Monday, 16 September 2013

Trip to Thoseghar and Sajjangad fort, Satara

After Kaas trip, we had half day time left to visit few other places near Satara. My parents suggested me to drive towards Thoseghar waterfall. They wanted to watch Thoseghar waterfall and Sajjangad fort. As we were in Satara on Saturday night and went to Kaas in early morning, we had plenty of time to cover both the places. I thought of writing different blogs on these places rather than combining them together.

You can read Travel blog on Kaas visit by clicking here.

About Thoseghar and Sajjangad fort:
              Thoseghar waterfall is a Maharashtra’s famous waterfall near the small village Thoseghar. It is around 22 km from Satara city. This is typical monsoon waterfall where people from all over Maharashtra visit this area. You cannot enter in the waterfall. Surrounding area is very calm and covered with dense forest.
             Sajjangad fort (meaning “Fort of good people) is located around 12-13km from Satara city. It is the final resting place of Sant Ramdas, a saint and social reformer in 17th century India (born 1606).His teachings and works written in books such as Dasbodh are read and followed by many people even today in the state of Maharashtra.

To reach at Thoseghar/Sajjangad from Pune is Catch National highway 4 (Mumbai-Bangalore highway) towards Kolhapur/Bangalore direction – Drive for around 104 – 106 km on NH4 – you will able to see Satara city at your right side – Take a right turn to enter in Satara (Sign board are there to guide) – Cross Satara through pawai Naka –After few km drive, you will see Y share junction and tunnel on left side –Enter in the tunnel as which goes towards Sajjangad fort and Thoseghar waterfall – Sajjangad is around 10-11 km from Tunnel – Thoseghar waterfall is around 21 km from tunnel. 

Thoseghar waterfall
Thoseghar waterfall

Travelers for this trip were me, my wife Renuka, my parents and sister Pratima.

Day 0: 14th September 2013 - Pune to Satara (Total Distance traveled: 106 km):
             We wanted to visit Kaas plateau in early morning and then Thoseghar waterfall and Sajjangad so we decided to travel to Satara on Saturday. Stay was not a problem for us as my mother was born in Satara. She had spent nearly25 years in Satara before her marriage. We left Pune by 7 PM and reached Satara at around 9.15 PM. We stayed at mother’s best friend’s place.

Day 1: 15th September 2013 – Satara – Kaas - Pune (Total Distance traveled: 224 km):
               We woke up early morning and left for Kaas plateau. We reached Kaas by 7 Am and then left from this lovely place at around 12.30 PM. Our next destination was Thoseghar waterfall. We drove back around 22 km and reached at tunnel point. Our journey begins with a waterfall welcoming us. The route to fall was very scenic even in month of September. View of Sahyadri is breathtaking. After driving for few kms, you can see huge windmill farm on large plateau known as Chalkewadi windmill farm. 

View of Sahyadri
View of Sahyadri

              There were enough parking spaces at Thoseghar. After paying a nominal entry fee, you can view waterfall. There is a platform which gives a good view of the waterfall. You have to climb down a short distance before you reach the view point from where you will be able to see the Thoseghar falls. Climbing down is not a problem but it is bit tough to climb up again. There are 3-4 waterfalls visible from the view point.The biggest one is to the right and not completely visible. The one straight ahead is also big and has two layers. 

waterfall
Falls

              There is one small local restaurant at Thoseghar parking. We had our lunch there. I am not sure, but I think the name of the restaurant was “Thoseghar restaurant”. You need to order in advance as they need at least 30 min to prepare your meal. Best way can be, order your food and then visit the fall in 45 min and have lunch in the restaurant. Pithle Bhakri is very tasty whereas rest of the food was average. They also serve Chicken but we didn’t order as Ganesh festival was going on. After our lunch break, we proceeded for Sajjangad which was our last destination.
               For Sajjangad, It is possible to reach the top of the fort by vehicle. From there one has to climb around a 185 steps to reach the gate of the fort. The fort was made by Bahamani Emperors in between (1347-1527). After that in (1527-1686) it came under Adilshah dynasty. Mughal king defeated Adilshah and the fort came under Mughal rule. Shivaji maharaja conquers the fort and it was renamed to Sajjangad after he requested Shri Ramdas Swami to set up his permanent monastery.There are two maha-darwaja (means entrance gate of fort), first known as “Chatrapati Shivaji mahadwar” and second as “Shree Samarth mahadwar”. The fort is open for devotees from sunrise to sunset. Being a place of Samadhi by Samarth Ramdas Swami, the spiritual guru of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, it is a holy place.The maintenance of the fort and the Samadhi (final resting place) of Ramdas is taken care by Ramdas Swami Sansthan, a trust which has existed since the time of Shri Ramdas Swami. The trust provides free lodging and food for the devotees of Samarth Ramdas Swami. 

