Ten years ago, when I used to be pulled out of my bed on cold, wet Sunday mornings by my parents, I hated the Kaas Plateau. It was a ritual for us, to hike to the top of the plateau on Sundays from my home in the sleepy city of Satara.
The pathway that led to the top was empty (it still is) and the road for the cars would only have occasional buses, transporting the villagers from the top, down to the city’s markets.
The crisp wind that blew over the dancing flowers added an unmatched allure to the entire plateau. The stunning valleys on both the sides would be emerald-green with a splash of blue, from the dams and the rivers.
Image Source: Sumedh Halbe
And as much as I hated it for disturbing my sleep, I loved being here.
Fast-forward to 2012 and Kaas Plateau was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, it is one of the most-visited monsoon destinations in Maharashtra.
In the peak monsoon, where it pours night and day, the plateau is blanketed with thick fog and you can barely see anything. The velvety grass is topped with mushy, red soil. Monsoon is a great time to be here, only if you love the rains.
Image Source: Aniruddha Jadhav
Thousands of people flock to experience the multi-hued carpet that the plateau adorns, towards the end of monsoon. This is when the plateau flaunts its natural treasure that was undiscovered by the world for years! Spread over 10 square kilometres area at an elevation of 1200 meters, this basalt-based plateau serves as a biological hotspot. Home to more than 850 different flowering plants and an eco-system that helps it flourish, Kaas Plateau is frequented by tourists, nature enthusiasts, researchers and hikers, every year.
Here’s a quick guide on visiting Kaas Plateau, one of my personal favourite places in the whole wide world!
When to visit Kaas Plateau
The place is beautiful all-round the year, even in summers! Although you can’t observe the flowers, visiting Kaas Plateau in May can be a refreshing change from the hot weather.
June to September are the best months to enjoy it to the fullest. Take it from a local who has visited the place for 27 years, the 3 weeks between the end of Ganapati to the beginning of Navratri are the best time to visit Kaas Plateau, you can check the dates for the festivals online since they keep changing every year.
Image Source: Chetan Ranade
The best time to visit Kaas Plateau in 2017 is from end of August to the last week of September.
The weather is perfect, the showers pause periodically, giving you a scope to get out of the car. Also remember that the flower-boom period varies every year and it is best to check with local tour operators or hotels if you want to visit Kaas Pathar during the flower season.
Visiting Kaas Plateau
You have to file an online application on the official website for the visit. The Kaas Plateau visit bookings open few days before the flowering season every year. The registration website allows only 3000 visitors each day. The ticket prices were as follows in 2016, and might be updated this year, when the registrations open.
• INR 100 per visitor for Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays for a limited time visit of 3 hours
• INR 50 per visitor for other days
• Parking charges are extra.
Kaas Plateau - Routes & Transport
The city of Satara serves as a base to visit the Kaas Plateau. The Satara railway station has very few regular trains, including the Maharashtra express, the Koyana Express, the Chalukya express and the Nizamuddin-Goa express. There are frequent government as well as private buses available from major cities in the state as well.
The nearest airport to reach Kaas Plateau is the Pune airport. From both Mumbai and Pune airports, you can take any of the following routes
The most convenient way to travel from Pune or Mumbai to Kaas Plateau is by taking the NH-4 (marked as NH-48 on Google maps). This is the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway and you have to take an exit for Satara city. Kaas Plateau is located within a short drive of 25 kilometres from the city. The drive from Satara to Kaas Plateau is super scenic, the roads are winding yet motorable and you can also drive bikes.
This is also a beautiful route, but slightly dangerous if you are new to the locale. The thick forests, constant rains and small, winding roads with no human intervention make it not one of the most recommended ways to reach Kaas Plateau. The distance is around 40 kilometres. If you want to travel from Mahabaleshwar to Kaas Plateau, reaching Satara and then taking the regular route is recommended.
Hiking to the Kaas Plateau
There are multiple hiking routes to Kaas Plateau with varying difficulty levels One of the easiest of them is to climb the ancient steps from ‘Mahadare Talav’ in Satara city up to Yewateshwar Plateau and then walk till the Kaas Plateau. This route doesn’t show up in the maps and it is best hiked with a local.
Exploring Kaas Plateau
To reach Kaas Plateau from Satara, you have to take the Kaas road which runs through the winding and beautiful Yewateshwar Hill. Apart from the valley of flowers, the view from the Kaas Plateau is worth watching. Photography enthusiasts can click wallpaper-perfect photos of the valley that the hill overlooks. Dozens of small waterfalls gush down the hill, at every round-about. Clouds and fog just add to the atmosphere!
