Monday, October 3, 2011

A Weekend Getaway - Kaas & Thoseghar

We had been planning this trip for over a year now. The window to visit this place is too narrow and we had missed it last year. This year we HAD to make it.
Kaas is termed as Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers (except it is a plateau). Mid-September to the first week of October is supposedly the best time to visit. The monsoons lasted longer this year and so the 1st and 2nd October were great days to be there.
We left Bombay at 5 in the morning. We were staying at a resort in Wai called Rutu Farms. Two reasons for that - firstly, we didn’t realise it would be 70+ kms to get to Kaas; and secondly, it seemed a much better place to stay than some of the closer options.
We reached the resort around 10 with minimal traffic. It was a smooth drive on smooth roads. Closer to Wai, the scenery gets pleasant along with the weather. We were pleased with our choice of hotel. Rutu Farm is a small place with 10 very clean rooms, solar water heaters, and good home-cooked meals. They have a small vegetable patch, lots of flowers and two adorable German Shepherd dogs - Alex and Angel. After freshening up, we had breakfast and were on the road again.


The plan was to visit Sajjangad and Thoseghar Waterfalls today, and Kaas the next morning. On hindsight, if we would have reached easrlier, we could have gone to Kaas for a few hours, had lunch nearby, and done Thoseghar and Sajjangad by evening. We could have avoided the second trip the next day. But, no matter - our plan worked in our favour as well.
We had to pass a toll booth to get into Satara. Sajjangad was about 10 kms from there. Apart from a small stretch that passed through the town, the roads were impressively good and wide. The hills ahead are topped with hundreds of windmills. It makes for an interesting sight.
We reached the parking area at Sajjangad at just before noon in the scorching sun. The we had to climb - a lot of stairs. Did I mention the scorching sun? In all honesty, upon reaching the top, I didn’t see what the big deal was about. It offered great views and there is a temple for the devout. But the climb in the sun wasn’t worth it for me.

Just a few kilometres ahead are the Thoseghar Waterfalls. The parking area is nestled in a narrow lane that is easy to miss. We stopped because we happened to see lots of people parked there. We had to descend a bit further to get to the viewing point. Just a few steps into the pathway and it started to drizzle. Thankfully we had an over-sized umbrella in the car that we took along.

As we made our way back, the drizzle turned into a downpour. The weather improved, but the stone steps going to the falls got slippery. Cautiously, we made our way to the viewing platform. The rains seemed to have unleashed the fury of the falls.  There were three falls that gushed out of the mountains, into the stream below. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Maharashtra falling 1,150 feet or 350 metres. It felt great to look at these falls standing there in the rain. Almost felt as if the mist from the falls were soaking us. Some of the more adventurous type found a way to go to the base of the falls. I don’t know if that was advisable, as it could be risky especially with the rocks being slippery in the rain.
While we were admiring the Falls, I felt a pinch on my foot. It was a leech! My gallant husband jumped to my rescue and removed it with his bare hands. We didn’t have any matches or tweezers handy, so that was what he did.
At the parking lot, we had a plate of bread and egg bhurji from the only vendor there.
The next morning, we left around 7 in the morning for Kaas. The road that leads to Kaas has a peanut vendor at the beginning. They were really tasty boiled peanuts. We tried from other vendors as well, but this was the best. The road here wasn’t as smooth as the ones we had gotten used to. This could be because just last Sunday, the plateau had over 75,000 visitors - in a single day!

There is a parking lot about 2 kms from the main plateau where you are expected park. We were told that there is a lane a kilometre ahead where you could park to avoid the walk. We weren’t planning to spend the whole day here and needed to save all the walking for the actual plateau. So we drove ahead. Forest officials shooed us into the lane and we drove on till we reached a temple. We were directed to a dirt track just before the temple. We journeyed on and were rewarded with some great views and beautiful flora. It led us right to the tip of the plateau where we parked and got off. 

The hills were alive! Flowers everywhere. There were people around, but not many, and not loud. We took our time to browse and look around. Some tried to get inside the fields, trampling what they came to see. Thankfully, Forest officials got there in time to remove the offenders. You can’t sit and eat there either - and for goodness sake don’t litter!
Flowers as far as the eye could see. It was such a pleasant sight. Though the expanse was dominated by two or three varieties of flowers, you need to look closer to find the uncommon ones. You’d find in a sea of purple, there would be one sprig of white popping out - just like that!

By the time we were ready to leave around 11, the crowd had started to build up. Some of the flowers bloomed even more around this time in the heat of the sun, and there was a subtle fragrance in the air as well. We realised that reaching around 9 and staying on till noon would offer the best views.


As we drove down, we saw cars parked in the aforementioned lane, parking spot and even beyond. And more were on their way! We were glad to be on our way out!

We stopped at Blue Mountain ‘Hotel’ for a good and simple Marathi thaali. It seemed expensive at Rs 100 for a vegetarian plate, but I guess this is the time they make their money.

We reached our rooms, took a nice nap and set off for home to our eagerly awaiting pets.