Sasan Gir Sightseeing
|Sasan Gir National Park||Positioned approximately 65 kilometers to the southeast of Junagadh|
|Nal Sarovar||Positioned within the periphery of Sasan Gir National Park|
|Kamleshwar Dam||Over the river Hiran|
|Kankai Mata Temple||Nested on the banks of the river Shingavadan at the distance of about 50 kilometers from the downtown Sasan Gir inside the Gir Forest National Park|
|Tulsi Shyam Temple||Located in Una sub-district of Junagadh District within the premises of Gir Forest National Park about 30 kilometers away from Una Town|
|Junagadh||Located at the distance of 80 kilometers from the Gir Forest National Park and about 51 km from Sasan Gir town|
|Ashoka Edicts||Located at the foothills of the Girnar Mountain about 2 kilometers away from downtown Junagadh|
|Junagadh Zoo (Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden) and Museum||Located in Junagadh|
|Girnar||Located near Junagadh|
|Uperkot Fort||Located at the distance of about 53 kilometers from Sasan Gir|
|Somnath||Sited in the Prabhas Kshetra on the western coastline of Gujarat in Saurashtra near Veraval about 80 kilometers from Sasan Gir|
|Talala||Located about 6 kilometers from Sasan Gir|
Sasan Gir National Park
Sasan Gir National Park or the Gir Forest National Park is the renowned wildlife sanctuary of the state of Gujarat that provides a secured shelter to the Asiatic Lions; one of the most endangered species on the planet earth. Established in the year 1965, the Sasan Gir National Park happens to be the only habitat of the pure Asiatic Lions in the world. Positioned approximately 65 kilometers to the southeast of Junagadh, the Gir Forest National Park is spread over an extensive area of about 1412 square kilometers which is divided into two parts, i.e. the fully protected National Park (258 sq km) and the sanctuary (1154 sq km). This forest region of Gir was declared a ‘conservation area’ by the then Nawab of the ‘Princely State of Junagadh’ in early 1900 s itself as the uncontrolled hunting sports of the aristocracy and their craving for hunting trophies had reduced the population of lions to only 15. Today, as a result of the unyielding endeavors of the Gujarat Forest Department, Wildlife Activists and a number of NGOs, the Asiatic Lions and the eco system of Sasan Gir stands significantly secured. According to the census of April 2010, the lion populace in Gir is reported to be 411, which indicates an increase of 52 to the calculation of census 2005 i.e. 359.
Gir Forest National Park owing to its global standing as the only dwelling of the Asiatic Lions entertains hordes of domestic and foreign tourists every season. For the promotion of nature related education and for the plummeting of the threats caused by the tourists to the wildlife, an Interpretation Zone has been established at Devalia within the premises of Sasan Gir National Park. Tourists can enjoy a safari tour in this Interpretation Zone where all types of the habitats of Gir Forest are kept inside the chained fences fortified by double gate entry system. Gir Forest National Park or Sasan Gir Sanctuary provides a protected home to nearly 2,375 distinct species of animals which includes 38 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and over 2000 species of insects. The best period to pay a visit to the Gir Forest National Park is mid October to mid June. Tourists are expected to obey the rules set up by the National Park authorities and not to disturb the serenity and upset the natural order of the wildlife there.
Nal Sarovar (not to confuse with the Nal Sarovar near Ahmedabad) is one of the three water reservoirs positioned within the periphery of Sasan Gir National Park. Apart from being a part of Gir eco system and other than acting as a water source to the birds and animals of the National Park, the Nal Sarovar Lake is more famed amongst the tourists as the stopover for hundreds of migratory birds arrived here from various parts of the globe. During the winter months, the lake premises are cram packed with stunning birds happily flying over the lake or sitting on the embankments and singing the melodious tunes. Some of the water birds and migratory birds commonly spotted at the Nal Sarovar include partridges, sand grouse, wood peckers, flamingo, cuckoos, back-headed cuckoo, paradise flycatchers, bush quail, peacock, eagles, parrots, and many more. Nal Sarovar is indeed a seventh heaven for the bird watchers and photographers. Plentiful exuberant birds savoring the nature’s pulchritude and enjoying the salubrious climate in their natural habitat is certainly an incomparable subject for a photographer’s camera and a painter’s brush. A small temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is also situated close to the Nal Sarovar Lake near the Tulsi Shyam springs. A visit to the lake will truly offer a lavish banquet to the human eyes.
