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Gujarat Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
|Location||Gir, 42-kms From Junagadh, Gujarat|
|Nearest Access||Junagadh (42-kms)|
|Main Wildlife Found||Asiatic Lions, Leopards, Chowsingha|
|Temperatures||Summer Max 43, Winter Min 10|
|Languages||Gujarati, Hindi, English|
|Best Season||November- June.|
Gir Wildlife sanctuary of Gujarat lies in the southwestern region of the state. The area which covers around 116 square-miles was built with the aim to save the remaining wild population of Lion in India, other than the regions of Africa. In the year 1913, the number of Lion just came down to 20, but as a result of the conservation efforts now the population has increased to around 300. The Gir National Park was the royal hunting ground of the Nawab of Junagadh, but later the concerned Government Bodies made it the protected forest.
The Gir National Park was built with its aim to protect the minority population of Asiatic Lion, rather than in Africa. On 18th September 1965, an area of around 1412.13 sq.km was formed as the Gir National Park. Earlier the place was the hunting ground for the Nawab of Junagadh. In the year 1996, an area of about 600 sq.km was defined as the Gir forest area by the Government bodies which were later extended to an area of about 1412.12 sq.km. A main area of around 300 sq.km was officialy announced as the national park in the year 1975. Other than the wildlife part, the Gir National Park also has Kankai Mata and Tulsishyam antique temples with hot springs as pilgrimage destinations. The Madharis, famous cattle herders lives in the forest area and their buffaloes become an important part of lion’s meal.
The Asiatic Lions range was spread from Bangladesh in East to the Mediterranean region in the West including Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey and Greece, over 2000 years ago. In Greek Mythology (mainly associated with Hercules), the Asiatic Lion’s played an important part. But through centuries, the Asiatic Lions were killed because of its predatory behavior.
During the time of British Raj in India, lions became a coveted hunting trophy and it was thought as a privilege to hunt at Gir. The Nawab of Junagadh also used to invite dignitaries and royalty for a “shikar” at the forest area.
Because of the scarcity during the years 1899-1904, the population of the lions were decimated and they also started attacking the nearby farms and precious livestocks. Lord Curzom came to the place as a guest of Nawab of Junagabadh for a hunt. But he cancelled his hunting when he came to know about the decrease in the population of lions in the park.
A sanctuary was built to protect the remaining lions in the area, as a result of the persuasion of Lord Curzon to Nawab. The initiative helped to conserve the remaining lions whose population came down dramatically to less than 20. The Gir National Park is the only place where one can find Asiatic Lions in the world.
In the year 1975, the place was called as the Sasan Gir National Park. The Gir National Park is the first forest to hold the merit for having the large number of Asiatic Lions in natural habitat
Weather and Best time to visit
The area goes through all the three seasons, summer, winter and monsoon. The average minimum temperature during summer is 10OC and the maximum temperature rises up to 45OC. Summer takes the longest season of the year in the area and April and May are recorded as the hottest months. Monsoons start from the middle of June to September, which brings some relief from heat. The maximum and minimum rainfall recorded is aroung 1866 mm and 199 mm respectively. As the rainfall is less in the area, scarcity of water is a very big problem. Around 350 waterholes are maintained by the park staff, which is to be filled through outside water tankers during extreme hot climate.
November and June are the best time to visit the place, even though the place can be visited any time of the year.
How to reach
Keshod is the nearest airport which is 90 kms from Gir. There are daily flights between Mumbai and Keshod, so that the visitors can easily reach the place.
The meter guage rail line from Ahmedabad is the nearest rail connection which is 395 kms.
Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda are the places that can be reached easily by road which is at a distance of 400 kms from Gir. Between the months of November and June, State Transport buses are available from Junagadh and Veraval to the place.
Critically endangered Asiatic Lions are found only at Gir National Park. When compared to the African Lions, the Asiatic Lions are smaller and more compact. The best glance of the Asiatic Lions at Gir can be caught at dawn or dusk, when they are moving. A number of other animals like Nilgai, Sambhar, Black Bucks, Chinkara, Wild Boar, crocodile, Grey Musk Shrew, four horned Antelope, Indian Flying Foe, Small Indian Mongoose, Indian Hare, Pale Hedgehog, Small Indian Civet, Ratel, Indian Porcupine, Indian Pangolin, Indian Fox and Jackal also lives in the sanctuary. The Gir forest is also a home for the Jungle Cat, Desert Cat and the Rusty Spotted Cat. About 300 species of fauna are present at the national park among which the most common is the peafowl. All the species make the forest rich in avian fauna.
