Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kaas Plateau of Flowers-Koyna Lake - A Revisit : September 2011

I had visited Kaas Plateau of Flowers- Shivsagar (Koyna) Lake-Thosegar Falls-Chalkewadi  in September 2010. After perusing the pictures of the trip, my wife said that she missed the opportunity to see the wonderful sites, particularly Kaas Plateau and Sajjangad. Since the flowering season on Kaas Plateau was about to end, I promised her that we would visit Satara during the next flowering season. After  ascertaining that  the   mass blooming of wildflowers has already began for the current season, we decided to make a visit to Satara during the third week of September to replicate the last year’s trip.

We boarded Koyna Express at Dadar which took about 7 hours to reach Satara at the schedule time of 4.00 p.m. We engaged one of the autos lined up outside Satara railway station for Hotel Radhika  which we have booked about a fortnight back. It took about 20 minutes for a 15 km ride to reach our hotel and paid Rs.120/-. After freshening and a cup of coffee, we decided to take a stroll outside since the weather was pleasant. In the meanwhile, we firmed up the hiring of an Indica car for 2 days @ Rs.1750/- per day from Raj Tourist Centre,  the same agency from whom we had  hired the car last year.  We took  an hour’s  round walk of about 3 kms via Powai Naka- Raviwar Peth-Malhar Peth-Shaniwar Peth. We had a dinner at Hotel’s restaurant where they served only  vegetarian thali (Rs.100/-). My wife liked the thali fares which was a mix of Gujarati and Marwadi food though I would have preferred a la carte menu.
First view of Kaas Plateau of flowers after getting down from the car.

White mini ball like wildflowers - Tuberiferum  

Next day, after the breakfast of Kaande-Pohe and Dosas in the Hotel’s restaurant, we started our journey for Kaas Plateau of Flowers (25 kms from Hotel) at 9.15 a.m. We were earlier advised by the hotel manager that it would be better to reach Kaas Plateau early morning to avoid rush and also the heat as day progresses. But our driver assured us that being a week day, there would not be much rush also the weather was pleasant.  Once we were out of Satara city and on the Kaas road, the things changed dramatically. The  plateau starts after Yevateshwar Hil where there is a Shiva temple by the same name.  Both sides of the road were lined up by yellow flowers (Sonaki and Smithia) when we were about 15 kms distance from Kaas. Last year, I had not seen such mass blooming of Smithia on the road sides. This gave an indication to us that we may be able to see the mass blooming of Smithia on Kaas Plateau as well. The entire drive on the plateau was very scenic thanks to monsoon greenery and the two lakes – Urmodi and Kanher on both sides of the plateau. We reached Kaas at 10.00 a.m. and noticed that there were already about a dozen cars parked just before the tapped area of Plateau of Flowers.  We could, however, get a vacant parking space just before the tapped area thus avoiding a walk. Earlier, our driver had told me that when he came last Sunday morning, he got parking 2 kms before the tapped area of Kaas Plateau and cars were parked on both sides of the road starting from the Kaas Lake side. One can imagine that there would be  thousands of visitors on the Kaas Plateau on Sundays during the peak flowering season.
A carpet of pink and purple Balsams and white Tuberiferum

Utriculari​a purpurasce​ns with Tuberiferu​m.
Micky mouse looking yellow wildflowers - Smithia

We first ventured into the plateau on the right side of the road going towards Kaas Lake – the  same spot which we had  visited last year. There were pink Balsams all over the places  mixed with white mini table tennis ball like flowers (Tuberiferum) and  micky mouse type yellow flowers (Smithia). It appeared to me that the  density of wildflowers at this patch was a bit on a low side than what we saw last year. As we walked further away from the road towards the valley side, coverage of wildflowers with higher density became more pronounced. Now we were moving in the clusters of different varieties of wildflowers – pink and purple Balsams,  white Tuberiferum, yellow Smithia  violet Manjiri and sporadic Karvy.  Last year we could not see much of Smithia , violet Manjiri and Karvy. In between, we came across some solitary wildflowers concealed in the midst of Balsams such as purple coloured Cynitis.  As we were almost walked one km away from the road side, we saw another patch of big plateau full of pink and purple Balsams and white Tuberiferum. From a distance it looked like as if a large multicoloured carpet had been laid down on the plateau. We did not visit the spot which I guessed to be about one km further from us. Instead, we took a left turn towards the mud road which goes to Mahabaleshwar.   However, there was no change in composition of wildflowers on this patch and we could not spot any new varieties of wildflowers. Also the coverage of plateau with wildflowers was not as dense as we saw on the earlier spot.
A multi-coloured carpet of wildflowers

