Gir national park and sanctuary is the only natural habitat of Asiatic lion (Panthera Leo Persica) in the world. It is located in western India at Gujarat state. Gir national park is also referred as "Sasan Gir". This forest lies in south-west of Gujarat in Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forest eco-region, spread over Saurashtra peninsula.. It is a good example of wildlife conservation in which population of Asiatic Lion revided from 20 to more than 600. Outside African continent, lions can be seen only here, at their natural habitat. Their was a time when these lions have their presence in large area of North India and Central India but gradually they were wiped out from other areas and Junagarh forest area became their last home. This forest is rare example of coexistense of human society with large predators. Here Asiatic Lions are coexisting with local Maldharis community since long time. Here we can find more than 35 mammal species, 300 birds species, 40 reptile species and large variety in vegetation. Lion safari in Gir is popular among tourists. In addition to this, tourists have option to do good birdwatching, birds photography, visit to lion breeding center, crocodile breeding center etc. It is open for visitors from October to June end. Those who are not able to explore African wildlife, may visit Gir national park to understand the natural habitat of lions and their prey-base.
Gir national park lies in Saurashtra region of Gujarat state. It is an ancient region ruled by different dynasties. Simple meaning of Saurashtra means "good country". During 3rd century, it was under rule of Ashoka (Maurya dynasty). Due to presence of sea, it was a business center. From 9th to 14th century, it was under control of Chudasma Rajputs. After them, this region was under Gujarat Sultanate in 15th & 16th century. Later it became princely state of Babai dynasty in 1654. Earlier they were under Mughal rule later declared themselves independent and later became protectorate of British India government. Gir forest was their private hunting reserve. Its name Gir is derived from Girnar hills. Advent of firearms, resulted into large scale hunting in India and thus Lion population wiped out from other parts of India. Here also hunting continued, resulted into steep decline in lion's population during 1800 to 1860 AD. Local rulers failed to sense the decline or overlooked the issue as they were under British India governence. Hunting was popular game for royal family members and British officers in India. It was 1890 when Duke of Clarence, Prince Victor Albert was on India tour and he expressed the wish for lion hunting expedition. Till that time, lions were already cornered to Junagarh princely state forest thus responsibility lied on them to make arrangements. Due to relentless hunting, lion population was negligible. Princely state officials tried hard to locate lions and with lot of difficulty they managed to game arramgements and visit was conducted successfully. This was eye-opening for local Nawab Sir Muhammed Mahabat Khan ji -3rd and thus he took necessary steps for lion conservation and thus conservation program started and going on till now.
Gir national park is special in many ways. As already mentioned above, it is the only habitat of Asiatic Lions in the world thus only destination for Asiatic Lion safari. Unlike tiger safaris, here lion density is very high thus their sighting is comparatively easy which give more satisfaction among tourists. It offers sufficient opportunity for lions photography. This rustic scrub land is also a very good destination for bird watching with 300 bird species. Presence of Lion breeding center, Crorodile breeding center are good for education tours and research scholars.
Gir national park jungle safaris are operated from 15th October and goes till 15th June. Two rounds of jungle safaris are operated in a each day. Morning safari and afternoon safari is of 3:00 hrs each. In morning round, two slots are operated i.e. from 6:00-9:00 am & 8:30 -11:30 am.
