Gir National Park

  • Junagarh, Gujarat, India

Explore Gir National Park

Being the only park after Africa where you can spot the majestic wild lions in their natural habitat, Sasan Gir makes one of the best National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in India where people come from near and far to experience the thrill of being in the territory of the King of the Jungle. Gir national forest is although predominantly a wild place with the lions and other wild beasts ruling the terrain, it is still a beautiful example of the wild animals and humans coexisting in harmony with the Maldhari community living in the locality for generations.

Established in the year 1965, Sasan Gir or Gir National Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the state of Gujrat, India. Spread in an expansive area of 1412 sq. km, about 258 sq. km of area comprises of the national park which is a fully protected area and the rest of the area of about 1153 sq. km is makes up the sanctuary. Located close to the cities of Somnath and Junagarh with a distance of 65 and 60 km respectively, the park is well accessible. Due to its protected species it is considered to be the most important and well protected areas in Asia. Most noteworthy is the fact, that it is the sole home of Asiatic lions in the whole of the continent.

The Nawab of the then princely state of Junagarh, declared the park as 'protected' in the year 1900. Prior to the declaration, the park was infested with hunters who recklessly hunted down lions to slaughter them and use their remains as trophies, till the number dipped down to an alarming 15. Now the joints efforts of the government, forest department, many NGOs and animal activists have restored the ecosystem where the diverse flora and fauna flourish freely in the protected environment.

The Sasan Gir national park and wildlife sanctuary is well endowed with thick deciduous forest that has a highly undulating terrain. The forest area is interspersed with evergreen and semi-evergreen flora, grasslands, acacia, marshes and rocky hills. Fed by numerous rivers and streams, it provides a breath taking view in addition to replenishing the land and the wildlife. The perennial rivers include Hiran, Godavari, Shetrunji and Datardi among others. There are four dams over Raval, Shingodi, Machundri and Hiran that provide reservoirs with the Kamleshwar dam forming the largest reservoir in the forest area, hence also titled the 'the lifeline of Gir'. The reservoir areas form a mesmerising vista along with giving one the opportunity to spot many birds and reptiles like crocodiles.

Best time to visit Gir National Park

Although the chances to spot a lion in the Sasan Gir national park are the highest in the summer months between March to May, the heat can get quite hot and unbearable. Thus, it the winter period of October to March is considered the best time to visit the park. Safari tours usually get suspended in the monsoon.

The Sasan Gir National Park has ample of good options to stay. One can choose from budget hotels to luxury staying options. The government run lodges, Sinh Sadan is cheap and a good option to put up at the place. It offers comfortable and inexpensive rooms with nice ambience. Apart from this, there are many other good options too to stay at the park.

Asiatic Lion Lodge

Sasan Gir

Asiatic Lion Lodge is nestled between two forested hills of Gir National Park and Sanctuary, adjoining a natural water pond near village Haripur (Gir). Asiatic Lion Lodge has 16 cottages with en-suite modern bathrooms and all eco friendly modern room amenities, Varandah with safari chairs and an Indian seating inside for plenty of privacy.