Gir Forest National Park is blessed with seven perennial rivers namely Hiran, Datardi, Shetrunji, Shingoda, Godavari, Raval and Machhundri. The Kamleshwar Dam of Gir Forest is constructed over the river Hiran which is located right in the heart of the sanctuary. Officially known as ‘Hiran-I Dam’, the Kamleshwar Dam is praised by the title ‘the lifeline of Sasan Gir’. This rock fill embankment dam was built in the year 1959 with an aim of fulfilling irrigation purposes. The water reservoir that is formed by this dam is the breeding place of the marsh crocodiles of Gir. Not only that, this water lakelet is also a paradise for bird watchers and photographers as it also attracts distinct species of avifauna.
Kankai Mata Temple
Kankai Mata Temple, nested on the banks of the river Shingavadan at the distance of about 50 kilometers from the downtown Sasan Gir inside the Gir Forest National Park is a Hindu shrine dedicated to the Goddess Kankai; the principal Goddess of many pastoral tribes of Gujarat. Also worshipped by the name Shri Kankeshwari Mataji, Kankai Mata is regarded to be the protector, guardian and benefactor of the shepherds. A smaller shrine dedicated to the brother of Kankai Mata; Bhudarjee Bapa is established behind the main temple while a cowshed is built adjacent the temple which houses cows and buffaloes. As per the prevalent legend, Arjuna; one of the five Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata once traveling through this forest had discovered water from the earth using his bow at this place. As Kankai Mata resides right in the midst of wilderness, if you spend night at this temple you will get a chance to hear the roaring of the lion and also witness the assembly of wild animals on the banks of the nearby lake. Besides, watching the twinkling stars against the background of the pitch dark sky without any interference of artificial lights is undoubtedly an aesthetic experience for those interested in sky observing. You need not worry about your safety as the walls of the temple are sufficiently strong and tall to let any wild beast inside. To reach the Kankai Mata Temple you can avail the public transport bus that starts from Junagadh every morning at 8:00 and returns at 9:45 am.
Tulsi Shyam Temple
The Tulsi Shyam Temple located in Una sub-district of Junagadh District within the premises of Gir Forest National Park about 30 kilometers away from Una Town is a Hindu pilgrim destination and a tourist center stationed right in the midst of wilderness. Widely renowned for its immense natural splendor and its mythological and religious significance, the Tulsi Shyam Temple dedicated to Lord Shri Krishna is particularly distinguished for its Hot Water springs referred to as ‘Taptodak’ in the Puranas. Two interesting myths form the background of this temple. As per the first anecdote, at this place Lord Krishna killed a demon named Tul. As the Demon Tul was sanctified after being executed by the hands of Lord Himself, Lord Krishna’s name was associated with his name and thus this place came to be known as Tulsi Shyam.
