Trailing Gujarat: Gir National Park, last home of Asiatic Lions

Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park
                                           Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park
Sasan is well connected with Junagadh with frequent state transport busses (once in an hour). It's a scenic route through teak forest and journey takes around 90 minutes (53 km, 30 INR). Sasan is a small town set in the middle of Gir Forest and the only entry point to the national park. I love the villages adjoining the national parks for their serenity and picturesque settings. Sound of the jungle is another fascinating façade which wins extra points. Finding a budget accommodation is a hitch in Sasan as most of the options are high-end. After weighing all the available options, we settled to the hotel (500 INR per night) opposite to Sinh Sadan. Later we got to know about the dormitory option (50 INR per person) available inside Sinh Sadan Guest house.
Tribal Settlement inside Gir Forest
                                          Tribal Settlement inside Gir Forest
Why all the realizations happen after the mistake? ...Why knowledge does not appear at the right time?... Why people don’t get the things when they really need it? .... Come on… then life will be an oversimplified conception… None will love it…
Water Stream inside Gir Forest
                                       Water Stream inside Gir Forest
We sulked on our mistake for not checking at Sinh Sadan lodge and roamed around the village enquiring on various possibilities of booking a Safari, visiting Devalia, visiting tribal villages of the sanctuary etc. We visited the nearby crocodile center which is a minor delight. We were fortunate not to land at Sasan on weekend else we might have missed the Safari and even could not get an accommodation. There was nothing left in that evening except chitchatting with Guides, meaningless meandering around the forest trail, descending under the bridges on dried water streams.
Kamaleshwar Lake Gir Forest
                                      Kamaleshwar Lake Gir Forest
Another dinner went with Gujarati Thali which was decent enough and then we hit the hay to wake up early in the morning for getting the permit for early morning safari. It was another sleepless night when I was peeking out of the window to see how long the queue is in front of the permit counter. Finally I left the bed at 5:00 AM and queued myself. We were not only able to obtain permits for the morning Safari but also found fellow travelers to share the Safari expenses and Here we entered to Gir National Park (Route no:4 it was).
Railway Track passing through the forest
                                     Railway Track passing through the forest

How to reach Sasan Gir: It can be approached from Junagadh or Veraval. Frequent (Once in an hour) State transport busses.

Where to stay in Sasan Gir: Sasan is a small village in the middle of Gir forest and only entry point for the travelers to park. High end jungle resorts and hotels are located a bit far from the village. All the major hotel companies of country have their resorts around Sasan. Budget accommodation options are limited and only available in the main market opposite to Sinh Sadan Guest house. One can get a room in 500-600 INR per night. Charges will be more during weekends. Dormitory (50 INR per person) in Sinh Sadan Guest house is the best deal for budget travelers.

Where to eat: Restaurants are lined up in the main street and offer decent Gujarati Thali and other meals.

Teak Forest of Gir
                                                  Teak Forest of Gir

Booking Safari in Advance:  You need to send (FAX) an application with date of visit, timing and copies of ID proof to Deputy Conservator of Forests, Sasan Gir (Phone: 02877-285541, Fax: 02877-285641, Email: wildlife_ad1@sancharnet.in) one month in advance.
Visiting hours for Gir Tourism Zone:
Morning: 06:00 to 09:00, Morning: 09:00 to 12:00, Afternoon: 15:00 to 18:00
* Permits will be issued 30 minutes earlier from beginning of visit time.
Visiting time for Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia:
Morning: 08:00 to 11:00, Afternoon: 15:00 to 17:00

Asiatic Lions in Gir Forest
                                              Asiatic Lions in Gir Forest

 

 

For Indian Nationals (INR)

For Foreigners (in $)

                                      Entrée Fee for Gir Sanctuary and National Park

                                        Entrée Fee for vehicles including visitors

LMV-Car, Jeep (upto 6 persons)
 

400

$ 40

Additional Extra Person per Trip

50

$10

In case you are not driving in your own vehicle, Gypsy guys Charge 1000 INR for each trip excluding entrée fee (which is 400 INR)

                                            Entrée Fee for Devaliya Interpretation Zone

Individual person per trip

75

$20

Metador, Station Wagon (up to 15 persons)

