Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kaas - 29th to 31st Aug'08

By Mrs.Carolann Pias

Hi Everyone,

Just returned from a glorious trip to Kaas Plateau. Even tho' I normally am more attracted to birds, I was fascinated with the feast of flowers this time. The carpets of smithia were mesmerizing and the vast expanses of karvi were a sight to behold. There were many other beautiful stretches of balsam, pinda, sonki and others that took our breath away. The lush green Sahyadris were just too beautiful to describe. Everytime we headed towards the plateau we just gazed in awe at the breathtaking views ----------- numerous shades of green, some hillslopes with terraced effect looked awesome when enhanced by the dazzling sun. The 3rd misty moisty morning was yet another wonderful sight!

With Adesh's "eagle eyes", on every trip we encountered a pleasant surprise. All of a sudden our vehicle would screech to a halt to avoid a jungle bush quail or he would stop or reverse to show us a well camouflaged dusky crag martin's nest or a baya busy with its nesting activity or some unusual flower species. On the plateau malabar crested larks were everywhere, singing away to glory. We even saw scaly breasted munias, little brown doves, red rumped swallows, spotted doves, loads of bulbuls and a family of macaques at one wooded spot. An inquisitive group of langurs glared at us at another halt.

A walk up Sajjangad was most rewarding despite the light drizzle - crested buntings calling melodiously, blackbirds, Indian robins, ashy prinias, tailor birds, flower peckers, grey tit, dusky crag martins, swifts and swallows. Even descending from the top in the fading light, some feathered species or the other would pop out just to bid us goodbye. Along the way we came across several pied bush chats, long tailed shrike, jungle prinia, alpine swifts, palm swifts and house swifts. We even sighted a couple of white cheeked barbets. Breakfast by the lake or on the rocks was what we all looked forward to - sometimes accompanied by the cry of the crested serpent eagle or the spotted, Quaker or Scimitar Babbler and once a white eyed buzzard right overhead.

On our 1st visit to the plateau we had an unexpected 'snake show'. Some guys brought with them a bagful of snakes which they had captured from the village and freed into the wild once again - a cobra, Russels Viper, Krait and Rat snakes. A black shouldered kite hovered over us for quite some time.

All in all, I must say "3 cheers to Adesh" for one helluva trip!

--- Carol

A Trip to Remember-Kaas

By Ms.Katie Bagli

Hi friends,

Last weekend, 23 of us joined Nature India's trip to Kas, led by Adesh. The Kas plateau, a short distance from Satara, took us by storm, both literally and metaphorically. It was a sight to behold, thousands of flowers of all hues, dancing away in the strong gusts of wind and playing hide and seek amongst the moisture laden clouds that had descended on the scene. Adesh made it a point to show us every flower and Ms.Medha Karkhanis, the knowledgable resource person who had accompanied us, imparting her knowledge with her ever-smiling face and soft, gentle voice. Indeed, the joy of seeing the best of nature put us all on a high.

"Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance,
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought."

These words of William Wordsworth resounded in my head.

Even with the sun hidden by the clouds, the carpets of Senecio grahami (Sonki) shone out like little golden bulbs greeting us on the hillside, en route to the plateau.

Here and there stood out the solitary stalks of Lavendula bipinnatas. The purple Hill Karvis - Carvia callosa - with their blushing pink buds, embraced the hill slopes. Interspersed amongst these along the road were the Tridax procumbens or Coat buttons, there seeds bearing whorls of hairs like dandelions. The spikes of tiny flowers of Indigofera astragalina or Phulzadi and Indigofera cassoides with their cassia-like leaves appeared like little pink sparklers.

Two species of Justicia - procumbens and betonika were amongst the lilliputian flowers trying to prove that small is beautiful. In contrast the much larger flowers of the climbers Abhai or Canavalia gladiata and Vignia Vexillata (Sweet pea) showed off their pink petals that seemed to be folded one inside the other following the art of origami. Their smaller version in yellow were the Vignia radiata or Wild Moong.

