Gir National Park: Sole Indian home of the Asiatic lions

Asia | | October 28, 2010 at 12:27 am


Nestled in the outskirts of the Junagadh town in the Indian state of Gujarat, the Gir Forest National Park is a wildlife haven know for preserving one of the most vital species of the Asiatic Lions. Since 1965, the ecosystem here is adorned with diverse flora as well as fauna, all of which are well protected – thanks to the NGOs, government, and wildlife activists. On this rugged landscape of low hills and blended vegetation, you will come across several hamlets of cattle folks who are traditionally known as Maldharis with some 20,000 livestock – food for the lion. Further, in the park, there are Hindu pilgrimage sites as well as sulphur springs at Kankai Mata and Tulsi Shyam.

Gir national park in Gujarat


The lush deciduous vegetation here also consists of Jamun, Teak, Acacia, Dhak, and Tendu trees scattered on the extensive grasslands. The forest here itself is an important biological research centre that attribute to the visual, educational, scientific, and entertaining standards. From this park, over 5 million kg of green grass of 10 million dollars is received annually along with the 15,000 metric tons of wood for fuel.


Over 2,400 animal species inhabit the Gir National Park of which 38 are mammals, 37 are reptiles, 300 are birds, and over 2,000 are insects. Be ready to spot some of the most wild and beautiful carnivores as well as herbivores – Asiatic Lions, Sloth Bears, Indian Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Jungle Cats, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose And Palm Civets, Desert And Rusty-Spotted Cats, Chital, Bluebull, Chinkara, Sambar, Four-Horned Antelope, Mangoose, Indian Flying Foe, Hedgehog, Grey Musk Shrew, Ratel, Small Indian Civet, Indian Fox, Jackal, and Wild Boar.

Jungle Cat

Among the smaller mammals here, the Hare, Porcupine, and rare Pangolin are worth a look. Coming to the reptiles, the Marsh crocodile that are in maximum number here, the Monitor Lizard in the water land, and the Indian Star Tortoise are seen. Snakes can be seen in the bushes, while Pythons are at the stream banks.

The population of birds also include the migratory ones – Vultures, Crested Serpent Eagle, Quailbush, rare Bonelli’s Eagle, Fish Owl, Crested Hawk-eagle, Horned Owl, Pygmy Woodpecker, Crested Treeswift, Black-headed Oriole, Black Headed Cuckoo Shrike, Patridge, Paradise Flycatcher, Painted Sandgrouse, and Pied Woodpecker.

Fish Owl

Water reserves

If you are a great fan of Indian rivers or are eager to spot them, from the park, you can see many perpetual rivers – Godavari, Shetrunji, Datardi, Machhundri, Hiran, Raval, and Shingoda. Among these, the last four are the venues of the four reservoirs of which the biggest reservoir is the Kamleshwar Dam, the lifeline of Gir.

Godavari river


The Gir National Park is best explorable via a Jeep Safari as the landscape is quite uneven here. You can also come here with own vehicle. However, do take the permission of the park authorities for taking it inside and also select a proper guide for the park tour. If you are opting for a jeep, you can hire it from the office that is situated at Sasan. Alternatively, even the tour operators provide one.

The park offers a mini bus ride to make you wander in the park. Book your seats in advance by heading to the park administration office. The timings of the safari are from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 3.00 to 5.00 in the evening.

Gir national park safari

Best visiting time

Late November to early March as the climate is very cool and dry that makes it easy to spot the wildlife in the open air. Kindly note that the park is closed between June and mid-October due to heavy rains.

Reaching the park
  • By Air:
    The closest one is Keshod, but the convenient one is the Rajkot airport from where you can select between a bus and taxi, which are easily available.
  • By Rail:
    The closest ones are Sasan Gir and Veraval. However, Rajkot is still the comfortable station, which is well linked with Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai.
  • By Road:
    From Junagadh and Veraval, you can easily catch a State Transport bus running from November to June. From Ahmedabad, you can take up the National Highway 8A that reaches Gir via Chotila, Bagodra, Limbdi, and Sayla after which the district road is to be taken via Khadia and Mendarda. From Junagadh and Ahmedabad, Volvo buses also run for Rs. 200.

Gir national park

  • Do not make any noise as the animals can get scarred.
  • Do not smoke, leave behind polythene bags, and throw any kind of non-biodegradable item.
  • Do bring a flash light.
  • Be equipped with the necessary medication.

The entry tickets can be purchased from the Sinh Sadan Guest House.

  • Rs. 30 for Indians
  • US$ 5 for the foreigners
  • Vehicle Entry with Rs. 35 for Indians and US$ 4 for foreigners
  • Guide for Rs. 50 for first 4 hrs and an additional 20 for every extra hour
  • Jeep Hire for Rs. 600 per safari
  • Still Camera for Rs. 50 for Indians and US$ 5 for foreigners
  • Video Camera for Rs. 2500 for Indians and US$ 200 for foreigners
  • Lion Safari Camp for Rs. 1000
  • Lion Show for Rs. 50 for Indians and US$ 5 for foreigners
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