Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. National Park in India, Asia

Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

National Park in India, Asia

Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary Photo © Jagadip Singh

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Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

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Located in the Indian state of Gujarat (Wikipedia Article), Gir National Wildlife Park is the only remaining bastion for the famous Asiatic lions. The Gir Forest was earlier a favorite hunting ground for the Nawab of Junagadh (Wikipedia Article). However, owing to the rapid decline in the population of wild animals, the forest came under the protection, which led to a gradual increase of the Asiatic Lions in this forest.

 - Gir Forest
	National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by unknown

History and Demographics

The objective to maintain and preserve Asiatic Lions in the Gir Forest was initiated in the year 1900 by the Nawab of Junagadh. That was the time when the population of the lions dropped to a mere twelve. By 1936, the number increased to around 250 lions and as per a survey in 2010, the population of Asiatic Lions was recorded to be over 400. In the year 1965, Gir got the status of National Park and was declared as a wildlife sanctuary.
However, in the present times, the area of the forest was reduced to 1/3rd of its original size. Today, Gir is one of the largest, dry deciduous forests in Gujarat housing the rare Asiatic Lions along with different varieties of birds and other mammals.
Gir Forest stretches on 1,412 square kilometers of land, of which 258 square kilometers is a protected area as a national park and the remaining area is used as the sanctuary.
Gir Forest is generally dry which is very much evident from the dry deciduous forest which surrounds this place. However, Gir is lucky when it comes to water flow. The seven rivers in the Gir area; Godavari, Shetrunji; Shingoda, Machhundri; Raval, Hiran; and Datardi have enabled four major reservoir areas in four dams across four different rivers and are considered the lifeline of Gir.

Features of the Park

Besides Asiatic Lions, Gir National Park has a number of Leopard, Jungle Cat; Mongoose, Stripped Hyena; Wild Boar, Nilgai; Spotted Deer, and Sambar.
Around 300 different varieties of birds have been recorded in the Gir Forest. Some of them are White-Necked Stork, Pied Woodpecker; Jungle Bush Quail, Great Horned Owl; Bonelli's Eagle, Tawny Eagle; Shaheen Falcon, Nightjar; and others. Gir is also famous for a large number of migratory birds as they travel from far-away places to make Gir their second abode.
Gir is not only the home of wild animals as few pastoralist groups have even survived side-by-side in this the wilderness. The Maldhars are the main pastoral group that lives in this area. The Maldharis are mainly of Hindu and Muslim origin and their basic subsistence is through farming and tending cows and buffaloes. Another group that exists in the Gir region is the Siddi (Wikipedia Article)s and they are of pure African origins. History indicates that these Africans were once slaves and mercenaries. As they settled in this area, they have become a powerful group and are well known for their traditional dances and other performances that they organize within themselves.

Gir Lake -
	Gir National Forest  and Wildlife Sanctuary - Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir Lake - Gir National Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary - Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by unknown

Sightseeing in Gir

In order to attain proper conservation of nature and wild animals living in the Gir Forest, the authorities have devised two different safaris for the visitors. They are Gir Jungle Trail and Devalia Safari.
The Gir Jungle Trail offers a candid tour of the national park on an open jeep. The tour is conducted by the forest authorities and is led by experienced personnel’s to travel into the interior of the wild areas in this forested track.
For the Gir Jungle Trail, you need to make an advanced booking from the official website of Gir. As a foreigner you need to pay ₨ 7,000 ($112) for the safari, and a maximum six persons are allowed in one jeep. The safari operates on three time schedules. The morning safari is from 6:00 AM until 9:00 PM. The second session is from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM, and the evening safari is from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM.
The Devalia Safari is a travel into 412 hectare of fenced land which houses all the wild animals of the Gir Forest. The reason to create this facility is to give the travelers an opportunity to see lions in close proximity at a very cheap rate. Instead of a jeep, small buses operate this safari to take you inside this jungle.
The Devalia Safari Park remains open every day except Wednesday. The morning safari spans from 8 AM till 11 AM and the evening safari is from 3 PM until 5 PM.
Both the bookings can be made online from the official website and can be booked three months in advance.

 - Gir Forest
	National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by unknown

Where to Stay

Owing to the large number of tourists visiting each year in Gir National Park, there are a couple of accommodations available in the forest region. They are Gir Birding Lodge, Maneland Jungle Lodge; Fern Gir Forest, Anil Farm House; Amidhara Resort Gir, The Gateway Hotel; Lion Safari Camp, Vanavso Resort Gir; Hotel Umang Gir, Saavaj Resort Gir; and the Sukhsagar Resort Gir. All these resorts have dining facilities and it is recommended to stick to them as there are not many other options available in this forested area.

Best Time to Visit

Gir National Forest remains closed from June until October, because of the monsoons. December to March is a good time for visiting Gir as the weather remains relatively cool during these months. However, the best time to visit Gir would be from April until May. Though the weather is hot and humid during this time, there are very high chances to encounter wild animals as they often come from deep within the forest to drink water owing to the heat.

 - Gir Forest
	National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by unknown

How to reach Gir National Park


In order to reach Gir National Park via flight, you need to either reach Keshod, Diu, or Rajkot. The distance from Keshod to the national park is around 90 kilometers, but there aren’t frequent air connectivity via this route. Diu has direct flights from Mumbai and Porbandar. There are regular flights from Mumbai except on Saturdays. The distance from the airport to the park is around 84 kilometers and it takes around two hours to reach the destination by car.
Another option is to reach Rajkot, located at a distance of around 172 kilometers from this forest region. Rajkot is well connected to other domestic regions of India and is good for those who are not visiting Gir from Mumbai.


The rail station of Junagadh is well connected with other parts of India and is located around 1 kilometer from the forest region.

Traveling Tips

  • Carry adequate water on the safari tour.
  • Avoid using flash during photography.
  • It is important not to disturb or irritate the wild animals.
  • Do not pick any plants or flowers within the park.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited inside the park.
  • Do not loiter alone in the forest area as you may get mauled by the wild animals.
If you have some time to spare after the National Park tour, you may plan to visit: Dwarka, Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary (Wikipedia Article); Porbandar, Rajkot; Gondal, Jamnagar; Diu Island, Jetpur; Girnar, Junagadh; Ran of Kutch (Wikipedia
	Article), Veraval; and Somnath Temple. All these locations are well frequented by travelers and accommodations are available in most of the places.

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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: Dec 13, 2014


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