The Road Less Travelled

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Kaas, also known as the Little Valley of Flowers, is a mesmerising place atop a plateau in Maharashtra. This plateau comes to life for 2 months every year, covered by a different colour every week post monsoons. Home to some very unique flora, this plateau is a 135km drive from Pune, but then, that is just one way of getting there.

“There is a shorter route to Kaas from here, but it will take you double the time. You will not find any road there. It is a mud path sprinkled with rocks, barely wide enough for a big car” said the man next to us as he sprinkled sugar on the boiling brew.

We urged him to elaborate. The route, he said, goes from Mahabaleshwar and then turns into a complete off road track with steep, rocky climbs. During the monsoons, landslides render this route useless, but as it turned out, this year the training received below average rainfall and we knew our path was set.

We left Panchgani before first light the next morning and made our way towards Mahabaleshwar and then further ahead. What no one prepared us for was the condition of the track and how challenging it would get.

Semi-tarred roads quickly turned into a mud track with rocks jutting out from everywhere. The way ahead was a mix of steep inclines, very sharp curves and some very challenging hairpin bends. Completely devoid of any human settlement, we suggest no one travel this route alone.
We didn’t know how far along we were. Or whether we should carry on forward or turn back.

Apart from highlighting our serious driving skills, this track also presented us with numerous points to stop and admire the sheer beauty and isolation. 3 hours and 45kms later, we had crossed a plateau, a beautiful valley, rocky inclines and challenging curves. All without seeing another soul along the way. Not even a cow.

And suddenly, we found ourselves on a beautifully tarred and smooth road with massive windmills all around us. None of us were expecting this welcome surprise. As the fog and mist started to clear, we watched the massive windmills in action, for as far as our eyes could see.

This road however, did not last for more than a few kilometres and we were back on the route we had come looking for, only rockier. With nobody around to even check if we were on the right track, we couldn’t do much other than continue ahead.

The track started getting flatter again, the colour outside changed from brown to green to red and then to pink. And that’s when we knew we had made it. Everything around us changed in a matter of minutes, rocks turned into fields of flowers, streams turned into lakes and the noise of the car climbing over rocks turned into clicks of shutters from our cameras

People who saw our vehicle coming from that direction asked us in awe how we made it through without getting stuck. A lot of them said that we were probably the first vehicle this season to attempt that route.

We took the regular highway on the way back and it was like going to any other touristy place in India. It made us realise what a good decision it had been, to take the lesser travelled road. The challenging drive and the beautiful sights en-route were as exciting as the Kaas plateau itself.

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