Famed as the only wildlife sanctuary that houses the Asiatic Lion, the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary, is collectively known as the Gir Protected Area.
Gir is situated in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. Gir stretches over 1,412 sq km of scrub and grassland, dry deciduous forest and some marshland. Besides lions, Gir harbours other wildlife such as antelope, deer, leopards, hyenas, crocodiles, and jackals, along with a spectacular array of birds.
Nearly exterminated by 1910- a result of drought, irate villagers and sheer indifference- the Gir lions were brought under protection by the Nawab of Junagadh, who banned all hunting in the area. After independence, in 1965, the Indian government declared the area a national park. The lion population- which had sunk to an alarming two dozen in the early 20th century- has slowly climbed over the years since.
An important part of the Gir Protected Area is the 4sqkm spread known as the Gir Interpretation Zone, about 12 km from Sasan Gir Village, the headquarters of the park. The Zone has a cross-section of wildlife within the park, and a visit here almost guarantees a lion sighting.
Gir Forest Reserve are limited to wildlife and bird watching which can be best enjoyed by jeep safari.
In and Around
Crocodile Rearing Centre
The centre’s main role is to breed crocodiles for reintroduction to the wild.
Interpretation Park, Devalia
An excellent microcosm of the vast Gir National Park, this scaled down version covers four sq. km. in nearby Devalia. Visit it for a cross section of wildlife Gir’s animals in their natural habitat.
Located within Sasan’s guesthouse campus, the centre is a good place to understand more of the park’s inhabitants with interesting dioramas, images and clay models.
The manmade reservoir is home to a large population of crocodiles. Take a look but do not enter the water.
Kankai Mata Temple
Kankai Mata Temple is situated right in middle of Sasan Gir Sanctuary and is visited as principle deity to many castes in India.
The fishing port of Veraval is known for its dhow-building yard where massive hand-built seaworthy vessels are made. Once a port of the Nawab of Junagadh, it has old gates and historic buildings.
Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple
Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples in India. This lies overlooking Arabian Sea and has one of the most scenic locations among all Jyotirlinga temples. Temple has a rich history and was built and razed down several times over the centuries and was finally restored to its current form after Indian independence.
Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden also known as Sakkarbaug Zoo or Junagadh Zoo is a 200-hectare zoo that opened in 1863 at Junagadh, Gujarat, India. Junagadh Zoo is one of the famous places near gir and it is one of the oldest zoos in Gujarat. The Junagadh Zoo was built in 1863 then Nawab of Gujarat had set up this zoo in order to save the Asiatic Lion.Main wildlife originate in are Asiatic Lions, Leopards, Chowsingha etc.
This 3660-ft high hill rises on the outskirts of Junagadh with temples on ridges and on the summit. The 12th century Jain Temples are specially attractive with exquisite carvings.
The textile town of Jetpur is known for its block and screen printing workshops and is good for shopping.
Diu Island was once ruled by the Portuguese and is now a Union Territory. Popular as a beach destination, the island also has a 16th century Portuguese Fort, the impressive St Paul’s Church, Diu Museum and old houses. Flamingos, storks and waders can be seen at the creeks of Diu.
The Gir National Park is open from the mid of October to mid of June. November, January and February are the best months to visit the sanctuary. However the best time to view the lions, in their natural surroundings is early in the morning or after 4 p.m. It is during this time that the animals are most active and can be easily spotted.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is located at Keshod.
The nearest railway station is located at Junagadh. This station is located on the Ahmedabad – Junagadh and Rajkot – Junagadh line.
Gir National Park is connected to various cities in Gujarat. Junagadh is about 60 kms from the Gir National Park.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
The forest department operates two lodges, the Sinh Sadan Forest Lodge and the Gir Lodge, while some private hotels also exist.
The Fern Gir Forest Resort
Sasan Gir – 362 135 Dist Junagadh,
Club Mahindra Safari Resort
Bhalchel, Haripur road,
Maneland Jungle Lodge Gir
Chitrod – Sagondra Road,
Sasan Talala, Gujarat