Monday, March 5, 2012

GIR NATIONAL PARK



GIR NATIONAL PARK,
NALASOROVAR
and
ASIATIC WILD ASS SANCTUARY 


26TH FEB 2012 To 08TH MARCH 2012


THE TEAM MEMBERS
Mr.Suresh Kumar N S
Mr.Shivaram
Mr.Satya Prasad
Mr. Nagesh
Mr.Viswanath S (myself)


Tour Programme



26.02.12 – 1330 hrs - Dep Bangalore by Train No. 16502 Ahmedabad Exp
28.02.12 – 0345 hrs - Arr at Ahmedabad
28.02.12 – 0820 hrs - Dep Ahmedabad by Train No.11466 Somnath Exp
28.02.12 – 1555 hrs - Arr Junagadh
             - 0500 hrs - Junagadh to Sasan Gir by Road around 64 km
29.02.12 to 03.03.12 - 7 Safariies at Gir Forest
03.03.12 - 1200 hrs - Dep from Sasan Gir to Somnath by Train
             - 1345 hrs - Arrival at Somnath and had Local Sight seeing
             - 1630 hrs - Dep Velavar by Somnath Express to Ahmedabad
04.03.12 - 0400 hrs - Arrival at Ahmedabad
             - 0600 hrs - Left for Nalsarovar by Car (64 Kms)
             - 1430 hrs - Arrived at Rann Riders (Dasad)
04.03.12 - 05.03.12 - 3 Safaries at Dasad (Wild Ass Sanctuary)
06.02.12 – 1830 hrs - Dep Ahmedabad by Train No. 16501 Bangalore Exp
08.02.12 – 0450 hrs - Arr Bangalore City






Distance of some important places:

Somnath: 40 KM
Junagarh: 50 KM
Diu: 100 KM
Tulsishyam: 125 KM
Satadhar: 20 KM
Dwarka: 200 KM
Porbander: 100 KM
Palitana: 200 KM
Nearest Airport: Rajkot 150 Km, Diu; 100 Km. 
Nearest Railway Station: Malia 30 Km, Veraval 40 Km, Junagadh 50 Km, Rajkot 150 Km, Ahmedabad 375 Km.


Bus Connectivity:  From Rajkot, Junagadh, Ahmedabad, Surat, Etc.,


The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir, is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India. Established in 1965, with a total area of 1412 km² (about 258 km² for the fully protected area (the national park) and 1153 km² for the Sanctuary), the park is located 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh and 60 km to south west of Amreli.

Accommodation :

Hotel Sinh Sadan Guest House is located close to the national park. The hotel is well-planned luxury guesthouse run by Gujarat Tourism Authority & The Forest Authority. Situated on the main highway running through Sasan, the hotel is 64 km. from Junagarh and 32 km. from Verawal. The hotel offers pretty good accommodation options for budget travelers.

 
Sinh Sadan Guest House Hotel offers spacious, grandiose, attractive and clean accommodation to its valued guests. The rooms are large, spacious, and attractive with mosquito nets. The hotel also boasts of a well-maintained dining hall serving reasonably priced meals.

Here in Sinh Sadan forest lodge, lunch is served from 1300 to 1400 hrs, Dinner from 2000 to 2100 hrs, and breakfast time is at 0800 to 0900 hrs. 
 

Gir National Park

It is the sole home of the pure Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. The ecosystem of Gir, with its diverse flora and fauna, is protected as a result of the efforts of the government forest department,  wildlife activists and NGOs. The forest area of Gir and its lions were declared as "protected" in the early 1900s

by the then Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh. This initiative assisted in the conservation of the lions whose population had plummeted to only 15 through slaughter for trophy hunting.

The April 2010 census recorded the lion-count in Gir at 411, an increase of 52 compared to 2005. The lion breeding programme covering the park and surrounding area has bred about 180 lions in captivity since its inception.

Water reserves

The seven major perennial rivers of the Gir region are Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari and Raval. The four reservoirs of the area are at four dams, one each on Hiran, Machhundri, Raval and Shingoda rivers, including the biggest reservoir in the area, the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed 'the lifeline of Gir'. During peak summer, surface water for wild animals is available at about 300 water points. When drought hits the area following a poor rainfall, surface water is not available at a majority of these points, and water scarcity becomes a serious problem (mainly in the eastern part of the sanctuary). Ensuring the availability of water during peak summer is one of the major tasks of the Forest Department staff.