The forest has so many different types of trees including Acacia, Banyan and the flame of the forest, Teak making it a mixed deciduous forest. Along the main rivers and streams, different types of vegetations are also found. The place has different species like the Jamun, Vad, Kalam,Tendu, Semul, Umro, Karanj, Ber, Charal, Sirus and Amli. Most of these trees are having very broad leaves, making the area very cool, moist and evergreen.
Other than the Asiatic Lions, Leopards are also found at Gir. Leopards are the second most commonly found predator in the forest. Gir is one among the parks in India having the largest population of Leopards. In hot summer season, they can be found even very close to the tourist lodges at night.
Sambar, Chowsingha, Wild Boar, Panthers, Chital, Nilgai,Langur, Jackal, Chinkara Gazelle, Wild Cats and Hares and Hyena are the other animals which are found at Gir National Park.
The sanctuary is also home for large number of bird species as the forest is having large number of water bodies and suitable climatic conditions. Paradise Flycatchers, Black headed Cuckoo Shrike, Rock Bush Quail, Gray Partridge, Coppersmiths, Indian Rollers, Crested Swifts, Gray Drongo, Pied Woodpeckers, Fish Owls, Bonelli's Eagles, Flamingo, Crested Serpent Eagles, Black Vultures, Shaheen Falcons, Painted Sandgrouse, Painted Storks and White Necked Storks are the different birds that can be found in the forest.
Reptiles in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Monitor Lizards, Pythons ,Marsh Crocodiles and a large variety of snakes comes under the reptile population in the park. An interesting breeding farm for crocodiles is located at Sasan, which provides specimen and are later relocated into the water reservoirs at the park.
Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia
Separate area for tourists is not designed at Gir National Park and Sanctuary. An Interpretation Zone has been created at Devalia to promote nature education and to minimize the tourism hazards to the wildlife in the park. A double-gate entry system and feeding-cum-living cages for the carnivores and all the habitats is within the chained fences of the sanctuary.
The best way to see the lions is when they prawl at dawn or at dusk in their natural habitat. Jeep Safari in the forest is the best way to view the wildlife at the Gir sanctuary.
Timings and Fees
Timings: 8-11 am and 3-5 pm.
Entry Fee: Rs. 30 for Indians, Foreigners US$ 5.
Guide Fee: Rs 50 for first 4 hrs, Rs 20 for every additional hour.
Camera Charges: Still Camera fee - Indians Rs 50, Foreigners US$ 5, Video Camera Fee - Indians Rs 2,500, foreigners US$ - 200.
Vehicle Entry: Indians Rs 35, Foreigners US$ 4. Jeep Hire Rs 600 per safari.
Where to stay
Lion Safari Camp
At the national park a new jungle safari c amp with all the luxuries is provided by Hotel Lion Safari Camp, which is just 3 kms from the Sasan village. This is the first luxury safari camp at Gir National Park, which is located in a private mango orchard facing the Hiran River. The hotel offers around 20 luxury tents.
Amenities & Services
All the luxurious services and amenities like 24 hours room service, doctor-on-call, lockers, 24 hours running hot and cold water, laundry service, car parking, jungle safari, table tennis, carom, chess, draft, snakes & ladder, volleyball, basketball, cricket, badminton, dart board etc. are provided by the hotel.
Hotel Lion Safari Camp,
Near Hireenshwar temple
Sasan Gir, District - Junagadh,
The world famous Gir National Park also has a lodging facility, Hotel Gir Lodge located on the edge of the forest. This also provides all the comfort and luxury with modern amenities. The hotel is far from Junagadh Railway Station by 65 km and 60 km from Keshod Airport.
The hotel has around 29 rooms and 2 suites. All the modern amenities like a refrigerator, television and attached bath with running hot and cold water are provided in the standard\rooms.
District Junagadh, 362135,
Do not disturb the animals during day time as most of the nocturnal animals sleep during day time.
- Do not try to irritate the animals or make them angry by teasing them.
- Take official guides along with you on the park trip.
- Do not smoke inside the park.
- Do not use flash or intrusive photography.
- Picking of plants and insects is strictly prohibited.
- Wear loose fitting and simple clothes that blend with the park surroundings.
- For the safety of the visitors, walking and hiking within the vicinity of the park is not allowed.
- Camping and picnicking is not allowed within the park.
- Carry plenty of water along with you.