Welcoming everyone as its own, the land of Gujarat has in store, many surprises for travellers who visit the state. Unfolding one aspect after another from the canopy of experiences under its umbrella, you person often find yourself cradled in the state’s immense warmth and enviable hospitality. Not only does that leave Gujarat with a special place in your heart, but it also keeps you yearning for its embrace - for a long, long time.
Navratri in Gujarat tops the list of the most exciting experiences in the state where fun does not end for nine nights. Once the devotees have worshipped Goddess Shakti (in all nine forms for nine days), they put on their best dresses and gather at different venues across all cities for a gala time. From dancing to the tunes of folk music to playing garba to gorging on Gujarati delicacies, there is no dearth of entertainment options for people during this time.
But once the excitement wears off, you may feel the need to visit someplace peaceful before you trace back to the rigmarole of everyday struggles. Gujarat has even got that covered! While visitors usually stay at the bigger cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara or Rajkot, your ideal travel itinerary should also include a trip to Gir Forest National Park, fondly known as Sasan Gir, which could also mark the end of your Gujarat vacation.
A Peek into the Wilderness of Gir
In the Junagadh region of Gujarat lie the dry, deciduous forests of Gir where you can find a dense population of the almost extinct Asiatic Lion. This is probably the only place outside Africa where people can easily spot this big, regal predator. Since this fact contributes significantly to India’s fauna, an area of 258.71 sq km of the Gir Forests was declared the Gir Forest National Park in 1965.
With a long-standing history of human intervention, the relationship between the big cats and humans in the region is rather mixed. The ‘Maldharis,’ who have lived in Gir for years now, peacefully coexist with the lions, but with the rapid increase in human population has disturbed this association.
However, if you still visit the park, one of the most shining moments of your lifetime would be when you come face-to-face with the big cat, The Asiatic Lion. Much larger than you can imagine, these cats often express their displeasure towards another presence in their habitat, but if you’re lucky, you may catch them at a better time, when all they want to do is play peek-a-boo with their guests. Either way, the magnificence of this creature is spellbinding.
An often ignored aspect of this jungle is the diverse bird population that, according to the renowned ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali, would have been the most popular feature of the forests had the lions not existed. Other animals that can easily be spotted in this region include hyenas, leopards and crocodiles among others.
Things to Remember
When visiting Sasan Gir, you must bear these points in mind that will help you make the most of your time at the National Park.
- Don’t feed or disturb the wildlife or make sudden movements to scare off the wildlife
- Photography with flash or intrusive photography is not allowed
- Smoking is prohibited in the jungle premises
- No pets are allowed during the safari
- You should refrain from littering in the jungle
- Carry a water bottle to ensure you’re well-hydrated at all times
How to Reach Gir Forest National Park
The nearest railway station to Gir is Junagadh, which can be reached from Ahmedabad or Rajkot. From here, a road trip of about 65 km takes you to Sasan Gir.
You can find frequent trains to Ahmedabad and Rajkot railway stations from all major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
The National Park is about 65 km from Junagadh and can be easily reached by cabs or your personal vehicle. Once here, you will need a permit to enter the park. This can be obtained at Sinh Sadan Orientation Centre. You are allowed to take your personal vehicle or can hire safaris available at the park.
A vehicle with up to 6 occupants
- INR 400 for Indian nationals (Mon-Fri)
- INR 500 for Indian nationals (Sat-Sun)
- INR 600 for Indian nationals (On all official holidays)
Entry for foreigners- USD 40 (to be paid in Indian rupees)
Gujarat is the perfect concoction of interesting sightseeing and adrenaline-inducing adventures, amazing food and beautiful wildlife- making it a holistic holiday spot for all kinds of travellers. Take this as our final plea to tell you, “Kuch din to guzaro Gujarat me” to truly taste all the flavours of this whimsical state!
Book your Lion Safari here.
For more information on Navratri in Gujarat visit Gujarat Tourism
For more information on Navratri packages visit Yatra.com