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India >> West >> Gujarat >> Gir National Park
Gir National Park Gujarat, West
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The Gir Forest, the sole abode of the pure Asiatic Lions is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. On September 18, 1965, Gir was formally declared a Lion sanctuary. It has a declared area of 1,421 sq km and an additional 500 sq km for its buffer zone. In 1974, it was declared a National Park and Nature Reserve.


The Gir forest is one of the largest tracts of dry deciduous forests in the world. The landscape is mainly undulating. Seven perennial rivers run through the area: Hiran, Saraswati, Datardi, Shingoda, Macchundri, Ghodavadi and Raval. The southern part of the park is flat land while the northern section is relatively hilly. A large chunk of the forestland falls under what is known as the Deccan trap, one of the largest volcanic areas in the world.


The lion once patrolled a vast empire, walking its languorous walk from Southern Europe and Africa right up to the central India, striking panic and poetry alike in the hearts of human. Every where it was found, it recurs in our culture as a symbol of power and majesty, either worshiped or given a pretty wide berth……..until recently. While in most of Africa, lions are still doing okay, they have been shot to extinction in Northern Africa and everywhere else in their historical range except in this dusty sliver of forest nestled in the practically water locked peninsula of Saurashtra.

The Gir forest supports a rich wildlife, out of 2,375 distinct fauna species of Gir, it includes about 38 species of mammals, around 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects.

The carnivores group mainly comprises Asiatic lions, Indian Leopards, Sloth bears, Jungle cats, Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose, Indian Palm Civets, and Ratels. Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats exist but are rarely seen. The main herbivores of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Bluebull), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area are sometimes seen in the sanctuary.

Among the smaller mammals, Porcupine and Hare are common but the Pangolin is rare. The reptiles are represented by the Mugger (Marsh crocodile - highest population among all protected areas in India), the Indian Star Tortoise and the Monitor Lizard in the water areas of the sanctuary. Snakes are found in the bushes and forest. Pythons are sighted at times along the stream banks.

The plentiful avifauna population has more than 300 species of birds, most of which are resident. The scavenger group of birds has 6 recorded species of Vultures. Some of the typical species of Gir include Crested Serpent Eagle, endangered Bonelli's Eagle, Crested Hawk-eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Great Horned Owl, Bush Quail (or Quail bush), Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Crested tree swift and Indian Pitta


Gir is the home of the Maldharis, a term used for the many Hindu and Muslim pastoral groups of the area. The Maldhars live in traditional settlements called Nesses and tend Jafrabadi buffalos, Gir cows and other livestock. Some of them also have camels, sheep and goats. Among the best-known pastoral groups of Gir is the Sorathi Rabari.

Siddis are a community with African origins. Believed to have come from African countries as mercenaries, slaves and labors, the Siddis grew to become powerful generals, some of them even became rulers. In Gir, there are villages of the Siddis, who are well known for their dances and other performances, and a major shrine for the community.


Gir, besides being lion country, is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The Gir forest offers its visitors much more than a glimpse of the wilderness. Though the park is quite dry, crocodiles and other wildlife thrive around the few scattered perennial water sources.


There are seven designated tourist trails in the sanctuary, open to jeep safaris, where visitors can try and spot lions in their natural habitat. Tourists are permitted to take their own vehicle but must be accompanied by a forest guard or a guide.


Around Gir


Veraval (36 km): 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 (40 km): Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or holy abodes of Lord Shiva. The main temple is an important pilgrimage for Hindus and its riches were ransacked by invaders. The Prabhas Patan Museum has interesting architectural fragments and sculptures from the ruined temples. Somnath also has Lord Krishna's cenotaph and bathing ghats at Triveni Tirth, a medieval Sun Temple the historic Ahilya Temple, Bakhla Tirth where Krishna is said to have met his end, and a cave temple.

It also has beaches and there are chances of seeing coastal birds like Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-headed, Brown-headed Pallas, Yellow-legged and Heuglin's Gulls, Gull-billed Caspian, Lesser crested, River tern, Ruff, Ruddy turnstone, Curlew, Red-necked phalarope, etc.

 Getting there


In the south-west of the Saurashtra Peninsula.



415 km south-west of Ahmedabad, 65 km south-east of Junagadh.

 Fast Facts
Name Gir National Park Best Time To Visit November to March
Location Gujarat   West   India   Destination   Best Sighing May - June
Open From 2011-10-16  To 2012-06-15 Type Asiatic Lion reserve
Temperature Summar   38-43º C      Winter   10-18º C      Rainy   25-35º C
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