Are you tired of the same old safari experiences? Have you been to all the usual national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India? Well, it's time to switch things up and head to Gir forest, the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions.

But wait, there's more! Gir forest is not just about lions. It's also home to leopards, hyenas, crocodiles, and over 300 species of birds. And if that doesn't excite you enough, how about camping in the middle of the forest with nothing but a bonfire and some marshmallows for company?

Now, let's talk about the real stars of the show - the lions. These majestic creatures are known for their regal gait and impressive manes. But don't let their beauty fool you; they are still wild animals who have been known to attack humans on occasion.

But don't worry; your safety is taken seriously here. The park has strict rules in place to ensure both your safety and that of the animals. So go ahead and plan that trip to Gir forest now.

Just remember one thing - when you're out there in the wilderness, keep your eyes peeled for Simba and his pride!

Table of Contents

History and Culture of Gir Forest

Gir forest is a famous wildlife sanctuary located in Gujarat, India. It is the only place in the world where you can spot Asiatic lions. The history of Gir forest dates back to the 5th century when it was ruled by Gujarat Sultanate. The forest was once a hunting ground for the royals, but now it serves as a protected area for wildlife conservation.

The culture of Gir forest is influenced by the local Maldhari community, who have been living in harmony with wildlife for centuries. They are skilled cattle herders and farmers, and their lifestyle revolves around nature. They worship nature and believe that every living being has a soul.

The Maldhari people have unique customs and traditions, which include wearing traditional attire like ghaghra-choli and turbans made of camel hair. They also celebrate festivals like Bhavai, which involves balancing pots on their heads while dancing to traditional music.

Apart from Asiatic lions, Gir forest is home to various other wildlife species like leopards, hyenas, crocodiles, and more than 300 species of birds. The best time to visit Gir forest is from December to March when the weather is pleasant.

To visit Gir forest, one needs to obtain permission from the forest department. Visitors can opt for jungle safaris or guided tours to explore the wilderness of this beautiful sanctuary.

In conclusion, Gir forest not only offers an opportunity to witness Asiatic lions in their natural habitat but also provides a glimpse into the unique culture of the Maldhari community. It's a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike!

How to Reach and getting around Gir Forest

How to Reach Gir Forest

Gir Forest is located in the state of Gujarat, India, and is home to the majestic Asiatic lions. If you're planning a trip to Gir Forest, here are some different options to reach there:

  1. By Air: The nearest airport to Gir Forest is Diu Airport, which is about 110 km away. Another option is Rajkot Airport, which is about 160 km away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Gir Forest.

  2. By Train: The nearest railway station to Gir Forest is Junagadh Railway Station, which is about 40 km away. Other stations include Veraval Railway Station (42 km) and Rajkot Railway Station (160 km). From the station, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Gir Forest.

  3. By Road: Gir Forest is well-connected by road with major cities like Ahmedabad (350 km), Rajkot (160 km), and Mumbai (850 km). You can hire a taxi or take a bus from these cities to reach Gir Forest.

  4. By Bike/Car: If you love road trips, then driving your own bike or car to reach Gir Forest can be an exciting option. The roads are well-maintained and offer scenic views of the countryside.

  5. By Bus: Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) operates regular buses from Ahmedabad, Junagadh, and Rajkot to Sasan Gir Bus Stand. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a shared jeep to reach your destination.

No matter which option you choose, make sure you plan your trip in advance and book your accommodation in advance as well. Also, keep in mind that the best time to visit Gir Forest is from December to March when the weather is pleasant and animals are easy to spot.

Weather of Gir Forest

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Extreme Winters
Mild Winters
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Hot + Humid
Cool and Pleasant

Gir Forest, located in Gujarat, India, experiences a tropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. The temperature can range from 10°C to 45°C throughout the year. The monsoon season starts from June and lasts till September, with heavy rainfall during this period.

The best time to visit Gir forest is from December to March as the weather is pleasant, and the chances of spotting wildlife increases. During these months, the temperature ranges between 10°C to 20°C, making it ideal for outdoor activities.

If you plan to visit Gir forest during summers (April to June), be prepared for scorching heat with temperatures soaring up to 45°C. However, this season is perfect for bird watching as many migratory birds flock to the forest during this period.

During monsoon season (June-September), the forest remains closed due to heavy rainfall and flooding. It is not recommended to visit Gir forest during this period as it can be dangerous.

