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Gir National Park

The Only abode of Asiatic Lions

Asiatic Lions Gir National Park

The Gir Forest National Park was established in 1965 in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. It is also called as Sasan Gir. Initially, it was known for being the personal hunting reserve for the enterprising Nawabs of Junagadh. Over the years, the Gir Forest National Park is known for being the only home for Asiatic lions in the world. It is believed that currently there are 411 Asiatic Lions within the premises of the Gir Forest. It has been internationally recognised for preserving the number of endangered lion species. Several NGOs, wildlife activists and the forest department of the government is trying very hard to protect the flora and fauna of Gir Forests.

Interestingly, the Gir Forests National Park are also nurtured through the presence of seven distinct rivers, namely, Rawal, Godavari, Datardi, Hiran, Shetrunji, Machhundri and Shingoda. Though, there are four dams existing within the territory of the national park, the Kamleshwar Dam is regarded as the lifeline. The Jeep safari in the national park is sought after by the tourists.


Following are the main attractions of the Gir Forests:


Flora: Mixed deciduous forests are present all over the national park. It is a teak dominated and quite thorny, dry and brown habitat. Nearly half of the protected area is covered by the teak plantation. The other trees which are found here are Bahedo, Kadayo, Moledi, Sadad, Khair and Timru. The non teak forests include Salai, Ber, Charal, Amli and Jambu. The ever green and broad leaves of these trees differentiate them from the teak forests. Casuarina and Prosopis have been recently planted, especially in the coastal areas, for supporting the afforestation measures.


Sambar Gir National Park

Fauna: Along with the Asiatic Lions, Gir is also known for being the abode for leopards. The fauna of Gir National Park is dotted with 26 varieties of species of reptiles and 32 different species of mammals. The other animals which are present in the national park are Nilgai, Antelope, Sambar Deer, Wild Boar, Jackal, Monkey and Chowsingha Four-Horned Antelope. Currently, there are around 300 bird species found in the national Park. The main bird species include Woodpecker's Flamingo, Crested Serpent Eagle, Paradise Flycatcher and Bonelli's Eagle.


Excursions from the Gir National Park

Tourists can also explore the following places located near to the national park:

Veraval: It is 42 km away from the Gir National Park. This little town, located near to Somnath, was founded in the 13th or the 14th century AD. Basically, it is known for its fishing trawlers and Kharwa fisherfolk. One can also spot the remaining ruins of the Nawabi gates and forts in this town. The Gothic features of the Nawabi fort rise the curiosity level of the tourists.


Somnath: The Somnath Temple is located at a distance of 40 km away from the National Park, in the western coast of Gujarat. It is known for being one of the 12 auspicious Jyotirlangas of Lord Shiva. The name 'Somnath' basically signifies the 'Protector of the Moon God.' According to the legends, it is believed that this temple was constructed by Somraj, the moon God. After that, it was rebuilt by Ravana in silver and by Lord Krishna in wood. The temple is also called by other names such as Somnath Pattan, Prabhas Pattan and Deo Pattan.


Junagadh

Junagadh: Located in the pedestal of the Girnar Hills, the small city is known for rich blend of Hinduism. Jainism and Christianity. The Uparkot Fort built by Chandragupta Maurya in the 320 BC is one of the main attractions. One can find the remains of various civilisations in Junagadh such as those of the Mauryan, Solanki, Chudasama and the Mughal Empire.


When to Visit
The best time to visit the Gir National Forest is between December and April. The Park is closed to the visitors during the time of Monsoons, ie, from June to October. Tourists are able to spot lions, especially during the summer months while exploring the park in the jeep safaris.

How to Visit
Air: The nearest airport to the national park is located in Keshod, which is approximately 90 km away. Tourists can also utilise the Diu airport which 84 km away from the Park and located in the Nagoa district. The Rajkot airport is also located at around 172 km away from the national park.
Rail: The nearest railway station from the Gir National Park is located at Junagadh. Junagadh is located around 60 km away from the national park.
Road: State transport buses are available for frequent travel from the towns of Junagadh and Veraval.



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