Shree Chatrapati Shivaji entrance gate
Shree Chatrapati Shivaji entrance gate

Shree Samarth entrance gate

Information Board

               There is a Samadhi (final resting place) of Ramdas swami and beautiful load ram temple. This area is very peaceful than any other holy place. You get a stunning view of nature from the fort. After spending some time, we left this place. People can notice while climbing to Sajjangad that there are many different small temples of Load Hanuman. I have taken all photos, which you can see in form of collage. We reached parking by 5.30 and left for home.We reached home by 9 PM safely ending pleasurable Kaas and Sajjangad trip in monsoon 



Our Expenses:
Car Petrol: INR 1800/- (around 21 Lit. at INR 84.11/lit) (Petrol for Kaas + Sajjangad trip)
Toll-1 on NH4 (Khed-shivapur): INR 75/- (one way)
Toll-2 on NH4 (Anewadi Satara): INR 50/- (one way)
Thoseghar waterfall entry: INR 10/- per person
Thoseghar Car parking: INR 10/-
Camera chargers at Thoseghar: INR 10/- per camera
Lunch at Thoseghar: INR 170/- (Pithle Bhakri: INR 40/-, Bhaji Poli meal: INR 50/-)
Toll-1 on NH4 (Anewadi Satara): INR 50/- (one way)
Toll-2 on NH4 (Khed-shivapur): INR 75/- (one way)

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.
Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Maharashtra’s valley of flowers: Kaas plateau

              Visit to Kaas plateau was pending in my travel to do list from last few years.  Due to some reasons and priority, it was postponed and finally I was able to visit this majestic beautiful place. It is a heaven for flora/nature lovers and great place to click amazing photos with the huge variety of flowers. This place is also known as Maharashtra’s valley of flowers.

Kaas Plateau
Kaas plateau

About Kaas Plateau:
             The Kaas Plateau also known as the "Kaas Pathar" in Local language (Pathar means Plateau). It is situated in Sahyadri Ghat ranges close to Satara city of Maharashtra. The name Kaas originates from Kaasa tree (Elaeocarpus glandulosus). The leaves of the tree turn red from green as it matures during the month of March. The area of plateau is approximately 1,000 hectare (10 square kilometers).
               The plateau is full of wild flowers during the months of August and September. These flowers bloom on their own and stay for about 2–3 weeks depending on the monsoon and other weather factors.  In July 2012, it has been declared as Biodiversity World heritage site by The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
               Best time to visit Kaas is from August to September. We got information from local experts that some unique flowers (shape and color wise) bloom only in the month of June and July (As per first rain fall) but people love to watch flowers in quantity so everyone prefers August/September month. Flowers which were blooms in June-July can’t be seen in September and wise versa. This place has more than 850 different species of flowers and plants which blooms throughout the year.

            To reach Kaas plateau from Pune is Catch National highway 4 (Mumbai-Bangalore highway) towards Kolhapur/Bangalore direction – Drive for around 104 – 106 km on NH4 – you will able to see Satara city at your right side – Take a right turn to enter in Satara (Sign board are there to guide) – Cross Satara through pawai Naka –After few km drive, you will see Y share junction and tunnel on left side – Do not enter in the tunnel as that road goes towards Sajjangad fort and Thoseghar waterfall – Take right turn before tunnel – Drive 19 - 20 km to reach on Kaas plateau – U need to drive 700-800 meters downhill to park your vehicles.

Travelers for this trip were me, my wife Renuka, my parents and sister Pratima.

Day 0: 14th September 2013 - Pune to Satara (Total Distance traveled: 106 km):
                We wanted to visit Kaas plateau in early morning so we decided to travel to Satara on Saturday. Stay was not a problem for us as my mother was born in Satara. She had spent nearly25 years in Satara before her marriage. We left Pune by 7 PM and reached Satara at around 9.15 PM. We stayed at mother’s best friend’s place.

Day 1: 15th September 2013 – Satara – Kaas - Pune (Total Distance traveled: 224 km):
               We woke up early morning and left the place by 6.15 AM. My mother came in Satara after 12-14 years so she was more excited to see Kaas and her loving city. Soon we joined Kaas Road. Small ghat section offers you a beautiful view of Satara city. After crossing small plateau and beautiful forest, we reached at Kaas. There are few restaurants before Kaas plateau where you can take pit stop for breakfast.

Satara view
Satara view

             We had done online entry booking for Kaas plateau. Forest guard guided us for car parking. You need to walk little bit from parking place to Kaas. We reached there by 7 AM and hardly there were any tourist. Flowers were bloom in huge numbers looked like nature having its own colored carpet. From Main road (tar road), there are walkway paths constructed by forest department with the fencing. You can choose any route and then free to explore the beauty of nature. We choose 2nd pathway on right hand side from Entry gate.

Kaas

Fencing at Kaas
Fencing at Kaas

                 I was busy with my camera and my parents were enjoying the beauty of Kaas. We saw 10 to 15 different species of flower. Mainly we saw flower carpet in Purple, Blue, pink and white colors. At every point we can see different colors and shape of flowers. Few flowers are so small in shape that you might have to use magnifying glass. There are few areas where people are allowed to go inside green field but on mentioned narrow walkway paths. Hardly people were fallowing that rule. I saw small rocky patch with small pond. I went there carefully and capture some nature frames.

