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The Gir National Park is one of the many fascinating wildlife sanctuaries of Gujarat. It is renowned as the only home of the Asiatic Lions. In fact, Gir is only second to the African continent where you can see lions roaming free in the wild. Also, Gir has garnered attention for successfully saving Asiatic Lions from the brink of extinction. Besides lions, Gir is the habitat of several other species, particularly birds. Gir further escalates interest as two tribes live here: the Maldharis and the African – originated Siddis. How these fearless tribes live in harmony with the wildlife is indeed riveting.

Blue bull at GirNational Park
A Blue Bull inside Gir National Paek.

So, here goes the tidbits you need to know for visiting Gir National Park.

About Gir National Park:

Back in the colonial era, Sasan Gir served as the private hunting grounds for the Nawab of Junagadh. Large scale hunting, both by the Nawabs and the British, led to a steady decline in the numbers of lions. As a result, roughly a dozen lions were left surviving by the end of the 19th century. Both the British and the Nawab realized the gravity of the situation as also felt it necessary to start immediate conservation of lions. The first initiative to save the lions came from the very Nawabs of Junagadh, whose reckless hunting sprees previously led to such an alarming scenario.  
In 1965, 1,153 sq. km of Gir was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary and the rest of 258 square km a National Park in order to protect the endangered species.

Deers at Gir National Park
A herd of spotted deer.


The Gir National Park is located in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. It is 44 km from Somnath, 76 km from Junagadh and around 80 km from Amreli.

A Langoor minding its own business!

Why Gir National Park is famous:

Gir is famous for the fact that it is the only place on earth where Asiatic Lions are found. The number of Asiatic Lions improved over the years. At present, there are 253 of them.

Jackal at Gir National Park
A Golden Jackal at Devaliya.

How to reach:

  • Rajkot (165 km) is the nearest airport. There are direct flights from New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai to Rajkot.
  • Junagadh (65 km) and Veraval (45 km) are the nearest rail stations.
  • Buses (both government and private) and cabs to reach Sasan Gir are available from Ahmedabad, Junagadh and Veraval.
  • In our case, we boarded the Somnath Express from Ahmedabad. An overnight journey later, we reached Veraval in the early morning. After exploring Somnath for a day and a half, we went to Sasan Gir by cab.
Tribal village inside Gir National Park
Tribal villages inside the national park.

What is the best time to visit Gir National Park:

The Gir National Park remains closed from 16th June to 15th October every year.

The weather in April and May is extremely hot and humid. Hence, this is the perfect time for wildlife sightings, especially Asiatic Lions. If you can face the unbearable heat, plan a trip to Gir during this time. Also, tourists will be lesser as compared to other times of the year.

Mongoose at Gir National Park
A Mongoose peeking through bushes.

From November to March, the weather remains pleasant and a safari inside the forest will be quite enjoyable.

Jungle Safari bookings and timings at Sasan Gir:

You can do a safari in two ways:

Sinh Sadan Gir National Park
The reception counter at Sinh Sadan.

A. Gir Jungle Safari:

1.This is an open gypsy safari that takes you inside the forest.

2.You need to book permits for jungle safari online at the official government site https://girlion.gujarat.gov.in/

3.Only online booking of permits is accepted at Gir.

4.Other websites seem to book permits for jungle safari. But these are not accepted by the forest officials.

5.You will be assigned one guide and one gypsy driver from the forest department.

6.There are 12 pre-determined routes inside the forest. The routes are allocated randomly at the Sinh Sadan reception center to equally distribute visitors’ load.

7.There are two 3-hour slots of safari at present. In summer, timings are 6PM to 9 PM and 4PM to 7PM. During winter months, timings are bit modified to 6:45 AM to 9:45 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM.

8.Safari is available every day, from Monday to Sunday.

9.Slots get fully booked pretty quickly. So, try to make your booking at least 45 days before your planned visit.

10.For Indians, permit charge is INR 800. For foreigners, it is INR 5600. During weekends and festivals, permit charges are increased to INR 1000 for Indians and INR 7000 for foreigners.

11.Maximum 6 persons are allowed in one gypsy safari.

12.You also need to pay INR 400 for guide and INR 2000 for gypsy. These need to be paid separately to the guide and driver.

Gypsy safari at Gir National Park
Gypsy safari inside the national park.

