It has become instinctive for us to get into the lap of nature’s beauty. Finally reaching the summit brings you the joy of winning over the hurdles. Experiencing the wind, the heights and the view from our perch gives a feeling of trance. Experiences like these make us feel how puny we are against mother nature.
So finally after a long and detailed search, we came across a place called Kaas, about 160 kms off Pune, which seemed to suit our interests. Kaas is also referred locally as the ‘Valley of flowers’.
For the bookworms, there is a delightful yet simple book on the rich and indigenous flora and fauna present over at Kaas. The mention of wild flowers, especially (Utricularia, Impatience Cavis), which form a carpet over a vast area also finds a mention in the book " Flora of Kaas plateau of Satara District") by Chavan P.B., V.P.Khandekar and S.H.Mahamul, 1973. Our interest to visit this place was further fuelled by the description presented by various websites and travelers who had visited the place earlier.
Once decided, the two of us, (Udi and Avi), embarked on our journey from Pune (Udi had come all the way from Thane to join me). We decide that we would go in true adventurous style on our bike, given the fantastic climate around that time in Pune.
Our adventure started off from Swargateat around 10.30 am , quite late but still better rather than not go. After aquick ride, we took a break near Katraj to wipe our faces off the smoke and dust thrown by the huge trucks enroute. However, we forgave everything as we saw the beautiful roads and the great climate to go for. The road to Satara has been recently done up and one can just cruise on it without worrying for any bumps or ditches.
After our brief stop, where we also managed to click some pics of some beautiful roadside yellow flowers, we started our journey again, only to halt at Satara. With our stomachs growling after the long ride (almost 120Kms), we decided to submit to our stomach’s hue and cry. We had a hearty lunch in a hotel located opposite the central bus stand of Satara. The food was good and clean.
We had gorged so much, we were wondering if we would be even able to walk any further!! However, after some rest, we resumed our journey for Kaas , which was just 40 odd kms away. We kept asking directions to people. You need to ask for road to Kaas or Bamnoli. Kaas is a well known spot on the way to Bamnoli. The town people guided us towards the “Bogda” road (Bogda means tunnel in Marathi), which was about 10-12 kms from the bus stand. From there we took a right turn towards Kaas plateau. One should ask for the road leading to Bamnoli. We cruised through a long winding road covered with mist coiling around the hills. It made us halt and have a look at the beautiful Kaas plateau. It had lush greenery, a sight one always gets to see when traveling in monsoons. We took some snaps and moved forward. On our way to the fields of flowers, we searched for the Kaas Lake.
Taking directions from a small shack owner, where we even had some hot piping chai, we followed the path as shown and reached the Lake. The whole path was covered with mist and looked awesome but still there was no signs of the flowers we were looking for.
Finally we reached the lake. We could only a small part of the huge lake due to the heavy mist. It looked absolutely beautiful. There stood a lone tree in the water, a short distance from the shore. It was amazing. We moved on from the lake, came back to the main road, rode about 5 kms down the road only to find a small pathway cutting into the vegetation. We parked our bike and followed the path which led us to a small and completely isolated dam.It was a small conventional dam, made of small rocks. The view was amazing with a small stream of water flowing down from the dam and the area completely covered with mist. We were shivering with cold, totally drenched due to the heavy rain from our way from Satara till here. The mist never gave us a chance to dry off even though the rain had reduced to a drizzle. Avi was unable to light even a cigaratte also because of the mist, the rain and not to forget the shivering chilly winds.
After drinking in the mesmeric view there, we realized it was almost 3:30 pm and we needed to move towards our goal - the valley of flowers. We were on the road again with eyes searching for signs of flowers but there were no flowers to be seen. We then suddenly saw some small flowers amongst the mist. We parked our bike and moved in towards the mist to explore further. Lost of all hopes, we could now see some flowers finally. We followed the trail surrounded by flowers. Suddenly, the mist cleared for a fraction of a second and we found ourselves amidst a field of small but beautiful flowers.
The whole plateau was covered with tiny pink flowers, each one very small but together when seen giving the feeling of a carpet of flowers. it was a long and unending carpet of flowers with a variety of other different coloured flowers also. It is a heaven for a botanist to look around the plateau, abundant with such wild and exquisite flowers. The place is rich also in minerals and you can see the red patches of laterite rocks typically called ‘Sadaa’ in Marathi.
We roamed about for almost an hour in the mist. At a point we thought we had got lost for we had ventured deep into the mist, looking for flowers, away from the main road where we had parked our bike. But looking at the different variety of flowers and amazed by the extent to which they were spread, we found ourselves to be looking around with the inquisitiveness of a small child. Suddenly we realized it was almost 5:30pm and we had to move towards Pune as it was getting dark. After a long and desparate search of half an hour, we managed to find our way back to the main road. For travelers information, the plateau can be reached once you take a right turn from the road opposite a small Hanuman temple. Beware as the place is so isolated, you may not find anybody to guide you to the field of flowers, though you can at times follow tyre track marks left by previous vehicles in the mud, moving towards the areas where flowers can be seen.
It is better that one first visits the plateau and then proceeds for the Lake/Dam as you may not be able to see the whole plateau as it becomes darker. Anyways, we too realized that it would be difficult to drive once it gets dark and we had a long way to go. Once we reached the main road, we realized it was extremely difficult to drive as the bike didn’t have fog lamps. The mist was all over the place and there was no way we could see beyond 15 ft. As it was getting darker, we decided we would cross the plateau and reach Satara before the conditions becomes worse. The place becomes totally isolated by evening and one can have a tough time getting any help if required. We drove slowly and cautiously, very careful of the oncoming traffic and the turns and twists of the road. We finally reached Satara by 8:00 PM given the slow drive. We had started our return journey from Kaas around 6:30 PM only. Yet we were thankful that we were back till Satara which was far better given the absence of mist.
We had a cup of hot pipping tea to relax ourselves and proceeded on our journey to Pune. It was raining hard and was a very difficult ride till Pune with the headlights of the oncoming vehicle blinding us. After a short debate so as to halt in Satara and move to Pune next morning or proceed to Pune immediately, we decided to carry on owards Pune. After a long and skillful ride by Avi, we finally reached Pune by 12:30am, completely drenched due to the heavy rains but safe and secure in the city.
Tired from the long and hectic trip, we proceeded to our homes for a good and long snooze.Finally, next day as we sat back and recalled our experince, we realized that though the pics we took looked amazing, it could never replace and capture the actual experience as we saw it. A truly refreshing and adventurous trip had come to an end.