Flora

More than 400 plant species were recorded in the survey of Gir forest by Samtapau & Raizada in 1955. The Botany department of M.S. University of Baroda has revised the count to 507 during their survey. According to the 1964 forest type classification by Champion & Sheth, the Gir forest falls under "5A/C-1a—very dry teak forest" classification. Teak occurs mixed with dry deciduous species. The degradation stages (DS) sub-types are thus derived as: 1) 5/DS1-Dry deciduous scrub forest and 2) 5/DS1-Dry savannah forests (Locally known as "vidis"). It is the largest dry deciduous forest in western India.

Teak bearing areas are mainly in the eastern portion of the forest, which constitutes nearly half of the total area.

The forest is an important biological research area with considerable scientific, educational, aesthetic and recreational values. It provides nearly 5 million kilograms of green grass by annual harvesting, which is valued approximately at Rs. 50 crores (Rs. 500,000,000) (US$ 10 million). The forest provides nearly 15,000 metric tons worth of fuel wood annually.

Wildlife


The count of 2,375 distinct fauna species of Gir includes about 38 species of mammals, around 300 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles and more than 2,000 species of insects.


The carnivores group mainly comprises Asiatic lions, Indian Leopards, Sloth bears, Indian Cobras, Jungle cats, Striped Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Indian Mongoose, Indian Palm Civets, and Ratels. Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats exist but are rarely seen.

The main herbivores of Gir are Chital, Nilgai (or Bluebull), Sambar, Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara and Wild boar. Blackbucks from the surrounding area are sometimes seen in the sanctuary.


Among the smaller mammals, Porcupine and Hare are common but the Pangolin is rare. The reptiles are represented by the mugger Marsh crocodile (highest population among all protected areas in India), the Indian Star Tortoise and the Monitor Lizard in the water areas of the sanctuary. Snakes are found in the bushes and forest. Pythons are sighted at times along the stream banks. Gir has been used by the Gujarat State Forest Department which adopted the
Indian Crocodile Conservation Project in 1977 and released close to 1000 Marsh crocodile reared in Gir rearing centre into the Kamaleshwar lake and other reservoirs and small water bodies in and around Gir.


The plentiful avifauna population has more than 300 species of birds, most of which are resident. The scavenger group of birds has 6 recorded species of Vultures. Some of the typical species of Gir include Crested Serpent Eagle, endangered Bonelli's Eagle, Crested Hawk-eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Eagle-Owl, Rock Bush-Quail, Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Treeswift and Indian Pitta. The Indian Grey Hornbill was not found in the last census of 2001.
  


Safari

Safari charges: Safaris into the jungle are conducted by park guides in open 4WD. The duration of safari is about three to four hours and is conducted early morning or in the afternoon till sunset. Each jeep can seat upto four persons comfortably. Besides the visitors, the jeep has an expert driver and a park guide.

 
Cost per jeep per safari in INR: For Indian nationals 1-6 persons: Rs. 2100 (on weekdays), Rs. 2200 (on Sat & Sun), Rs. 2300 (during festival season), Camera fees – Rs 100 (full day) above 7 megapixel.


For foreign nationals 1-6 persons: Rs. 3800 (on weekdays), Rs. 4300 (on Sat & Sun), Rs. 4800 (during festival season), Camera fees – Rs 500 (full day) above 7 megapixel.
Service tax on the bill is 4.12% additional.

29th Feb 12



Got up at 0530, had our bed tea and left for Safari by Gypsy at 0630. We got route no.6 and got to see Spotted Deers & 2 Jackals only. We returned by 1000 hrs and  to clean our camera and lenses as it is too dusty and windy all along the route, since the forest is dry.

our jeep reached our forest lodge to pick us and we got allotted Route no.6 again, as our Jeep Driver Mr.Murad, who got news that a family of Lions with young ones are in that territory. We went around the jungle with Mr.Jeetendra, guide, who had a lot of knowledge about the birds and animals. As we entered the route 6, we saw Plum headed Parakeets with young one and took some pictures. We had to go around nearly 8 kms when we were approached by another Gypsy giving info about Lion family being spotted around 14kms from the point. Our Driver had to drive fast to catch the spot, and found a family of lions with 4 cubs and mother taking rest near a river bed.





Since the light had come down and the family of Lions was sitting in shade we could not take good pictures but were satisfied with seeing the animal in its natural habitat. We were not allowed to stay there for a long time by the forest officials, as it would disturb the Lions.On our way back we could again sight 2 jackals sitting under a shade with completely camaflouged, we also spotted a Monitor Lizard on a tree.

