It is a scene right out of a romantic Bollywood movie song – flowers as far as the eye can see, a cool breeze blowing gently, and you walking hand-in-hand with your partner. And you don’t even need to leave the country for this gorgeous vista. Just a few hours away from Mumbai (and even closer to Pune) is the plateau of Kaas where you can see this scene unfolding for just a few weeks in the year.
Kaas takes its name from the Kaasa tree and the region is now known as Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers. The approximately 10 sq km plateau is a visual treat during the months of August and September till when the bloom lasts.
There are more than 800 different species of flowers and other plants including carnivorous plants such as Drosera Indica. Out of these, 39 are found only in the Kaas Region. Of course, you will not get to see each of these varieties at one sweep because they bloom at different times of the year. Due to this uniqueness, a large part of the Kaas Plateau is a reserve forest and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site.
If you go there early enough in the day, you can avoid the crowds that build up later in the day. However, plan to stay till noon at least. You might think you’ve seen it all in an hour but then you turn around and see a new bloom that wasn’t there before. The vast fields change from a hue of yellow to pink as the day wears on. At different times of the day, you see a different sight, adding to the allure of the place.
There are plenty of forest department officials to keep visitors in line. You are not allowed inside the flower beds – stay on the walking path and avoid trampling the flowers. You are also not allowed to have a picnic or sit and eat in the forest area.
The nearby Thoseghar Waterfalls is easy to miss but a must-see on your trip here. The parking area is nestled in a narrow lane that is easy to miss in the absence of signs. The small eatery here is a great place to stop for a hot snack like scrambled eggs and tea. The rains unleash the fury of the falls. There are three falls that gush out of the mountains into the stream below. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Maharashtra falling 1,150 feet (350 m).
Kaas has only in the recent years become popular on the tourist circuit, and before the crowds take over the charm of it, take a trip to this small piece of paradise this season.
Best time to go:
Mid-August to First week of October
By bus, it takes about 6 hours from Mumbai and 2 from Pune to reach Satara. And by train it takes 8 hours from Mumbai and 4 hours from Pune. From Satara to Kaas it is a 30 minute journey by local transport.
If you drive down from Mumbai in own vehicle or hire a private taxi you can make it in just over 4 hours via the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and NH4 with a snack stop. There are designated parking areas 1-2 km away from the main plateau and you can walk from there.
There are limited options for staying nearby. There are some smaller ones located on the New Radhika Road. If you have a car then there are plenty of stay options in Wai or Mahabaleshwar where you can choose from small resorts to home stays, then drive to Kaas which is about an hour and a half away. Once you get off the highway the roads are scenic so you won’t mind the drive.
Try and spot these flowers on your trip:
Drosera indica (carnivorous)