Kaas Plateau 2019 - a Travel Guide to the Valley of Flowers

Located in the Satara district of Maharastra, Kaas Plateau (or Kaas Patthar, as it's locally known) is a hotspot for biodiversity in India's Western Ghats. Also known as at the Valley of Flowers of Maharashtra, the small plateau is so rich and unique in it's flora that almost 70% of the flowers of Maharastra are found only here. Not just this, Kaas has one of the largest concentration of endemic flowering plants and that has also given it the status of UNSECO Natural World Heritage Site. As much as it is famed, the biodiversity of the region is also extremely fragile and conversation is often a race against time.

Latest update: please note that online registration for visiting Kaas has already started and you can do so at the official website, www.kaas.ind.in. There is a cap of maximum 3000 visitors everyday so it would certainly help to plan in advance.

kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Kaas Plateau - Maharashtra's Valley of Flowers (pic credit: Mr Ganesh H Shankar)
kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Walking through Kaas Plateau
Nisurdi Paracaryopsis coelestina kaas plateau green bottle fly Phaenicia sericata or Lucilia sericata
Nisurdi - Paracaryopsis coelestina with the Green Bottle Fly


Western Ghats

To understand why Kaas is so special, it's also important to understand the uniqueness of Western Ghats. Now, the western ghats are not true mountains but are the faulted edge of the Deccan Plateau and is believed to have been formed during the breakup of the super continent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago (1). A huge volcanic eruption a few million years later lai down the Deccan Traps and these also led to the formation of the northern third ope the Western Ghats, which is where Kaas Plateau is located.



Due to it's unique location the Western Ghats receive excellent rainfall during monsoons, often as high as 150 in (2500 mm). Unique geography and good rainfalls ensured that the ghats were always heavily forested, till the British decided to cut them down and use the land for agriculture, including tea plantations. Though the tea plantations, like the ones in Nilgiris (http://www.sid-thewanderer.com/2016/04/a-first-timers-travel-guide-to-kerala.html), look stunningly beautiful, nature paid a heavy price for their creation and many endemic and rare varieties of plants were forever lost in the process.

Abhali Cyanotis tuberosa kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Abhali - Cyanotis tuberosa
Suichi Bhaji Dipcadi montanum kaas plateau kas western ghats valley of flowers
Suichi Bhaji - Dipcadi montanum
Halunda Vigna vexillata kas kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Halunda - Vigna vexillata
Undri Linum mysurense kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Undri - Linum mysurense
Gulabi Terada Impatiens oppositifolia kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Gulabi Terada - Impatiens oppositifolia

Now within Western ghats, Kaas Plateau is even more unique due to factors like rainfall, temperature, humidity, type of soil topography and it's micro-climate during monsoon.

Kaas plateau got it's name from Kaas tree, a local tree which is a genus of tropical and subtropical evergreen trees and shrubs.

My visit to Kaas Plateau

I visited Kaas in early October with my mother, but as part of a large group of people organised by a bunch of passionate local guys. The fee was Rs 1400 per head, but the visit was truly memorable. I traveled with a local Pune based group called ProEdge Adventures and you can also check out their Facebook page to check out their trips to Kaas Plateau. For more information you can reach out to  Pranav at +91 9881831122.

We started early in the morning from Puneand the picked us at the gate of Ferguson College, though the departure was delayed as some of the travellers came late (this is so routine when traveling in groups that I take it for granted). After a journey of about 5 hours, with a pit-stop for tea and breakfast, we were at the entrance of Kaas. However that's when I realised how terribly the place was maintained. The narrow mountain road leading up to the parking lot, and then to small hike to the plateau, was completely clogged with vehicles and we were stuck for about an hour just trying to navigate our way to the parking spot.

Eventually we decided to simply get down from the bus and walk an extra kilometre to the plateau. From then on, the trip was fantabulous! We were not just a bunch of wide-eyed city travellers, we also had a naturalist who had extensive knowledge about the plateau, the flowers, the ecology, and the history of the place. Fortunately for me, not many were interested in what he had to say and they ran off to take selfies with flowers, so I had all the time to ask him all sorts of questions and learn more about the place. Seeing my enthusiasm, he got even more excited and made efforts to show some of the most unique and rare plants at the plateau, including the carnivorous plants like Drosera Indica, which was really tiny and I would have certainly missed it!

