Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers

Not many people know that near Satara, a small town in Maharashtra; is a wonderful tourist destination. The Kaas Plateau, fondly called Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers, is now established as a popular destination for nature lovers.

Kaas Plateau Flowers

The Kaas Plateau or Kas Pathar is located in the Western Ghats about 20 kilometers from Satara. It gets its name from the Kaasa tree, Elaeocarpus glandulous, the leaves of which turn from green to red as they mature. The tree blooms with beautiful white flowers, for just 15 days in the month of March. Situated amidst picturesque grasslands and high hill plateaus, Kaas Pathar turns into a ‘valley of flowers’ just after the monsoon season. During the months of August and September, the plateau comes to life, with beautiful wild flowers in brilliant colours, carpeting the plateau. The place has been rightfully declared as a Biodiversity World Heritage Site by UNESCO (The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). The place has more than 150 species of wild flowers, shrubs and grasses. Some rare species of plants and flowers including Karvy, Smithia, Sonki, Balsam, Orchids and carnivorous (insect eating) plants like Drosera Indica can be found at this place. That is why it is famously called Western India’s very own Switzerland. Kas Pathar surrounds a wonderful lake, Kaas Lake. The lake resembles a bowl carved out of the Sahyadri Mountains. The lake is surrounded by forests and offers a calm and serene atmosphere for tourists looking for a few quiet moments away from their hectic life.

Kaas Plathaar flowers

The best time to visit Kas Pathar, if you are interested in seeing the rare wild flowers, is towards the end of the monsoon, around August and September. The mist and the greenery are amazing to see, during this period. There are several hotels near Kaas Plateau where you can plan your stay. Ravine Hotel is the only certified 3 Star Hotel located nearby, in Panchgani, which is just about 50 km from Kaas Plateau. The hotel, nestled in year-long greenery, offers an equally breathtaking view of the beautiful valleys of Panchgani. The best option is for visitors to stay at Ravine Hotel and make a day trip to Kaas and the other nearby tourist spots. There are a number of other lovely tourist destinations also located in the vicinity. One of the most popular tourist destinations near Kaas Pathar is Koyana Sanctuary. Koyana Wildlife Sanctuary is a tiger reserve. Several species of fauna including mammals like Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, Indian bison and Sambar deer and rare birds like the Woodpecker and the Asian Fairy Bluebird can be found here.

Kaas Plateau near Satara

Vajarai Waterfall, another popular tourist destination near Satara City, is well known for its height and the green valley into which it falls. It has a magnificent water flow during all seasons. One can even reach the mouth of the waterfall – but with care, as the strong wind prevents the water from falling down and throws it back. Thosegar waterfall is another scenic spot located nearby. As it is on the way to Kaas Plateau, it is convenient for tourists to take in the beauty of this waterfall on their trip to Kaas. Sajjangad fort near Kaas Pathar is known as the Abode of Ramdas Swami. This is the place where this spiritual Guru rests in peace. This well maintained fort draws the attention of many devotees of Lord Rama and is still a paradise for Swami Ramdas’s followers.

Flowers at Kaas Plateau

You can also visit Kanher Dam when on a trip to Kaas Pathar. The scenic view of the dam keeps attracting tourists and locals. The view is particularly breathtaking during August and September when a carpet of greenery engulfs the place. Kas Pathar forms a wonderful hub of adventurous wild life and scenic beauty. It adds a wonderful touch to your vacation; helping you to unwind and feel fresh physically, mentally and spiritually. This World Natural Heritage site is a dream destination for not only avid botanists; but also for picnic lovers, trekkers and jungle lovers.

Neelakurinji blooms every 12 year in Panchgani

Flora of Panchgani
Neelakurinji at panchgani

Panchgani hills are always an amazing sight – hundreds of thousands of spectators visit this place to witness the magical beauty of nature. But, this year, there is one more reason to visit the lovely hills of Panchgani. And that’s the blossoming of Neelakurinji flowers.

Panchgani is blessed with a rich variety of flora and fauna, but it is best known for Neelakurinji. The breathtaking slopes of the hills get blanketed by these purple-blue wild-flowers, adding yet more alluring charm to the sounds and sights of Panchgani. Visitors to Panchgani in the coming months can enjoy this marvelous sight, which is bound to leave an everlasting memory about this fascinating hill station, which is nestled in the middle of 5 hills in the Sahyadri mountain ranges.

Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), belonging to the genus ‘Strobilanthes’ is a shrub that grows abundantly in the Panchgani area. The genus has about 300 species, of which at least 46 can be found in India. The flowers are light blue in the early phase of blooming and turn purplish blue when mature.

 The purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji blossom in profusion, once in 12 years.

Purple flowers in panchgani
Blossoming after 12 years.

Although the blossoming cycle of Neelakurinji ranges from 1-16 years; since 1800, it has been flowering once in every 12 years. The flowering season starts somewhere between August and November and peaks in late September or early October. What triggers the massive flowering in every 12 years is not known. The mass flowering once in 12 years and the subsequent death of the shrubs is the subject of folklore in the hills of Panchgani.

The Neelakurinji flower and the associated mountainous landscape where it blooms were used in classical Tamil literature as a symbol for the union of lovers. The famous poetic fragment from the Kuruntokai “Red Earth and Pouring Rain” also has a reference to this flower.

With these flowers blossoming in huge quantities, there will be rock bees and common hill bees visiting the place in large numbers, which means that immense quantities of honey will be available. It is believed that the honey collected from the Neelakurinji blossoms is the sweetest.

While in Panchgani, you can make yourself comfortable at the Hotel Ravine. It is equipped with all modern amenities and has elegantly furnished rooms, offering an enchanting view of the lush green hills and valleys of Panchgani, now carpeted in purple with Neelakurinji blooms. The hotel offers 2 person rooms, 4 person rooms specially designed for families with kids and Executive Suites complete with bathtub for those who want a super-luxurious experience!

For people in Panchgani, the blooming of Neelakurinji is a reminder of their lives having passed another twelve years. For those from far off places, it is a rare opportunity to witness the lovely flowers covering the hills in a blanket of blue. The next flowering could be in the year 2018, next in 2030 and so on. That’s why; right NOW is the perfect time to be in Panchgani. Plan your visit to this holiday destination soon, to capture the flowers picturesquely carpeting the entire hillside in purple blossoms.