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Gir Lion National Park


Gir National Park - The Destination

Lions at Gir national park

Gir is the only home in India of the Lion of which there are nearly 300 in the park. The Gir National Park lies in the Gujarat peninsula in SW India. The terrain is rugged with low hills and the vegetation is mixed deciduous, with rows of Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees, interspersed with large patches of grasslands. Within the sanctuary, there are numerous human settlements of cattle herders called Maldharis with an estimated 20,000 head of livestock (which, incidentally, forms a significant part of the Lion’s diet).

Gir also has places of Hindu worship and pilgrimage and sulphur springs at Tulsi Shyam and Kankai Mata. At the edge of the park there are good populations of Indian Gazelle, protected by the religious sentiment of the local people. The Kamleshwar Lake has a few Marsh Crocodiles. Birds in the park include the Paradise Flycatcher, Bonelli’s Eagle and Painted Sandgrouse. Three unusual reserves, the Nalsarover Lake and Sanctuary, where a large numbers of water-birds can be seen; the bare saline flats of the Rann of Kutch, incredibly the home of the Indian wild ass and the spectacular Flamingo Island where nesting colonies of flamingoes are to be seen, make Gujarat an exciting place for wildlife enthusiasts. Gir has some of the largest panthers imaginable. Other wildlife to look out for are the Four-Horned Antelope (the only four-horned ungulate in the world), Indian gazelle (chinkara), Spotted Deer (Chital), Blue Bull (Nilgai), Wild Boar, Wolf, Hyena, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Hare and other mammals found in the forest.

Apart from spotting a wide array of birds and animals, Gir is also a great place to interact with local tribes. The main tribe is a nomadic pastoral community called Maldhari, who live in scattered settlements called nesses. Gir is also home to a Negroid community known as Siddis, who are African in origin but speak the local language of Gujarati. Gir with its lakes, open scrub country, dry deciduous and tropical thorn forests is a complete wild-life lover’s paradise.

Gir National Park - Facts at a Glance
State : Gujarat
Area : 1412 sq kms
Temperature : 40 C (Max.) – 6 C (Min.)
Altitude : 152 – 528 m
Rainfall : 1016 mm
Language : Gujarati, Hindi, English
Best Season : November - June

History of Gir National Park

The Gir National Park is steeped in history and folklore. It claims temples of great antiquity, like Kankai Mata and Tulsishyam, a place of pilgrimage with hot springs. The forest is famous for its cattle herders, the Madharis, whose buffaloes form a substantial part of the lions' meals. Extremely hospitable, the Madharis are herders, whose lifestyle has changed little over the years, and their folklore and traditions are a unique record of coexistence of humans with lions.
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