One of the national parks located in the Indian state of Gujarat, The Sasan Gir National Park is spread around an area of 1412 square kilometers. The forests and grasslands of Gir are known to be the last stronghold of Asiatic Lions and support a variety of plant and animal species. The region was protected in the early 1900s by the Nawab of the Princely state of Junagarh who used the forests as the hunting grounds. As a result the lion population plummeted to a mere 15 lions around the time when India won its Independence from the British raj. Today however, the numbers have increased all thanks to ban on hunting, the numbers have replenished and a captive breeding program is also instrumental in replenishing the lion population. The Gir forest region is surrounded by 7 perennial rivers and 4 dams that are the lifeline of the region. The terrain mostly comprises of savanna type forests and grasslands and dry deciduous forests with teak-wood trees. The forest not only provides a home for the wildlife but also provides a large amount of green grass and fuel wood through annual harvesting.
[Also Checkout: List of Indian Wildlife Sanctuaries]
The Gir forest enjoys a moderate climate throughout the year and can be visited around most of the year. The summers can be a bit hot and humid with temperatures ranging between 25 to 40 degrees Celsius. The months from March till the mid of July is usually the summer season till monsoons arrive in July. The monsoons last till the month of September with a moderate rainfall from the North-West Monsoons. The winter season starts in the month of December and lasts till late-February. The temperatures during the winters usually range between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Best Time to Visit
Gir can be visited almost all times of the year except for the monsoon season when it is closed due to animals breeding time. The summers should also be avoided due to the hot temperatures and lesser wildlife activity. The months between October till the month of February are the best times as the weather is the mildest and the wildlife activity is at its peak.
Wildlife at Sasan Gir National Park
Sasan Gir National Park is known worldwide to be the last stronghold of the Asiatic Lions and attract thousands of visitors each year. Apart from the lions, the forests house around 400 species of plants, 38 animal species, 300 species of birds, 37 reptilian species and around 2,000 species of insects.
Animals – Lions, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Nilgai, Indian Cobras, 4-horned antelope, Wild Boar, Chinkara, Hyenas, Indian Mongoose, and Jungle cats, Golden Jackals, Chital, Sambhar, Indian Porcupine, Pangolins and Blackbucks etc.
Birds – Vultures, Crested Serpent Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, endangered Bonelli’s Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Indian Eagle Owl, Pygmy woodpecker, Black-haired oriole, Indian Pitta, Rock Bush Quail, and Crested Treeswift etc.
Reptiles – Marsh Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Indian Pythons and Indian Cobras etc.
Distance from Major Cities
- Ahmedabad – 314 Kilometers
- Veraval – 42 Kilometers
- Keshod – 86 Kilometers
- Rajkot – 101 Kilometers
- Baroda – 354 Kilometers
- Surat – 495 Kilometers
- Indore – 680 Kilometers
- Jaipur – 988 Kilometers
- Delhi – 1,257 Kilometers
- Lucknow – 1,484 Kilometers
- Mumbai – 755 Kilometers
- Kolkata – 2,394 Kilometers
- Hyderabad – 1,383 Kilometers
- Bangalore – 1,720 Kilometers
- Chennai – 2,074 Kilometers
Nearest Airport – The nearest airport to Sasan Gir is located in Keshod which is well connected with Rajkot Airport. Ahmedabad airport is also a great choice which is connected via regular flights from most major airports in the country.
Nearest Railway Station – The nearest railway station is located in Sasan Gir and Veraval but it is better to take a train to Rajkot which is connected to all major railway stations in the country.
Road Accessibility – Buses are available from Junagarh and Veraval between the months of November till June. You can also take buses or hire a taxi from Rajkot and Ahmedabad.
It is best to take accommodation at the Gir Wildlife resort or the Maneland Jungle Lodge for the most convenient stay and safaris. Mid ranged and luxury hotels can be also found in Rajkot and Junagarh.