1st Mar '12

We discussed going late into the safari, as the rays of the Sun pierces in the jungle after 0730hrs, we kicked off in Gypsy with Mr.Saleem as our guide. We got route no 2 (reverse of Route 6), as we entered we happen to see a lone Lioness walking in search of water on a hillock at around 0930 hrs. 

we took a chance and waited, to our luck the lioness came down and crossed the jungle road in front of us, but to our bad luck, a maldari (Local tribe) who was coming on a motorcycle, came in front of the animal, but also stood exactly opposite to our camera, and started blowing the horn in the jungle. which deviated from its route of continuing on the road and went into the jungle. After a 8km journey we came across a lot of vehicle piled up, and saw a group of Lions with young ones having its meals, while the parents kept a watch on them. We stopped our vehicle a little far as the forest officials were sending them off after 5 min turn, we were given some time to wait and see the animals from a safe distance, photographing them and also talking to the officials. We had an override on the timings and also the time to exit from the route. As we were taking pictures of the family of 6, 2 more jeep joined us from the department staff family. While all the 3 jeeps were watching the male lion got up and went out for a small walk, giving us a couple of shots to

take. While the Male Lion came back and sat in the same place, the Cubs who had almost finished it meal, started walking towards it mother, who in turn got up and started to lead them on the roadside, after which the male also joined.



In the meantime, we also joined to go back of the family for about 1.8kms, they took off the road and had Water along with the young ones for about 18 mins. They all joined again and came on the road track and continued their journey for another 2kms, before taking a left turn on the river bed and went inside.









The time was almost 1130hrs. we were really lucky to be with the family of Lions for about 1hr 18min.     After returning to our room we kept our batteries charged and wiped out the dust collected on our camera and bag and again left for our afternoon trip by 1530hrs. We were accompanied by Mr.Tamsi, guide with the same route no.6, on entering the forest we could spot some Rose Ringed Parakeets on a tree tops, took some pictures and went around for nearly 2 hrs to find the same group of Lions taking rest deep in a valley. We could not do pictures due to lot of disturbances. On our way back we could spot and took some pictures of a pair of Jackals.

2nd March, 2012.



We left by 0745 with route No. 4 with Guide Mr.Gullubhai. In this route till 0930 we could not spot any lions, and had a glimpse of Kamaleswar Dam site.







We went up an watch tower and returned on the Dam site for 1.25 Km, to click some pictures of Cormorant, Egrets and yellow wattled Lapwings. 


Our Jeep was ready to take us on route 6, accompanied by Mr.Nishanth as Guide. it was a very illluck for us, as we travelled around 22 kms we came across a group of lions which were taking rest near a water bed, we waited for 20 min, but were told that the group is there from 1130 hrs and likely they may not venture out till dusk, as we had no time we had to retreat.

As we travelled another 12km we saw a pair of lions mating very far off, and a lot of disturbances. We waited for 10 min but there was no use and returned to our rooms.

 3rd March, 2012



As this was our last safari to the sanctuary, we got route no.2 with our jeep drivers help, so that we could get the 2 family of lions which were in the same territory. Our guide Bhavesh, who tracked the lion family which was near Khandesh village, a small hamlet of Maldharis.





Maldharis

Maldharis are nomadic tribal herdsmen who live in the Gujarat state of India. The literal meaning of Maldhari is "owner of animal stock". They are notable as the traditional dairymen of the region, and once supplied the palaces of rajas with milk and cheese.
Maldharis are descendants of nomads who periodically came from Pakistan, Rajasthan and other parts of Gujarat, and finally settled in the the Banni grasslands. The Maldhari have been living in the Banni grasslands for nearly 700 years. There are 8,400 Maldharis living in Gir Forest National Park.
These semi-nomadic herders spend eight months of the year criss-crossing sparse pasturelands with their livestock including sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, and camels in a continual quest for fodder. During the monsoon season, the Maldhari return to their home villages as more new grass grows closer to home during the rains.

The pastoral Maldhari community live a simple life. They live in small mud houses deep in the forests, with no electricity, running water, schools or access to healthcare.

They earn a living by producing milk from their cattle. They have developed a local breed of buffalo that is well known in India for its high productivity and strong resilience to the harsh conditions of the Banni.They grow vegetables and collect wild honey. Their main sources of cash income are sale of high quality ghee, milk, wool, animals and handicrafts. They trade their produce in the local market for esential items like food grains. Most are unable to count or use money and are illiterate.