Various species of Cyanotis or Cat's ears (in a lighter sense but more appropriately like Lallu Prasad's ears) were spotted: C. cristata, C. fasciculata and C. tuberosa.
The American Softhead or Lagascea mollis intrigued us with its spherical inflorescence. The Nightshade family of Solanums had spines on the veins of their leaves - a peculiar feature. The Undhiphuls or Trichodesma indicum or Indian Borage, had upside down flowers their calyx being winged.

The Ranjire or Pimpinella tomentosa carried its tiny specs of white flowers on umbels having reddish stalks. The pale pink flowers with a red spot - Sopubia delphenifolia or Dudhali, were found growing along the grasses, as it is a root parasite on them.

What took our breath away were the fields of Topli Karvis (Pleocaulus ritchei) that indeed posed a spectcle - baskets of purple flowers swaying in the breeze.

We even saw at one point a patch of white Karvis. Not to be outdone, were fields of the yellow Smithias, both sensitiva and bigemina with their two red spots, making them appear like Mickey Mouses.

In the pools of water growing gregariously were the Bearded Marsh Stars or Pogostemon deccanensis (Jambhali-manjiri). The nutrient deficient soil of the plateau induced the growth of intriguing insectivorous plants like the Seetachi-aswe or Utricularia purpurascens found in the company of Gend (Eriocaulon sedgewickii).

Similarly, the presence of the royal purple Exacum indicated that we would find here its companion the Sundew or Drossera indica. Adesh even showed us the tiny insects that had got trapped on its sticky dew-like secretions.

Another interesting insectivorous plant was the Devil's Claws or Martynia annua, whose petals and leaves felt very soft and adhesive like, a sure trap for insects. Amongst the ground orchids were the Habeneria heyneana or Kangwa since it looked like a comb, H.crassifolia and H.digitata with its greenish-yellow flowers.

The fields of Balsams were impatiently awaiting our admiring glances - Impatiens balsamina, I. oppositifolia which had tiny leaves and no spurs, I.rosmarinifolia, I.lawi and the bright yellow I.dalzelli. We got the thrill of watching the seeds flying out impatiently from its capsules, when applying a slight pressure; thus the generic name.

The only peach coloured flower was that of Murdania lanuginosa or Abolima, its beauty accentuated by a sheen of gold dust on its petals.

On the last day we were lucky to sight the highly endangered Gloriosa superba or Kad lavi - known to induce labour pains. After getting pollinated, the red twirling petals of the corolla turn yellow. The apex of its leaves are modified into tendrils for twining around the support. Bunches of violet and white stars stood out against the dark rocks - the Taragucha or Neonatis lancifolia.

Also found on the moss-covered rocks were the Begonia crennata, the male and female flowers being separate. The leaves are edible, so we tasted them.

There were many more such jewels. The list seems to be endless - our sightings in two days having totalled to 104. The above descriptions are intended just to give an idea of the diversity and richness of this plateau.

Very fortunately for this plateau of flowers, there are several factors that have contributed towards its remaining in its pristine form.

The laterite soil cover is minimal, just a few inches, and as mentioned before, depleted of nutrients. Thus trees and other bigger plants do not grow here and the herbs and shrubs do not face any competition for sun and air. Since not much grass grows, there is no grazing. Several insectivorous plants grow here to make up for the lack of richness of the soil. This area is not so well known to picnickers.

Let us hope such beautiful spots showing the best of nature remain untouched in their entirety for the future generations.

Katie Bagli

Kass, Satara (The Plateau of Flowers) 3rd to 5th Oct, 2008

Visit our website to see latest trips to Kaas this year

Latest News : After the resounding success of 2 trips to Kass Plateau....
Nature India organizes yet another trip to this amazing place on popular demand.

The flower species count
From 15th to 17th Aug'2008 : 76 Species
From 12th to 14th Sep'2008 : 105 Species

There are some places in Maharashtra, where you will feel blessed. One such place is Kaas Plateau, Satara. This "Out of the world" place deserves to be visited atleast once a year from 15th Aug to 15th Oct to witness not only the amazing array of wild flowers, but also the serene atmosphere that mesmerizes one's soul.....