Abolima Murdannia lanuginosa kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Abolima - Murdannia lanuginosa
kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Flower of Kaas
Berki Smithia bigemina kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Berki - Smithia bigemina
Kandilpushpa Ceropegia vincaefolia kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Kandilpushpa - Ceropegia vincaefolia
Motha Sonki Adenoon indicum kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Motha Sonki - Adenoon indicum
kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Flower of Kaas - name not known
wild orchid kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
A wild orchid

Our visit was a little after the blooming of the Impatiens Lawii, which is also seen in the first image. Needless to mentions it's a wonderful time to be there as it gives an iconic pink hue to the place, which we sadly missed. What we didn't miss was the blooming of the Topli Karvi which is actually quite rare, as it blooms only once in 7 years!

At about 3pm we decided to go for lunch as it was raining heavily and looking at the flowers wasn't at all possible. So we drove back a bit and ate at a fairly decent place and quickly ate lunch and waited for the faint o stop.

Nisurdi Paracaryopsis coelestina kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Nisurdi - Paracaryopsis coelestina
Drosera burmannii kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Drosera burmannii - a carnivorous plant from Kaas
Indigofera dalzellii kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Indigofera dalzellii
kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
A flower with a caterpillar 
kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Foggy Kaas when we left for lunch

Visit to Kaas Lake

It was already getting a little late when we decided to head back to the plateau, but go visit the lake close-by, quite predictably named Kaas lake. Many more rare plants were waiting to be discovered as we walked from the bus parking to the lake and I was simply mesmerised by it all! I have never been as interested in plants before and I can give all the credits to our fantastic naturalist. He was good with knowledge as as well as with sharing as well, a gift indeed.

We were hoping to find more rare plants at the lake, but unfortunately the water level was a bit high and the plant had submerged. Each plant had such unique story, that I just wanted to see them all and hear all of their stories. In fact I was even willing to swim a bit to reach our hidden plant, but our naturalist wasn't sure if I would be able to see it even then.

kaas lake kaas plateau western ghats valley of flowers
Kaas Lake with our naturalist

Anyway it was a bit dark when we walked back to the bus parking and had a cup of hot chai and pakodas, the perfect combination on a rainy day. The return journey was nice as well, as we broke down into groups and played ankakshari through the entire distance. Amma joined in with the girls and sang some old songs, while I passively sang with the boys and tried to hide my terrible singing skills.

How to reach Kaas Plateau?

If you are coming from Pune or Mumbai. the best way to reach is to drive down, either in your car or with a group in a bus. Local transportation is available but not recommended as the frequency is low and it could take a lot of time to reach.

If you coming from Satara, you can even hire an auto-rickshaw to come to Kaas.

There is a map for reference.



Best time to visit

Starting on the 27th of August 2016, Kaas Plateau, will officially open to the public to come and witness nature's beauty in all it's glory. But there is a caveat - to protect the natural surroundings and keep the plants and flowers safe, starting this year only 3000 visitors will be allowed to visit Kaas Plateau.

Now Kaas is also unique as the different flowers here flower at different times, so if you go in the beginning, middle or the end of the season, the place looks completely different. Some flowers, like the Topli Karvi blossom only once in seven years, so sighting them can be tough. But of the rest, you will have to plan your day of visit based on what you want to witness. However, my recommendation is to simply just go and enjoy whatever nature has planned for you, you won't come back disappointed :)

However, if you are looking for fields full of purple flowers, like in the first image, mid monsoon is the best time to go i.e. in the months of August and September.

By the way do you know that there is another Valley of Flowers in India in my home state of Uttarakhand? Do read this article to know more: Valley Of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib: DIY Budget Travel Guide

Tips for Kaas Plateau

Do online booking: This year onwards it's essential to do online booking and then go. The fee is Rs 100 for Saturday, Sunday and all government holidays and Rs 50 for other days. Kaas is opening from 10th August, and online bookings will start a day in advance, 26th August. Bookmark this link for updates and reservations - Kaas Plateau.
Reach early in the morning as there is so much to see and there is also quite a bit of walking. Plus reaching early will also ensure that you will get a good parking spot. I believe it opens at 9am for visitors.
Carry lots of water as you will get tired, and there are no shops within the viewing areas.
Go with a naturalist who knows the place well, if possible. Else, at least buy a book at the ticket counter to know more about the place. Else the visit could be a bit disappointing.
Good walking shoes are essential as there is quite a lot of walking to be done. Make sure these are not your favourite shoes as they are likely to get quite dirty there :)
Carry a rain jacket or an umbrella: Since the plateau is open only during the monsoon, rains are very common. Also carry a good rain cover for your camera and your mobile phone.

References

1. Flowers of Kaas Plateau by Prof Shekhar Mohite

Comments

  1. Wow!! Very informative. Superb pictures.

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  2. Very helpful post and lovely frames, Sid. Planning to head there in September. What time are they open in the morning (to avoid the crowd)?