Jungle safaris in Gir national park is operated in safari season that begins from 15th October and goes till 15th June. During monsoon season, safaris remain closed for visitors. Jungle safari in Gir national park is mainly done on open jeeps. Here online safari booking option is available thus we can do advance safari booking so that get our travel arrangements confirmed in advance. Here safari starting points are Sinh Sadan and Sasan Gir. It means we have to reach these point for jungle safari drives. Two rounds of jungle safaris are operated in a day. Morning safari and afternoon safari is of 3:00 hrs each. In morning round, two slots are operated i.e. from 6:00-9:00 am & 8:30 -11:30 am. Under special cases, Forest Department retains the right to change/cancel/suspend the safaris or their timings. In addition to jeep safaris, tourists have option to visit Crocodile breeding center and Sinh Sadan. It is marsh crocodile beeding center where we can do their photography. It entry is free. If you are looking for short safari version then tourists have option to visit Devalia Gir Interpretation zone. It is a protected area of 14 sq, km in which we can find prototype of Gir national park. Here safaris are operated in bus and jeeps. It is a short version of safari thus duration is 30 minutes. For trekking lovers, Hiran river trekking option is available. It is one of the major water stream flowing through Sasan Gir forest with many tributries rivers. It is good for nature lovers and allows the visitors to do landscape photography, vegetation photography, birds photography and mammals sighting. This nature walk is a wonderful experience for low budget visitors as it is free of cost but their is fixed time range to follow.
Here we have shared small checklists of trees, mammals, birds, reptiles. In this list we have tried to cover some prominently seen wildlife species. Carrying list of these species will be helpful during jungle safari drives.
|Bamboo trees||Asiatic Lion||Bonelli's Eagle||Mugger Crocodile|
|Flame of Forest||Sambar Deer||Changeable Hawk-eagle||Indian Rock Python|
|Acacia (Babul)||Blackbucks||Crested Serpent Eagle||Common Garden Lizard|
|Syzygium cumini||Wild Boar||Indian Peafowl||Fan Throated Lizard|
|Tendu Tree||Chinkara||Indian Eagle Owl||Common Rat Snake|
|Dhak,||Spotted Deer||Indian Pitta||Indian Cobra|
|Boswellia serrata||Nilgai||Cresteed Treeswift||Flap Shell Turtle|
|Siris (Albizia lebbeck)||Four-horned Antelope||Brown Fish Owl||Russel's Viper|
|Teak||Golden Jackal||Coppersmith Barbet||Common Sand Boa|
|Banyan Tee||Indian Leopard||Grey Hornbill||Monitor Lizard|
Gir national park is easily accessible by flight and train options. Further journey from airport or railway station to respective resort is possible through tourist cabs.
|Destinations||Gir NP Sinh Sadan
|Devaliya Safari Park
|Ambardi Safari Park
|Girnar Nature Safari
|Junagadh Railway Station||55||50||90||04|
|Blackbuck National Park Velavadar||225||255||160||210|
Gir national park is open for visitors, from mid of October to mid of June. Tourists can undertake jungle safaris in between this period. Here majority of tourists prefers to visit Gir forest in period from November to March, due to good climatic condition and festival holidays. Where as wildlife photographers prefers to visit Gir in spring to summer i.e. from February to April. This period is good for lion photography. Thus as per your interest you can decide your best time to visit but we can say that period from November to March is indeed good for all type of tourists.
Gir national park is popular for Asiatic Lions. In addition to this, it offers sighting of 300 bird species thus tour can be planned with these two preferences. Traveling from November to March is good for all kind of visitors thus you can decide your travel dates for this period. Here both jeep safaris and bus safaris are operated thus for wildlife photography or small families, jeep safari option is very much suitable but if you have large group of tourists, then you may go for bus safari option. As online safari booking option is available thus advance safari permits booking is recommended to avoid last moment challenges.Here 2-3 rounds of jungle safaris should be done to get exposure to the wildlife of this national park.
Gir national park have all category of accommodation option. Here we can find budget category hotels, homestays, resorts. Due to dry arid region, we can't find vast eco-friendly lodges with many trees, as we see in south India or Central Indian national parks but still medium eco-friendly luxury options are available.
Gir national park lies in south-west of Gujarat state in western India. Here it is the only big cat forest. Other destinations are mainly for birdings like Nalsarovar, Little Rann of Kutch, Velavadar Blackbuch national park are prominent ones. Apart from this, many other pilgrimage destionations are close to it like Somnath temple, Dwarka city, Palitana Jain Temples etc.