The Ahmedabad-Gir Forest Escape: Nonchalance Amidst the Wilderness
There is no shortage of Ahmedabad sightseeing places as the city is well known for its culture, architecture and beauty. I had been watching the travel space online or some time and I was really amused by the underrated beauty of Ahmedabad. Most people flock to the eastern hilly regions but Gujarat has its own style of elegance and refinement.
After months of planning video calls and group discussions, 12 of my friends agreed to take the perfect Ahmedabad-Gir Forest Holiday. We boarded a flight from Delhi and got off at the international Airport the same morning. We enjoyed and browsed through the numerous Ahmedabad tourist attractions via our group bus that took us on a heritage city tour. We first visited the famed Gandhi Ashram and got an in-person glimpse of the iconic handicraft Industry. After spending few hours at the ashram, we left for the Kankaria Lake and then visited the Akshardham Temple. By the time we finished roaming around the famed temple, it was time for lunch so we ate the traditional Gujarati vegetarian diet and I must say that no meal has ever made me feel as refreshed as this one.
Our afternoon stops were made at the Amar Dham and the Sidi Sayed Mosque along with the Juma Masjid. All three are brilliant pieces of architecture and I was so moved by the beauty of the Juma Masjid that I felt the whole sightseeing was a bit hurried. Our driver-cum-guide was polite enough to personalize the schedule as everyone agreed to spend more time at the Masjid. From then on, we reached back to our hotels and had lawn dinners with some traditional Guajarati folk dance and music keeping us company.
Our following day's sightseeing adventures started with the Jhulta Minara, Calico Textile Museum, Heritage houses of Poles, Law Garden and Bhadra Fort.
After spending so much time in Gujarat, I have come to admire the idea of the fulfilling Ahmedabad tour which is incomplete without the Sabarmati riverfront 350m adventure. It was a spontaneous thing as our guide only suggested it and we skipped some sightseeing spots and choose to go for this adventure instead. Few friends wanted to take the Ahmedabad Somnath Dwarka trip but because of lack of time, we stuck to the Gir forest idea. Having had our accommodation booked already also helped as it is fairly hard to find stay near the Gir Forest except for the forest lodge and resort.
Gir forest how to get there?
Gir Forest National Park is well connected via roads through nearby cities that are further well-connected so you can fly to the cities like Bhavnagar, Diu or Junagadh and spend some time enjoying the city life and then travel to the National park.
Nature remains to be among the best of Gir forest attractions as the national park is a paradise for any bird and wildlife enthusiast. We travelled in a group of 12 and three of them brought their telephoto gear to shoot every bird they spotted at the park! In fact, looking at the beautiful species, even I wanted to hold a camera and just captivate the image. If the official census figures are to be believed then Gir houses almost 410 lions with 300 leopards and that is clearly a huge number because the Asiatic Lions are fast disappearing. Recently, there were even reports of the lions and tigers population decreasing but since last couple of years, the population has grown thanks to the conservative and preservation efforts. The park also has a Sambar, spotted deer, blue bull, chinkara, wild boar, striped hyena, rusty-spotted cat, black-naped Indian hare, etc.
Marsh crocodile with 40 distinct species of numerous reptiles and amphibians is also found in the sanctuary area. The official checklist provided by the park lists 250 birds and my friends who clicked the images spotted more than 100 of them in just a day! We stayed at the lodge; its trails were surrounded with beautiful butterflies who I earlier took for colorful leaves and petals falling off the trees! We stated at the lodge as some friends also wanted to see the coastal areas of Veraval to shoot some of the shore birds.
Gir forest best season is during the winter months so we visited in late November and got back by early December. The last time, we ended up making a spontaneous visit to the forest during monsoon time but it was a poor decision so we decided to never visit another sanctuary during Monsoon season again.
Basically, the Gir forest Gujarat best time to visit is every month except the ones when it rains so if you are planning a visit then you better confirm the weather reports. It doesn't traditionally rain during the colder months and because the weather is pleasant during October-November, these months appear to be the best. However, these months being the peak months for visitors may be a slight downturner for some as accommodation at the lodge may not be available. We had to manage bookings three months prior to visiting and that's how we got the accommodation.
We spend two days exploring through the forests and our evening Gir forest Gujarat safari was really the cherry atop our trip as we got to see some real lions. The experience was so ethereal that I almost froze in the moment as I didn't know how to act but our educated guide was polite enough to instruct us. We got back the lodge as the remaining group came back for dinner from their shore birds tour and after a midnight campfire dinner, we went back to sleep. Following morning, we were safely tucked into the private buses that waited to take us back to Ahmedabad and from there on, we boarded the flight back home.
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