It is still undiscovered by tourists but offers a good weekend getaway.
How often is it that we have to plan for a quick weekend getaway but are still surfing the Internet for idyllic locations? The most popular destinations for a weekend getaway around Mumbai, especially during the monsoons, are Malsej Ghat, Bhandardara, Igatpuri, Karnala, Alibaug and Mahabaleshwar. What if someone suggested Satara for one such getaway? I’m sure like me, you too would wear a look of incredulity!
With the Independence Day weekend being a long weekend, we decided that there could be no better time to get together with batch mates – a special WhatsApp group was made to facilitate communication and planning easily. The initial plan was to congregate at Pune, since some were coming from as far away as Muscat, Patna, Shillong, Tirpur and other places most of us would have a tough time locating on the map of India. The final destination decided was – wait for it –Panchgani! However, getting accommodation during this extended weekend was next to impossible with the hotel rates soaring sky-high.
With no conceivable Plan B, the destination chose us. Satara, for it was the only place where one of the guys could arrange for a quaint home stay near the Kaas Plateau. With some of us seeing each other after almost two decades, we consoled ourselves that the destination didn’t really matter. As things would be, the change in destination truly was a blessing in disguise for with the inclement weather, the routes to most other popular weekend getaways were shut down.
We left Pune by a tempo traveller on August 13, at around 10.30 am. The drive to Satara from Pune via the Ghats is a pretty scenic one, with greenery along the way and then the amazing view of mountains and valleys.
As we reached the Sahyadri Ghats, we were all in a happy space having feasted our eyes on some amazing view lined with waterfalls at every few kilometres along the way. We were told the distance of about 110 km to Satara could be covered in about 2 to 2.5 hours. However, due to some construction work and weekend traffic coupled with a “chai-paani” break, we reached the Kaas area by 2 pm.
The resort simply blew us away. It had none of the fanciful trappings. It was a rustic resort that was warm, welcoming, clean and gorgeous in its rustic simplicity. For lunch, a typical Maharashtrian spread awaited us – bhakri cooked on mud “chullhas” (stoves) being the hero dish!
We started from the resort on foot in the general direction of the Kaas Plateau, with no particular agenda other than to take in the sights and enjoy the fair weather. The walk was along a road lined with trees and gave way to a spectacular view of the valley to our right. An absolute feast for the eyes and soul! On our left was this amazing green plateau, from where you could see far into the mountains and distant falls and naturally built fortress. It was almost reminiscent of Switzerland. We stopped for hot bhuttas (corn cobs) on the walk.
Since the Kaas plateau was not in bloom, we called for the tempo traveller and travelled down to the backwaters of River Koyna about 20 km away. A part of the drive was so foggy we could barely see 50 metres ahead! The Koyna backwaters offers boat rides but we couldn’t experience that as we arrived a little too late for them.
We returned the next day but Satara left a mark in our hearts like no other vacation. This hidden gem, I would say, is by far the best weekend getaway I have seen in Maharashtra. It is still virgin, unexplored territory, unspoilt by the maddening throngs of tourists. It was the perfect place for our get together. We all parted with the promise to re-visit the place..soon! The second time round to catch the Kaas Plateau in full bloom after the monsoon.
Nirupama Bhat is a handpicked product of the Bayside Pathfinder where we empower the young and the young at heart with the power of storytelling. To become a part of our extended family of unique contributors, call up Prem Madnani at +91 9892913788 or email him on [email protected].