If you’re simply vegetating, with the Internet for company, I’d say put away your laptop and grab your car keys! Head to Kas coz it’s the flowering season there, and the plateau looks like a slice of paradise!
Kas has been on my list of must-see places, and this year, I made it there – twice! I was rewarded both times with different weather, a different view, and yet, the same feeling of stupefied awe!
The Kas Plateau, or Kaas Pathar as it is locally referred to, was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. These rocky outcrops support around 150 known endemic species that are mostly herbaceous, and spring up in euphoric abundance during the Monsoons. The flowers are tiny, and seem to cover every available inch of the ground.
The various species bloom in succession, imparting characteristic hues to the plateau that change roughly every two weeks. With the onset of the rains, the lilies and ground orchids are the first to make their appearance. Next, the Utricularia and the Eriocaulons dot the plateau in patches of blue and white. These are succeeded by the pink Impatiens that carpet the plateau in their royal hue. Finally, the golden Smithia spread their warmth across Kas.
Apart from these blooms, there are myriad other flowers that share space with these, on the plateau. Here are some that I saw.
When I visited Kas in the last week in August, it was raining rather heavily and the plateau was enveloped in fog. Visibility extended to just a few metres, and I couldn’t see the ends of the plateau or the hills beyond. I was also soaked to the skin, the layers of waterproof clothing notwithstanding, and chilled to the bone, so much so that the thought of death by pneumonia had briefly crossed my mind. But for the better part of my time on the plateau, I had remained enchanted by the idyllic setting, and the blue, insectivorous Utricularia and white Eriocaulons that had spread their delicate beauty across Kas. Friends, and a guide at Kas had been happy to point out the various species of flowers and tell me interesting facts about them.
When I went back to Kas during the second week of September, the Impatiens were in exuberant bloom and from a distance, the land seemed streaked with it’s pink. It was bright and sunshiny too, so we could see edge of the plateau and the surrounding ranges.
At this point, I would advise you to dab yourself generously with sunblock, and cover yourself as much as possible. Out there on the plateau, with no shade, there’s a good chance of getting sunburnt.
The number of visitors to the plateau has increased tremendously in recent years, necessitating the construction of fences and the carving of fixed paths for tourists to follow (Of course, there are wide, open spaces where you can wander amidst the flowers as well).
We took one such path that led to ‘Kumudini Talav’ or the Kumudini Lake. The lake derives its name from the Kumudini flower (Nymphoides indicum) that grows in abundance on the surface of the lake this time of year. These are small, white delicate flowers with bright yellow centres.
Kas is a pleasure to witness, and to preserve its rich biodiversity for the years to come, responsible tourism is a must. Undue trampling, excessive grazing by animals and littering remain some of the problems faced by the plateau at this point.
Some awareness about the intricacies of this unique ecosystem and adherence to the do’s and don’ts as mentioned on a board at the entrance to the plateau would help preserve this beautiful location for future generations to enjoy.
Mumbai to Satara: Approx. 5-6 hours
Pune to Satara: Approx 2 – 2½ hours
Satara to Kas: 30 – 45 minutes
Pune is the closest railhead
Airports at Pune and Mumbai are both convenient