A Trek For All Reasons

The Kas Plateau has attracted huge interest from nature lovers and people seeking a good spot for a days trip out of Pune. However its very beauty and easy accessibility has caused the Kas Plateau to become a horribly overcrowded place when in the flowering season (Aug-Sep) every year. For this very reason, I grabbed a recent the opportunity to visit the Raireshwar Plateau which also is home to several ephemeral species. My visit lived up to all my expectations in terms of floral diversity and beauty and as a trek of course. The final part of our  route to the Raireshwar Plateau involved climbing up 328 steps at a dizzying height and this may possibly be the deterrent reason as we encounted almost no crowds there.

Puen, Western ghats
The picturesque countryside beckons

After an early start from Pune, we drove down to the Korle village and walked up to Raireshwar. The track was fairly easy except for large stones embedded in the track. Monsoon rains in the initial part of the season had painted the entire region into brilliant green hues. However the rain gods had frowned upon the state it was no different for us.. the easy trek turned to a tough one as we had to deal with the blazing sun. The occasional cloud drifted across to provide some relief as did three water falls flowing down from the top of the mountain range. This climb can take about an hour in good weather.  

Pune, Shivaji Maharaj
Spot the track as it winds up the mountain


Walking up in the blazing merciless sun

The track joins the tarred road for a short while and again turns towards the plateau. Technically, the route is motorable till the base of the steps and one need not trek up all the way (Its the Ghera Kenjalgad road according to my map). Of course that means missing out on some phenomenal views, raptor sightings as well as the changing flora with increasing elevation. So take your pick!

The steps that I have mentioned are part stone part iron ladders into and over the craggy mountain face and have a protective hand rail on one side. They are sufficiently wide for a trekker to climb up along with her gear. While we had only a gentle breeze to break the heat of the sun, I am sure the situation must be different on other days considering that we were now at over 4000 feet above sea level. Yet the view as one climbs up is stupendous, breathtaking, plus every other adjective you can think of.. provided one does not have fear of heights!

Zoom in to see the steps

The steps taper off into the plateau where I met a couple of boys selling ‘ताक’ (buttermilk). They were perched in the branches of a tree with the container hanging from the lowest branch. What a great spot to sell to thirsty weary trekkers! We gladly took the glass he offered (Rs 10) but it did not offer the relief that buttermilk usually does, due its intense garlic garnish! I wonder why they did that…

Unlike Kas, the plateau was not totally flat but had some gentle undulations and all were covered with the cream/yellow coloured blossoms of the Indian Arrowroot (called Chavar in Marathi) – Curcuma caulina. I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking with respect to flowers!

At the top
Curcuma caulina flowers (Chavar)

We had to walk some distance (possibly about a kilometer but seemed like much more in the intense sun) to reach the temple area. Raireshwar is home to the temple where the young 16-year old Shivaji cut his finger at the Shiva temple to take oath of a Hindavi Swaraj. Hence the huge historical importance of Raireshwar. (The pujari had left by the time I made it to the temple so I was unable to get ‘darshan’) En route to the temple is a spring that emerges from a Gomukh. Beyond is the Pandav leni and a quarry that has sand with seven-colours. We could not make it to the caves or the quarry but I am told both are worth visiting. There is small village on the plateau and there was a board indicating a school… I wonder if it was functional…. The locals do provide simple wholesome fare which is well worth a try.

The structure with the white roof is the temple where Shivba took oath of Hindavi Swaraj

Dipmal outside the temple
Inscription in Modi script in the temple wall
Shivaji statue installed recently

The return journey seemed faster possibly helped by some clouds that took the bite out of the sun. All in all a wonderful day’s trek from Pune… one that is certainly recommended especially if you like to spot and identify flora. We were lucky to see a Blue Mormon Butterfly! 

All in all, this trek met all my criteria of a perfect weekend outing– walk, views, trees and flowers, history, heritage, new destination. 

Treks, Raireshwar
Kenjalgad visible in the distance

Inspired to plan a visit?? Here are some images of the flowers we spotted, to help strenthen your resolve

Sun-kissed flowers seen growing along the steps
Chlorophytum species
Adelocaryum malabarica (aka Kali nisurdi)
Water, Pond, lake, Raireshwar trek
A lovely pond on the plateau. A serene peaceful spot
Impatiens dalzelii (aka Pivla terda)
Murdannia sp

There is so much beauty just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed in India. So many places that one reads of but never makes the effort to visit. We have finally begun this journey. 

What about you? Go on . Start now… Its never too late..

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