Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also known as Sasan-Gir is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India. This famous Lion sanctuary is located at the bottom of the Saurashtra peninsula 65 km; South East of Junagarh district. It is the sole home of Asiatic Lions and one of the most important protected areas in the world. The sanctuary was established in 1965 with a total area of 1412 sq. km. Out of which 258 sq. km is reserved for the National Park and 1153 sq. km for the Sanctuary.
Gir National Park is the only place outside Africa where one can see the Asiatic Lion. Based on the April 2010 census, it is recorded that the lion-count in Gir is around 411. The lion breeding program covering the park and surrounding area has bred about 180 lions in captivity since its beginning. This is a result of efforts of the Government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs who work in collaboration to conserve varied flora, fauna and avifauna of this ecosystem.
Sasangir Wildlife Reserve is made up of three adjoining reserves - the Nalsarovar Lake inhabiting a wide variety of water birds, the Little Rann of Kutch famous for the Indian Wild Ass and the captivating Flamingo Island. The collaboration of these three reserves increases the diversity to this wildlife reserve which summons scores of wildlife enthusiasts to this place from several parts of the globe.
The Topography of Gir National Park
The sanctuary lies in the Gujarat peninsula in South West India which is gifted with a terrain that is rugged with low hills and the vegetation is full of mixed deciduous. The beauty of this place is enhanced by high-rise Jamun, Teak, Tendu and Dhak trees. These trees mostly have broad leaves that provide the area with a cool shade and moisture content.
The land of this place is rugged with deep ravines, steep rocky hills and plenty of rivers which interspersed with large patches of grasslands. This dramatic composition heightens the charm of this place which calls on large number tourists to this place from several parts of the globe.
Based on the data, the Sasan Gir National Park is the home of over 450 plant species, 32 mammals, 310 birds, 24 reptiles and over 2,000 species of insects. The combined beauty of diverse flora, teeming fauna and exotic avifauna calls on scores of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts to this place from several parts of the globe.
Climate of Gir National Park
Gir experiences three seasons namely summer, winter and monsoon. Summer has the longest stretch in which the average minimum and maximum temperature ranges between 10?C to nearly 45?C. The hottest months recorded are April and May. The rains bring some relief from the heat during the monsoons period which starts from the middle of June and continues till September. The winter begins from late November to early March.
Attractions of Gir National Park
Asiatic Lions are the foremost attractions of this national park. This majestic beast attracts the maximum number of tourists to this park. The sanctuary also provides shelter to other 38 species of mammals which include Four-Horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Chinkara (Gazelle), spotted Deer, Leopard, Nilgai, Chital, Monkeys, Wild Ass, leopards, jungle cat, hyenas, jackals and many more.
Nalsarovar Lake and Bird Sanctuary
This national park is the home of around 300 species of birds. The variety of birds makes it a paradise for bird lovers. Some of the rarest species of birds that can be spotted here are crested hawk-eagle, bonelli's eagle, great horned owl, Indian gray hornbill, Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Treeswift and Indian Pitta. The enthralling collections of bird species call on large bird lovers to this place from several parts of the globe. The Nalsarovar Lake, which is one of the largest wetlands of India, supports several varieties of birds.
Crocodile Breeding Farm
Located near Sasan, this is the best place to see the hatching and breeding of reptiles. It is basically a Crocodile breeding farm but several other reptile species are hatched and reared before they are set free into the forest in their natural habitat. The farm is well equipped with hatcheries and breeders who play a vital role in wildlife preservation.
Tulsi Shyam Temple
This is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna located in the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary. It is highly revered among locals and visited by scores of tourists. People come here for the thrilling wildlife safari. Nearby sulphur hot springs are a major attraction of this place, which is easily recognizable through its pungent smell.
Must Do Activity at Sasan Gir
One of the most thrilling experiences of a Sasan Gir Tour is the Lion Safari. Tourists can also choose special tours around the park to spot the Asiatic Lions. The park has 6 routes - the longest being 31km. Some of the most popular routes for a drive are the Sasan-Kamaleshwar Dam, the Sasan-Kankai, the Sasan-Chodavdi and the Sasan-Tulsishyam routes. Another interesting activity is a jeep safari that will take you for a jungle trail. You will be accompanied by an driver and guide, who are an expert in identifying pugmarks and animal sounds.
Fishing & Angling
The Kosi and Ramganga Rivers are ideal for fishing, specially golden mahaseer. This is among the popular activities here apart from jungle safari.
When to Visit Sasangir National Park
Wildlife lovers can visit Sasangir National Park all through the year. The best time to visit this place is between December to March. Hottest months are April and May but they are considered great for photography.
The park is closed between 16th June to 15th October every year.
Excursions in Sasangir
The Gir national park offers a number of interesting excursion sites for day long or weekend trips.
Junagadh lies 64 km from Sasangir National Park and is an important heritage site. The main places to visit here are Jami Masjid, Uperkot Fort, Durbar Hall Museum, Mahabat Maqbara, and temples of Girnar Hills.
Chorwad is a new beach resort around 30 km off Sasangir developed by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat.
Somnath is a famous Hindu shrine and a seat of one of the Jyotirlingas. Once, the temple of Somnath was one of the richest shrines in the country. Attacked many times by the Muslims in the 10th and 11th century AD for the riches of the shrine, the temple has been reconstructed after India's freedom.
Ahmedpur Mandvi lies about 70 km from Sasangir and is one of the finest beaches in India. It is ideal for walks and swimming. A variety of water sports options like water scooters, skiing, surfing, parasailing, and speedboat trips are available here.
How to Reach Sasangir Wildlife Sanctuary
By Air: Keshod is the nearest airport from Sasangir via Veraval. Daily flights are also available from Mumbai to Keshod.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is from Sasangir is Ahmedabad.
By Road: Sasangir is well connected with Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda. The state transport buses are also available from Junagadh and Veraval to Gir during November to June.
Where to Stay in Sasangir
There are ample of options for laid-back stay in Gir Forest Reserve. The accommodation option runs the gamut from budget to luxury hotels and almost everything in between. The forest department operates two lodges, the Sinh Sadan Forest Lodge and the Gir Lodge, while several private lodges also exist in the periphery of the Gir National Park.
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