On our way back we saw another family of lion which was near Dhudhada village. We could see the lions were ready to kill a buffalo, when suddenly a maldhari village lady who was grazing the buffalo started shouting and saw that the buffalo got to a safe place. We waited for the family with one cub, but it had moved interior in the forest. we returned to our lodge and packed our luggage on our next leg of our journey.
We were very happy with the Courteous and friendly staff of the Sinh Sadan, who prepared all our good food during our stay.

By 1130hrs we left for Sasan Gir Railway station to catch train to Velavar which arrved on schedule at 1200 hrs. on reaching Velavar at 1330 hrs, we hired a Auto to take us to Somnath (7 kms from Velavar).

Somnath temple


Somnath temple which is widely called as the ‘Eternal Shrine’ is one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of Lord Shiva, which adorns the shores of the Arabian Sea at Veraval, on the southern Saurashrastra coast. The present temple is the seventh one constructed on the original site. Shree Somnath Turst, Somnatgh Prabhas Patan, Dist Junagadh, Gujarat. Tel: 02876-231212.
Darshan timings : 0600 – 2100 hrs, Aarti 0700 hrs, Noon and 1900 hrs. Sound and Light show 2000-2100 hrs.

At the Gita Mandir, the Srimad Bhagavad Gita has been carved on 18 marble pillars.


The Shre Parashuram Temple marks the place where Lord Parashuram is believed to have offered penance to Lord Somnath.


The Holy Triveni Sangama Snanghat marks the confluence of the Hiran and Kapila rivers, the mythical Saraswathi River and the Arabian Sea.

after seeomg all the temples we were back at Velavar Railway Station by 1830 hrs to catch Somnath Express train to leaving at 1840 hrs. to Ahmedabad for our next leg of our journey to Nalsarovar and Dasada (Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary).

4th March, 2012


After our overnight journey from Velavar we reached Ahmedabad by around 0410 hrs (on time) Our Vehicle waiting at the Ahmedabad Railway Station. We had breakfast at around 0530 hrs and came out of the RS, and found Mr.Lakshman, Taxi (Xylo) taxi driver waiting. We started at 0600 hrs and reached Nalsorovar by around 0730 hrs, (64 kms from Ahmedabad).

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, consisting primarily of a huge lake and ambient marshes, is situated about 64 km to the West of Ahmedabad near Sanand Village, in the Gujarat state of India. Mainly inhabited by migratory birds in winter and spring, it is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India.

Around 250 varieties of wet land birds, along with the winter and spring guests like Pelicans, White Storks, Rosy Flamingoes, Brahminy Ducks and Herons gives a magnificent look to this sanctuary. Bird lovers should reach here at dawn since most of the avian flock is seen visible during that time. Country boats hired on rent would suffice you with the unique opportunity of viewing the bird flock in a close angle. Another important spectacle in this region is the vast number of atolls where you can spot nomadic populace.


The lake measures 123 km², attracts over 210 species of birds in the winter, and harbours a variety of flora and fauna. Thousands of migratory waterfowl flock to this sanctuary just after the Indian monsoon season. The shallow area and ponds on the outer fringes of the lake attract the wading birds that feed in the shallow waters. its migratory bird population includes Rosy Pelicans, Flamingoes, White Storks, Brahminy Ducks and Herons.

Millions of birds visit the delightful bird sanctuary in winter and spring. It harbours over 250 species of wetland birds. Between November and February, lake is home to vast flocks of indigenous and migratory birds. Ducks, geese, pelicans and flamingos are best seen early in the morning.The best time to reach there is just before Sunrise as the lake is calm and quiet and flock of birds waiting for their regular food. The water in the lake is only about 4 feet deep and the boatmen are quite friendly guides.




If you visit this place, its beauty and tranquility is surely going to steal your heart and make you feel as if you are in the paradise. It is nothing less than a dream world. It appears like a fairyland on the full moon nights.
 Some of the birds that can be more commonly found here include osprey, harriers, flamingoes, pelicans, storks, ibises, wading birds, geese, cranes, spoonbill, swallows and fishing eagles.

After taking pictures for nearly 4 hrs, we left for Dasada (Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary) in our Taxi.

 

We reached Dasada (approx 80 kms) at 1330 hrs. we were allotted 2 rooms, with very courteous and helpful staff of Rann Riders Resorts (Mr.Malik, Owner), who welcomed us.

After getting freshened up we had our Lunch (very Good), and later left for the Sanctuary in an open jeep by around 1530 hrs.