In conclusion, the best time to visit Gir forest is from December to March, when the weather is pleasant, and there are higher chances of spotting wildlife. However, if you are interested in bird watching or want to avoid crowds, you can plan your visit during summers or monsoon season respectively.

Places to Visit in Gir Forest

  • Sasan Gir National Park - This is the main attraction of Gir forest and is home to the last remaining Asiatic Lions in the world. It covers an area of 1412 sq km and is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

  • Kankai Mata Temple - Located near the entrance of Sasan Gir National Park, this temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kankai. It is a popular pilgrimage site and attracts many devotees throughout the year.

  • Kamleshwar Dam - This dam is located on the Hiran River and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, and picnicking here.

  • Tulsi Shyam Hot Springs - These hot springs are located about 25 km from Sasan Gir National Park and are believed to have medicinal properties. The water here is rich in minerals and is said to cure skin diseases, arthritis, and other ailments.

  • Devalia Safari Park - This park is located within Sasan Gir National Park and offers visitors a chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat from a safe distance. Visitors can take a jeep safari here and spot lions, leopards, deer, hyenas, and other animals.

  • Somnath Temple - Located about 40 km from Sasan Gir National Park, this temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has a rich history dating back to ancient times.

  • Junagadh Zoo - Located about 50 km from Sasan Gir National Park, this zoo houses a variety of animals including lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and primates. Visitors can also see exotic birds here.

  • Bhalka Tirtha - This sacred site marks the spot where Lord Krishna was accidentally shot by an arrow while resting under a tree. It has a temple dedicated to him and attracts many pilgrims throughout the year.

  • Uparkot Fort - This ancient fort dates back to the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE) and has been ruled by various dynasties over the centuries. It offers stunning views of Junagadh city below.

  • Mount Girnar - This mountain range near Junagadh city has five peaks that offer panoramic views of Gujarat's countryside below. Pilgrims come here to visit several temples along its slopes including Ambaji Temple and Dattatreya Temple.

Nearby Forests
  • Paniya Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Fudam Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Food Options and Local Cuisine of Gir Forest

    Local Cuisine in Gir Forest

    Gir forest, being a wildlife sanctuary, has a unique cuisine that is influenced by the tribal communities residing there. The food is simple yet flavourful and mainly comprises of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Some of the popular dishes to try in Gir forest are:

    1. Bhakri: A type of bread made from millet flour that is cooked on a tawa and served with dal or vegetables.
    2. Bajra Khichdi: A wholesome dish made with bajra (pearl millet) and moong dal, cooked with spices and served with ghee or curd.
    3. Sukha Chicken: A dry chicken dish that is marinated with spices and cooked until tender. It is usually served as an appetizer or snack.

    Other than these, one can also try dishes like Dal Dhokli, Undhiyu, Khaman Dhokla, Thepla, and more.

    Dining Options in Gir Forest

    Gir forest has limited dining options but offers some great local eateries that serve traditional food. Here are three restaurants/cafes to check out:

    1. Lion's Den Restaurant: Located near Sasan Gir gate, this restaurant offers a rooftop seating area with views of the surrounding hills. They serve Indian and Chinese cuisine.
    2. Greenwoods Cafe: Situated inside the Gir Jungle Lodge, this cafe offers a peaceful atmosphere amidst nature. They serve vegetarian dishes like pizzas, sandwiches, pasta etc.
    3. Sagar Restaurant: This restaurant is located near Sinh Sadan in Sasan Gir and serves authentic Gujarati thali along with North Indian dishes.

    Note: It is advisable to carry your own snacks while going on safaris as food options inside the forest are limited.

    Best areas for accommodation in Gir Forest

    Gir Forest is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in India. It is home to the Asiatic lion, and many other rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. If you are planning a trip to Gir Forest, it is important to choose the right accommodation to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Here are some of the best areas for accommodation in Gir Forest:

    1. Sasan Gir: Sasan Gir is the main entrance to the forest, and it is a popular area for accommodation. There are many luxury resorts, budget hotels, and homestays in this area. It is also close to many tourist attractions like Devaliya Park, Kamleshwar Dam, and Kamaleshwar Temple.

    2. Bhalchhel: Bhalchhel is a small village located on the outskirts of Gir Forest. It is a peaceful area with lush greenery all around. There are many homestays and budget hotels in this area that offer a comfortable stay at an affordable price.

