National Park and Sanctuary, Gujarat
Gir National Park, was established on 18th September, 1965,
as a Forest Reserve, primarily to conserve the Asiatic lion.
The total area under national park status is about 2,450 hectares.
It is located in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, about 65
km south-east of Junagadh city, and 90 km east of Keshod Airport,
in the Kathiawar (Saurashtra) Peninsula. Sasan, with a forest
rest-house, is the headquarters of the sanctuary.The Gir is
a mixed deciduous type of forest with teak, ber, flame of
the forest, jamun, a variety of acacia, particularly babul.
It is a hilly tract with plenty of rivers, and offers the
visitor long pleasant drives, through the thick forest cover.
It is the only remaining habitat of the Asiatic lion, which
has been confined to this forest, since 1884 ( about 239 lions
were reported in 1985 ).The Asiatic lion is slightly smaller
than its African cousin, nevertheless, a large male lion of
the Gir is quite a sight to behold. The best way to observe
the big cats is, of course, in their natural surroundings,
at dawn and dusk, when they are on the prowl. The Forest Department
does arrange lion shows every Sunday, where the spectators
can watch prides of lions on the hunt.There are guided trips
available, to watch these magnificent animals from a very
The chinkara, wild boar, striped hyena, jackal, common langur,
porcupine, hare, black buck, are the other animals, that can
be found in this sanctuary. There are over 200 bird species
including the peafowl, grey partridge, Bonelli's eagle, crested
serpent eagle, jungle bush quail, painted sandgrouse, common
green pigeon and several species of doves . The Gir is also
home to the marsh crocodile, which can be sighted easily in
its rivers, particularly in the lake of the Kamaleshwar dam.
There is also a crocodile breeding farm at Sasan.
The Gir is steeped in history and folklore. It boasts of temples
of great antiquity, like Kankai Mata and Tulsishyam, a place
of pilgrimage with hot springs. The forest is famous for its
cattle herders, the Madharis, whose buffaloes form a substantial
part of the lions' meals. Extremely hospitable, the Madharis
are herders, whose lifestyle has changed little over the years,
and their folklore and traditions are a unique record of coexistence
of humans with lions.
Wildlife viewing in the Girs is best done, by driving around
the forest. The best drives from Sasan are, to Baval Chowk
and Kankai, to Chodavdi and Tulsishyam, and to Kamaleshwar
dam. Though a sturdy car would do, a jeep is definitely more
Three unusual reserves, the Nalsarovar Lake and Sanctuary
- home to several water-birds, the Little Rann of Kutch -
home of the Indian wild ass, and the fascinating Flamingo
Island, render the state of Gujarat a virtual haven for wildlife
When to visit
The sanctuary remains closed from June to October and the
ideal time to visit is between December and March.The Park
is closed during monsoon till mid-October.
How to get there
State transport buses make the two hour trip between Junagadh
and Veraval via Sasan Gir, four times a day. Slow steam trains
run to Veraval twice daily, and to Delwada and Junagadh once