Kaas a spell

Sep 27, 2012, 09:57 IST | Bindhu and Radhakrishnan Unny

Woven by the master weaver and artisan, mother nature, the endless carpets of flowers at Kaas Plateau, near Satara, will sweep you off your feet, as Bindhu and Radhakrishnan Unny were to discover when they headed to this valley of flowers

The magic of nature is everywhere, even in the misty air. Barren during most of the year, Kaas Plateau comes alive with monsoons, filling the landscape with flowers of varied hues, sizes, shapes, and designs.

Lying dormant in the soil until the monsoons arrive, the ethereal ephemerals of Kaas wake up and explode in vivid and vibrant colours. What's more, the plateau adorns a different colour every few days as the early ones bloom and wilt in just a few days.

A riot of colours will treat the eyes at the Kaas Plateau. The real beauty of some of these flowers can be admired only through a magnifying glass. Pics/ Travel with couple.com

So the blue mass of Sita’s tears we marvelled at a few days back would have now turned into fields of white pan-gend. During the short duration from end of August to mid-September, millions of purple balsams, yellow sonki, blue Sita’s tears, white pan-gend, yellow lahan kawla (fondly called Mickey Mouse), blue karvi, and several others flower en masse, making Kaas a plateau of flowers.

What's so special?
While this mass flowering is what attracts most people to Kaas, it has become one of UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage site for much more than this. Kaas displays its unique flora only to those who explore its nooks and corners. You will experience Kaas better if accompanied and guided by someone who is knowledgeable about Kaas and its vegetation. We were lucky to be guided by two such people during our weekend trip. Adesh Shivekar and Mandar Khadilkar of Nature India ably led us to more than 100 species of wild flowers. A commendable achievement in two days, considering that Kaas is home to about 400 varieties of plants!

The carpets of flowers are hard to miss. But not the tiny varieties that hide among the lush undergrowth, or even the larger ones that find a foothold among the masses of other species. Then there some those that prefer rock faces or water bodies. The real beauty of some of these flowers can be admired only through a magnifying glass. Kaas also has some rare species of flowers; two of them are found only in Kaas and Amboli. Some are endangered too.

Flower power
The terrain and ecology also decides the presence of absence of different species. While most tourists head straight to the plateau to enjoy the mesmeric flower carpets, we started with admiring the lone ones at the ghats that lead up to the plateau. So there we were examining and clicking macros of pink shevra, purple terda, yellow tarwad, blue ghodegui, red sheral, white chimin, blue nabhali or Lalu’s ears, lilac chire-papni, red and yellow glory lily, blue/white elephant’s ears, pink halunda or elephant’s trunk, and green mor kharchudi among many others.

On the plateau, we spotted purplish-violet jambhala terda, pink lal-terda, bluish-purple Seetechi-aswe, yellow Mickey Mouse, pink gawati davbindu, white kangwa habe-amri or toothbrush orchid, yellow sonki, blue topli karvi, and many more.

A walk beyond the plateau was blessed with spotting yellow terda, white panda, and yellow dhuti or square root plant. While Kaas is a must-visit destination, we must make sure we take care of this fragile ecosystem. It is now struggling against the assault of carefree tourists. See the dos and don'ts while visiting Kaas. Remember, Kaas is not a picnic spot. It is only for those who can enjoy and admire nature with respect. Bindhu & Unny are quintessential travel lovers and they often tread offbeat paths during their trips. 

Dos and Don’ts
>> Follow the rules and regulations by the authorities
>> Do not pluck or trample flowers
>> Do not smoke or consume alcohol
>> Do not litter
>> Park vehicles only at the designated parking space
>> Do not spend too much time on the Kaas Plateau; visit the surrounding region (Kaas Ghat road, Thoseghar waterfalls, Sajjangad Fort, Chalkewadi windmills, and Ajinkya Tara Fort)
>> Go in small groups and ensure each one follows the guidelines
>> Stay in Satara only, to discourage construction in and around the plateau 

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