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Gir National Park

This is perhaps the last of those sanctuaries that house the rare and almost extinct Asiatic Lion. This area is dry and contains a semi-arid climate all through the year. This park is nicely embedded inside the deep and dense forests. This was established in 1884 and came to be known as a sanctuary in 1965. This sanctuary has received global appreciation for preserving the Asiatic lions from going extinct.

The geographical borders of this park are filled by valleys, plateaus, mountains and rough ridges. Though the Asiatic Lions are the main animals housed within this sanctuary, tourists can also spot the ruddy mongoose, rusty spotted cat, ratel, pangolin, paradise flycatcher, rivets etc.

History of Gir National Park

The Gir National Park has been the abode of Asiatic lions ever since 1884. In the early days, the British rulers had the habit of hunting down lions to claim as their personal achievements. The hunting expeditions of the British rulers were supported and encouraged by the Maharajas and nawabs who ruled the different states. A large number of lions were shot down by these people. During 1899, when the country witnessed a notorious famine, it came to Lord Curzon’s notice that the lions were decreasing at an alarming rate. He immediately cancelled his scheduled expedition that was to be held at Gir and he advised all local rulers to stop shooting of lions to save them from extinction. At the time of Independence, the number of lions were at a reasonable level as shooting was banned; however post- Independence, the local Maharajas resumed hunting down lions there by bringing down the number of lions again. It was only during 1960s that the Indian Government officially announced that hunting down lions was banned and today only photo-based safaris are allowed. Today this park houses around 300 lions.

Location

The sanctuary is set on a sprawling area of 1153.42 sqkm whereas the national park is set on an area of 258.71sq.km. This place is strategically located between the districts of Junagadh and Amreli in Saurashtra. Sasan, an important attraction is easily accessible from Junagadh as it is about 60 km away from the place.

How to Reach

By Air – At about 165km from Junagadh, the Rajkot airport is the closest.
By Bus – the various bus routes through which Gir can be accessed are:

  • From Veraval – 43km away
  • From Junagadh through Mendarda – 65km away
  • From Ahmedabad through Rajkot, Mendarda and Junagadh – 400km away

By train – One can reach Gir through well connected trains from Ahmedabad as it is about 395km away.

Best Time to visit

The sanctuary looks best when visited from June to October, as the climate is pleasant and the rains leave the sanctuaries clean and green, however, it is always advised to explore the sanctuary between December and April as the lack of rains and cool climate will make the trip pleasurable.

Wildlife Attractions in the Gir National Park

  • The Asiatic line which is the most common animal here is quite intelligent, gregarious and is highly capable. These are different from the African lions in that, they have lesser mane, folded belly, smaller size and lighter weight. A collection of lions is known as pride and a pride usually is dominated by females, few cubs and few male members. Other animals that are spotted in the National Park are Sāmbhar, Bulbul, Chinkara, wild boar, crocodile, Langur, chital, hyena, leopard, ratel, porcupine, civets, mongoose, porcupine and jackal.
  • Some of the other peculiar varieties of species found here are paradise flycatcher, naped flycatcher, orange headed ground thrush, tawny eagle, Indian pitta, whistling thrush, king vulture, crested serpent eagle, crested hawk eagle, pelicans, storks and peafowls.

Other Attractions at the Park

The Tulshiyam Hot springs are one of the major tourist attractions at the Gir National Park, where tourists gather in huge numbers to take bath. These springs are located at a distance of 90 km from the sanctuary. The ancient Kankai Mata temple is another attraction here. The buffaloes reared by the Madharis, or the cattle herders, form the meal of the huge lion population here.

Gir Opening Hours

The national park is open from mid-June to mid-October. The park offers three safaris during a day at 6.30AM, 9AM and 3PM. The Interpretation Zone is open on all days of the week except Wednesday from 8AM to 11.30AM and from 3Pm until evening.