The other account derived from the Puranas narrates that a demon king named Jalandhar had turned invincible and immortal due to the piousness and chastity of his wife Vrinda. Jalandhar posed a great threat to the Gods so they appealed to Lord Vishnu to find out a way to destroy him. Lord Vishnu assumed the form of the demon Jalandhar and violated his wife Vrinda. As soon as Vrinda lost her chastity, Jalandhar was killed by Lord Shiva. On learning the fact, Vrinda cursed Lord Vishnu that he would become a black stone and be separated from his wife. As a result Vishnu was transformed to a black Shaligram and in His Ram incarnation, he had to bear separation from his wife Goddess Sita. Vrinda, not being able to stand the shame immolated herself in the funeral pyre of Jalandhar. Lord Vishnu transferred her soul to a plant which is now worshipped as the sacred Tulsi Plant by Hindus. Later, Vrinda was born as Rukhmini and married Lord Krishna; the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The Tulsi Shyam Temple of Sasan Gir dedicated to the chief consort of Lord Krishna i.e. Goddess Rukhmini is believed to be about seven hundred years old. A steep climb of nearly 100 steps would reach you to the temple of Goddess Rukhmini. The idol of the presiding deity made of black marble is about 2 feet tall and a smaller idol of Lord Shri Krishna is also placed adjacent the main statue of Rukhmini Devi. This temple of Lord Tulsi Shyam is especially reckoned for its peaceful ambience and the devotees of Lord Shri Krishna love to spend some quiescent time in the vicinity of this ancient tabernacle. The most remarkable attribute for which the temple of Tulsi Shyam is famous is its three hot water springs. The first spring has warm water, the second one has a little hot water but the third spring has boiling water and steam can be seen coming out of it. Devotees bathe in these water springs which are also acclaimed for their medicinal quality of curing skin diseases. Sometimes tourists even spot lion, deer, nilgai, other animals and a wide range of birds in the dense forest around the temple.
Junagadh , located at the distance of 80 kilometers from the Gir Forest National Park and about 51 km from Sasan Gir town is an ancient princely state that boasts of its eventful history of more than 2000 years. Nested at the footings of the great mountain of Girnar, Junagadh was ruled by various dynasties, Mauryan and Solanki being the most noteworthy amongst them, for the period of over one and half millennium and later it fell into the hands of Mughals and British. Junagadh is principally famous amongst the tourists for its major sight seeing places namely Girnar Mountain, Ashoka Edicts, Uperkot Fort, Sakkarbaug Zoo, Narsinh Mehta No Choro, Durbar Hall Museum, Damodar Kund, Science Museum and many others.
Ashoka Edicts or Ashoka Shilalekh found at the foothills of the Girnar Mountain about 2 kilometers away from downtown Junagadh are the pronouncements made by the great Mauryan Samrat Ashoka which were inscribed on a large granite rock with an iron pen. Dated back to the third century BC, (250 BC) the Ashoka Edicts are inscribed in Brahmi script in Pali language. Bearing immense historical, cultural and archaeological importance, these Ashoka Edicts of Junagadh have become one of the major tourist attractions of Saurashtra province. These 14 inscriptions of Ashoka were discovered by James Todd and made appropriately known to public by Rev. Dr. John Wilson in 1837. As a result of his endeavors, these edicts were enlisted in the Bombay branch journal by the Royal Asiatic Society by 1843 AD.
The Ashoka Edicts engraved upon an uneven rock with 7 meters of circumference and 10 meters of height impart moral instructions on religion, tolerance, harmony and peace. They also manifest the greatness and secularism of Emperor Ashoka and portray him as the king who encouraged religious and social unity and integrity. Moreover, the edicts also propagate the teachings preached by Lord Buddha and direct people towards Buddhism. The edicts of Ashoka also bear some inscriptions carved in Sanskrit which are believed to have been added later by other rulers. These Sanskrit inscriptions describe certain catastrophic flood which took place in this region and lead to the demolition of the embankments of some ancient Sudershan Lake which doesn’t exist any more.
Junagadh Zoo (Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden) and Museum
Junagadh Zoo, also known as the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden is one of the oldest and the most popular wildlife parks of Junagadh which is mainly reckoned far and wide for its Asiatic lions and its lion breeding center. Established by the Nawab of Junagadh in the year 1863 with an aim of shielding these lions from extinction, the present day Junagadh Zoo has turned into a miniature Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and a conventional safari park. Apart from its principal inhabitant i.e. the Asiatic lion, the zoological park also provides shelter to over 1000 animals of distinctive 71 species. The Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden is a home to about 525 mammals, 597 birds and 111 reptiles; the chief of them being lions, tigers, African cheetahs, leopards, panthers, spotted deer, deer, wild boar, antelope, blue bull, black buck, Malabar giant squirrels, Indian gaur, green pheasants, marmosets and so on. The Junagadh Zoo also houses a zoological museum where skeletons of two Asiatic lions, eggs, beaks and feathers of various birds, miniature paintings, manuscripts, archaeological findings, sculptures, valuable documents, sovereigns, letterings, and so on are exhibited. The museum also organizes regular seminars and travel sessions and screens various informative films. This museum makes the Junagadh Zoo one of the most sought after tourist’s attraction of the city. Under the Captive Breeding Program, the Junagadh Zoo has successfully bred 180 Asiatic lions. The zoo is open to public all days of week from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and the entry fee of Rs 3 is charged here.
Girnar Mountain, a huge congregation of numerous hills located near Junagadh is a highly revered pilgrim destination of Hindus and Jains. The tallest peak of Girnar is 1031 meters high and it happens to be the highest peak in the state of Gujarat. A treacherous climb of more than 8000 steps will lead you to the topmost peak where a temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya is parked. Other highly venerated temples and religious places of the Girnar Mountain include Bharathari Gufa, Mali Parab, Ramchandra Temple, Ambaji Temple, Hathi Pashan, a number of Jain Temples, Jatashanker Mahadev, Gaumukhi Ganga, Sheshavan, Bharanvan, Hanumandhara, Guru Gorakhnath Peak, Kamandal kund, Kalka Temple, and so on. It is believed by the Hindus that climbing the Mount Girnar barefoot will earn a place in heaven. Apart from its religious appeal, Girnar Parvat also allures adventure enthusiasts. Every year a race is held here which involves running from the base of the mountain to the top and running back. The locals say that the fastest ever climb and return of the Girnar was 42.36 minutes.
The Uperkot Fort of Junagadh located at the distance of about 53 kilometers from Sasan Gir is one of the most worth visiting tourist attractions near Gir Forest Wildlife Sanctuary. Basking in the glory of its almost 1800 years of eventful history, the Uperkot Fort is believed to have been constructed in 319 BC by the King Chandragupta Maurya. Further extended by several emperors this fort has survived 16 assaults over the time span of 1000 years. During the period between 7th and 10th century AD, the Uperkot Fort was concealed under a thick forest and was completely abandoned until it was retrieved out of the overgrown jungle in 976 AD. Surrounded by 20 meter high walls, the Uperkot Fort is embellished with three colossal gates at the entrance. As you cross the threshold, wonders of gone by era start unraveling themselves in front of you. The fort houses a number of archaeological and historical sites such as, Baba Pyara Caves, Jami Masjid, Navghan Kuvo, Adi-Kadi Vav, rock cut Buddhist Caves, the palace of Ra Khengaar, Dhakka Bari, the palace of Ranakdevi converted into a mosque, Khapra Kodia Caves, Babupyana Caves, the tomb of Nuri Shah, and so on. The most noteworthy attractions of the Uperkot Fort are two ancient cannons named Nilam and Manek which were acquired by the Nawab of Junagadh from the Turkish.
'Somnath', which literally means ‘the Lord of the Moon’ is the first of the twelve Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva. Believed to be consecrated by the Moon God Himself, this temple of Somnath is sited in the Prabhas Kshetra on the western coastline of Gujarat in Saurashtra near Veraval about 80 kilometers from Sasan Gir. Bequeathed with the laurel; ‘the shrine eternal’, the temple of Somnath has made a mark in the eventful history of Gujarat for being demolished several times by Mahmud of Ghazni and other Mughal Emperors and being restored by Hindu Sovereigns on the every single occasion. Highly venerated by the Hindus in general and Shaivites in particular, the Somnath Temple of Lord Shiva receives thousands of pilgrims every year. Built along the magnificent littoral of the imperial Arabian Sea, the Somnath Temple apart from its religious and historical significance is also endowed with immense architectural and natural beauty. The majestic shrine of Somnath standing against the sumptuous backdrop of far flung sandy beach and the fathomless waters of the sea unquestionably enthralls its beholders. Built in yellow sandstone, this specimen of Chalukya style of temple architecture is certainly a precious jewel in the glorious casket of ‘Garavi Gujarat’.
Talala, a small town in Junagadh district located about 6 kilometers from Sasan Gir is very famous for its ancient Bhimdeval Sun Temple and its huge orchards of kesar mangoes.