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Gir National Park / Wildlife Sanctuary, the home of the Indian lion, in the state of Gujarat




Location: 55 km SE of Junagadh District, Gujarat, India
Area covered: 1412.13 sq. km.
Main Wildlife Found: Asiatic Lion, Leopard, Chowsingh
Best time to visit: December to April

Distance from major cities

Veraval : 42 km
Keshod : 86 km
Delhi : 1140 km
Mumbai : 340 km
Rajkot : 160 km/3 hrs.
Ahmedabad : 415 km (SW)/7 hrs.

How to Reach

By Air: Nearest airport is Keshod 90-km via Veraval. There are daily flights from Mumbai to Keshod. Drive to Gir from Keshod or Rajkot (166-kms) airports.
By Rail: Meter gauge rail line of 395-kms from Ahemedabad. There is also a railway station at Sasan Gir (1km).
By Road: Distance of 400 kms from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda. State Transport buses are also available from Junagadh via Mendarda (65 kms) and Veraval (42 km) between November and June.

Location of Gir National Park on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

Climate

The temperatures at the park vary to extremes, as they do with most of the country too. In winters, the temperatures go down to as low as 6 degrees centigrade, while soaring up to a scorching 46 degrees in the summers. The park is open to visitors from November to May but the best time for visiting the park, taking comfort and wildlife viewing into consideration, is December to March. The park offers many excellent drives through scenic areas.

Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary comprises 1412 sq km of deciduous forest interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen flora, acacia, scrub jungle, grasslands and rocky hills. Fed by perennial and seasonal rivers and streams, the sanctuary has large water bodies like the Kamleshwar Dam that are good for crocodiles and birds. The Gir Sanctuary came into existence with the purpose of protecting the little left of the lion population outside of Africa. In 1913, there was a sharp decline in the number of lions in the sanctuary, dropping to just 20. Since then, the situation has improved and today we have about 300 lions here. The Asiatic lion is a little smaller in size than its African cousin and so is its mane. Today, these animals are found only in the Gir Sanctuary.

The land is rugged with deep ravines, steep rocky hills and plenty of rivers. The vegetation, mainly along the main rivers and streams is mixed deciduous, with Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees, interspersed with large patches of grasslands and offers the visitor long pleasant drives, through the thick forest cover. These trees are mostly broad leaved and evergreen, giving the area a cool shade and moisture content. The Gir forest is dry for most of the year with scrub trees, like babul and few flowering trees. Prosopis and Casuarina have been planted in the coastal border as part of the aforestation plan.

The main attraction of the place is the “lion shows”, organized by the park authorities in the Dewaliya area, which are a sure-shot way of seeing the magnificent big cats. These “spectacles” for the public are hopefully soon going to be axed, as is proposed by the more thoughtful of the governing bodies, and a safari park instead is to replace them with an area of around 1000 acres being set aside with a higher population density of lions to enhance sighting chances.
The Gir National Park in India proves to be a protected area for the lions but threats like human settlements, loss of habitat and prey species are obvious. The biggest threat to the lion population is poaching. Though the punishment for poaching is exemplary, poachers do make bids to bag lion skins.

Fauna in Gir Forest

Next to the lion, leopards are the dominant species at Gir. To complement these regal animals, one can also spot deer and antelopes like sambar, chital or the spotted deer, nilgai antelope, chowsingha or the four-horned antelope, andchinkara gazelle. Less noble than these animals, but as fascinating, are the wild boar, langur, jackal, and hyena. The sight of paradise flycatchers, Bonneli’s eagles, crested serpent eagles, woodpeckers, and flamingos flitting among the trees will enchant bird enthusiasts and ornithologists. The rivers and streams of Gir are a treasure-trove of wildlife as well. More than 25 species of reptiles have been identified. The most famous is the marsh crocodile, which sprawls lazily along the rivers.

Flora in Gir Forest

The vegetation, which is mainly along the main rivers and streams is mixed deciduous. There are Teak, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees interspersed with large patches of grasslands. These offer the visitors pleasant drives through the thick forest cover. These trees are mostly broad leaved and evergreen, giving the area a cool shade and moisture content. The Gir forest is dry for most of the year with scrub trees, like babul and few flowering trees. The forest and flora is an important biological research area with considerable scientific, educational, aesthetic and recreational values.

Jeep Safari

The best way to observe the big cats is, of course, in their natural surroundings, at dawn and dusk, when they are on the prowl. Wildlife viewing in the Gir’s is best done, by driving via jeep around the forest.

Apart from Wildlife attractions and Safaris in Gir National Park you can also enjoy the tribal village visit and historic town of Junagadh. A couple of tribes still reside inside the park co-existing with the wild animals. A visit to these tribal villages is an interesting experience that introduces the visitors to the unique lifestyle and ways of living of the tribal people.

Places of importance and interest in the historic town of Junagadh are:
• Uparkot Fort: Famous for its virtual inaccessibility.
• Chorwad beach: A delightful resort on the sunny coast of Gujarat.
• Ahmadpur Mandvi: One of the finest beaches in India.
• Damodar: A sacred tank marks the ascent to the Girnar temples.
• Ashoka’s Rock Edicts: On the way to Girnar, fourteen rock edicts of the Emperor Ashoka can be seen inscribed on a great boulder.
• Maqbara: The mausolea of the Nawabs, the traditional rulers of Junagadh.
• Tulsi Shyam Hot Spring.
• Somnath temple: Temple of Somnath is one of the twelve most sacred Shiva shrines in India.
• The Temple of Girnar.

The Asiatic Lion

he Asiatic Lion is rated the most endangered large carnivore globally. And India has the distinction of being the last earthly refuge of the Asiatic lion. The Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary is the one and only remaining habitat of this proud and majestic species. An average Asiatic Lion, also known as the Indian Lion, is generally 2.5 m to 2.9 m tall, and weighs between 200 to 250 kg. It has a majestic mane and a big tail tuft. Indian Lions move about in prides, comprising 2-3 male adults and more lionesses and cubs. The Asiatic Lions are lazy and indolent creatures that prey on the Sambar, Chital, Nilgai, Wild Pig, and occasionally on goats and camels. Lion males often live in pairs that last a lifetime.

Important things to remember

– 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.

Places to stay in Gir

Gir National Park offers all types of accommodations to suit all kind of travellers coming to the park. There are economical as well as luxury hotels/lodges.
– Sinh Sadan Guest House: This hotel is located at the entrance of the Gir National Park. This is basically a budget hotel run by the Gujarat tourism with all the basic facilities.
– The Gir Lodge, Gir: It offers 29 rooms including 2 suites and other facilities like doctor-on-call, lockers, laundry, car parking, jungle safari, table tennis, carom, cricket, visits to pilgrims etc. It is the most luxurious hotel near Gir National Park.
– Hotel Maneland Jungle Lodge, Sasan Gir: It offers 15 spacious and well maintained rooms. It offers all the modern facilities like attached bathroom with running hot and cold water, TV, telephone, round the clock room service, doctor-on-call, lockers, laundry, car parking, indoor and outdoor games etc.




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