Visit The Magical Kaas Valley!
The end of monsoon every year, a quiet little place in Satara district, a few hours away from Mumbai, blossoms to life with flowers - common and rare. Read on to know what makes the Kaas Plateau special, and plan your own trip there!
What is Kaas Valley and why does everyone rave about it?
Quite simply - it's a biodiversity hotspot. It's famous for end-of-monsoon blossoming of flowers, and the presence of numerous species of endemic butterflies. 1500 species of plants are seen in and around the plateau, of which there are over 850 flowering ones, including close to 33 endangered species of flowers. Even if you're not a horticulturist or someone who looks at plants and yells out its Latin name, a trip here is worth it purely because it's gorgeous and a colourful relief from the city: The vista is yellow, orange, purple, blue, pink, velvet, magenta and of course, green. What's more, it's extremely easy to reach.
The 10 square kilometers of the plateau sees more than 1500 types of plants, of which there are over 850 flowering ones. Close to 40 of these are found only in Kaas.
"Kaas Plateau is a natural wonder which can only be experienced in its full blossom for a month or two. It's a UNSECO-declared World Natural Heritage site", says Wrisha Mukherjee from Carvan Trips, who organizes frequent visits to the Valley. "Every year, when the monsoon subsides, this otherwise-barren plateau in Satara turns into a floral wonderland. It's a natural wonder and people come from far and wide to witness this wonderful phenomenon.", adds Shannon Fernandes from Vagabonds, who also take people to witness the glory of Kaas.
What flowers do these include?
Orchids, shrubs like the Karvy, and even insectivorous plants such as Drosera Indica. Apart from flowers, you will see birds like the Malabar Crested Lark, Bonneli's Eagle, Indian Robin, Crested Bunting, and even reptiles (harmless snakes too!). Eagle-eyed visitors will be blessed with rare sightings too - "One should be looking out for endangered species of flowers like Waytura (the rare species of flower seen only in 5 places in the world) and insectivores plants", says Viral Patel of Travel Trikon, who's been leading trips here since 2012.
Some examples of the flowers you will see, below. Pictures courtesy Viral Patel of Travel Trikon.
How do I get here?
The best way to explore Kaas is with a travel group - not just because travel becomes convenient, but because they will usually have experts along, who will help explain the flora and fauna around you. Says Patel from Travel Trikon, "Since I have been exploring this area I know locations where one can find endangered species of plants. During every trip, participants have spotted a minimum of 3 species of endangered flowers, and I share knowledge on photographing the flowers."
Chances are, even if you're not much of a flower nut, you'll get swept up by the enthusiasm of macro-photographers as well! Speaking of which - it's a great place to test the 'portrait' or 'depth effect' mode of your new smartphone.
Different groups will give you different experiences. Carvan Trips, for instance, includes a trip to Kaas Lake and Vajrai waterfall, and a scrumptious authentic Maharashtrian Lunch as part of the deal. Vagabonds takes a slightly more leisurely approach to the plateau, where you can spend an entire day - this allows you time to even explore nearby hamlets and enjoy a bonfire - not to mention, seeing flowers at the break of dawn.
Below pics courtesy Vagabonds.
Sounds good? Try something new this weekend, try one of the events above, and head out to this awesome valley - your Instagram will be the happier for it.
Cover image courtesy Viral Patel, Travel Trikon.
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