Gir Sanctuary – Fact sheet

The Gir National Park and Sanctuary is accessed from Sasan-Gir, a sleepy, one-street village without any character whatsoever.

Best time to go – Summers if you can put up with the 40+ temperature then. Apparently lions move about a lot more freely and can be spotted a lot more easily. We went in the winter when temperatures are more bearable (daytime 20 - 25 degrees) and can come down to 8 degrees in the night.

Getting there: Flights go to Rajkot – 3.5 hours by road and Diu – 3 hours by road. Trains go to Veraval (1 hour by road) and Rajkot.

Stay – A handful of resorts and very few recommended both by Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor or even Holiday IQ. We chose Anil Farmhouse which was neat and clean and had nice rooms. But it was also the most popular choice for Gujju families, who as it turned out, are really loud (defying all rules of civilisation where one would expect noisy young ones to grow into soft spoken adults. Just the opposite happens here). The other resort in this price range (3000 per night on twin sharing, including 3 meals a day) was Maneland but it had bad online reviews

Eat – At the resort. Unless you are a Gujju family in which case you would have remembered to carry loads of theplas and farsan and eaten it loudly at the dining table.

To Do

Lion Safari – Happens at 6 a.m., 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and lasts three hours per session. We went for the 3 p.m. round and spotted a lioness. Apparently it is fairly easy to spot a lion if you manage to do a couple of safaris atleast. Even if you do spot a lion in your first try, doing another safari could be interesting.
Gir Conservation Centre – An enclosed area where there are lots of animals, including lions. Can see animals much closer than in the non-enclosed forest area.

There are tons of birds in Gir. Carry binocs if you are an avid watcher.

The leopard is also a popular animal in these parts, though now pretty much a side-show on account of the lion

Around Gir

Somnath (1 hour from Gir towards the south) – Claim to fame is the number of devasting attacks it endured from raiders. Ghazni managed to destroy the ancient temple and now a new, stereotyped temple stands courtesy Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Looks quite nice though and there is an awesome view of the sea. If you have really keen eyesight (like, say, Sarah Palin), you can keep an eye on Antarctica as apparently there is no landmass in between. There is also a sound and lights show in the evenings though we did not stay to see it.

Diu (3 hours from Gir towards the south if you go via Somnath. Shorter route should take an hour lesser. Road is a little bad in some parts) – Diu has a lovely Portuguese Fort. We skipped the Church and the museum. Guides are available to give you a tour of all these places. The most popular beach is Nagwa, 5 kms away. It was crowded with families. The shacks, sadly, were filled with shady looking men tanking up on daru before returning to the dry state of Gujarat. The water sports are a con job with lifejackets that had thermocol oozing out. The beach had a pleasant breeze and you can walk about a bit. From the Diu Fort, we could see some lovely, secluded beaches though. Could be worth a try.

Junagadh (1 hour, towards the north) – lots of stuff on the net about the fort, Ashokan edicts, Mausoleum etc. We did not have much time but from the quick stop we made at Maqbhara Khan's mausoleum it seemed well worth a visit

Rajkot (3.5 hours, towards the north, past Junagadh) – Nothing on the net seemed impressive and since we got there primarily for the train, did not see much either. Supposed to be good for shopping (which I managed to at Jetpur, about 50 kms away). Time will tell if the colours of the bandini stuff I picked up runs.


Nikesh said...

The Gujju families seem to have got to you. you should have been conditioned by now given your time in Mumbai :)

Entropy said...

Hi Nike,
You should be used to people making comments about Gujjus and Gujju jokes, considering the number of non-Gujjus there are in Mumbai.
Of course, I can make totally racist prejudiced remarks secure in the knowledge that anyone who cribs can be reminded about the number of times they have cracked Parsi jokes or comments about crazy Bawas.

Anita said...

Nikesh - I had no clue they could be so loud. You could have warned me atleast in all these years. But you read my blog regularly! How cool

Zen - Joke! This was no Gujju joke believe me. And isn't crazy bawa an oxymoron ;)

byker7 said...

A few years ago, if you were passing through Bandipur, you'd have seen 4 quiet men with cigarettes standing next to 4 bullets parked neatly on the side of the road.

In the forest on the other side of the road, a safe distance away, were a herd of wild elephants.

If you'd stuck around a while, you'd have seen a Santro with GJ plates pull up, and drive halfway to the herd of elephants.

5 seconds later, the woods were alive with the sound of bollywood chartbusters and cracling fried snacks.

And the sound of a small child insisting on trying to get a calf to eat unidentified fried objects, just as ma elephant was making unfriendly noises.

And if you'd whipped your head around really quick, you might just have caught the faint glimmer of tail lights, and a far away thump, as 4 bullets fled into the sunset.

There is no escaping them.

anjali said...

ah! While cribbing about gujjus it's easy to forget their primary contribution to civilisation, gujju food! patel dinning hall, opp. Bus stand, rajkot, did excellent justice to that one at least.

Anita said...

byker7 - Why especially in forests I wonder. Seems incongruous.

Anjali - Actually that would be a perfect world. If they stayed in restaurant kitchens and dolled out yummy food...

byker7 said...

Perhaps they're just in search of some mangal in the jungle.