We drove nearly 20 kms to reach the sanctuary which is around 5000 sq kms in area. We could spot 3 wild Ass very far and took a turn to spot any jackals or Fox in the area.


As our jeep drove in the dry land of the sanctuary, we could spot young fox near its den, and later after taking pictures we spotted its mother very far off seeing us. On our way we could spot an Owl, Kestral, Crested Serpent Eagle, Jackal, Short ear Owl. We came to see if any of the wild Ass had come to the sanctuary from the nearby fields, since during the day as the climate is hot, they take shelter and return to the sanctuary after the sun sets. We took some pictures of the Wild Ass, and returned to our Resorts by around 1900 hrs.

5th March, 2012





 We left our resorts at 0830 hrs by Tahr open Jeep with Mr.Ayub as our Pilot, who knew the sanctuary like a back of his hand. We were able to get some good pictures, as he drove straight to the Wild Ass group of 16 with one young one. 


Later in the day we found a Fox den, where we saw 2 young ones sitting and enjoying the morning Sun. I crawled on the ground on my stomach, to get a reasonable distance from the young ones, to get some pictures. we spotted the mother of the young observing us from a safe distance, and ran away once we approached her.

We returned to our Resorts and had to pack our bags to our next destination Modhera Sun Temple, 50 kms from Dasada by 1600 hrs and reached the place at around 1730 hrs, and had only 30 min to take a tour of the temple.

Modhera Sun Temple




The Sun Temple, Modhera, at Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty. The temple is partially in ruins after it was also finally destroyed by the Allauddin Khilji.


The temple comprises three separate, axially aligned and integrated elements: Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda Mandap.


This Suryakunda, also known as Ramakunda, is a large rectangular stepped tank measuring 53.6 x 36.6 meters under the east face of sabhamandap used to store pure water. Devotees were required to perform ceremonial ablutions here before worshiping the Sun God.


The Suryakund is a finest example of geometry. The organization of stone into composition gives shape to a dazzling pattern of art. It is proportioned with innumerable stone steps leading devotees down to its base. 108 miniature shrines are carved in between the steps inside the tank. Also number 108 considered to be auspicious by Hindus as hindu rosary has same number of beads.


Two huge ornamental arches called Toran forms a gateway to the Sabha Mandap. This hall of religious gatherings is a magnificent pillared hall. It is open from all sides and has 52 intricately carved pillars representing 52 weeks in a year. The carvings depict episodes from the Hindu epics of Ramayan, Mahabharat and Krishna Lila.

Between the Sabha Mandapa and the sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful hall with pillars and arches, whose facade has been renovated and partially redone. The walls have 12 niches showing the different aspects of the Sun God in each month.

The entire temple is therefore based on an inverted lotus-base plinth. It was designed so that the rays of the rising and setting sun on the day of equinox (20 March and 21 September generally) fell on the bejeweled pure gold idol of Sun riding on his chariot driven by Saarthi Arun. Sun's chariot has seven horses and Saarthi Arun sits on the fourth. The entire gold idol (including the charioteer, chariot and horses) was placed on a pit that was 15 feet deep and filled with gold coins. It was built by the Solankis in honour of their ancestral God.








The exterior of the temple walls has 12 different postures of Adityas - Sun God along with eight Dikpals, Lord Vishwakarma - who constructed Golden Dwarka city for Shri Krishna, Varundev - God of Air, Agnidev - God of Fire, Ganesh - God for starting, Mata Saraswati - Goddess of Education & Wisdom.


We clicked some pictures as the sun was moving away from the horizon, and later continued our journey to Ahmedabad (105 kms) to reach at 2030 hrs.

We were back in Bangalore on 8th March, 2012.




8 comments:

  1. Nice Travelogue Vishy, Excellent One, Awesome Pics
    Especially Bird Photography, Modhera Sun Temple and finally the LION, nice one enjoyed, I missed this tour, hope next time we once again make it this trip to Gujarath

    Keep it Up and all the Best

    ReplyDelete
  2. just wonderful pictures ... but one which i liked most was the bird flying on the surface of water ... and the reflection beuuuutiful. it takes lot of patience,dedication to get those lovely pictures... good work keep clicking....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your blog is highly informative. Excellent photos.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amazing Pics...Kudos to your skills..

    S Chandrasekaran...Central Bank of India

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sinh Sadan is a few miles from the Safari Resort, where we were hosted. A small write up on the resort here: http://jollymemoirs.blogspot.in/2012/10/SafariResortGir.html

    ReplyDelete
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  7. Its really nice post. thanks for share with us.

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