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Gir Sanctuary

  • Place

Sasan Gir, Junagarh district, Gujarat

  • Best Season

Mid October-Mid June, November and February is the best time for sighting the lions

  • Sanctuary Area

About 1153.42 sq. Km wide.

  • Nearest Town

Veraval (42km)

  • Main Attraction

Famed as the only abode of Asiatic lions.


This area of Gir Sanctuary is renowned all over the world over preserving the almost extinct species of the Asiatic lions. The zoological name of this lion is Panthera Leo persica. The climate is dry here and it is classified as semi-arid all through the year. This area was established around 1884, however it was officially declared as a sanctuary only during 1964. Just adjacent to this sanctuary, there is the Gir National Park set up over 258.71sq.km of land.

Apart from Africa, this is the only place in the world that houses a huge pride of wild lions. While setting out to have a glimpse of these lions, tourists get to witness some of the rare species of birds that have the dense forests as their abode. The sweet humming of the birds fills the peaceful ambience of the forests. Some of the areas of the park are filled with crocodiles as well. An interesting point to note about lions is that, they live near human settlements without facing the danger of being threatened.

History of Gir Sanctuary

During the onset of the 20th century, it was found out by Junagadh Nawab that there were only around 15 lions alive in the country. Due to massive famine in the country, there was a huge danger of these lions being extinct. It was at this juncture that the Junagadh Nawab realised the importance and necessity of setting up a proper sanctuary for safeguarding these animals. After his death, the British rulers took over the ownership of the place, propagated laws in place to bring down the hunting of lions.  At that time the Chief Wildlife Officer had estimated that only 20. This was during 1936. As per a recent survey, this sanctuary has around 287 lions and should be given full credit for safeguarding these animals from extinction and doing all sorts of activities necessary for increasing the lion population.

Wildlife in Gir Sanctuary

This sanctuary is one of the last abodes for the Asiatic lions and the Indian wild ass. The varieties of flora and fauna found in this area belong to exquisite and rare species. There are various areas in Gir like the flat lands of the desert, coastlines of Gulf of Kutchch, deep and dense forests of Gir, sprawling grasslands of Velavadar, the relaxing retreat at Gondal, where birds from all over the nation and globe come and group in large numbers at the palace grounds of the erstwhile royal kings.

Apart from the Asiatic lions, this sanctuary is also famous for other species like Sambhar, Blackbucks, four horned Antelope, nilgai, chinkara, crocodile, wild boar, grey musk shrew, Indian flying foe, Indian hare, small Indian mongoose, small Indian civet, Indian porcupine, Indian Pangolin, Indian Fox, Ratel and Jackal. There are three types of wildcats here – Desert Cat, Rusty spotted cat and Jungle cat. Around 300 species of birds are found here of which the peafowl is the most common.

Birds

Some common birds that are found here are the tawny eagle, king vulture, crested hawk eagle, painted storks, pelicans, peafowls, paradise flycatcher, black naped flycatcher, orange headed ground thrush, whistling thrush and many more.

Nearest Places


Kamaleshwar Dam

This dam is located well within the premises of the Gir National Park and it was constructed in 1959 mainly to serve the irrigation needs of the locality. There is a beautiful reservoir created around the dam which is a breeding place for various birds and crocodiles. This was known as the Hiran-I Dam originally and was constructed on the Hiran River in the town of Visavadar.

Gir Bhimchas

This is dominated by steep valleys therefore tourists are not advised to go to this place. According to mythology, this was the place where one of the Pandava kings, Bhim had kicked a stone to produce water.

Somnath

This ancient and renowned Lord Shiva temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India. Somnath literally means “Protector of Moon God”. It was also known as Shrine Eternal by the erstwhile rulers and kings. It is located in the Prabhas Kshetra at Veraval in Saurashtra. It was demolished many times in the past as rules got changed.

Species Live in Sanctuary

Safari In Gir Sanctuary

Lions by nature are more adjusting in their character. They are able to live beside human settlements in perfect harmony when compared to tigers that get restless seeing humans amongst them. Timings of the safari are explained below:

Park Safari Timings

How to Reach


Reach by Air

  • Nearest airport is Rajkot, 165 kms via Junagadh.

Reach by Bus

  • Distance of 400 kms from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda.
  • Distance of 43 kms from Veraval.
  • Distance of 65 kms from Junagadh via Mendarda.

Reach by Train

Meter gauge rail line of 395 kms from Ahmedabad.

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