Mass blooming of pink and purple Balsams

Wideflowers - Karvy
After crossing the mud road that goes to Mahabaleshwar, we decided to explore plateau left of the road that goes to Kaas Lake. We noticed that most of the patched where there was a vast expanse of pink and purple Balsams and white Tuberiferum was out of bound for the visitors. I remember last year, we strolled on this patch and in my view, and it was the most densely covered patch of wildflowers. As we were walking towards parking area, we saw that other side of the left plank of plateau adjunct to the prohibited patch was kept open for visitors. We soon walked towards this patch just to have a cursory look.  In reality, we strolled here for more than an hour  as  we spotted  some more varieties of wildflowers such as Abolima-Murdannia, violet colour Balsams, Indian arrowroot (Curcuma angustifolia) and Magenta Ipomea  which we had not seen on the right side of the plateau.  
Wildflower​s Neelwanti - Cyonitis

Wildflowers - Abolima Murdannia
The weather was pleasant throughout our outings with gentle breeze blowing across the Kaas Plateau which made macro photography a bit difficult.  Sun played hide and seek for most of the time. Compared to last year, this time, the visitors to Kass Plateau were disciplined ones  walking on the prescribed laid down path.  I counted at least six forest guards present around the core wildflower areas of the plateau  as against two last year to ensure that visitors do not enter the tapped area of wildflowers plateau and vehicles and two wheelers do not enter the prohibited areas of the plateau.  The plateau looked  much more cleaner than what we saw last year of litters and broken bottles.
Indian Arrowroot -  Curcuma angustifol​ia

Jambhali Manjiri - Pogostemon deccanensi​s 

Our next stop was Kaas Lake, about 2 kms further from the Kaas Plateau. This two kms stretch was sporadically  lined up by somewhat taller pink Balsams plants which I had also seen on both sides of the road to Kanheri caves in SGNP every year during monsoon season.  The lake is located on a beautiful setting at the foot of the plateau surrounded by hills and forest. This lake supplies drinking water to a part of Satara city.
Kaas Lake.
After spending about 15 minutes at the shore of Kaas Lake, we proceeded to Bamnoli village located at the shore of Shivsagar (Koyna) Lake. Due to monsoon season, boat cruise for only 3 destinations was in operation – Dattatraya temple, Triveni Sangam and Tapola village  and that too because it was a sunny day. Since I had taken boat cruise to Triveni Sangam last year, we opted for Tapola village. We had intended to have a lunch break at Bamnoli village before taking a boat cruise. Our driver, however, suggested to take lunch at Tapola village where there were better food options than in Bamnoli.   Generally, the boat accommodates 6 persons but there were hardly one or two groups of tourists around and they were not interested in boat cruise. Hence we had to hire a full boat for Rs.450/-. It takes about 30 minutes each to and fro Tapola with another 30 minutes allowed  to roam in the Tapola village. After that for every one hour or part thereof of wait, the charge is Rs.200/- per hour. Tapola village is located north-west side of the Shivsagar Lake from Bamnoli. It took about 30 minutes to reach the shore of Tapola. There were many motorised boats and scooters for water sports idling at the jetty since it was a week day. The boatman took us to Nisarga Restaurant just 2-3 minutes walk from Tapola jetty. Since it was already 2.30 p.m., we settled for missal and paav bhaji which were tasty. Though paav bhaji was customised for local taste, still I liked it for a change. After lunch, we proceeded towards jetty for return trip. It took about 40 minutes to complete the return journey to  Bamnoli jetty probably due to strong  wind force. 
Shivsagar (Koyna) Lake. Behind the boat is Tapola village

Play of lights on a small hillock near Tapola village.

Tapola village jetty
After about 15 minutes of stroll in Bamnoli village, we commenced our return journey via Kaas Plateau.  I had intention to take one more round on the Kaas Plateau but decided against it after seeing a long  line of cars/buses parked on the road which had reached about 1 km from the tapped area of the wildflowers plateau.  So it appears to be a prelude to the week-end crowd expected on the next day. Before returning to our hotel, we visited Yavateshwar temple.
Bamnoli village jetty.
We had planned for a trip to Sajjangad-Thosegar-Chalkewadi the next day. However, we decided to drop Thosegar-Chalkewadi  in favour of  Pateshwar-Mahuli Sangam-Sajjangad.    For details of  this trip, please read my blog here.           

1 comment:

जाट देवता (संदीप पवाँर) said...

दर्शन कराने का बहुत-बहुत आभार, मैं अब तक यहाँ नहीं जा पाया हूँ।