Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Location : Gir, 42 kms away from Junagadh, Gujarat.
Area : 1412.13 sq. km
Major Attractions : Leopards, Asiatic Lions, Chowsingha, Sambar Deer, Chital Spotted Deer etc.
Best Time to Visit : November to June
Timings : 8-11 am and 3-5 pm.
Entry Fee : Rs. 30 for Indians, Foreigners US$ 5.
Guide Fee : Rs 50 for first 4 hrs, Rs 20 for every additonal hour.
Camera Charges : Still Camera fee - Indians Rs 50, Foreigners US$ 5, Video Camera Fee - Indians Rs 2,500, foreigners US$ - 200.
Vehicle Entry : Indians Rs 35, Foreigners US$ 4. Jeep Hire Rs 600 per safari.
Introducing Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Of course, you have already visited a number of wildlife sanctuaries and have seen various wild animals in their natural habitat, but your wildlife journey is incomplete without paying a visit to the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Situated in the south-western part of Gujarat, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary has a core area of 259 sq.kms with an additional belt of land constituting a buffer zone around it.
Once Gir was a part of the erstwhile Junagadh state, later in 1900, deeply concerned about the decreasing Lion population, the Nawab of Junagadh began to adopt conservation measures to save the Lions. In 1913, the Lion population of this region was just 20 but today, with the continuous efforts of wildlife lovers, it has increased to around 300. Gir was declared a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1965 and is the last shelter of Lions outside the African regions. Slightly smaller in size than their African cousin, the Asiatic Lions in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary attract a large number of tourists as well as wildlife enthusiasts throughout the year.
Flora of the Sanctuary
Flora of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary mainly comprises mixed deciduous forest with Teak, Acacia and Banyan trees. The flora of the sanctuary varies in different areas of the park. Along the main rivers and streams of the park you will get a distinct green vegetation belt. Common trees found in the park include Karanj, Jambu, Umro, Kalam, Charal, Vad, Amli and Siru. With their broad leaves, these trees provide the park area a cool shade and extra moisture.
Fauna of the Sanctuary
Though Gir is home to a variety of wild animals, but this wildlife sanctuary is renowned for its Lion population and India's largest Leopard population. Besides, the wildlife sanctuary provides shelter to several other animal species like Sambar, Spotted Deer, Chowsingha (Four-horned Antelope), Chinkara, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Gazelle, Langur, Jackal, Hares and Hyena. Gir is also home to a number reptiles like Marsh Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Pythons and a wide variety of snakes.
Close to Gir Wildlife Sanctuary there is an interesting crocodile breeding farm at Sasan, where you can see crocodiles in their natural habitat. Apart from these, you can view numerous bird species like White Necked Stork, Paradise Flycatcher, Black headed Cuckoo Shrike, Bonneli's Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Painted Storks, Pied Woodpecker, Woodpeckers Flamingo etc.
Activities You Can Take Part In
Lion Jeep Safari :
If you want to spot Lion in Gir National Park, Jeep Safari is the best way. In the park, there are seven marked out tourists trails open for Jeep Safari. While you are on Jeep Safari, you can spot the Lions in their natural habitat, when they are on the prowl. Watching the Lions from open-roof jeep is altogether a wonderful experience. During your Jeep Safari tour, you can also click some pictures of the Lions. Best time to spot the Lions are at the dusk and dawn. Jeeps and guides are made available by the Forest Department. For those who wish to explore the sanctuary on their own vehicle, it is compulsory to take along a guide from forest department.
Where to Stay
Plenty of accommodations are available at Sasan, located near the entrance of wildlife sanctuary. You can stay at Sinh Sadan Guest House which is run by the Gujarat tourism authorities. Apart from offering all the basic amenities, Sinh Sadan Guest House provides you clean rooms and catering outlets. Maneland Jungle Lodge and Lion Safari Lodge are other rest houses which provide good accommodation at a cheap price.
How to Reach
Nearest airport is located at Keshod, which is only 86 kms away. You can catch daily flights from Mumbai to Keshod. Sasan (1 km) is the nearest railway station which is connected by metre gauge line with Ahmedabad (395 kms). Good network of roads connect Gir Wildlife Sanctuary with Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda. Between November and June, State Transport Buses run to and from Junagadh and Veraval to Gir.