Gir National Park
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 the remaining 445 sq mi is the wildlife sanctuary area. This wildlife sanctuary forms a part of the 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 them from extinction by keeping the supported species.
The total area of the reserve: 1412 sq km
Location: Somnath, Junagadh, and Amreli which are near Talala Gir city in Gujarat
Major Tourist Attractions in Gir National Park
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 from June to October. Visitors can enjoy a 40 minutes bus ride in a park. The bus arranged in the park has a seating capacity of 40 persons. The best part is that visitors are sure to get a glimpse of at least some wild animals like Asiatic lions, leopards, deer, etc.
It is a good place for trekking. It is about 150 km i.e. 2.5 hours from Ahmedabad. One can also stay here for a night out as a tent facility is available at affordable rates. It is loved by tourists for greenery and a 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 the Gir forest. The road to the temple is pebbled. So visitors enjoy an adventurous ride and might get lucky to spot wildlife on the way to the temple.
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 the waterfall, there are two temples also. One is Shiva temple and the other is the Hanuman temple.
This dam is on the Hiran River. It is the lifeline of Gir forest. It is a great place for hiking also. You can also sight many crocodiles and birds here.
FLORA & FAUNA
Gir National Park has diverse flora. The wildlife in Gir is well supported by the richness in Flora. The forest type is basically mixed deciduous comprising of the scrub jungle along with a combination of semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. One can also find rocky hills and open spaces of grassland here. The 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 easy access to water. The lifeline of the park is Kamleshwar Dam which is the biggest amongst all four dams in the park.
As per the 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 the natural abode of Asiatic lions, the park supports many rare and endangered species of wild animals.
Best time to visit
December to March is the 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. The climate varies throughout the year. It falls to 10 degrees Celsius in winter while reaches a maximum of 43 degrees Celsius in summer.
- 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
How to get there?
- The nearest airport is Rajkot & Keshod which are 160 km and 70 km away from Gir respectively.
- The nearest railway stations are Junagadh and Veraval. From these stations, 2 hours’ drive to Gir is required in a cab.
- Both private and state bus services 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 the reception of government owned Sinh Sadan House.
- Arrive at least half an hour before the safari scheduled time to enjoy the 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
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 Gujarat.
watching: One can spot many bird species in the park. The park offers a visual retreat to park lovers. For those who are interested in watching avifauna, then, the best time to visit the place is in December to January i.e. the migration season.
Crocodile Breeding Centre: One can see many crocodiles in a small region in the park. But do not go much close to the 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 whatnot.
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