Have a look at these images from some of the participants

And some trip reports

I am sure, you all must have heard about “Valley of flowers” in Himalayas where hundreds of varieties of wild flowers of all colours bloom in August – September every year….where the valley transforms into no less than a “Heaven” ……hundreds of visitors toil several kms to reach this valley and to experience the bliss.

However, not many know that a similar (though not majestic as the Himalayan site) place exists in Maharashtra…..its a “Plateau of flowers”….. famously known as “Kaas plateau” situated approx. 25 kms from Satara city.

The lateritic plateau of Kass has becomes home to millions of tiny flowers in late monsoons. The whole spectacle is beyond words. More than 300 varieties of wild flowers, herbs, orchids, shrubs, insectivorous plants etc. can be seen here in Aug and Sep (Best time is 15th Aug to 15th Sep)….. This plateau overlooks the lush evergreen forests that serves as a water catchment area of Koyna Dam and which is recently declared as “Sahyadri Tiger reserve” ……….

In monsoon the whole area transforms into an unbelievable carpets of flowers like yellow carpets of Smithia and Sonki flowers, Pink carpets of Balsam, Purple carpets of Karvi etc….

It is a dream destination not only for avid botanists but also for those who appreciate

nature. These carpets change colours almost every week depending on the dominant flowers during that time.

The place is also rich in minerals and you can see the red patches of laterite rocks typically called ‘Sadaa’ in Marathi.

Click here to view some images from this amazing place…….

Kass plateau and the surrounding area has a very good birdlife with good sightings of Crested Buntings, Malabar Crested Larks, Oriental White-eyes, Bonelli’s Eagle. It is a heaven for Macro photography too.

Trip Details

Though the trip will be focused on watching the flora and to learn more about them with a distinguished expert, we would also not miss the other fauna such as birds, butterflies and amphibians that are found in plenty there….

Date: 3rd Oct, 2008 morning 6.30 am to 5th Oct, 2008 eve 8.00 pm

Resource person: Dr. Rajendra Shinde (Botany Dept, St.Xaviers College, Mumbai) & Mr.Adesh Shivkar

Mode of Travel : By Minibus (considering the extensive travel to cover the area and also the to and fro travel from Hotel to the Plateau everyday)

Rough Iterinary:

1) Friday 3rd Oct, 2008 : Depart to Kass (20 kms from Satara) from Bandra (E) at 6.30 am…..reach by around 1.00 pm- Check in Hotel – Lunch – proceed to the Plateau and the Ghat to watch the species that grow on the slopes – return back at 7 pm

2) Saturday 4th Oct, 2008: Start early morning to the plateau to experience the grandeur of floral carpets on the plateau– return for lunch and proceed to Sajjangad to enjoy the beauty of monsoon.

3) Sunday 5th Oct, 2008: Start early for a birding session near Bamnoli (part of Koyna forest)….Flora watch at Kass Plateau.....Return to Hotel at 12 pm – Lunch – Checkout and depart for Mumbai – reach Bandra(E) by 8.00 pm.

Trip charges & Mode of Payment :

Trip Charges : Rs./-

Includes Stay at Hotel Cinderella Inn in Satara on twin sharing basis, Travel by 27 seater minibus , Park entry charges if any, veg / Non- veg food, Articles on Kass and Wild flowers & on board snacks and Mineral water…….

This does not include any charges other then the above.

Registration: You can register by giving a confirmation mail to and by paying a non refundable full charge (Rs./-) …...

Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the advance money directly to my HDFC A/c : (Please call me to know my A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….
2) Courier a cheque of Rs.3550/- to the following address

Name: Mr.Adesh Shivkar
Address: D/8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Opp. Hotel Shangrila, Sion(East), Mumbai-400022

Please reply to me, in case you need any clarifications …..

For any other queries I am available on 9321463362 or 9820455713 or

Hope to see you for this wonderful trip

Thanks for your patience.

Warm Regards,

Adesh Shivkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature