Sasan-Gir or the Gir Forest National Park is located in the Indian state of Gujarat. Spread across an area of 1412 square km, this sanctuary was established in 1965 to protect the dwindling population of lions. Today, it is the only place where Asiatic Lions can be found, and that makes it one of Asias most important protected areas.
The Gir National Park experiences a tropical monsoon climate with extreme hot and humid conditions during the summer months of May to August. The sanctuary remains closed to visitors during the summer months. Apart from being the only home of the reclusive Asiatic Lions, it also has various other species of flora and fauna, which give it a rich bio-diversity.
It is estimated that this reserve in Gujarat has more than 38 species of mammals, approximately 300 species of birds and 2000 insect species. Of the mammals, the Asiatic Lion was counted at 411 a few years back.
Various efforts have been undertaken by the government and nature enthusiasts to preserve the rare species of lion. One of these efforts has been setting up of the Lion breeding programme. Under this program, breeding centres for the Asiatic lion have been set up in various parts of the state to increase their population. The centre also studies the behaviour of the Asiatic Lion and carries out advanced studies on this lion species.
The sightseeing attractions of Sasan-Gir include a vast range starting from Sasan-Gir National Park, which is the most popular attraction in the place. This national park has been confirmed as the safest place for breeding the endangered species of Gir lions. It is home to 400 species of flora and 2375 species of fauna.
Another important attraction in the place is Kamleshwar Dam, which is situated in the centre of Sasan-Gir National Park. This dam is built over Hiran River, which is one of the seven rivers that drain in the area of Gir Sanctuary. Tourists can opt for Sasan-Gir holiday packages for a wholesome wildlife experience.
The concerted efforts have reaped rich dividends with the population of Asiatic lions going up from 15 in 1990 to over 400 presently. However, this has posed a new problem for the authorities. Now, many believe that the Gir National Park is overpopulated and a part of the lion population must be relocated to a new place.
A popular site, which was recommended for this initiative, is the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary, lying 65 away from the princely state of Junagadh, does not have well designated tourist areas. To overcome this problem and to protect the ecology of the area, interpretation zones have been set up to allow tourists to get close to nature while still protecting the wildlife.
The rich flora and fauna of the region and the opportunity of spotting one of the rarest species of lions attracts a lot of tourists each year to Sasan-Gir. Sasan-Gir does not have a train station. To reach Sasan-Gir, board a train to the nearest station is Junagadh, at a distance of 23 kms from Sasan-Gir. The best time to visit the destination is between December and March.
There are many hotel options in Sasan-Gir for tourists. Travellers can choose from lodges, camps and resorts within the sanctuary to budget hotels located close to the wildlife sanctuary.