of Maharashtra. The plateau changes colour every season but might look barren to common people in most months of the year. Most people are aware of the Valley of Flowers which is a national park in Uttarakhand. Surprise yourself and your loved ones when you visit a smaller valley of flowers, but no less beautiful, right in Maharashtra.
The trek to Kaas Plateau isn’t a difficult one and first time trekkers can do it easily and also families with children. But a child should be above 8 and there has to be a parent with any kid between the age of 8 to 16. If the cacophony of the city has become too much as again things are slowly returning to normal, this plateau is a good place to let your mind detox.
Currently only 3000 visitors will be allowed to enter and that too if they are carrying their registration receipt. So do not forget to register yourself online by paying 100 rupees before you come down. You will be able to stay there for 3 hours. The time slots are divided into 7 to 11 in the morning, from11 to 3pm and from 3 to 6. And you need to have an ID on you. Kids below 12 and seniors above 65 do not have to pay entry charges.
How to reach the Valley of Flowers from Pune or Mumbai?
Kaas plateau is on NH4 and as it is 22 kms from Satara city. That is why it is very easy to reach there by a private vehicle or a bus. You have to board a train which halts at Satara railway station. Then from the Satara bus stand, you can take a bus to Bamnoli or Tetli. If you take the first bus which starts plying at 6 in the morning, you will reach Kaas plateau in about half-an-hour.
There are also direct buses to Satara. Do check on the internet. You might get private buses too from places like Chembur, Nerul, Dadar and Vashi. These buses start in the evening. There are state transport buses which drop visitors at the top of the plateau from the parking area and charge rs.10. If you are coming from far away places and are flying down, Pune is the nearest airport to Satara, at a distance of 127 kms. From Pune, Kas Pathar is 138kms away and it will take 3.5 to 4 hours to reach. Kaas Pathar is 278 kms away from Mumbai and it will take 5 hours to reach by road. You can hire a cab to reach Kaas plateau or till Satara and then take a cab.
A few kilometers ahead of the Pathar region, there are plenty of hotels. They have rooms with good views and the food is great too. For budget travellers, there are homestay options, dormitories and Sajjangad Bhakt Niwas. Names of some places where you can put up are Heritage Wadi, Hotel Green Valley, Shalgar Villa – The Homestay, Nivant Hill Resort, Hotel Sahydri Pushpa, Kaas Woods Resort, Swapnnagari Kas Hill Resort, Smile Resort Kaas Pathar, Millennium Pam Resort and Dongarmatha Agro Tourism. There are also shacks at Mahabaleshwar, Wai and Panchgani.You can reach the valley after an hour of driving from these shacks.
A trip to Kaas valley will freshen up your mind. The highlights of the trip are going to be knowing the history of the plateau,knowing about its changing ecology and how to protect it, seeing the vast Flora and Fauna, wildflowers of various colors in bloom, multiple kinds of birds, reptiles like fan-throated lizards, lesser striped necked snake, amphibians and the opportunity to click some exceptional nature photographs. The valley filled with colourful flowers, the fluttering of butterflies and the blue sky makes such a view that is impossible to forget.
When you book a package with us, you will not have to go through the hassle of planning. You will be able to best appreciate the flora and fauna of the place with the help of a guide. Moreover, as you will be travelling in a group, visiting the scenic Kaas will be an enjoyable and fun experience. It is an ideal place for flora researchers and for people who love nature or are into photography. Kaas has always been a popular weekend picnic spot.
11:00 pm: Board the train (3rd AC) from Hyderabad to Pune
7:30 am: Arrive at Pune and head out for Kaas Pathar region
1:00 pm: Visit to Vajrai Falls
7:00 pm: Complete the trek and reach our stay (Tent-stay with limited washroom facilities)
9:00 pm: Have dinner
5:30 am: Wake up early & freshen up
6:30 am: Leave for Kaas Plateau
7:00 am: Entering Kaas Plateau
11:00 am: Leave for Pune. Lunch on the way.
04:00 pm: Start journey to Hyderabad
Arrive at Hyderabad early morning