The Kaas Pathar is a haven for thousands of wildlife species, including plants an well as animals, and a heaven for travelers in search of serenity. Kaas is a plateau in the Sahyadris, located in the Satara district of Maharashtra. Although, there is no dip in the visual beauty of the place throughout the year, but the autumn season, which is now, is considered to be the best time of the year to visit the plateau.
Kaas Pathar was listed among the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2012 because of the natural abundance at the site. Apart from usual tourists, the abundant species have made the place a hot spot for wildlife and environmental researchers as well. It also tops the list of bike riders for their trips. The place is more famous as the Valley of Flowers of Maharashtra. There's already a Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, so Kaas Pathar is known as the same of Maharashtra. The plateau is home to more than 850 species of flowers and endemic butterflies. And autumn is the best time to visit this place, because most of these flowers have bloomed during this season which provides a scenic view to the visitors.
The Kaasa tree, also known as Elaeocarpus Glandulosus, is found in abundance in the forests there. That is why, the plateau is named after trees. Few stories also suggest that the name given to the plateau is linked to the Kaas lake in the area which is almost around 100 years old. It is fascinating that some of the flower species found here are only found elsewhere in the Himalayas, which is why researchers are intrigued about the place.
Some people also prefer visiting the place in monsoon as the place is located at an elevation of around 1200 meters which results into a worth watching monsoon at the plateau, with all the fog and mild rain. In September, however, some of the most common flowering plants of Eriocaulon, Utricularia, Pogostemon Deccanensis, Senecio Grahamii, Impatiens Lawii, and Dipcadi Montanum bloom and the picture in front of you is jaw dropping. The mating Tiger Beetles in large numbers during September–October, is another exemplary view to see.
Pogostemon Deccanensis Flower
Senecio Grahamii Flower
Impatiens Lawii Flower
The Kaas Talav is the main source of drinking water for the city of Satara, which adds to the significance of the place. The lake is on the south of the Kaas Plateau and is surrounded by dense forest. It is believed that the lake was artificially built around 1875 to supply water to the city of Satara, however, it is a natural source of water.
The place is home to a quite unique species which is why it is a reserved forest. According to data, the place is a natural habitat for around 6 per cent of the Red Data Species which has made it vital to make provisions for the sustainability of these species. The Plateau seems to change the colours after every 15- 20 days as the cycle of flowering plants progresses as the monsoon progress from June to October. However, the inconsiderate behaviour of tourists had damaged the place since people kept on plucking and littering the place.
In order to deal with this problem, the government has recently put a fencing around the plants to restrict the movements of tourists and the damage they cause to the environment. Several new rules were implemented on the movement of tourists at the place. The number of visitors is restricted to 3000 visitors for a day with further restrictions as per the time slots. Pass system is also introduced to manage the tourists well.
Other than the plateau itself, which will easily occupy one's whole day, there are other beautiful places to visit around Kaas.
Among these, the Bhambavali Vajrai waterfall is worth visiting. Here the water falls here from 260 meter of height and is counted among the highest waterfalls in Western Ghats. The beautiful waterfall is located at Bhambawai village, which is to the south of the Kaas Plateau.
- Himali Nalawade