The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary popularly also known as Sasan Gir – a house of Asiatic lions and distinct flora and fauna spieces, is the main attraction in Gujarat. It is located near Talala Gir about 65km north east from Somanath. It was set up in 1965 with a total area of 1412 kms located in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. There are families of Madhesi tribals as well living inside the park. Very few know that Gir was the kind effort of Nawabs of Junagarh mainly Nawab Muhammad Rasul Khan, who protected the lion royalty in his own private hunting grounds which later on was taken over by Department of Forest Officials to protect the world’s most threatened species.
“The lion is an emblem of the dream of absolute power – and, as a wild rather than a domestic animal, he belongs to a world outside the realm of society and culture.”
We started our journey early morning from Somanath to Gir. There are beautiful farms and windmills on the way. Safari in early morning is better, when the animals are out for their morning hunting and other activities, but we missed our first batch and we went in 9 am safari. Safari started with lot of excitement being first jungle safari to see “King of Jungle”, weather was dry and roads were dusty. Chances of sighting a Lion and other mammals are better in summer as the animals are more likely to come to the water holes for drinking water. For the first half hour, we could not see anything and then after reaching little inside we saw two deer running and resting, sight was good. We got the change of seeing certain reptiles and lizards not much of my interest I would say, I was waiting for something else and then ….. View sight was jaw dropping.
The bunch of Lionesses were resting in the shade. My eyes were still and truly the wildlife has different beauty traits or rather personality traits I must say – “The lion does not need the whole world to fear him, only those nearest where he roams” .There was more for surprise further the King – Lion – we could see him resting in the shade – a rare calm view of Asiatic Lion – A moment to remember for Life – “I was not the lion, but it fell to me to give the lion’s roar”.
Further we went more deep in jungle near water stored tank – and we saw a large group of deer – The sight makes you forget all – “Everything pales in comparison to deer” – We were told not to make noise, but humans have their tounge moving around and cannot be controlled,bcoz of noise deer started running ,that sight makes me think me of golden deer of Ramayana – How bueatiful that would be?
If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull – that’s what happened when we saw Nilgai, also known as Blue bull of India. Even though it is an antelope, it looks quite similar in appearance to an ox. In between we also saw leopard from distance it was quick and not very promising. Our drive Guide told us that there are man eater leopards also – and many are caged in restricted area in Devalia for safety.
Gir – Asiatic Lion‘s habitat is dry scrub land and open deciduous forest the most promising long term preserve for them. In order to reduce the tourism hazard to the wildlife and to promote nature education, an Interpretation Zone has been created at Devalia within the sanctuary where animals including lions can be easily seen within short time.
The visit to Gir was a memorable experience that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
Best time to visit: February – May (Open only between October to June)
Main Attractions: Lions / Blue Bull /Deer.
How to reach:
1) From Railways Station:
Junagadh Railway station: Approximately 80 kms from Sasan Gir – Buses, Private vehicles, and even Rickshaws are easily available.
Veraval Railway station: : Approximately 70 kms from Sasan Gir – Buses, Private vehicles, and even Rickshaws are easily available
2) From Somanath : From Somnath it is approximately 65 Kms. It takes nearly 1 to 1.5 hours to cover this distance. Buses, private vehicles, and even Rickshaws are easily available.
It is at 110 Kms from Diu airport.
Things to carry: Sunscreen, Hats, Goggles, Cameras, Mobile phones, Water bottles, scarfs, No flashy clothes and bright colors like red, yellow.
Entry Fees: 150-200 Rs. per person for Gir Interpretation Zone and 800-1200 Rs. per person for Sasan Gir.
Caution: Do not make loud noise while the animals are around as it deflects the animal and can be dangerous.
Mother Nature (Global warming): Do not throw plastic bottles /Chips /Snacks/packets in jungle – don’t forget its home for animals, Keep it clean.
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”