Sasan-Gir national park also known as Gir National Park is the last remaining refuge of Asiatic lions in India. Spread over 1,412 sq km park in Junagadh district of Gujarat, the national park was the erstwhile game preserve of the Nawab of Junagadh.
The Sasan-Gir national park was established in 1965 with the aim to protect and increase the lion population, which had sunk to two dozen in the early 20th century. After the inception of the park, the population of the lions has slowly increased; today the majestic cats number around 350.
The park boasts of 2,375 distinct fauna species, which includes about 38 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 37 species ofreptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects.
The Asiatic lions are the prime attraction of the park. The dry deciduous forest is also home to other wildlife species. There are around 300 leopards which includes jungle cat, desert cat, rusty spotted cat. Sloth bears, Indian cobras, striped hyenas, golden jackals, Indian mongoose, Indian palm civets, and ratels can also be seen in the park, besides chital, nilgai, sambar, four-horned antelope, chinkara and wild boar.
Gir is also home to the mugger or the marsh crocodile. The Crocodile Breeding Farm is located nearby. Gujarat State Forest Department adopted the Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977 and released close to 1000 marsh crocodiles into the Kamaleshwar Lake.
There are 300 species of birds, most of which are resident. Some of the typical species of Gir include crested serpent eagle,endangered bonelli’s eagle and crested hawk-eagle.
Gir Interpretation Zone is an important part of the Gir Protected Area. The four sq km zone has a cross-section of wildlife and a visit here almost guarantees a lion sighting.
The park’s wildlife is a paradise for nature enthusiasts, bird watchers and photographers.
- The Gir Interpretation Zone is open from Thursday to Tuesday at 8 am till 11 am and from 3 pm until dusk.
- The park administration conducts safari for the tourists. Three safaris are conducted daily –6.30 am, 9 am and 3 pm.
- The safaris have seven designated routes. A guide accompanies the safari tours.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation options are plenty at Gir. You can get budget as well as luxury hotels and lodges. The forest department operates two lodges – Sinh Sadan Forest lodge and the Gir lodge. You can also find private lodges and camps which matches your pocket size. It is advisable to book rooms in advance, especially during winter.
WHERE TO EAT
There are no eating options within the park. It is advisable to carry your own food.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The reserve remains closed between June to October. Visiting the park during winter is ideal as the weather during this period is pleasant.
BEST TIME TO VISIT JUNAGADH
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Junagadh is as given below. The best time to visit Junagadh is also specified.