It was a rainy day, one after almost 3 days of continuous rain, when we started out towards Kaas from Kedige. The long road trip had well and truly begun as we wound through the Western Ghats from Madangeri on NH 17, as we took a short cut towards the Karwar/ Hubli road. Since the start was an early AM affair, we stopped by at Yellapur for a sumptuous breakfast which also served as a good strategy to avoid climbing up the ghats full stomach for some of the co passengers.
The terrain started to change as we approached NH 4 near Dharwad. Drove past Suvarna Soudha at Belagavi which was shimmering in the warm sun (we were above the rain making clouds by this time) and crossed over to Maharashtra. Lunch was near Karad and we reached Pandit Farm House at Satara by about 2.30 PM. The host met us at Satara city and showed us the way over to the sprawling 2 acre farm, with a beautiful 3 room farm house, that was to be our base camp on this trip. We had another group driving from Bengaluru that would arrive late that evening. After some rest, and a very engaging conversation with the host on various topics over tea, we decide to take a stroll around the farm house. As we step towards the fields behind the farm house from the tarmac, we start to hear the calls of many peacocks in the area, and start chasing them. The chase takes us through fields with sugar cane, and other crops, but the terrain was easy. We do sport many peacocks, all too far away and return to the farm house hoping our other party would have arrived. Sure enough they call to say they are close, so we start to wait on them, chatting on the lawns of the farm house and about an hour or so later, the group arrives, pretty exhausted from almost 800 KM drive. We finish up with dinner for the evening, a very well prepared, local dishes and a quick card game or two, retire for the day.
There was another group arriving by bus the next AM so while we waited on them to start, some of us took a stroll by the back yard and the fields, taking pictures of some birds building their nests (Baya Weaver), the occasional distant peacock, and a very close up shot of a Myna.
The other Bengaluru gang arrive and after a quick freshening up session, we all head to Mahabaleshwar, about 40 KM from our base camp. While at start the weather was rather bright (some thing that we enjoyed very much coming from 4 days of rain and gloomJ), it quickly turned in to typical Mahabaleshwar monsoon gloomy, cloudy self. The drive through almost zero visibility was an interesting experience in itself, as we wind through some of the view points (!). There was very little to view though, owing to the gloom. One particular spot caught our attention as demonstrated by the guide, a bottle cap rose up when he threw it owing to air pressure from below. The story so goes that the cap of one of the British officers (during their imperial rule of India), who happened to visit this area too floated up. Owing to the weather, we ditch viewing other view points and get to the Pancha Ganga temple, a place of the birth of 5 rivers, which was very interesting. Koyna, Savitri, Gayatri, Krishna and Venna rivers are said to originate here. We get some lunch at a local hotel and head back to Satara, via Panchagani, after enjoying the views and ice creams at Mapro Garden. The evening went well with cocktail over camp fire, dinner and some more card games.
The next day’s itinerary would take us to the show stopper in the area – Kaas Plateau, known for its beautiful flower meadows, spread over square kilometers of the table top on top of a mountainJ The access to the place is through well laid roads, so have a lot of people coming in and since the bloom is over a short window of time (2 to 3 weeks in a year) we had quite a crowd, even on a week day. The meadows, every square inch of which was punctuated by some flower plant or another, was a sight to behold. Of course many people walking through the meadows had rendered some parts of it in to walk paths, but a majority of the area was covered with flowering plants. The govt has done a great job of not allowing public on every part of the meadow, preserving the natural appeal. The little patch we were allowed on was itself was a great view and every bit enjoyable. We start clicking with all cameras we had, switching lens et al. I had specifically carried my macro lens for this and enjoyed every bit of the opportunity to photograph although gusty winds made macro pictured difficult. After enough time clicking the pics, we start back to base camp via a view point of both the plateau and the reservoir, for lunch.
Logistically it made sense to get back to the farm house for lunch as the afternoon visit was on the other side of the hills, needing us to drive back most part of our way. The after noon drive out and lunch were spaced enough for some of the older/ tired folks to catch a siesta while the others watch a pair of busy Munia building their nest in one of the bushes on the property and other flowers on the property itself.
The plan for the evening was to visit Thoseghar water fall, which again got us wet – due to rains on this side of the peaks. View of the water fall is pretty nice as we get some sumptuous bhutta and tea at the stalls in the area. Ealrier in the day, we get to taste some local flavours of icecream and very juicy bhutta as well enroute Kaas.
Return to basecamp by sun down, review the day’s high’s and lows over dinner and retire for the day.
Next AM post breakfast we all leave to our respective destinations, some to Bengaluru and us back to Kedige (Kumta) via the Mahalakshmi temple at Kolhapur and stopping over at Belagavi for lunch and KundaJ.
We were back by sun down at Kedige, to very pleasant sunsets, much to our relief as it was pouring wet when we started.
It was a great road trip to one of nature’s wonders and I am sure we will be back there for the next season too, its THAT GOOD.
Enjoy the summary video and some of the Macro/ Other pictures. Do leave your comments at the comments section.