    3. Junagadh: Junagadh is a city that is located about 70 km from Gir Forest. It is a popular base for tourists who want to explore both Gir Forest and Junagadh city. There are many hotels and resorts in Junagadh that cater to all types of travelers.

    Here are some top properties for accommodation in Gir forest:

    1. The Fern Gir Forest Resort (Luxury): This resort offers luxurious rooms with all modern amenities like air conditioning, flat-screen TV, minibar, etc. The resort also has a swimming pool, spa, restaurant, and bar.

    2. Lion Safari Camp (Budget): This camp offers comfortable tents with attached bathrooms. The camp also has a restaurant that serves delicious local cuisine.

    3. Gir Jungle Lodge (Hostel): This hostel offers dormitory-style accommodation with shared bathrooms. The hostel also has a common kitchen where guests can cook their meals.

    Overall, there are plenty of options for accommodation in Gir Forest that cater to all budgets and preferences. Whether you want luxury or budget accommodation or prefer staying close to nature in a camp or hostel, you will find something suitable for your needs in this beautiful forested region of Gujarat.

    Shopping in Gir Forest

    Gir Forest is a popular tourist destination in Gujarat, India, known for its wildlife sanctuary and national park. While exploring the beauty of the forest, you can also indulge in some shopping in the local markets. Here are some things to buy, markets to visit, and what to avoid while shopping in Gir Forest.

    Things to Buy

    1. Handicrafts made by local artisans such as wooden toys, wall hangings, and bamboo baskets.
    2. Traditional Gujarati clothing like Bandhani sarees or dresses.
    3. Spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric that are grown locally.
    4. Honey produced by bees from the forest.

    Markets to Visit

    1. Sasan Gir Market is located near the main entrance of the sanctuary and has a variety of shops selling everything from clothes to souvenirs.
    2. Junagadh Bazaar is a traditional market where you can find unique handicrafts made by local artisans.
    3. Somnath Market is famous for its spices and honey.

    What to Avoid

    1. Avoid buying products made from animal parts as it is illegal and unethical.
    2. Don't buy anything from unauthorized vendors who might sell fake or low-quality products.
    3. Avoid bargaining too much as it may not be considered polite in some shops.
    4. Don't forget to check the prices before purchasing anything as some vendors may overcharge tourists.

    In conclusion, shopping in Gir Forest can be a unique experience where you can find traditional handicrafts, spices, honey, and clothing. Just make sure you shop responsibly and avoid buying illegal or unethical products.

    Nightlife in Gir Forest

    Gir forest, located in Gujarat, India, is known for its rich wildlife and diverse flora. However, the forest has a lot more to offer than just safaris and nature walks during the day. The nightlife in Gir forest is equally enchanting and thrilling.

    One can experience the thrill of watching nocturnal animals move around freely at night, which cannot be seen during the day. The forest comes alive with the sounds of various animals, making it a unique and unforgettable experience.

    If you're planning on spending a night in Gir forest, here are three places you can consider:

    1. The Gir Birding Lodge: This lodge offers comfortable accommodation with an enchanting view of the surrounding forests. The lodge also provides bird watching and wildlife safaris, making it an ideal place to spend the night.

    2. The Fern Gir Forest Resort: This beautiful resort offers luxurious tents for visitors to stay overnight in comfort while enjoying the natural beauty of the forest. Visitors can also enjoy jeep safari rides and dine outdoors under starry skies.

    3. Lion Safari Camp: This tented camp provides visitors with an authentic jungle experience while offering comfortable amenities such as hot water showers and delicious meals. Visitors can also enjoy lion safaris and cultural performances by local tribal communities.

    Overall, spending a night in Gir forest is an experience not to be missed. From listening to animal sounds to stargazing under clear skies, there's something for everyone to enjoy at night in this beautiful forest.

    Outdoor Activities in Gir Forest

    After experiencing the vibrant nightlife in Gir forest, one can also indulge in various outdoor activities during the day. The forest is known for its rich biodiversity and is home to various flora and fauna species. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of this forest is by taking a safari ride. Jungle Safari is a popular activity in Gir where visitors can explore the forest and spot animals like Asiatic lions, leopards, hyenas, and more.

