Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kaas Plateau, Bamnoli and Thoseghar... in high places !

Recently went on an overnight trip to the Kaas Plateau , near Satara, in the Western Maharashtra inland region.

This Kaas Plateau, situated  roughly 20 kms away from  the northern part of the Koyna Sanctuary, and a similar distance away from the city of Satara, is part of the Sahyadri Range, at an elevation of about 1200 metres and speard over 1000 hectares. The major part of this plateau is a Reserve Forest area, and the part we visited borders the Kaas Lake , which actually supplies water (by gravity) to western part of Satara. This area has extremes of climate from biting cold to burning non-humid hot.

Basically made of exposed basalt rock, this plateau , due to erosion has a fine (roughly a few inches) layer of soil covering it. Water gets accumulated within the uneven surfaces, and basically this favours the growth of herbaceous plants(grasses) on the plateau.

During the monsoon months,  this plateau gets approximately 4000 mm of rain, is home to more than   1,500 types of plants belonging to over 156 botanical families, 680 genera, and 1,452 species.  624 species are mentioned in the endangered list, out of which 33 species are found on the Kaas Plateau. The UNESCO has Declared this plateau as a World Heritage Site.
Beginning June, and the onset of the monsoon in Maharashtra,  the plateau is home to blooms of different colors.

This year , we have had a deficient monsoon. Yet, thanks to the restriction on human movement and protection measures on the plateau,  the flowers have kept there date.

We started from Dadar(Mumbai) at night, and reached Satara by road in the early hours. After a bit of rest and light breakfast, we proceeded to the plateau.  This was followed by a trip to the Bamnoli Lake, and then to the Thoseghar waterfalls.  We returned home to Mumbai, very late at night on the same day, enriched by the wonders of nature which I captured, as below.


The information board in Marathi, that greeted us on arrival .  A lot of people , treat this as a picnic spot, unconcerned about spoiling the environment with their trash. This board is a request to folks to cooperate with the the Forest Department, the Police , and the Kaas Volunteers , and help maintain the Plateau, as it was meant to be.  You can see that it has been fenced to keep out mindless trespassers.
My first view of the plateau in the morning , mists in the distance  hovering on top of the Sahyadris.

 Shades of  pink/purple  , my first sighting. of JaambhLaa Terda or  Impatiens Lawii, amidst a bed of  Golden Sonki  or Senecio Grahamii

 Life was all fresh, pink and beautiful, possibly because  so many who would walk rough shod , were kept away in the distance.  It was my experience that despite rules, many folks thought that they improved the beauty of the plateau by lying amidst the flowers, possibly crushing some.

 Another view of the Kaas Paathar  as it is locally called, or Plateau ..

 Notice that the authorities have fenced in the area, and only authorized people work inside.

 It was early in the morning, and I found this complicated exhaustive web spun by spiders amidst the green;  currently decorated by raindrops.... 

 These white flowers are called Pangend in Marathi, and otherwise called Eriocaulon tuberiferum (Tuberous Pipewort) .  No one plants these flowers, they grow on their own each monsoon, and you wonder how they occupy certain areas and dont occupy other areas.  Maybe differences in soil and moisture. And yes, pollination.

Another beauty called  Jartari (Marathi: जरतारी) - also known as slender flemingia. What an amazing royal purple, and how appropriate is

This bright and simple one, holding its own amidst other curvy types,  and  called Sonki, or  Senecio grahamii

This one called Halunda in Marathi,  or otherwise, Vigna Vexillata or "Elephant's trunk" . As soon as an  insect lands on the central petal, an elephant trunk like projection comes out bathing the insect with its pollen. The formal name Vigna ,is based on a 17th century Italian botanist, but you cannot fail to notice the connection between the "Elephant's trunk" and our traditional "Vigna"harta .....     :-) 

 Lifestages of the Sonki

 This one called Kandil Kharchudi in Marathi,  or Ceropegia Vincaefolia officially. Considered a critically endangered plant. A rare sighting. This plant traps particular insects for pollination opening up the top structure. The insect cannot get out because of unidirectional hair which leads them only inside. Once pollination is done, the flower droops, and  insect is allowed to leave.

