Kaas-Plateau of Flowers

Monsoon is just one of those times when people wonder if it is worth traveling. And yet it is the time when nature is at its bountiful with a riot of colours all round us. The countryside turning a verdant green where it was once a stark brown. Flowers bursting forth & bringing in varied colours; birds busy nesting for bringing the next generation; all being springs to life - the brightly coloured butterflies, their lesser appreciated and understood though equally beautiful moths & of course all the innocous creepy crawlies that many humans shrink from.

A must visit during a good monsoon is the Plateau of Kaas situated 25 Kms from Satara in the Western state of Maharashtra. more info at the end of this blog. the plateau undergoes a magical transformation from a dreary land to virtually a carpet of flowers at your feet. For miles around you see just a sheet carpet of yellow, purple and a heady concotion of wildflowers that increasingly draw us city folks from various corners of the country and overseas.

Having signed up with Nature India tours after hearing excellent recommendations about their 2 dynamic young group leaders and resource persons, Adesh and Mandar, I joined a group of 20 nature enthusiasts for the 1st batch to Kaas. I have always considered myself an animal person; remembering the names of birds, mammals, insects etc., is 2nd nature to me, but I have not been so lucky with plants! this time I decided to overcome that mind-set & believe me what a paradgm shift it was with Adesh - mandar duo explaining the names especially the botanical names and with the help of a checklist, plant names seemed that much easier to remember.

Really enjoyed learning about the whole new world of wildflowers from 2 enthusiastic experts (who modestly claim they are not experts). This blog post is to share some of the wonderful sights. This time the rain gods were quite over-bountiful with their largess which meant no taking out the camera to capture some of the beautiful rare species many of them endemic to the Western Ghats (Sahyadris). so many of the images remain as pleasant memories in my mind. We looked at species which grew on the slopes, at the plateau as well as near the Kaas lake. also made a visit to Thossegar falls but did not dare to take out the camera or camcorder to record those beautiful moments.

Impatiens balsamina a common flowering plant on the slopes

view of Satara City from Kaas road

Common Lantana - Lantana camara a common invasive species

Indigofera cassioides

Indigofera glandulosa

Lavendula bipinnata

Graham's Groundsell - Senecio grahamii

Lavandula bipinnata

Micronea aculeata - Spotted Swallowtail Moth with tortoiseshell beetle

Tridax Lily - Tridax Procumbens commonly referred to as "Coat buttons"
Impatiens balsamina

Senecio grahamii (Graham's Groundsell or locally called Sonki)

Congress Grass - Parthenium hysterophorus

American Soft head - Lagascea mollis
Nicandra physaloides

Asclepias curassavica (Haldi-Kunkoo, Blood Flower) 

Asclepias curassavica (Haldi-Kunkoo, Blood Flower)
Thunbergia fragrans

Dioscorea bulbifera (Toran)

Wildflower watch in the rain
Blue fountain Bush - Clerodendrum serratum

 these charming flowers are jokingly called mickey mouse or donald duck - Smithia bigemina

Adesh has just found an Indian Burroughing Frog

Beautiful carpet of Smithia bigemina

enjoying the yellow carpet

Mist covered hills
Ipomoea triloba
Rains-washed & wind blown,  I could not help posing with Mickey Mouse all over!
Rain and mist all over

Carivia callosa - These plants flower once in 7- 8 years locally called "Topli Karvi"
Orudiza protheclaria - Bar Swallowtail Moth

Euptorote lineosa - Yellow Monkey Moth

Greater Death's head Hawk moth (side view)

Acherontia lachesis - Greater Death's head Hawkmoth
Lichen moth

Pls ID this Beetle

A scenic walk
Erebus macrops - Owl Moth

Dipcadi montanum
Impatiens lawii 

Hitchenia caulina - Indian arrowroot
 Habenaria panchganenisis 

Cyanotis tuberosa - Greater Cat ears humoursly referred to as Laloo Prasad's ears! (Laloo prasad is a maverick Indian Politician). 

Banana flower at Hotel Suruban

besides the above, saw a number of other rare/interesting  species as Vigna vixella, Ceropegia media, Drossera indica, Cyanotis fasciculata, Euphorbia laeta and my favorite Gloriosa superba. Unfortunately it was raining heavily and hence the camera was safely in the bus.

A handy reference guide to apprecaite the bio-diversity is "Kaas Plateau of Flowers" by Dr. Sandeep Shrotri  available at major hotels in Satara.

Birds seen included Pied Bushchat, Malabar Crested lark, Crested Bunting etc.

Information and Acknowledgments:

The nearest town for visiting the Kaas Plateau is Satara 25 Kms. Satara is 265 kms from Mumbai via Lonavla - Pune (110 kms). The roads are good and the drive really scenic, especially during the monsoons. Along the ghats (hills), you start seeing the Impatiens balsamina & Thunbergia fragrans.

A special thank you to Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar for opening the wide world of Kaas to all of us. Your passion was infectious and you did a wonderful job of getting us all breathing the world of wild flowers. Besides, your attention to detail and your personal touch in all the arrangements added greatly to the enjoyment of the trip.

And of course, the enthusiastic co-participants who sportingly enjoyed the walk in the heavy rains -  makes a world of difference to be with the right people while enjoying nature!

Happy nature viewing!!!

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