Gir National Park || Somnath || Diu
Gir National Park is one of the most beautiful parks I have seen. It is the only place other than Africa where Lions are found in their natural habitat.
We have been thinking of visiting GIR for quite some time now. But every time, it either got canceled or postponed. Finally, we booked our tickets during the Diwali holidays.
GIR National Park
There are 10 routes inside the GIR National Park, which are randomly allocated. You can try requesting a particular route if you wish to go. Routes 6 and 9 are considered among the best routes due to the higher chances of a sighting. There are almost 7-8 cubs on these routes.
Route number 1 is the longest route which covers the forest border, tribal villages, dam, and inside the jungle. On this route, you can find several species of birds and crocodiles along with deer and lions.
This route was assigned to us on our 2nd safari. I loved this route, though initially, I felt that there would be hardly any animals as it is on the border; then, we spotted a lioness sleeping with her cubs. And as we entered deep inside the forest, it turned out to be a fantastic route.
Always choose the first safari slot at 6.30 am in winter and 6.00 am in summer. The chances of spotting the big cat are higher. They are active during the night; hence chances of seeing them early morning are higher. The Lions go deep into the bushes and rest as the day progresses.
The Lion Encounter
We were assigned route number 6 on our 1st Safari. As we entered the park, suddenly, we saw 1 male Lion running towards us. I was so mesmerized to see the Lion that I forgot to take a picture or shoot a video.
I almost blamed myself for not taking a single picture, and then what we saw was a once-in-a-time experience. We saw 1 Lioness with her 3 cubs walking on the track, and the lioness came close to our gypsy. Within minutes, we saw 2 Male Lions and 1 Female coming from the other end.
Later we learned from the forest officer that the Lion who came running was an intruder, and the 2 Lions made him run away from their territory.
Watching the entire pride together was such a treat, and that too so close, just a few feet away from our gypsy. After few minutes, we had to leave from there as the Lions came too close to our jeep, and there was a restriction from the forest department that you cannot stop at one place for more than 10 mins.
While we were soaking the entire scene of what we just saw; we got to know there was one more pride ahead. We immediately went there and saw 5-6 lions/cubs eating the hunt.
It was one of the best safaris I have ever had. Watching 2 pride and 1 Intruder from such a close distance was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As it is said, Lion sleeps or lazes around 20 hours a day while the lioness sleeps 15-19 hours as she either takes care of the cubs or takes time to hunt.
Lion is such a magnificent animal, no wonder he is known as the king of the Jungle.
Somnath was never on our itinerary, and we had no plans to visit this place. But who kehte hain a “bulava aaya hai”.
We were getting hints all the time. When we landed at Rajkot, the first question our driver asked was, “Do you want to go to Somnath or Dwarka.” The next day our hotel manager said, “You can visit Somnath today.”
We had booked the “Devaliya safari” for the evening, but because we had such a fantastic sighting in the morning safari, we canceled Devaliya (it is like an open zoo. You go there in a covered gypsy to see all the animals). So, we had the entire day free. Hence, we decided to visit Somnath.
Before heading to Somnath, we had delicious Gujrati thali Woods At Sasan. It was simply amazing.
The Somnath temple is so beautiful. After taking lord Shiva’s darshan and blessings, we sat there for a while. It felt so calm and peaceful despite all the noise around. The river around the temple was beautiful.
You cannot take anything inside the temple, including a mobile, camera, watch, bag, etc. There are lockers available outside where you can keep all your belongings.
Everything is well organized here, from lockers to shoes.
You can visit the river bank later.
Post our Darshan, we went back to our hotel @GirSerai in Gir. Though we wanted to walk outside, we were asked not to step outside the resort premises. It was pretty dark outside, and there was a fear of a leopard attack. So we stayed in and enjoyed dinner.
After our early safari on Day 2, we had our breakfast and proceeded further to Diu as planned.
Diu gave us a typical Portuguese culture feeling, similar to old Goa. First, we saw the ship that was used during the Ind-Pak war. We didn’t stop here but just passed.
Our first stop was Diu Fort. The fort is pretty small compared to other forts. It is surrounded by water. You can also see Jail from the fort. The jail has water all around, so it is almost difficult for prisoners to sneak out.
Then, we went to St. Cathedral Church. It is one of the oldest in the union territory.
And finally, post lunch went to Nagoa Beach. The beach has many adventure sports activities like parasailing, speed boats, banana boat, water scooter, etc. The water was so cold despite the hot weather.
The sound made by the waves was like a piece of music. Watching the sun setting down made the sky so radiant. Sunset on the beach is one of the best combinations to watch.
After some amazing time on the beach, we returned to our hotel in Gir. And enjoyed the African tribal dance.
Our trip turned out to be just wonderful.
Suggested Itinerary (3N 4D)
Day 1 – Reach Gir and relax
Day 2 – Early morning Safari. You can book Devaliya right after your Safari at 9.30 am and visit Somnath in the afternoon. Or you can only see Somnath and spend the rest of the evening relaxing at your hotel in Gir.
Day 3 – Early morning Safari. Visit Diu. Spend the entire day on the beach. Overnight at Gir.
Day 4 – Early Safari or Do some shopping and check out.
Stay in Gir instead of Diu or any other nearby place. You will be able to enjoy a mix of experiences from the jungle to the beach to temples.