Gir National Park – India’s sole sanctuary of the Asiatic Lions

Posted in Asia | May 1, 2011 | Comment Now

The Gir National Park is the pride of the fascinating state of Gujarat in the west as it is the only home of 300 Asiatic Lions. Accessible from the Rajkot state and situated at the distance of 65 kms from the nearby princely state of Junagadh in Gujarat’s Saurashtra, this wildlife sanctuary is a fully conserved area of 1412 square km featuring rocky landscape, mix vegetation, and low hills. The ecosystem is quite varied here, which along with the efforts of the government, NGOs, and wildlife activists has led to the preservation of an eclectic mix of flora as well as fauna. And special thanks also goes to Nawab of Junagadh who declared the area as protected in the 1990s for conserving the lions.

In the Gir National Park, you also get to explore several hamlets of the Maldhari tribe (cattle people) that raises domestic animals that make up for the major food of the lions, sulphur springs at Kankai Mata as well as Tulsi Shyam, and Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Flora attractions

The park is almost loaded with deciduous vegetation along with the Jamun, Teak, and Acacia trees over the extensive grasslands. By the way, this is the western India’s largest dry deciduous jungle. For the experts as well as the interested tourists, the forest has become an important biological research center featuring educational, scientific, and visual sights.

Fauna attractions

The Gir National Park is not only the home of the lions, but also of thousands of other species such as mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects. Among the carnivores, you can easily spot the Indian leopards and mongoose, striped hyenas, jungle cats, civets, ratels, sloth bears, golden jackals, and the desert cats; while the herbivores include spotted deer (Chital), Sambar, Bluebull, Indian flying foe, chinkara, pale hedgehog, four-horned antelope, jackal, and wild boar. Some of the smaller mammals that you get to see include the extinct Pangolin, Hare, and Porcupine; while the reptiles include the Marsh crocodile, Monitor Lizard in the marsh, and Indian Star Tortoise along with the snakes in bushes and pythons at the river banks. And yes, above all, do not forget to spot the Indian Gazelle that is also a protected creature – thanks to the locals’ religious attitude!

Coming to birds, the bird lovers will love to see the hunter as well as migratory groups. So, you do not go back home without spotting vultures, rare Bonelli’s eagle, crested serpent eagle, great horned owl, black-headed oriole, quail bush, brown fish owl, paradise flycatcher, pygmy woodpecker, painted sandgrouse, black headed cuckoo shrike, Indian pitta, grey patridge, and pied woodpecker.

Water reserves

Thanks to the seven eternal rivers in Gir that has facilitated four dams and reservoirs. These rivers are Shetrunji, Godavari, Datardi, and Hiran, Raval, Shingoda, as well as Machhundri. Among these, the latter four form the sights of the dams and reservoirs. If you do not have enough time, do at least visit the biggest reservoir called the Kamleshwar Dam that is the Gir’s helping hand.


I would recommend taking up a Jeep Safari because of the rough landscape in the Gir National Park. You are also allowed to enter with your own vehicle, but not without a park guide. If at all you are looking for a jeep, you can hire it from the park’s HQ at the Sasan hamlet. The timings of the safari are from morning 6:30 to 9:30 am and in the late afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. If at all you have less time to explore, then look for a mini bus ride for which you need to book the seats in advance at the administration office at the park.

Best time to visit
  • Late November to March for easy spotting of the wildlife.
  • June to mid-October: closed.
Reaching the Park

By Air, Keshod is the nearest airport; however, more convenient is the Rajkot airport from where a bus or taxi will get you to the park in some four hours. Even by train, the Rajkot station is recommended and it is well linked to the major cities of India including Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai.

  • $5 for foreigners and $ 0.5 for the Indians available at the Sinh Sadan Guest House.
  • $4 for foreigners and $0.7 for the Indians as the vehicle entry fee.
  • $1 for first 4 hrs and then per extra hour $ 0.04 as the guide fee.
  • $ 124 for Jeep safari (hired one).
  • $1 for Indians and $5 for the foreigners for still camera and the lion show (not including).
  • $50 for Indians and $200 for the foreigners for video camera.
  • $200 for the Lion Safari Camp.

8 to 11 am, 3 to 5 pm.

  • Carry the first-aid box, flash light, and a hat.
  • Avoid making any noise as that tends to scare the wildlife here.
  • Avoid smoking as it is strictly prohibited.
  • Avoid throwing any non-biodegradable material in the park as that is banned.
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