Gir National Park – The daring experience of facing a lion, a royal touch of history, surreal vibes of tranquility, and a beautiful day amidst nature- Gir Forest National Park offers it all. The Asiatic lion, a subspecies that split from African lions around 100,000 years ago, once roamed the wilds of Asia and the Middle East. Now these rare beasts can only be found in a small corner of Western India. The national park of Sasan Gir in Gujarat is the last remaining abode of these magnificent cats. You must add this to your list of wildlife destinations in India!
Gir National Park
Located in ‘Junagadh’ district of Gujarat, Gir Forest National Park is also a wildlife sanctuary. Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Sasan Gir, is a forest, national park, and wildlife sanctuary near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India. It is located 43 km (27 mi) north-east of Somnath, 65 km (40 mi) south-east of Junagadh and 60 km (37 mi) south-west of Amreli. It got the wildlife sanctuary status in 1965 and the national park status 10 years later in 1975. The total area of Gir Forest covers about 1,412 km2 of which sanctuary area includes 1,153 km2 and the national park is about 258 km2.
The overall sanctuary and park area is called the Sasan-Gir or Gir Van and is widely known for its Asiatic lions. No matter, which place you talk about in India, Indian history is linked with it. So is with Gir Forest National Park. Earlier it was the hunting reserve of the Nawabs of Junadagh.
India is a nation known for its rich wildlife! Being the only home to the majestic Asiatic Lions across the world, it takes pride in offering the wildlife enthusiasts an experience unparalleled through such rare fauna. Asiatic Lions in India are found in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat, amidst the dry deciduous forests and grassy scrublands.
How to reach Gir Forest National Park
Once you’re all set to visit Gir Forest National Park, reaching there is not difficult at all. Gir Forest National Park has its own Railway station named Sasan Railway Junction which is just a few km away from the park. It is the best approach to reach the Gir Forest. As it is not connected to other states, you can take a halt at Somnath, Rajkot, Junagadh, or Veraval Railway stations.
It takes nearly 1-2 hours by roads to get Gir Forest National Park from these stations. The road network is well connected to the park. Anytime, from anywhere you can get hundreds of autos, taxis, cars and buses going to Gir Forest National Park. If you going by air, you can take off at Diu Airport, Ahmadabad Airport or at Keshod Airport. Keshod is the closest airport to the park, just at a distance of 38 km.
A glimpse of Gir Forest National Park
Gir Forest National Park is the most diverse place in Gujarat. Though it is mainly known for its Asiatic Lions but is no lesser when it comes to exceptional flora, fauna and natural beauty. Let’s have a quick overview of it.
Needless to mention, Lions are the heart of Gir Forest National Park. Here, if you see lions roaming free around the forest, don’t be stunned because this is what this park is known for. Besides the forests of Africa, this park is the only place on the earth where you can see many herds of lions.
Here, the lion conservation started centuries ago around in 1900 with the idea of Lord Curzon. That time, there were only 20 lions left but fortunately, in recent years, the population of lions has increased significantly. As per the 2015 census, Gir Forest National Park houses 523 lions and 300 leopards and holds the record of having the maximum numbers of lions in Asia.
Flora and Water
The matchless varieties of flora and perpetual source of water increase the beauty of this park 100 times more. In this park, a huge array of trees and plants are found. The prominent source of water for the flora & fauna of this park is the 7 perennial rivers which flow through the Gir Forest. Going through the widespread grasslands, dense forests and the shore of rivers give the utter vibes of nature.
Other Animals, Reptiles and Birds
Apart from the lions, the forested valleys of Gir Forest National Park give shelter to many other animals, birds and reptiles too. Having the population of over 32,000, the Chital and the Indian spotted deer are the most-sighted animals in this park. World’s only 4-horned antelope Sambar and Chausingha are also found here. Other than mammals, Gir Forest National Park is also home to more than 200 species of birds and 40 species of reptiles. If you’re a bird lover, no place in India can amuse you more than this.
Gir Forest National Park is a place where lions are the center of attraction. The rustic beauty and the wilderness of this park are something you can witness nowhere. Here, every time you have a fear of getting attacked by a lion but at the same time, you also have a curiosity to see him closely.
So come and have this thrilling feel of roaming through the park. If you’re all convinced, come here in between 16th October to 15th June. It is closed during the Monsoon months.