The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also called as Sasan-Gir is a spectacular wildlife sanctuary and forest located in the Indian state of Gujarat. The sanctuary is well known worldwide for being the only habitat of the endangered Asiatic lions and is considered to be significant protected areas of Asia. The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is sprawling over an area of 1412 Square Kilometres and the topography is made up of rugged ridges, plateaus, isolated hills and valleys. The sanctuary is spread over the Amreli and Junagadh districts of Saurashtra. The chief centre of the sanctuary, known as ‘sasan’ is situated in the Talala taluka of the district of Junagadh.

The largest dry and deciduous forest of Gujarat, the Sasan-Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary was established in the year 1965. The forest of the Gir was the natural habitat of the Asiatic lions since 1884. During the time of the British rule, these majestic predators were hunted down mercilessly by the Maharajas who were accompanied by the British officers. The lion population in the area soon started declining and the then Governor General of India, Lord Curzon advised the rulers to guard the remaining lions. By the time of India’s independence the lion population increased but they were still hunted by some section of the Royal family. It was in 1960 that the Government of India, completely banned the hunting of the lions and the forests was declared as protected areas. At present there are about 300 lions residing in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, and tourists from far and wide come to sight these majestic wild cats.

 Attractions at the Park

The chief attraction of the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary are the rare Asiatic lions. Besides the forests is also an abode of other wild animals like Bear, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Jackal, Panther, Chinkara gazelle, Leopard, Hyena, Black napped hare, Langurs, Indian Chousingha and many more. The Gir National Park is also home to the march crocodiles found in the water bodies, predominantly the lake of the Kamaleshwar Dam. You must also visit the crocodile breeding farm located at Sasan.

The Kamleshwar Dam constructed on the Hiran River is the best place to spot the crocodiles and other water animals. Bathing here is strictly prohibited.

Dewaliya, the location of the Gir Interpretation Zone is situated at 12kms from the Kamleshwar Dam and is an important tourist attraction. It is a large enclosure where lions can be sighted and photographed. A mini bus ride takes visitors close to these predators.

The ancient Kankai Mata temple located within the Gir National Park is a must visit for every visitors. The temple is a prime pilgrim destination inside the park that is surrounded by scenic surroundings.

The Tulishyam Hot Springs are another attraction that is located at a distance of 90kms from the entrance gate of the park. These are natural hot water springs with therapeutic properties and visitors can take a bath at these hot springs.

 Information about the Safari

Jeep safari is the most ideal option to explore the jungles of the park. There is no canter safari or elephant rides available as in other national parks of the country. The open roof vehicle gives you the thrill of spotting the majestic lions in their natural environment, strolling around the jungles. Jeep safari can take a maximum of 6 tourists along with the guide. Tourists can capture these brilliant moments in their cameras while on the jeep safari. All the safari rides are accompanied by a trained guide and organised by the Forest Department. Jeep safari also offers visitors a chance to enjoy the breathtaking flora and fauna of the park, while jointly spotting wild animals in the untamed wilderness. The whole experience is brilliant in itself.

 Duration:

The jeep safaris operate thrice every day for a period of three hours, with two shifts in the morning and one during the evening.

 Timings:

The jeep safari timings are 6am to 9am, from 9am to 12pm and 3pm to 6pm in the evening. During the summer season the timings are slightly preponed by 30 minutes.

 Entry Pass & Permits:

The entry fee and permit for exploring the Sasan-Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary can be obtained from the ticket counter at Sinh Sadan Forest Lodge Office after paying the prescribed fee. There are 30 entry permits for every vehicle and therefore it is best to take the permits 30 days in advance to avoid any inconvenience. Visitors need to provide their photo ID card along with personal details at the time of taking the permit. Advance bookings of the permits can also be made online at the official site of the website. After booking no refund or cancellations are available.

 Dos and Don’ts Within the Park
  • Do not disturb the wildlife
  • Do not feed or tease the animals inside the park
  • Intrusive or flash photography is prohibited
  • Picking insects or plants is prohibited
  • No hiking or walking inside the park
  • Drive slowly inside the park
  • Do not make unwanted noise or play loud music inside the park
  • Pets are not allowed inside the park
  • Do not wear flashy clothes
  • Avoid wearing strong scented perfumes or oils inside the park
  • Do not litter inside the park
 Things to Carry Along:
  • Photo ID card
  • Sunscreen
  • UV protection glasses
  • Cap/hat
  • Mosquito repellents
  • Binoculars
  • Cameras

 Safety Measures to be Followed

Tourists visiting the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary must always enter the park accompanied by a trained guide. It can be dangerous to get down from your vehicle at any point inside the park. Clearly listen and follow the instructions given by your guide to ensure personal safety.

 Best Time to Visit the Park

Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is open from mid-October to mid-June. The best time to visit the park is from December to March as the climate is very comfortable and pleasant. Summers at the park are extremely hot with temperatures soaring up to 42⁰. However the chances of wildlife sighting is high during the hot summer months as the vegetation dries up and the animals can easily be seen close to the water bodies. Winters from October to February are extremely cold with minimum temperature being recorded at 5⁰C. Pack your woollen clothes to keep your warm during the chilling winters.

 Nearby Destinations

Nalsarovar Lake is a beautiful and peaceful destination located close to the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. The lake is also known to be a famous sanctuary of birds. While sitting idly by the lakeside, visitors can sight the colourful birds of the sanctuary. Some of the common birds sighted here are peacock, flycatcher paradise, cuckoo, eagles, woodpecker, bush quail, parrot, flamingo and sand grouse to name a few.

The famous temple of Somnath is located at a distance of 45kms from the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. The temple is one among the Jyotirlinga Shrines of Lord Shiva. The Somnath Temple is visited by Hindu followers from all over the country and is an important pilgrim destination.

Girnar is another holy and religious destination of Hindus and Jains. It is located at a distance of 78kms from the Sasan-Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. The mountain ranges of Girnar are called as Girnar Hills and the five peaks are the site of important Hindu and Jain temples.

 Useful Information

  • Gir National Park remains close from 16th June to 15th October each year
  • Morning safaris are ideal for lion sighting as they are active then
  • Holidays and weekends is best avoided as the park becomes very crowded and the entry fee is also high
  • Always reach 30 minutes in advance before the departure time