a heavenly dwelling of Asiatic lions
Established in 1965, Gir national park is situated in Sasan Gir in the south west of Saurashea peninsula in Junaghadh district of Gujarat. It is the sole and the last abode to the Asiatic lions. The sanctuary is internationally acclaimed for successfully saving this species from the brink of extinction. The April 2010 census recorded the lion count at 411. Gir is mostly linked with 'Maldharis' the religious pastoral communities living there who have survived through the ages by having symbiotic relations with the lions.
The 4 reservoirs at the area at 4 dams including the biggest reservoir the Kamleshwar dam are dubbed as the lifeline of Gir. It has a topography made of succession of rugged ridges, isolated valleys, plateaus and hills. The overwhelming presence of the omnipresent big cats captures the attention.
The vegetation mainly along the main rivers and streams is mixed deciduous with teak, jamun, tendu and dhak trees interspersed with large patches of grasslands. Trees are mostly broad leaved and evergreen. The coastal plantation belt consists of exotic species such as Saru and Gandobaval.
The Gir forests support a rich biodiversity comprising 32 species of mammals, 26 species of reptiles and thousands of insects. There is a large population of leopard in the protected area and carnivores; the jungle cat, striped hyena and jackal. Other animals to be found are ratel, mongoose, porcupine, sambhar, chital, nilgai, chinkara and wild boar.
Around 300 species of birds are recorded both residents and migratory. The main scavengers are vultures of which there are 6 species. Malabar whistling thrush, paradise flycatcher, Indian pitta, tawny eagle, King Vulture, peafowl, pelicans etc are also prominently found. The noted ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali said that if there were no lions here then Gir would be known as the best bird sanctuaries.
Excursions in Gir
Situated 46 km away from the reserve, it is one of the most famous and ancient Hindu temples in India. Counted among the richest temples in India and several times looted by Mahmud of Ghazni. It is one of the 12 Hindu shrines of Lord Shiva.
Situated at a distance of 120km, the fort derives its name from 'old fort' which encircles the medieval town. Uperkot fort is the main attraction. Legend holds that the fort has been besieged 16 times.
Within the park the oldest Kankai temple and Tulishyam hot springs are located in the scenic surroundings. These are the natural hot springs where one can take bath. It is 90 km from the entrance of the park.
When to Visit
The park remains open from mid October to mid June. November, January and February are the best months to visit the sanctuary.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is at Keshod, 90km off the place.
The nearest rail connection is the meter gauge railway line of 395km at Ahmadabad.
Regular public transports are available at convenient hours connecting the reserve to main cities.