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  3. Very good post. Good info and images.

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  4. Bookmarked! Thanks for sharing :) This is extremely helpful!

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  5. very nie information will visit didnt know about it

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  6. What a beautiful flowers - I'd love to visit Kaas Plateau the next time I go through Mumbai!

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  7. wonderful, looking forward fr this

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  8. Lovely images. We had stumbled upon Kaas somewhere in 2009, when no one knew it was Kaas, and were taken aback by the abundant wildflowers. (By the way, that's not a honey bee, its a Green Bottle Fly (Phaenicia sericata or Lucilia sericata). Their larvae feed on dead flesh (and NOT living tissue) and are very important to the ecosystem.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much guys! Thanks for the correction, I have updated the article :)

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  9. Cool info...Thanks! I have almost same flowers pics I had taken from Rajgad trek this weekend but didn't know the names. Thanks to you now I know :)

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    1. Haha...it took me a long long time and quite a bit of research in books to find the names, and I am still missing on some :)

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  10. Can someone help me if pets are allowed ?? Also I was planning for a photoshoot with my pet would that be possible??

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  11. Can someone help me if pets are allowed ?? Also I was planning for a photoshoot with my pet would that be possible??

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    1. Hi Aditya, apologies for the late reply. I am not sure about the exact rules, but animals may not be allowed as might be difficult to control them there. The walking paths are narrow and walking outside would mean trampling on flowers...this is just my opinion though.

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  12. Is online registration needed?? Can I directly pay there? The pay online option isn't working but I have already made plans to visit the plateau tomorrow.

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    1. Hi Aamir, I visited it last year and it wasn't a requirement then. However, based on all newspaper articles this year I believe it is compulsory. Maybe you can try calling them up if there is a number on the website...

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  13. I was in Sainik School, Satara then and we used to visit Kaas Lake on bicycle! Anyway, could you provide some pointers on finding a naturalist? There won't be more than two people with me (3 people total. So, would the cost of hiring a naturalist be too much?

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    1. Hey Ajinkya, unfortunately I don't know how to find one. Howver, I feel without one it would be stroll in a park and you will miss out on the actually beauty and uniqueness of Kaas...

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  14. Hi,
    Want to know of a resort near Kaas which is reasonable and since travelling with elderly parents want to take all the possible care.

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    1. There is one Heritage Wadi close to the plateau...you can book online.

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  15. Would you know the link to book an entry online for the kaas valley of flowers ? The official website doesn.t seem to have facility for online booking

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    1. Hey Lini, wait for a few more days. The option to book online becomes available once the Plateau opens up to public.

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  16. How it will be a valley ? it is a PLATEAU. Change your title.

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    1. It is indeed not a valley. 'Valley of Flowers' is simply a phrase used to describe it (not by me, but quite commonly here) derived from the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand.

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  17. Can v visit kaas pathar in mid of october

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    1. I would this so...esp this year as it opened only in the beginning of September. I would say it might be better to visit sooner...

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  18. Hi, I Will be travelling to Kas on 24th Sept. How much we need to walk to cover all the places?

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    1. It's not a lot...plus the walk is pretty flat. I think overall it might not be more than 3-4 km...

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  19. great pictures and superb article..keep the good work up.

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  20. Hey Nice blog. Me and my friends are planning to visit kas this weekend. Could someone help me with online registration link. Couldnt find it anywhere on https://www.kas.ind.in.

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  21. Great article with wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing

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  22. Are the flowers still there on the Kaas Plateau? Planning to visit this weekend... Please reply asap

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    1. Unfortunately I do not know. My mother visited a few weeks back and there were very flowers back then.

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  23. Are the flowers in bloom now? Planning to visit this weekend. Please reply as soon as possible.

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  24. This is incredible posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, I will remember to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back very soon http://www.gruhkhoj.com/real-estate-nashik-property

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  25. Hi...the site for registration is saying its under construction....does anyone know from where to register

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  26. Yes It say site under construction:
    https://www.kas.ind.in/
    http://www.kas.ind.in/

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  27. Such a beautiful place. Kaas is definitely on my wish-list now.

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  28. Nice blog! :D You have taken pains to spot the rare flowers and ID them too!
    IMHO - the white flower after Mothi sonki is Chawar (Hitchenia caulina).
    & are the yellow flowers Undri or Sonki (Senecio bombayensis)?

    May the Paradise of Kas remain and blossom always.

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  29. what are the charges for DSLR camera/gopro Photography?

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  30. Best place to visit. I'll visit here. Thanks for needful information.

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