1000

$100

                                                                         Guide fee

For first four hours per vehicle

50

 

For every additional hours

20

 

                                                    Professional Photography (Per day/Camera)

Still photography

100

$10

Documentary

5000

$500

Feature Film

250000

$1000

More than 7 mp for digital camera

100

$10

                                                  Rates for Sinh Sadan Guest House, Sasan (Gir)

Air conditioned Room per day

1500

$75

Non Air conditioned Room per day

500

$50

Dormitory (Per person) per day

50

$10

Tent per day

200

$20

                                                                 Lunch/Dinner Charges

Vegetarian Lunch/Dinner

70

$5

Vegetarian Breakfast

40

$2

Tea/Coffee

07

$1

Sunrise in Kamaleshwar Lake
                                         Sunrise in Kamaleshwar Lake

About Gir National Park:
 

Gir is the largest continuous tract of forest in Saurashtra harboring the last Asiatic lions in the wild. Gir Forest forms the catchment areas of important rivers like the Hiran, Shingoda, Machhundri, Datatrdi, Raval, Shetrunji. The Presence of the lions and other wildlife, and the enchanting beauty of the area have made Gir a popular tourist destination.
Safari Trail inside the national park
                                    Safari Trail inside the national park

Rolling hills, undulating terrain, eight perennial rivers, interspersed with innumerable streams, roars of lions and their echoes reverberating in the valleys, alarm calls of deer and langur, birds of prey gliding in the sky, elusive leopards lurking in thickets-all these make up what we call Gir, a truly live and action-packed forest.
Teak forest of Gir National Park
                                           Teak forest of Gir National Park

Gir Forests support rich biological diversity comprising 38 species of mammals, 37 species of reptiles, about 300 species of birds and more than 2000 species of insects. This diverse wildlife is sustained, directly or indirectly, by more than 550 flowering plant species nourished by a variety of soil types.
Wild Boar Inside the Park
                                         Wild Boar Inside the Park

The main carnivores in the Gir forests are the Asiatic lion, leopard, hyena, jackal, fox, jungle cat, mongoose and honey badger. The main herbivores are the chital (spotted deer), Sambarm, blue bull, four horned antelope, chinkara and langur. Marsh crocodile, star tortoise, monitor lizard and python represent the reptilian fauna. Birds ranging from raptors (birds of prey) to the warblers represent bird diversity. The main predator birds of Gir are the great horned owl, tawny eagle, crested hawk eagle, shikra etc. White eye, Indian pitta, black-naped blue flycatcher, golden oriole, iora, verditer flycatcher are some of the colorful birds of Gir.
Dry and Deciduous Gir Forest
                                           Dry and Deciduous Gir Forest

The Land configuration of Gir is mainly undulating with moderate hills, valleys and raised flat grounds. The northern parts are more hilly than the southern parts. The General drainage direction is south and south-west. Soil types vary from black cotton soil, reddish brown sandy loam soil, clayey in deep valleys to gravelly along the river banks.
Tree of Edible Gum in Gir Forest
                                             Tree of Edible Gum in Gir Forest

The rugged hilly terrain forms the catchment areas of eight perennial rivers. Gir has variety of forest types such as riverine forest, teak forest, acacia-zizphus woodland, mixed forest, shrubland, teak mixed forest, Savannah forest and grassland. The diversity of forest types has resulted in flourishing diversity of animal and bird species.
Tribal Settlement near Kamleshwar Dam
                                      Tribal Settlement near Kamleshwar Dam

Morning Safari is considered the best chance to sight Asiatic Lions in the wild but in my opinion it is your chance to witness one of the spectacular sunrise in awe-inspiring backdrop. Kamleshwar Dam which is often termed as “the lifeline of Gir” was the first pit-stop of the Safari where you can step up to the watch tower and capture a panoramic view of the forest and tribal villages. Reflection of the dawn on the lake waters is a breath-taking shot. My Gir trip was fulfilled at that moment itself which was later embellished with the sighting of Asiatic Lions feeding on a prey (Sambar Deer). Besides Asiatic Lions and other wild life, Gir Forest itself is quite scenic and that was the reason we planned to spend more time in the forest around Devalia. Devalia is some 14 km from Sasan and can only be reached by private transport. Yet again we hired a Khatra (200 INR for return trip) to drop us to Devalia Interpretation center.
Gir Interpretation Zone Devalia
                                  Gir Interpretation Zone Devalia

