Kaas Pathar: Plateau of Flowers


Astonishing landscapes, overhanging cliffs and stunning vibrant blanket of flowers in bloom make Kaas Pathar an idyllic self-contained world.  Produced from volcanic activities and situated in the Satara district of Maharashtra under the biosphere of Western Ghats, Kaas Plateau is one of the amazing and mesmerizing natural creations.  The beauty of this lush green tableland can’t be explained without personally seeing it.  It appears as if the Creator has painted this beautiful picture with personal attention.

Landscape  4. Landscape

We took a six hour road trip from Mumbai to Satara. It was euphoric!  As the bus moved up, the view from my window kept getting better.  Set amidst lush green hills, the windmills make a beautiful sight.  There are hundreds of windmills all around on the adjoining hills. You can soak yourself in the wonderful countryside with the windmills looming in the background. 

Windmills   DSC_0381

After a quick lunch en route, we started for Thoseghar Waterfalls.  On the way to Thoseghar, the spectacular view of the mountains, silver lined clouds, cows grazing on pasture, fenced houses surrounded with flower creepers appeared like one of the imaginative sketches of scenery.

It was sunny when we reached Thoseghar and the cheek pouched monkeys welcomed us at the entrance.  We trekked in the natural garden and learnt about various medicinal trees and herbs.  The burble of the distant waterfall fell on my ears and gradually increased as we got there, making an excellent tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The scenic waterfall enlivened us and while we had our eyes stationed on the flow and speed of water, the weather snapped.  It was cloudy then and as we started trekking towards the exit, I was enthralled to see the fort like nest of the Harvester ant.

It started pouring as we headed towards the next stop on the itinerary, Sajjangad Fort, the spiritually soothing resting place of Samarth Ramdas Swami.  A tiring climb of 250 steps lead us to the fort and on reaching the top, we were rewarded with the panoramic view of the Sahyadris and the Urmodi River.  The sun set on the beautiful Day 1 and we were eagerly waiting for the next morning to arrive. 

Thoseghar Thoseghar waterfall

Harvester ant - Fort like anthill  View from Sajjangad fort

Day 2 – Today, we were going to Kaas Pathar.  The ideal time to visit there is between 6:00 am to 11:30 am.  The flora on Kaas Pathar consists of herbaceous plants (a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level and have no persistent woody stem above ground), many of them being ephemerals (short lived).  Some have a life of few days whereas some bloom only for few hours.  Some of the species here are near threatened, rare, endangered and some endemic (only found in one particular location) to Kaas. Due to its unique ecosystem, UNESCO declared this area as a Biodiversity World Heritage Site in June 2012 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1342/).

Kaas

Kaas is famous for Karvi, an intriguing plant that explodes into masses of blue flowers once in 7 years.  We were lucky to see the beautiful Karvi in bloom (Nilgirianthus reticulatus or Mal Karvi and Pleocaulus ritchei or Topli Karvi).  This shrub belongs to the genus Strobilanthes.  It is tall, gregarious, in axillary spikes with bracts of 1-2 cm.  For those who missed Karvi this year will have to wait till the year 2022 for the next bloom.  More than 850 species of flowering plants are reported in Kaas. 

Karvi   Karvi in bloom

Suhas (Botanical expert from Nisarg Tours) showed us varieties of flowers which we would have surely missed had we been by ourselves. He also explained the nature of these flowers and their mechanism of pollination which left me awestruck. The highlight of the trip was that we spotted Drocera indica and Drocera burmanni, an annual insectivorous herb.  It has become carnivorous to fulfill the need of Nitrogen. The surface of its leaves are covered with hair like structures that secretes a sticky and digestive liquid which can adhere and digest its prey.  Apart from flowers, we also saw common jezebel butterfly and Malabar crested lark nesting on the ground of the plateau.  The locals at Kaas Pathar sell Nachni, Ragi and Bhakri Roti (bread) with red coloured spicy tangy masala sprinkled on it.  This multi-flour nutritious meal tastes great!

Drosera burmanni   Drosera indica

Nachni   BS

After seeing this plateau speckled with array of colours and unique biodiversity, I wonder how the Creator has made everything so detailed with immense variety and that we see so little in our urban lives.  The visit was surely informative but the sheer feeling of being there amidst the flowers filled me with tranquility and bliss 🙂

DSC_0666   DSC_0367

Extract from my diary

Some of the species which we saw are briefly described below (for those interested in Botany)

Senecio bombayensis – It is an annual herb (plant completing life cycle in a year).  Yellow coloured flowers in corymbose (flat-topped) heads on slender peduncles.

Senecio bombayensis

Cyanotis tuberosa – It is a succulent annual herb.  Blue coloured flowers in terminal cymes (convex) enclosed in ovate imbricate hairy bracts.  A magnifying glass is required to see all six stamens with filaments densely bearded with long blue hairs.

Cyanotis tuberosa

Pinda concanensis – It is an annual herb with tuberous roots. White coloured flowers in compound umbels.

Pinda concanensis

Hitchenia caulina – It is an annual herb with tuberous roots.  White coloured flowers in terminal spikes among large bracts.

Hitchenia caulina

Ceropegia vincaefolia – It is one of the endangered ceropegia species.  It is herbaceous climber with flattened tuber.

Ceropegia vincaefolia

Vigna vexillata – Vigna is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, with a pantropical distribution.  Pink coloured flowers in axillary racemes.

Vigna vexillata

Impatiens lawii – It is an annual herb with succulent stem. Pink coloured solitary flower.

Impatiens lawii

Smithia – It is annual herb. This yellow coloured flower is also known as Mickey Mouse for the distinctive red eye like dots on its petals.

Smithia

Euphorbia laeta – It is a perennial herb.  The leafy stem is smooth with milky juice.

Euphorbia laeta

Eriocaulon sedgwickii – It is an aquatic herb. It is spherical hat like white coloured flower.

Eriocaulon sedgwickii

Murdannia lanuginosa – It is an annual herb with tuberous roots. Yellow orange coloured flower in terminal cymes.  It is endangered.

Murdannia lanuginosa

Cheers – Lubna

LS

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