Dos and Don’ts at the Gir National Park

  • Tourists must take necessary approvals and follow the rules of the park.
  • The park has appointed tourists guides for the tourists’ benefit. Tourists must make use of these guides for better guidance and support to avoid feeling stranded.
  • Tourists must exercise caution while driving. The beauty should be enjoyed quietly without hindering the wildlife in anyway.
  • Tourists must always drive only in the authorised routes. Driving in new routes not only affects growth of plants and trees but also disturbs animals that are resting or sleeping.
  • The animals must be given their due respect and tourists must ensure that they don’t go too near the animals. The park is the abode of the animals and they get preferential treatment than the tourists.
  • Tourists must not play songs on their personal music devices or car stereos. Only when the environment is quiet, wildlife can be appreciated in a much better way.
  • Tourists must always dress in sober colours. Dressing up in bright colours may cause panic to the animals.
  • Lighting fires or camp fires in the forests must be avoided because a small mistake can lead to widespread jungle fires.
  • Tourists must remain in their vehicles at all times and must never alight when within the park. This is for the mutual safety of the tourists and the animals.
  • Though Gir is famous for its lions, tourists must not lose heart on not spotting one. There are many other interesting creatures to see inside the park.
  • Consuming alcohol inside the park or just before entering the park should be strictly avoided.
  • Tourists must contribute for the safety of the environment inside the park. All biodegradable litter should be stored in the bags allocated for them. This will help to reduce the pollution inside the park.
  • Tourists must always carry ample supply of drinking water with them while entering the park.
  • An important point to note is that if tourists are found guilty of causing damage to wildlife, they can face a seven year jail imprisonment and a cash penalty of 25000 INR.

Visitor’s Cooperation During Sanctuary Visit

  • Take prior reservations to visit Gir to avoid regrets.
  • All necessary rules and regulations should be adhered to.
  • Sober coloured clothes that match with the environment should be worn while visiting Gir.
  • Make use of the guides and take the necessary approvals while entering the sanctuary.
  • While inside the forest, extreme silence needs to be maintained so that birds and animals are not disturbed.
  • The Gir Sanctuary does not approve night visits and tourists are punished if they do so.
  • Talking loudly, honking, playing loud music etc. are some activities that should be strictly avoided in the park, as they disturb the wild animals.
  • The Gir Park and sanctuary should be kept clean and hygienic by tourist. Food and other litter should not be strewn across the areas.
  • Wild animals must be given their space.  Teasing or chasing them must be strictly avoided.
  • Lighting fire is a strict no-no, as a small mistake can cause huge accidents.
  • Tourists should not smoke while inside the sanctuary
  • Firearms and dangerous weapons should not be taken inside the sanctuary.
  • All financial transactions are done in Indian Currency
  • Plastic bags, Water bottles etc. should not be littered everywhere in the park and tourists need to appreciate the cleanliness of the area.
  • Trying to gain unauthorised access to wildlife should be strictly avoided.
  • Instruments like personal walkie-talkies, wireless equipment or handsets should not be carried inside the sanctuary.

Booking Rates in Gir National Park

http://www.gujaratlion.com/booking-rates.htm

Where to Stay


Maneland Jungle Lodge

Situated at just about 3km from the sanctuary, this is one of the most popular options for tourists to stay. Gir Birding Lodge too is frequented by lots of tourists, as it is situated in close vicinity to the park. At a reasonable distance on the way to Gir Interpretation Zone, there are decent accommodation facilities available at reasonable rates.

Hotel Address

Gir Lion Sanctuary and National Park

Sasan, District: Junagadh Gujarat (India),Pin - 362135.

Tel: 02877-285555, 285690 / 91.

Cell (Ashok Chavda). : 09978826717.

E-Mail: booking@maneland.com

E-Mail: ashokchavda@gmail.com

Sinh Sadan Guest House

This is operated and controlled by the Indian Government and provides reasonable services at affordable costs. The ambience is great and the rooms come at a reasonable Rs 500 to Rs 1500 per night. The only catch here is that reservations need to be done at least a month in advance.

Hotel Address

Sinh Sadan, Sasan Gir,Dist. Junagadh, Pin 362135 Gujarat, India

Phone: +91 02877 285540

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