    Apart from jungle safaris, visitors can also go for trekking in Gir forest. The rugged terrain and dense forests make it an exciting adventure for trekkers. There are various trekking trails available that take visitors through different parts of the forest.

    Another popular outdoor activity in Gir is bird watching. The diverse range of bird species in this forest makes it a paradise for bird watchers. Some of the commonly spotted birds here are Indian Pitta, Crested Serpent Eagle, Malabar Whistling Thrush, and more.

    In addition to these activities, visitors can also go for camping or visit nearby villages to interact with locals and learn about their culture. Overall, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to do in Gir forest that allow visitors to experience its natural beauty and wildlife up close.

    Festivals and Events in Gir Forest

    Gir forest is not only famous for its wildlife and natural beauty, but also for its vibrant festivals and events that take place throughout the year. These events showcase the rich cultural heritage of the region, and offer visitors a chance to experience the local traditions and customs. Some of the popular festivals and events in Gir forest are:

    1. Girnar Parikrama (January): This is a religious festival that involves a 36-kilometer trek around the holy mountain of Girnar. It is believed to be one of the toughest treks in India, and attracts thousands of devotees from all over the country.

    2. Holi (February/March): The festival of colors is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Gir forest, with people smearing each other with colored powder and water. It is a joyous occasion that brings people together in a spirit of camaraderie.

    3. Tarnetar Fair (August/September): This is one of the largest tribal fairs in Gujarat, and features colorful displays of traditional handicrafts, music, dance, and food. The fair also includes a unique matchmaking ceremony where young men and women come together to find their life partners.

    4. Navratri (October): This nine-day festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, and involves fasting, prayer, and dance performances known as garba. In Gir forest, Navratri is an occasion for people to dress up in their finest clothes and participate in community celebrations.

    5. Diwali (November): The festival of lights is celebrated with great fervor in Gir forest, with people lighting diyas (earthen lamps) to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness. The night sky comes alive with fireworks displays that add to the festive atmosphere.

    These festivals and events are an integral part of life in Gir forest, and provide visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture. Each event has its own unique charm and significance, making it worth experiencing at least once.

    Tips for Travelers while travelling to Gir Forest

    1. Respect the Wildlife: Gir Forest is home to many endangered species of animals, such as Asiatic lions, leopards, and Indian deer. It is important to respect their natural habitat and maintain a safe distance from them.
    2. Be Prepared for the Climate: The climate in Gir Forest can be hot and dry, especially during summers. It is important to carry appropriate clothing and sun protection to avoid heatstroke and dehydration.
    3. Book Accommodation in Advance: Due to the popularity of Gir Forest among tourists, it is recommended to book accommodation in advance. This will ensure that you have a comfortable stay without any last-minute hassles.
    4. Follow Safety Guidelines: The forest authorities have set specific safety guidelines for visitors. It is essential to follow these guidelines to ensure your safety and that of the animals in the forest.
    5. Respect Local Culture: The people living near Gir Forest have a unique culture that must be respected by visitors. It is important not to disturb their way of life or cause any inconvenience while visiting their villages or towns.

    Overall, Gir Forest is a fantastic destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. By following these tips, you can make your trip enjoyable while also ensuring that you do not harm the environment or wildlife in any way.


    What is Gir forest?

    Gir forest is a wildlife sanctuary located in Gujarat, India. It is home to the last remaining population of Asiatic lions in the world.

    What animals can be found in Gir forest?

    Apart from the Asiatic lion, Gir forest is home to a wide variety of animals including leopards, hyenas, jackals, wild boars, and several species of deer and antelope.

    How many Asiatic lions are there in Gir forest?

    As per the latest census conducted in 2020, there are approximately 674 Asiatic lions living in Gir forest.

    Is it safe to visit Gir forest?

    Yes, it is safe to visit Gir forest. However, visitors must follow all safety rules and regulations laid down by the authorities to ensure their safety as well as that of the wildlife.

    What is the best time to visit Gir forest?

    The best time to visit Gir forest is from December to March when the weather is pleasant and animals can be easily spotted due to sparse vegetation.

    Can I stay inside the Gir forest?

    Yes, there are several accommodation options available inside and around the Gir forest for tourists. These include government-run lodges as well as private resorts.

    How can I reach Gir forest?

    The nearest airport to Gir forest is located in Diu which is around 100 km away. The nearest railway station is Junagadh which is around 60 km away. From there, visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the sanctuary.

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