Last year, Kaas Plateau, popularly known as Maharashtra’s valley of flowers, had remained closed to visitors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When the tourist site in Satara finally opened for visitors on September 1 last week, a large influx of tourists was expected. However, the rising cases of coronavirus infection seem to have made picnics a low priority for many families as the number of tourists, even on weekends, isn’t even half of the expected turnout.
This year, tourists who want to visit the valley have to register online at https://www.-kas.ind.in/. Booking is mandatory since the total number of visitors per day is capped at 3,000.
Maruti Chikane, a member of Kaas Committee, said that the tourist response has been muted. “Before the pandemic, the weekend crowd here would be anything between 7,000 and 8,000. This weekend, we had about 1,500 online and about 500 spot registrations, which were allowed. I think due to the Covid situation, people are not travelling,” he said. Kaas Plateau, a reserved forest, is home to more than 850 flowering species, some of them rare and endangered, and many which are new to botanical science, making it a crucial site for research.
Chikane said that while towards the beginning of the season, the blooms were low, they were flowering now. “Usually, the bloom stays for a 45-day period but botanical experts have told us that this year it may be up to two months. We are hoping that the tourist turnout will improve in the coming days,” he said.
Once registered online, visitors have to carry a printout of the receipt. Each day, only 3,000 visitors will be allowed in.