Image Source: Sumedh Halbe
The best time to be at Kaas Plateau is mid-morning. Afternoons at the plateau can get dull and dark with very little visibility. Wear comfortable shoes and strong rainy gear since umbrellas won’t sustain in the heavy rain and wind.
The plateau is fenced and walking tracks are maintained to observed the flowers. The flowers are short, just a few centimetres above the ground level and in various colours. Typically, it takes 2-3 hours to explore the various kinds of flowers and to enjoy the striking panorama of the surrounding.
Places to visit near Kaas Pathar
Yewateshwar Hill: You have to cross this hill to reach Kaas Plateau and the hill is itself an alluring place to be. There is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Yewateshwar Mandir where you can spend some time.
Image Source: Prajakta Kulkarni
You can enjoy the view of the Satara city from the top, nestling between tall mountains and also observe the Urmodi and the Kanher Dam from the hill. There is a view point with a Ganesh Mandir from where, you can observe both the dams, the city, few small lakes and forts & hills like Ajinkyatara, Sajjangad and Meruling in the same frame.
Kaas Lake: Cross the Kaas Plateau and as you start the descend, the roads leads to the Kaas Lake. At least a hundred years old, this beautiful lake surrounded by thick forest is the source of water supply to the city since then.
Image Source: Gaurav Tophakhane
Today, you can camp on the banks, go for a swim in the lake or plan a picnic here. There is a very mysterious-looking Dak bungalow on the banks, infamous for its haunted stories! A little drive further will take you to the Koyana River’s backwater.
Image Source: Aniruddha Jadhav
Bamnoli: Drive further ahead from the backwater and a road through mystic forests will lead you to Bamnoli. A laid-back village with an enormous lake, you can relish some hot chai and go for boating, if the weather permits. The gorgeous view of Sahadyris adds to the charm!
Check out: Best Places to Visit Near Pune in Monsoon
To slurp, gulp and relish
If you are expecting fancy restaurants, this would be a slight disappointment! But trust me, nothing can beat the feeling of eating hot kanda-batat bhajis in the cold & rainy weather. The Kaas road is dotted with small eateries that pop-up during the peak season, that serve warm, home-cooked meals. You can purchase snacks, chips and beverages from small kiosks available everywhere.
As a part of sustainable tourism, it is recommended to dine and shop at these local places, since this is the only season for them to earn.
For a hearty meal, my personal recommendations are as follows:
Nivant Hill Resort: North Indian and Chinese cuisine with plush décor
Bakula: Chicken, Mutton and Veg Thali served in a rustic décor
Zazen: Pre-ordered home-cooked meals, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Mane Farms: Located in Anawale, perfect for pre-ordered homemade food cooked on a traditional stove.
The unnamed place in Petri: A small home kitchen in the village of Petri, that serves food on pre-order. You can also doze off in the tiny shelter post the gastronomic affair!
Check Out: Best Resorts Near Mumbai
Accommodation at Kaas Plateau
Thanks to the growing crowd, there are quite a few resorts, humble lodgings, farmhouses and hotels en route the Kaas Plateau. Alternatively, you can also book hotel rooms or Airbnbs in the Satara city. The rates of the rooms are high and the availability is scarce during the peak monsoon and the flowering season, hence it is recommended to book well in advance. There are no 5-star hotels in and around Kaas Plateau.
The Kaas Plateau hotels are located on the Kaas road, not the plateau itself. My personal recommendations are Nivant Hill Resort, Prakurti resort and Mane Farm Stay since they offer good amenities along with a gorgeous view!
Alternatively, if you want to combine your visit with nearby Mahabaleshwar or Panchgani, there are plenty of hotels and resorts fitting into varying budgets available.
Being a local, the biggest pain point for me is the beauty of the Kaas Plateau deteriorating, year after year. Thousands of tourists, bring along tons of plastic waste that spreads over the entire plateau. Over-enthusiastic posers sleep on the delicate beds of flowers, crushing them, mostly forever.
UNESCO, as well as local bodies and forest authorities are trying to implement rules to preserve the plateau. Local NGOs strive hard to clean the plateau every year, after the season ends.
And as a part of responsible tourism, it’s an urge to preserve the plateau and its area, as nature meant it to be!
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