This is my first post here at Ghumakkar. It is about our recent visits to Satara. Satara is a nondescript small town at approx. 750m AMSL, on the foothills of the Western Ghats, 120km south of Pune along National Highway No.4. It is not on the tourist circuit. More is the pity, for there is a lot to enjoy in and around Satara from September onward.
Our intention was to visit Kas [also spelt Kaas / Kass] Maharashtra’s now fairly well known “Plateau of Flowers“.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover a lot more to Satara than just Kas.
There are three scenic roads radiating from Satara which are worthy of exploration. One is the road to Bamnoli which passes the Yevteshwar plateau, the Kas “Pathar”, the Kas Lake, ending up on the scenic shores of the Koyna lake [Shivsagar] at Bamnoli.
September and October see wildflowers in mass bloom on the Kas plateau. It is truly overwhelming, a phenomenon that no photograph can ever do justice to. Lateritic plateaus are found in several places in the Western Ghats range in Maharashtra, the better known Panchgani Table Land being one such. Dusty and dry in the warmer months, these “Pathars” or “Sadaas” get transformed into vast carpets of colour from mid August onward, with different floral species varying the shade every ten days or so. Nothing, but nothing, can prepare one for the sensual delight of mass blooming wildflowers on the never ending table land of Kas.
Regrettably, beauty always attracts the beast, in this instance uncaring tourists who callously drive their vehicles over the plants, leaving behind their unwanted souvenirs in the form of Bisleri – Lays and even worse, broken beer bottles. The Kas Lake is locally renamed Kaanch Lake for the number of glass shards strewn all along the lakeside. Periodically, the local authorities bring in school children from surrounding villages on a clean up drive.
At Bamnoli, local ferry boats ply to Tapola, Vasota, Koyna and other villages on the shores of the Shivsagar. One may take a short ferry ride to the Triveni Sangam in the middle of the lake.
The second route is the road from Satara to Thoseghar and Chalkewadi, bifurcating from the Bamnoli road at Nana Chowk, where you go through an old British tunnel in the mountain, below the Ajinkyatara Fort. This route is very scenic, passing fertile fields with pretty valley and mountain views. A good motorable side road goes upto the Sajjangad Fort . Another side road leads to the scenic Urmodi reservoir . Just past Thoseghar village is the parking lot for the waterfalls of the same name. A short walk leads to an observation platform from where a stunning view is obtained of the beautiful Thoseghar Waterfalls. A few kilometres beyond Thoseghar are the vast windmill plateaus of Chalkewadi. It is an extraordinary sight to see hundreds of windmills on these table lands. From September onward, these too become wildflower fields stretching as far as the eye can see. An excellent place for long, leisurely walks in absolute peace.
The third scenic route from Satara is the road to Maharashtra’s most famous hill station – Mahabaleshwar, barely 50km away via the pretty Kanher Lake, rural Medha and the winding Kelghar Ghat with its pretty waterfalls and forests. It is an easy day trip to Mahabaleshwar from Satara.
Getting there: ST and private buses run frequently between Mumbai and Satara but the journey time is a minimum 5 hours. If you take your own vehicle or a private taxi and leave Mumbai before 6am, you can make it in just over 3 hours via the Mumbai Pune Expressway and NH4. A third option is by train – the Koyna Express, though this is an unnecessarily long journey. Hotels range from cheap lodges near the bus station to mid range hotels suited for families, many located on the New Radhika Road; to business hotels. We stayed at the Radhika Palace and the Rajtara on separate occasions. Both were clean and decent, with courteous service, tasty food and adequate place for parking.
Hope, Ghumakkar community likes my first story here.