Surrounded by hills of Western Ghats in all directions, Satara is a town popularly known for Kaas Pathar, a UNESCO heritage site. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is the geographical setting of the city though, that makes the place unique and interesting. Little strips of hills stretch all around, leaving huge plains in between where settlement has grown, and yet with no distinct alignment. During the monsoons, the place comes alive with a shade of green that is unique and hard to find anywhere else. Attribute it to the red soil of the Western Ghats, I haven’t delved deeper.
With little information, I headed to Satara to witness the flowers blooming at Kaas. But it was the landscapes engulfing the little town that won me over. Greenery spread over in all directions, with picturesque lakes and rivers on either side of the hills, the ride was smooth as butter and the several hilltops showcased the beauty of the Western Ghats as far as one’s eyes could reach.
The windmill farm, a first for me, brought ecstasy to the inner child. Around 30km from the main town, lies the windmills of Chalkewadi. Massive fans harnessed the energy of wind in the hilly area over an area of 5km. It is a sight to behold. Hundreds of those huge structures rotate on every hill. And as significant as they are, as a renewable source of energy, the picturesque sight is worth the time when one is near Satara.
When I talk about Satara, I cannot not mention my stay at Ingawale farmhouse. This place is what made my time here, memorable. Located in the village of Kidgaon, around 9km from the main town of Satara, this is a simple and serene farm-stay, far from the madding crowd.
Sugarcane fields on the left greet you at the entrance, to the place which is perfect to unwind. Tomatoes and other vegetables along with wheat are grown in plenty. The cattle exhibit startled faces while a few dogs wander around. The little terrace is perfect for a morning breakfast or an evening tea; the view of the farms and countryside along with the Western Ghats at the horizon remains locked in my fond memory.
It is the warmth of the people here that brings life to this place, directing you to hidden spots and hikes around; with smiling faces. The inception, of the beautiful stay this has grown to be, in the middle of farms is a story in itself.
It still fascinates me when I recall Akshay’s(the owner) tales of how his little idea grew bigger as he travelled. To think of one such stay in a village; commendable. These are the people you meet and the moments when travelling gives you a fulfillment you never knew you could realize.
6 weeks a year, exotic flowers bloom on a plateau, about 25km from the main town. A carpet of white, pink and yellow covers the Earth. The pictures should speak more than words for this place. Is it beautiful? Yes, it is. Is Satara worth visiting without Kaas? Yes, very much. If you expect less and keep your eyes open to the magic of natural beauty all around.
Other places of interest
There are several hilltops and vantage points that showcase the beauty of the Sahyadris in all directions and as far as your eyes could go. These view points are certainly a highlight of the place. Two such points are at the head of Ajinkyatara and Sajjangad fort. Besides there are a couple of gorgeous waterfalls as well. Thoseghar is one with a relatively easy walk. Vajrai is another with a half an hour hike. Natraj temple, a replica of the one at Chidambaram is worth a visit. Meruling is another hidden spot. I am sure there will be several others as well.
All the travel movies ever made!
There are a few hikes around as well. I was in a mood to relax and didn’t explore them as I would have wanted to in my three days of stay here. Vasota fort is the popular one.
July-February. Except for the summers, every season would have something to offer. Monsoons are one of a kind here. The orange-brown colour in the winter should have it’s own charm and would make an ideal time to hike as well.
Ingawale, where else? Solo travellers can contact them for dorm beds as well. Which should be up sooner than later. A couple of days can be spent just exploring the farmhouse and the greens around.
If one is tight on budget, stay without any charge is available on the temple premises at Sajjangad Fort as well.
An evening stroll through the scenic farms to the canal and the organic food at the farmhouse; simple pleasures of life.
Choosing to go via your own vehicle would be the best option. The drive/ride is beautiful. Vehicles can be hired on rent from the farmhouse as well.
Below are some of the captured moments from my trip: