About the Park
The Gir – the largest compact tract of dry deciduous forests in the semi-arid western part of India is the last abode of the big and regal predator Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), an endangered species. The sanctuary is internationally acclaimed for successfully saving this precious species from the brink of extinction. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1965. Subsequently, an area of 258.71 sq. km. was declared a National Park.
Gir lies has a topography made up of succession of rugged ridges, isolated hills, plateaus and valleys. Besides, being the last abode of Asiatic lions, Gir forms a unique habitat for ratel, rusty spotted cat, pangolin, ruddy mongoose, civets, paradise flycatcher etc.
The overwhelming presence of the omnipotent big cat diverts the attention of the common man from the remarkable bird population that the sanctuary has. However, the birds of Gir sanctuary did attract the great ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali who believed that, had the Asiatic lions not been there, the area would have been one of the most fascinating bird sanctuaries of the country.
People mostly link Gir with “Maldharis” who have survived through the ages by having symbiotic relationship with the lion. They are religious pastoral communities living in Gir. Their settlements are called “nesses”.
At present, Gir forests of Gujarat (India) is the only natural place where this race of lions i.e. Asiatic lion is found.
Unlike the other big cats, lion is tolerant of the presence of human being and it even lives near the human settlements. During the last century in British rule, lion population touched an all time low of 20 in 1913. The serious conservation efforts by the then Nawab of Junagadh saved the species from the brink of extinction. The subsequent efforts by the Forest Department have successfully brought the population to the present respectable status of 327 numbers of this majestic animal.
Teak, dudhlo, khair, ber, desi baval, dhav, hermo, sadad, timru, ashitro, saledi, modad, khakhro etc.
The Gir forests support a rich biodiversity comprising 32 species of mammals, 300 species of birds and 26 species of reptiles and thousands of species of insects.
Lion, leopard, hyena, chital, sambar, bulbul, chaushinga, chinkara, wild boar, crocodile, langur, porcupine, ratel, jackal, fox, mongoose, civets etc.
Malabar whistling thrush, orange headed ground thrush, paradise flycatcher, black naped fly catcher, Indian pitta, tawny eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, crested serpent eagle, king vulture, crested hawk eagle, painted storks, pelicans, peafowl etc.
The Asiatic lion, the most majestic big cat, is a unique gift of nature. It is an extremely intelligent animal with remarkable social habits and hunting techniques.
The prominent belly fold, smaller mane, lesser body size and the weight differentiate it from its African counterpart. Lions live and hunt in groups called “pride”, which generally consists of adult females, their cubs plus a few males.
|Location||National Park area||Sanctuary area|
|The Sanctuary spreads over Junagadh and Amreli districts of Saurashtra. The main centre “Sasan” is located in Talala taluka of Junagadh district at about 60 km. from Junagadh.||258.71 sq. Km.(Core Area)||1153.42 sq. Km|
Visitors to Gir Sanctuary
|Sr. No||Year||Indian Visitors||Foreign Visitors||Total|
Reach by air
- Nearest airport is Keshod 90 kms via Veraval. Daily flight from Mumbai to Keshod.
Reach by bus
- Distance of 400 kms from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda.
- Distance of 43 kms from Veraval.
- Distance of 65 kms from Junagadh via Mendarda.
Reach by train
- Meter gauge rail line of 395 kms from Ahmedabad.
Best time to visit
- The best time to visit this park is during the months of Mid October – Mid June, and the best recommended time is December – April.
Nearest places to visit
- Kamaleshwar dam : An official reservoir amidst lush green hills, harbouring largest population of marsh crocodiles in the country.
- Gir Bhimchas : A water reservoir which according to the legends, was formed by Bhim when he needed to quench the thirst of his mother, Kunti.
- Kankai & Tulsishyam temples.
- Somnath : The famous Somnath temple is just 55 km. away from the sanctuary.