Visiting time for Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia:
Morning: 08:00 to 11:00, Afternoon: 15:00 to 17:00
 

To ensure that tourists get to see lions and other wildlife, and to facilitate their understanding of the Gir ecosystem, Gir Interpretation Zone, Devalia was opened to tourists in year 1992. An Area of 412 ha displaying most of the forest types of Gir is enclosed with chain link fencing. It has been developed in a way that enables tourists to observe lions, herbivores, reptiles like monitor lizards, and a variety of birds, that includes winter visiting harriers.
Morning at Kamleshwar Lake Gir
                                           Morning at Kamleshwar Lake Gir

Majestic lions in their natural mood and home, heard of chital, blue bulls looking cautiously at you, vigilant Sambar in dense cover, watchful wild pigs, silently prowling jackals, an amazing array of birds, and all of them merged with a beautiful undulating terrain- that is the Gir Interpretation zone, Devalia, a forest area specially set aside for tourists.
Road to Devalia
                                                  Road to Devalia

Devalia is also an economical way to get inside the national park and sight Asiatic Lions. If you miss the sighting in forest then you must visit Devalia. We were back to Sasan town and had no plans to stay there further….. Waiting for the bus to Somnath… Good bye Gir, the largest continuous tract of forests in this draught-prone region.
Asiatic Lions enjoying the prey
                                                 Asiatic Lions enjoying the prey

 

Travel Tips:
* Permits can be easily obtained if you are staying in Sinh Sadan Guest house. Permits are issued from the office at Sinh Sadan Guest house. Preferences are given to the guests and remaining permits are issued to other visitors. Getting permit becomes a hitch on weekends and on holidays. You will have to line up in the queue early morning (5:00 AM)
* It is difficult to find an accommodation in the range of 300-400 at Sasan.
* Visitors pay extra 1000 INR to the Guide to ensure Lion’s sighting. I had observed that only the gypsies those paid extra could sight the Lions…. Quite unusual and unethical culture….
* Forest officials will club you with other travelers if you are alone or in a smaller group.

 

 

Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order

Trailing Gujarat: Train to Bhuj

Trailing Gujarat: Bhuj, Capital of Kutch

Trailing Gujarat: Northern Kutch, Dhordo and Kalo Dungar

Trailing Gujarat: Western Kutch, Lakhpat and Narayan Sarovar

Trailing Gujarat: Southern Kutch, Beachline of Mandvi

Trailing Gujarat: Eastern Kutch, Splendor of Rapar and Dholavira

Trailing Gujarat: Dhrangadhra, a lesser known delight of Gujarat

Trailing Gujarat: Little Rann of Kutch, Salt Plains and Heat Mirage

Trailing Gujarat: Jamnagar and Marine National Park, Narara

Trailing Gujarat: Dwarka, Where Pilgrims meet the end of earth (Read: Sea)

Trailing Gujarat: Junagadh, City of archaeological attractions

Trailing Gujarat: Gir National Park, last home of Asiatic Lions

Trailing Gujarat: Diu, Real thirst-quencher

Trailing Gujarat: Alang, Where Ships come to die

Trailing Gujarat: Champaner and Pavagadh

Trailing Gujarat: Ahmedabad and Lothal

Trailing Gujarat: Patan, Modhera and Separation

Beautiful article on asiatic

Beautiful article on asiatic lion at Gir. Hope to see you sometime if we get chance to be at sametime n location.

Sure thing. I will look

Sure thing. I will look forward to the same.

ok. Btw had been to devaliya

ok. Btw had been to devaliya safari park yesterday. Was a worth experience.

Nice writeup Vishnu..quite

Nice writeup Vishnu..quite helpful

Thanks for your comment..

Thanks for your comment.. keep dropping by.

+- Vishnu

Nice post, espeically the

Nice post, espeically the break up of all the costs.

We recently got back from a trip to Gir....here are some pics...

http://tickingthebucketlist.blogspot.in/2014/05/india-gir-only-home-of-a...

Thanks for sharing the

Thanks for sharing the link... keep dropping by...

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.