B. Devaliya Jungle Safari:

1.Also known as Gir Interpretation Centre, Devaliya is a mini version of Gir.

2.Get online bookings at the official government site at https://girlion.gujarat.gov.in/

3.Devaliya remains closed on Wednesdays.

4.The 55 minute long gypsy safari has multiple slots. 4 morning slots available from 7 AM to 10:55 AM. Also, there are 3 evening slots from 3 PM to 5:55 PM.

5.Mini bus safaris are also available at Devaliya.

6.Morning timings for mini bus safari is 7:30 AM to 11 AM and evening timings from 3 PM to 5 PM.

7.Gypsy safari charges for Indians are INR 800 and for foreigners INR 5600.

8.You also need to pay separately INR 400 for guide and INR 1600 for gypsy.

9.The charges increase to INR 1000 and INR 7000 for Indians and foreigners respectively during weekends and festivals.

10.Mini bus charges are INR 150 for Indians and INR 2800 for foreigners.

A tortoise crossing the road.

Flora and fauna of Gir National Park:

Gir has dry deciduous type of vegetation, including savannahs (locally called ‘vidis’). Teak, Dudhlo, Ber, Jamun, Babul, Khair etc. grow here predominantly.

Gir has incredible biodiversity. There are 38 species of mammals, 26 types of reptiles, around 300 kinds of birds and over a thousand varieties of insects. Apart from the Asiatic Lion, you can also find Leopard, Hyena, Blue Bull, Sambar, Golden Jackal, Chital, Asiatic Wildcat, Mongoose, Wild Boar and Chinkara among others. Mugger crocodiles are in abundance at Kamleswar Dam.

Fauna at Gir National park
The Kamleswar Dam, also called “Lifeline of Gir”. The cattle crossing the river belongs to Maldharis.

The national park has an astonishing bird population. Try looking out for Bonelli’s Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Eagle Owl, Black Headed Oriole, Indian Pitta and Malabar Whistling Thrush.

Who’s watching who?
Deer at Gir National Park
A spotted deer.
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A Sambar deer contemplating on its meal

Accommodation at Sasan Gir:

There are lots of hotels in Sasan Gir catering to every budget. We chose to stay at Asiatic Lion Lodge. It is a beautiful resort, having 16 cottages sprawling across vast greenery. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. The staffs are helpful and cordial too. It arranges nature walking and bird watching. You can also play indoor games and opt for cycling. Further, check out the superb collection of books on the wildlife of Gir available at the reception. The restaurant inside the resort serves delicious vegetarian dishes. You can book from https://www.asiaticlionlodge.com/reservation/packages/winter-summer-diwali-and-xmas-package

Asiatic Lion Lodge
The cottages of Asiatic Lion Lodge.

There is also a Forest Department guest house at Sinh Sadan. However, getting a confirmed booking can be tricky here as it does not accept advance booking. Rooms are provided mainly to dignitaries and government officials. Rooms are available on the basis of spot booking for tourists.

Nearby attractions:

After enjoying wildlife in Gir, you can explore the following nearby places:

1.Mahabat Khan Maqbara at Junagadh, the stunning mausoleum of Nawab Mahabat Khan II of Junagadh.

2.The outstanding Somnath Temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India.

3.Diu, the seaside UT, just 90 km away from Gir.

Somnath Mandir
The Somnath Temple.

Do’s and Don’ts:

1.Do remember that safari bookings at Gir are 100% online and available solely from the government website as mentioned earlier.

2.Report at Sing Sadan reception center 15 minutes prior to your safari time.

3.Carry valid ID proofs.

4.Try wearing clothes in neutral shade which will blend well with the forest’s surroundings.

5.Follow the designated safari route and timings.

6.Don’t smoke or drink alcohol inside the national park.

7.Refrain from littering and making loud noises.

8.Respect the nature and wildlife. Avoid teasing or going near the wild animals.

9.Do not alight from the vehicles at any cost.

10.Gir is plastic free zone. Avoid carrying plastic materials inside the park.

We have a few other blogs lined up for you about Gujarat:
1. https://thefloatingpebbles.com/an-itinerary-for-a-perfect-trip-in-gujarat/
2. https://thefloatingpebbles.com/lothal-a-peek-into-the-past/
3. https://thefloatingpebbles.com/sun-temple-in-modhera-the-ultimate-guide/

The Floating Pebbles