Gir National Park, Gir Forest National Park
Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only place in the world where you can spot lions roaming free in the wild apart from Africa. The real discovery channel of India is situated approximately 65 Kms South East of Junagarh District. The Government notified the large geographical extent of Sasan Gir as wildlife sanctuary on 18th September, 1965 in order to conserve the Asiatic Lion. It covers total area of 1412 square kilometers of which 258 Km forms the core area of the National Park. Indiscriminate hunting by the people of Junagarh led to their decrease in population drastically, while they were completely wiped out from the other parts of Asia. It was the kind effort of Nawabs of Junagarh who protected the queen royalty in his own private hunting grounds. Later in due course of time Department of Forest Officials came forward to protect the world’s most threatened species. From a population of approximately 20 lions in 1913, they have risen to a comfortable 523 according to 2015 census. There are 106 male, 201 female and 213 sub-adult lions in the wilderness of these four districts.
Major Attractions at Sasan Gir National Park:
Animals:The entire forest area of the Gir National Park is dry and deciduous which provides best habitat for Asiatic Lions. As per the new statics of 2015, the entire Saurashtra Region is inhabited by 523 Lions and more than 300 Leopards. Apart from these two animals the park is a home to two different species of Deer. The Sambar is counted largest Indian Deer. The Gir forest is also known for the Chowsingha – the world’s only four horned antelope. The Jackal, striped Hyena and India Fox are some of the smaller carnivores found in Gir Forest.
Birds: The exotic flora of Gir National Park gives shelter to more than 200 species of birds and moreover the sanctuary has been declared an important bird area by the Indian Bird Conservation Network. Gir is also habitat of raptors like critically endangered white-backed and long-billed vultures.
Reptiles: Gir is blessed with more than 40 species of reptiles and amphibians. Kamleshwar – a large reservoir in the sanctuary is the best spot where Marsh Crocodile can be seen in large numbers. Park has even many species of snake including King Kobra, the Russell’s viper, Saw-scaled viper and the Krait.
Gir Interpretation Zone, Devaliya: Devaliya Safari Park is enclosed area of the Sanctuary that offers a good opportunity for visitors to experience a rustic beauty and wilderness of the area. The safari tour is conducted in a mini bus that takes visitors to another cross section of the Gir. Travelers can watch here a good variety of wildlife in just 20 to 30 minutes tour including Asiatic Lion.
How to Reach Gir National Park Gir:
Gir National Park attracts large number of tourists to witness the Asiatic lion, as this is the sole place all across the world where these creatures are presently found. Once extinct, numbers have been recovered owing to the conservation efforts. The Sanctuary is open for tourism from 16th October to 15th June every year.
Junagadh is perhaps the best approach to the park. The railway station in Junagadh receives trains from different cities like Ahmedabad and Rajkot and other major cities. Then, from here it takes approximately one and half hour to reach Gir National Park.
From Rajkot-On reaching Rajkot Railway Station or Airport you can take a cab or bus and to reach a Limda chowk. There are a number of privately operated that go to Junagadh at frequent intervals. Junagadh is nearly 105 Kms from the city Rajkot and it takes nearly 2 and a half to 3 hours to cover the distance.From this point you have two options. First one is either you take a bus from gate number 11or 12 to Sasan Gir or travel by taxi that is accessible bang opposite the taxi stand. The taxi will take nearly one and half an hour and will charge reasonably and will drop you to Sasan Gir.
From Somnath to Gir National Park: Road Distance or the driving distance from the Gir National Park to Somnath is approximately 50 Kms and it takes nearly 1 hour to cover this distance. GSRTC buses and quite a few private buses ply between both the cities and take you directly to Sasan Gir Forest.
From Diu To Gir Park: Diu airport is closest to the Gir National Park. From here you can hire that are present just outside the airport which will take you to Sasan Gir. Sasan Gir is nearly 110 kms airport of Diu and takes approximately 2 hours to cover this distance. If you have a late afternoon flight it is better to take a halt at Diu or can visit Somnath Temple which is nearly 80 kms from Diu and the road too is good except in little patches. It just takes an hour to reach Somnath from Diu. Next morning you can move on to Sasan Gir which is just 40 kms from here and just takes half an hour to cover this distance.Some other routes to reach Sasan Gir by road is from Keshod which also has an airport and is 45 kms, Veraval is 40 kms away, Junagadh is 55kms, Rajkot is 160Kms, Ahemedabad is 410Kms. The closeby railway stations are Sasan which is 0 Kms and Rajkot which is 160 Kms.
If you can’t afford a taxi there are frequent buses that are playing throughout the day. The park is easily accessible from the beautiful beaches of Diu which is about two hours drive don’t want to take a taxi, pubic buses run regularly to Sasan Gir from both places during the day. People prefer private buses as it conveniently drops them to the Guest houses you want to reach. So in this way they are more convenient than the buses. No prior booking is required as the buses are available on any part of the day. So, come and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna of Gir National Park and take home some of the most treasured moments back home.
Gir Forest Nation Park Permit
For Gir National Park there are 3 safari tours each day that commences at 6.30 am, 9.30 am and then in the late evening at 3.30 pm. During summers the times are normally preponed by 30 minutes . Whereas the 6.30 AM trip is the best but when winters are at the peak the difference is negligible. In the monsoons Safari is usually suspended.
- There are 30 entry permits for each vehicle and altogether there are 90 trips that are taken per day. When the season is at the peak normally the number goes up to 150 per day.
- It has been observed that 100% of the permits of these vehicles are issued well in online.
- The permit that is issued is for Minimum of 1 to an upper limit of 6 travelers in a 4 X 4 Jeep Safari that is open. You can even travel in your private vehicle but it should be a Euro 3 amenable petrol vehicle. Just in case there are less than three people you can pool in with other individuals.
- For acquiring a permit and avoid any last minute inconvenience, you should apply for the permit atleast 30 days prior through your resort along with a photo ID of 1 individual of every group with 6 people.
- Every vehicle passes through 2 routes ie it makes an entry from one route and later moves out from the another one.
- Altogether there are 8 routes and on these paths, these 30 vehicles move in the above mentioned three slots.
- For the initial booking, the route is set at random by the authorities of the park, but just in case you are on your second visit, your request of choosing the second route will be considered by the park authorities.
- For those who do not have the booking have to individually line up in the queue at the Sinh Sadan Guest house at least 2 hours in advance and if you want the 6.30 slot be at the window at 4.30 am and during the peak season you have to stand 5-6 hrs before the actual time for the permit. If you are really keen for a permit at the last minute, you got to stand in a queue as early as possible to be within the first fifteen. Otherwise there is no possibility of getting the permit and in the peak season you even have to wait for a day.
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