Gir National Park, also popular as Sasan Gir, is a wildlife sanctuary located in Gujarat. It is basically a forest with a total area of 545 sq mi, out of which 100 sq mi is the national park area and remaining 445 sq mi is wildlife sanctuary area. This wildlife sanctuary forms a part of Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forest ecosystem.
During the 19th century, Indian rulers used to invite British colonists for tours specifically arranged for hunting Asiatic lions. As a result, only a dozen Asiatic lions were left in the Gir forest, one of the private hunting areas of Nawab of Junagarh. Presently, Gir forest is the only forest where Asiatic lions are found. It is imperative to mention the lions are protected here to save from extinction by keeping the supported species.
Area: 1412 sq km
Location: Somnath, Junagadh and Amreli which are near Talala Gir city in Gujarat
Flora & Fauna
Gir National Park has a diverse flora. The wildlife in Gir is well-supported by the richness in Flora. The forest type is basically mixed deciduous comprising of scrub jungle along with a combination of semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. One can also find rocky hills and open spaces of grassland here. Climate of the forest remains dry most of the time as the forest is dry deciduous. Common trees found here are Teak, Dhak, Tendu, Acacia, Banyan and Zizyphus. As far as plant species are concerned, one can find Umro, Vad, Kalam, Prosopis, Jambu, Karanj and Amli. Almost half of the vegetation is covered by Teak in the forest. Gir produces about 5 million green grasses every year i.e. it generates approximately Rs. 500 million by annual harvesting. Gir is also popular as biological research area used for scientific education in India.
There are 7 perennial rivers that flow across the park namely Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari and Raval. Four dams have also been built to sustain wildlife by providing animals an easy access to water. Lifeline of the park is Kamleshwar Dam which is the biggest amongst all four dams in the park.
As per Lion census report of 2010, there are 411 lions in the Gir forest. Other wild animals found here include jackals, leopards, antelopes and deer. Though popular as natural abode of Asiatic lions, the park supports many rare and endangered species of wild animals.
Major Tourist Attractions
Devalia Safari Park: Also known as Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia National Park is just 15-20 minutes away from Gir National Park. It is an alternate park to Gir National Park during monsoon when Gir Park is closed during June to October. Visitors can enjoy in a 40 minutes bus ride in a park. The bus arranged in the park has a seating capacity of 40 persons. Best part is that visitors are sure to get glimpse of at least some wild animals like Asiatic lions, leopards, deer etc.
Polo Forest: It is a good place for trekking. It is about 150 kms i.e. 2.5 hours from Ahmedabad. One can also stay here for night out as tent facility is available at affordable rates. It is loved by tourists for greenery and calm environment. It also has a small dam nearby called Harnav Dam. This whole place is ideal for one day picnic.
Kankai Mata Temple: It is situated in the heart of Gir forest. Road to the temple is pebbled. So visitors enjoy an adventurous ride and might get lucky to spot wildlife on the way to temple.
Jamjir Waterfall: It is a lovely waterfall on the river Hiran and is active throughout the year. The air around is quite refreshing. Tourists click a lot of selfies near this waterfall due to its natural beauty. Near waterfall, there are two temples also. One is Shiv temple and other is Hanuman temple.
Kamleshwar Dam: This dam is on Hiran River. It is lifeline of Gir forest. It is a great place for hiking also. You can also sight many crocodiles and birds here.
Activities to be enjoyed
Jungle Safari: To see Asiatic lions living in the Gir forest, Jeep jungle safari is the best. This safari takes place two times a day i.e. morning and evening. The jeep has a seating capacity of 6 persons at a time. It is basically a first come, first serve thing. One can choose bus safari also as an economical option but buses don’t take deep into the forest just like a Jeep safari does.
Shopping: One can also do lots of shopping for handicrafts, tribal things and traditional products of Gujrat.
Bird watching: One can spot many bird species in the park. The park offers a visual retreat to the park lovers. Those who are interested in watching avi-fauna, then, best time to visit the place are December to January i.e. the migration season.
Crocodile Breeding Centre: One can see many crocodiles at a small region in the park. But do not go much close to water as it can be dangerous. Crocodiles breed in this region as it is their natural habitat. After breeding crocodiles are returned to the sanctuary.
Wildlife Photography: One can never get enough of wildlife photography here as there is so much to click here-natural greenery, snakes, birds, lions, leopards and what not.
Best time to visit
December to March is best season to visit Gir National Park. The park is closed from 16th June to 16th Oct every year.
Besides summers and winters, Gir Park has a tropical monsoon climate. Climate varies throughout the year. It falls to 10 degrees Celsius in winter while reaches to a maximum of 43 degrees Celsius in summer.
How to get there?
By Air: Nearest airport is Rajkot & Keshod which are 160 km and 70 km away from Gir respectively.
By Train: Nearest railway stations are Junagadh and Veraval. From these stations, 2 hours’ drive to Gir is required in a cab.
By Road: Both private and state bus service offer direct buses to the park. Taxi and cabs are also available from major cities of Gujrat to commute to Gir National Park.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels and resorts to stay in Gir National Park. A list is as follows:
- Gir Jungle Lodge
- Saavaj Resort in Gir National Park
- Vanvaso Resort
- Anil Farm House
- Maneland Jungle Lodge
- Amidhara Resort
- Fern Forest Resort
- Sukh Sagar Resort
- Hotel Umang
- Obtain online permits for Gir Jungle Trail and Gir Interpretation park for convenience
- Book your jeep safari at reception of government owned Sinh Sadan House.
- Arrive at least half an hour before safari scheduled time to enjoy trip thoroughly
- Most hotels at Gir are available for online booking. So book in advance o avoid unnecessary rush after reaching there
- For cheaper hotels, opt for hotels at Gir Interpretation zone at Devaliya to save money
- Off-track driving is not allowed as it disturbs wild animals
- Wear dull-colored clothes as bright colors attract animals
- Don’t get off your jeep or any vehicle for your own safety
- Consumption of alcohol during safari is strictly prohibited
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