A closer look at the Pangend (Marathi गॆंद)  or Eriocaulon tuberiferum (Tuberous Pipewort) which is actually an aquatic herb.  Grows on the rims of ponds , this is an endangered plant , and its entire suitable habitat is found to be just a kilometre squared of land.  Its existence is threatened by grazing animals, windmills and the area being a mining area.

I need someone to identify this plant. It is a typical wild grass inflorescence according to experts.

A closer look

This is रान हळद in Marathi or  the wild turmeric , or Curucuma Aromatica  plant above, growing in profusion. Found only in eastern Himalayas and warm Sahyadri regions.

This is known as Nisurdi निसुर्डी  in Marathi, or formally as Boraginaceae (forget-me-not family) -Adelocaryum coelestinum.  A perennial , this is commonly found in the Mahableshwar Hills. 

This one is called Aabhali आभाली flower, or formally  Cyanotis tuberosa. This plant has great medicinal properties.

This one called Smithia Hirsuta (hairy Smita) or कावला in Marathi. This plant figures in the Unesco Red list of endangered plants .

A brilliant field of जांभळी मंजिरी or Pogostemon Deccanensis growing amidst marshy land  bordering one of the numerous water bodies found on the plateau .  Notice the Homo Sapien reflected amidst it all. The purple flowers on a light green stalk make for brilliant viewing.

A new one coming into the world at Kaas Plateau.  Notice the super clear water.

As the जांभळी मंजिरी enjoys looking into a crystal clear mirror ....

The greatly prevalent Impatiens Lawii, or जाम्भ्ळा तेरडा found in large parts of the Kaas Paathar .

This appears to be another variety of wild turmeric or रान हळद.  Suggestions invited from those who think this is something else.

This appears to be a plant belonging to the Salvia Species; a Sage inflorescence.

Above, Eriocaulon Sedgewickii or गॆंद in Marathi. There are huge fields of these white flowers. 

Known as Ceropegia Media (Marathi : मेडी खरचुडी)  this plant is a slender climber. The flower tubes are lined with small hairs that trap insects and initiate pollination.

This one called Grass of the Dew or Cyanotis Tuberosa. Called Aabhali आभाली in Marathi.  Also called Ears of the Cat.

This one called Blue Fountain Bush - Bharangi भरंगी. Official name is Clerodendrum Serratum. This flower too has medicinal properties and is used for inflammatory respiratory diseases and fever.

Indian Arrowroot  or Curcuma Caulina Flower blooms   at the Kaas plateau. This plant has several dietic and medicinal uses.

We departed the Kaas  PaaThaar on our way to the Thoseghar Waterfalls via the Bamnoli lake, where we planned to break for lunch.

Bamnoli is a village roughly 15 kms away from Kaas Plateau, and is on the shores of the Shivsagar lake formed by backwaters of the Koyna Dam. Paddy cultivation is the main occupation of the village folks, and now a days, some have ventured out into offering boating at the lake , which comes right up to the village streets in the monsoons. 

The lake shore

A typical scene as we drove from Bamnoli to Thoseghar Waterfalls. One may faintly see windmills on the top of the flat mountain top on the left. 

There has been a lot of development here. This is a view of an entrance to a local Engineering college. Right in front of the white multistorey structure, is a lifesize (or more) statue of Hanuman , perhaps to inspire the students .

The inspirational Hanuman of the Hills

The drive to Thoseghar Falls  involved a climb through some ghats.

Just before we disembarked at the entrance to the Thoseghar Falls.

The Thoseghar falls are a natural formation along the Kaalganga River basin, with a drop of 800 metres, creating some impressive waterfalls. The local  authorities have created viewing areas for visiting the Big falls and the fewer Smaller Falls, and a trail linking the two.   Much care has been taken to prevent people from carelessly treating this as just another picnic spot, and messing it up with trash, and plastic, and strict rules and fines are indicated.

Pathways leading to the waterfalls.

The Big Waterfall as it is called.

The two Smaller Waterfalls

Where the water flows through a narrow gorge, over stones and rocks, after falling a distance of 800 mtrs vertically .

A closer look at the Smaller Falls. You can see the fencing of the Viewing Area.

The Falls, having reached much lower......

And this again, a typical view of what is the main preoccupation of the villgers. Rice growing and farming.   Post monsoon, this is the color of Maharashtra around the Sahyadris .  

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Pankaja! those are some seriously awesome clicks!! The violet blooms amidst the green is simply stunning as are all other pics. Take a bow :)