Travel Story: Abhinav Singh
Every year in September end, the sleepy, lazy town of Satara becomes alive with influx of curious travelers. Everyone makes a beeline to witness nature’s artistic impressions on undulating meadows. For a brief time post monsoon, the Kaas plateau is carpeted with all hues of tiny flowers in every direction one can see. Purple, white, red, blue, bright yellow are some of the colors that dominate the fields. While the valley of flowers in Uttarakhand is strenuous, its counterpart in faraway Maharashtra is a cushy walk in open fields, as if you are strolling in a park in your city. Nestled at the height of 1200 metres, the cherry on the cake is the pleasant misty weather in the plateau which is also known locally as Kaas pathar.
The authorities off late have rightfully put up barricades to protect the natural heritage from unruly tourists. Still one can stroll inside the protected areas under the watchful eyes of the security personnel. Thanks to its spell binding beauty and geographical uniqueness, it has been declared a Biodiversity World Heritage site by UNESCO. It was indeed surreal to walk in a landscape with such unparalleled beauty! There are patches where one can see layers of different colours on the hills making it look like a rainbow of flowers on Earth. Some of the unique species I witnessed was Utricularia purpurascens (blue), Senecio graham (yellow) etc.
After spending quality time in the fields which seemed like some other planet, I decided to walk down the road for the first 11 kilometers. Turned out it was a good decision. I got to experience moments which regular travelers miss out on. I discovered a very unique mushroom species and got smitten with its unique beauty. I passed buffaloes filling the fresh mountain air with music from the bells tied to their neck, girls tending to herds of goats. Species of butterflies and birds I had never seen before, whizzed by, as if in a hurry to complete important chores. Of course, they were impossible to shoot! I walked down the hills and soaked in views of vast lakes and small villages around it. Tired of all the walking, I took a tea break at a makeshift tea stall and took lift from a lorry to complete the next 11 kilometers to Satara.
The next day after downing the melt-in-the-mouth kandi peda, a local sweet, I headed to the much famous Thosegar water falls.20 kilometers away from Satara, its located at the other direction from Kaas plateau. I passed by windmills on the hills and breathtaking views of the valley to reach the falls, which, I discovered had ended up as a tourist magnet. Annoyed by the crowds jostling for space in the viewing balcony, I soon found a spot to admire the beauty of the majestic waterfall. Sure, nature never fails to impress me! Cascading violently from a height of 500 meters, its grandeur is awe inspiring. The water poured down the mountain rapidly with copious amount of milk white water making a bold sound of gushing water. Sometimes I looked at waterfalls, sometimes at the mischievous monkeys perched on the trees and sometimes at a row of windmills on mountains far away. There are many smaller waterfalls in the area, but this one clearly steals the show with its magnificence.
After a filling lunch of perfect monsoon foods kanda bhajji (fried onion fritters) and misal pao, we left the paradise with fond memories. Kaas is so alluring that no wonder I make annual trip to it every year! I suggest that one should get away and explore more in the areas near the main venue where all flock to view the spectacle. There are many hidden gems lurking in places around it. One needs to walk patiently and be a good observer to understand and appreciate the biodiversity of the region. If you are lucky, you can also spot many species of birds, butterflies and insects.