Amidhara Resort

Sasan Gir

Saavaj Resort

Sasan Gir

Vanvaso Resort

Sasan Gir

Fauna at Gir National Park

The Sasan Gir national park has a huge and varied animal life with 2375 different species of fauna. The Asiatic lions or the Panthera Leo of the park is smaller as compared to the African lion. There are about 38 species of mammals, then there are 37 species of reptiles, beautiful set of 300 species of birds and the rest about 2000 species are that of insects. With the efforts of a special governmental lion breeding program there are about 400 Asiatic lions, making it the best place to experience the proximity to the regal beast. They attract over sixty thousand tourists every year to the Saurashtra peninsula in which the Gir national forest is located. The dusks and dawns make the best times to spot and observe the big cats including both Lions and Leopards when they are out on prowl. Other than the Lion and Leopards other carnivorous animals of the arena include India Sloth Bears, Golden Jackal, Rusty Spotted Cats, Indian Mongoose, Striped Hyenas, Indian Palm Civets, Indian Cobras, Jungle Cats, Ratels and Desert Cat. The herbivorous clan consists majorly of Chital, Four-Horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Black bucks, Sambhar, Chinkara and Nilgai or Bluebull. Other smaller mammals include Pangolin, Black-Naped Indian Hare, Langur and Porcupine. Reptiles consist of Marsh Crocodiles, Monitor Lizard and Tortoise. About 300 species of avi-fauna are found in the region among which most are resident. They can be easily spotted along the calm lake of Nalsarover and other regions along the streams. There are 6 species of Vultures among the scavengers. Other main birds of the forest are the endangered Bonelli's Eagle, White-Eyed Buzzard, Crested Treeswift, Pygmy Woodpecker, Crested Serpent Eagle,Eurasian Griffon, Osprey, Yellow-Footed Green Piegeon, Lagar Falcon, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Pitta, Cuckoo, Coppersmith Barbet, Grey Indian Hornbill, Sand Grouse, Crested Hawk Eagle, Black-Headed Oriole, Flycatcher Paradise, Bush Quail, Red-Headed Falcon, Parrot, Peacock, Flamingo etc. Kamleshwar dam gives one ample of opportunities to spot the water fowl along its wetland. These include the Indian Skimmer and Dalmation and Spot-billed Pelicans among others.

Flora at Gir National Park

The forest type is mainly deciduous with dry teak forests being the predominant. While a part of the woods comprise of scrub forest, other half is mainly savannah type which is known as the 'vidis' among the local folk. The latter forms the largest dry deciduous forest in the western region of India when teak is mostly confined to the eastern part. The Sasan Gir national park has an astounding 400 species of plants. While teak is the most important tree in the region, it also has many other fauna including, Khair, Simal, Babul, Dhavdo, Asundro, Sadad, Amla, Kadayo, Khakhro, Timru , Bahedo, Salai, Ber and Moledi. Another distinct vegetation belt can be seen along the prime rivers and streams of the park that have notably broad leaves that are of evergreen type. These chiefly constitute Umro, Jambu, Amli, Vad, Karfanj, siru, Charal and Kalam. These provide cool shade in the hot summer afternoons along with refreshing moisture, hence, a making a great place to spot the enchanting wildlife resting under the trees, hiding away from the taxing sun. Apart from these, the forest department has also planted many Prosopis and Casuarina plants along the coastal periphery, for the afforestation plan.

Experience Gir Jungle Safari

The grandeur of this lush green landscape, picturesque with the deep ravines, turbulent rivers and varied range of exquisite animals and plants can be best enjoyed with a safari. The jungle safaris allows one to experience the tranquillity and serenity of the jungle and capture its beauty in your cameras forever with your cameras. The park offers 3 safari tours every day which commence with the first safari one early morning at 6:30 am, if you miss it then second at 9:30 am and the last one in the early evening at 3:30 pm. However, the time varies a little depending upon the climate and season with a slight forward shift during thee winters. The early morning trips are most rewarding and pleasant and the difference in the weather is hardly noticeable with the change in the season. The entry fee chargeable for each safari tour is quite nominal, being INR 300 for Indian nationals. The jeep, still or video camera and other entities each have separate fees. Every safari requires a permit which is advised to be obtained 30 days prior to the day of the desired trip. There are 30 permits for every given safari vehicle. One can either opt for a 4X4 open jeep with six seating capacity or can take your own vehicle provided it is petrol driven Euro 3 amenable vehicle. Each safari has to enter through one of the two routes and exits through the second. There are 8 routes in total.

How to reach Gir National Park

Air: Although the nearest airport is Keshod, it is more convenient to fly to Rajkot and travel to the park by road, through bus or taxi.

Rail: The nearest railway station is Sasan Gir but again, it is more convenient to reach Rajkot by train and then travel to the park by bus or taxi.

Road: The park is well connected by roads. One can travel Junagarh and Veraval by State Transport buses. NH8A can be taken to reach the park from Ahemdabad. One can also take Volvo buses that run between Ahemadabad and Junagarh.