For the last several years, I wanted to see the “Asiatic Lion” which exists only at the “Gir National Park” in the whole world. They were on the brink of extinction but thanks to the efforts of the Government, the population has steadily increased to more than 500.
The best way to go to Gir is via Ahmedabad. It is only a 7 hours’ drive to reach Gir by road. The road is also excellent. There are a number of good “Dhabas” and food chains like “Honest” on the road .
Susan Gir is the name of the village from where you can go to “Gir National Park” by taking the jeep safari. Please make sure to take the visiting permit well in advance as the number of jeep safaris allowed inside the park are limited. You can get the permit online at the web site http://www.girlion.in/Default.aspx. Once you have the permit, you can go to “Gir National Park” office and take a jeep & guide.
There are a number of hotels and a few resorts to stay at Susan Gir. We stayed in “Club Mahindra” at Haripur village. The resort is really nice with great landscaping, swimming place, play place and place to play even cricket. The food choices were plenty and very delicious as well.
We started our day by taking a morning walk at 6:30 AM. We had a nice walk on a nearby tekdi. Our guide was hoping to get sighting of the Lioness which he saw 3 days back. We saw chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and many other small bush birds on the way.
We went for a 9 AM to 12 PM “Gir safari”. After coming at Gir, we came to know that the chances of sighting Lions are lowest for the 9 AM to 12 PM safari. The chances are highest for 6 AM to 9:00 AM safari, followed by 3 pm to 6 pm.
We could not see the Lions but could see many animals like antelope, sambar, chital ( Spotted deers) and birds like peacocks, spotted Owlet, Scops Owl, etc.
After lunch, we went to Somnath. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. It is the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The temple is awesome and unlike other temples at pilgrimage places, this place is very clean and well disciplined. It is about an hour drive from Gir. You should definitely plan to visit this, if you are in the nearby area.
We had a very nice dinner at a family hotel called “Shubham” just opposite Club Mahindra. The owner, Bhavin Goswami” was very friendly and hospitability was great. His family members prepared a very nice & simple authentic dinner. ( Methi, Spinach, Rotla – Bajara Bhakari, Kadhi & Khichadi). If you are looking for authentic food in Gir area, please contact Bhavesh at 9909539524.
We took the morning safari at 6:00 AM and this became the memorable safari of our life!! We saw 2 Lions and 1 Lioness!!
Within a first few minutes, we had a sighting of the Lion. He was sitting in a bush near the road. When he saw many jeeps around him, he walked across the road and vanished into the jungle.
We went ahead but could see “the pugmarks” all the way along the road. After about 15 minutes, we saw another Lion seating right in the middle of our safari. We could go near to the Lion (about 20 ft). The sighting of the Lion is very rare as each one controls its own territory and does not allow other Lions or his own male cubs in his territory.
We went ahead and after about 30 minutes, we saw a Lioness which was on a kill for a deer. She was waiting just behind the flock of the deer. She was very much focused and not losing the sight of the deer. She was walking very cautiously without making any noise. We waited for almost 30 minutes to capture the kill but due to time limitation, we had to move on.
Apart from seeing Lions, we also saw antelope, sambar, chital (Spotted deers) and many birds.
We ate lunch at “Shubham”. They had prepared a very authentic Gujrati dish called “Undhiyu”!!
Day 4 :
We came back to Ahmedabad from Gir. On the way, we ate at restaurant chain “Honest”. It is a very good place to eat. We ate “Gujrathi Fafda” and chutney.
In the evening, we went for a shopping at Law Garden area. It is mainly a shopping are for women. You can get a lot of Gujrathi style cloths.
We ate at restaurant “Swati”. I highly recommend this Hotel for someone who wants to try out authentic Gujrathi food. You can get “Khandvo”, “Khaman”, “Dal Dhokli”, “Dabeli”, “Undiyo and rotla”, “dal Bati churma”, etc.
We spent the day in Ahemdabad sightseeing. A visit to Ahemdabad is not complete if you do not visit “Sabarmati Ashram” on the banks of the Sabarmati River. Gandhiji stayed here from 1918 to 1930 and many independence movements & strategies got decided here. Many Indian & foreign politicians visited the Ashram, when Gandhiji was staying here. Gujrat government has done a fantastic job to develop the river front of the Sabarmati River. On one side of the river is the “Ashram” and other side lies a very nice “riverside garden”.
After visiting Sabaramai Ashram, we went to see Akshardam Temple. It is built over 13 years and is a tribute to Swaminarayan and his life and teachings. At the center of the 23-acre complex is the temple, which is built from 6,000 metric tons of pink sandstone from Rajasthan. They do not allow you to take any electronics so you can’t take photos. It is such a miracle from the current generation of artists. I am sure it will be a great destination to see arts of Indian for generations to come.
After having dinner at “Swati”, we returned back to Pune via Duranto Express, a non stop train from Ahmedabad to Pune