Kaas Plateau
Kaas with small pond

Kaas Plateau: Valley of flowers
Kaas Plateau

Kaas and sahyandri
Kaas and sahyandri 

We spend around 4 hours exploring the area. The following is a list of some of the flowers that we found on this plateau.

  1. Exacum Pumilum (Local name: जांभळी चिरायात)
  2. Cyanotis Tuberosa  (Local name: अभाळी)
  3. Tridax Procumbens (Local name: दगडी पाला)
  4. Cassia auriculata (Local name: तारवड)
  5. Alysicarpus belgaumensis (Local name: गुलाबी शेवरा)
  6. Murdannia lanuginose (Local name: अबोलीमा)
  7. Pinda concanensis (Local name: पंद)
  8. Impatiens (Local name: पांढरा तेरडा)
  9. Smithia hirsute / hirsuta (Local name: कवला)
  10. Impatiens oppositifolia
  11. Hitchenia caulina (Local name: चावर)
  12. Pogostemon deccanensis (Local name: जांभळी मंजिरी)
  13. Hypoxis aurea (Local name: सोनतारा)
  14. Pentanema cernuum (Local name: सोनसरी)
  15. Eriocaulon tuberiferum  (Local name: गेंद)
  16. Utricularia purpurensis (Local name: सीतेची आसवे)
  17. Vigna vexillata (Local name: हळुंदा)

I am not expert in flora so maybe I have missed few names in above list.

White flower carpet
White flower carpet



Colors
Kaas

            Here are some Photos taken during my Kaas Visit. I missed a lot of photos and next year I will be back on blog with a lot of flowers photos.





Impatiens oppositifolia
Impatiens oppositifolia








Pogostemon deccanensis (जांभळी मंजिरी )
Pogostemon deccanensis (जांभळी मंजिरी )

Utricularia purpurascens (सीतेची आसवे)
Utricularia purpurascens (सीतेची आसवे)

Smithia hirsute (कवला )
Smithia hirsute (कवला )

            After our nature trail, we were hungry. We went to car parking and then drove down to Kaas Lake which is hardly 1-2 km from Kaas plateau parking. There are 3-4 local restaurants. We had heavy breakfast and then visited Kaas Lake. I was happy and satisfied with this visit. I like this place so much that I have added it in my “Visit every year for photography” travel list. We left Kaas at around 12.30 PM. During our return journey, we saw huge traffic jam and long queues. It is always better to visit Kaas on weekdays or in early morning. We went for our nest destination, Thoseghar waterfall and Sajjangad. I will upload different travel Blog for those destinations.

The general rules to be fallow on Kaas trip:

  1. Abstinence from Smoking and Consumption of Alcohol
  2. Rash driving should be avoided. 
  3. Be responsible and respect Nature
  4. Don’t pick the flowers from Kaas
  5. Take care of plants and flowers while taking photographs
  6. Please park your vehicle in allocated parking area only.
  7. Do not litter forest land and water bodies
  8. Do not through Plastic bags, bottle or wrappers etc.
  9. Inflammable material and Camp fires are prohibited
Forest is Home of plants and wildlife; be a responsible Guest!

My observation and request to other travelers:
  1. Tourists park their vehicle on Kaas Plateau which creates huge traffic problems.
  2. On Kaas, Many places are yet not covered by fencing. People visit such places and then they cut the flowers knowingly or unknowingly. Kindly avoid it.
  3. There are forest officers and volunteer team to help you out. But tourist shout on them rather than helping them.
  4. Many young groups or couple lies down in flowers carpet for photography, Please avoid that as flowers and plants are delicates and we suppose to take care of them.
  5. 1 to 2 areas from Kaas are accessible for tourist (Forest people allowed tourist to cross the fencing to view flowers closely) so please visit that area only and fallow narrow walkways or rock patches. You can take photos close to flowers but without harming them.
  6. After discussion with forest team, we got to know that around 9000 tourist visit the place on weekends. I think they should be strict with some count to maintain the beauty of Kaas.
  7. For news and update about Kaas, visit the website: http://www.kas.ind.in/

Book for Reference during Kaas visit
         Pushppathar Kaas by Dr. Sandeep shotri (Available in Marathi and English language)

Our Expenses:

  • Car Petrol: INR 1800/- (around 21 Lit. at INR 84.11/lit)
  • Toll-1 on NH4 (Khed-shivapur): INR 75/- (one way)
  • Toll-2 on NH4 (Anewadi satara): INR 50/- (one way)
  • Kaas Entry fee: INR 50/- for 5 members
  • Car parking at Kaas: INR 40/- (For Bus its INR 150/-)
  • Camera chargers at Kaas: INR 50 for Normal camera and INR 100/- for DSLR
  • Breakfast at Kaas lake: INR 207/- for 5 members (Egg omelet-Roti: INR 100/-, Misal: INR 45/- and Vada-pav: INR 20/-)
  • Pushppathar kaas book by Dr. Sandeep shotri: INR 250/- (MRP price)
  • Toll-2 on NH4 (Anewadi satara): INR 50/- (one way)
  • Toll-1 on NH4 (Khed-shivapur): INR 75/- (one way)

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.
Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune