Gir Travels- Is that a lion i see??


Alright, alright…I sense that I should bring the lions into picture somewhere.

Since its traveler’s luck that brings a successful lion sighting, the Gujarat Government has an Interpretation Centre (=I don’t know why it’s called the Interpretation Centre….we didnt decode any lion language anyway).

This Interpretation Centre is at a place called Devaliya. This place is about 7 kms from an intersection. This interpretation centre is open for few hours in the day. The whole intersection turning to go to Devaliya is closed from after sunset to sunrise

      

Most of the places were very sensitive to Lion lifestyles and did all they could to adjust to the lion’s way of life. A proper integration of Nature’s Way and the Human Way leads to rich dividends!!

Alright back to point. SO after a huge breakfast at Club Mahindra we made our way to the Devaliya Interpretation Centre. One bad thing about the whole Gir Sanctuary is that a road runs through it. There is a State Highway running parallel to the Interpretation Centre and a Railway line running through Gir (=Junagad to Somnath).But this doesn’t seem to have disturbed the lions who according to forest officials are flourishing in the Last Home to the Asiatic Lion.

Ya so back to the point!!

We were up (=ya ya tents!!! we wanted to laze forever!! who doesn’t) when we realised we’d better move if we wanted to see the Centre. So we packed up and went driving. Along the way, we noticed deer. The whole patch is a dry forest and is very dusty. But the deer are unperturbed as we drive through they probably being used to having cars zoom by. There are resorts and even a restaurant on our way there.

P.S” All resorts will be named after the Lion and having some derivative of the Majestic Pride. So there will be lots of places like “Lions Den” or “Lion Safari Camp” or having the word “Sher” in their name. I guess being located in a region which is the last haven for the Asiatic Lion is bound to have some ripple effect.

The Interpretation Centre is a 412 hectare of chain link fenced lion area which is Gir in a nutshell, covering all habitat types and wildlife of Gir (so i copy from a tourist booklet but facts are facts!!). It also has a feeding-cum living cage for carnivores and a double gate entry point. This Centre at present has 1400-1500 spotted deer, 200-250 blue bulls (a spectacular sight), 100-120 wild boar, 15-20 blackbucks (stunning sight), a few chinkaras and sambars aong with other mammals and reptiles. Not to forget the Lions.

After booking our tickets  (=Charges Rs 75 only per Indian and $20 per firangi), we made our way to the bus. There is a bus (=Eco-friendly, Runs on Jatropha Bio-diesel) which takes you on a tour of the Centre. Just as we entered after a while we saw some Sambar deer. This is the main animal that the lion feeds on (=70-80 kgs of sheer delight I’ve heard enough to knock the lion for 20 hrs). They are more majestic than the easily “spotted” deer (:P) and make wonderful watching. There we passed a few Nilgai (=Blue Bulls) These are extremely shy and canter off whenever they come into public eye. The whole landscape is yellow, criss-crossed with myriad hues of brown, streaked with a random green. I’ve got some wonderful snaps of the dust rising up because of our bus running over a dirt track.

After a good deal of driving through the bushes (=it literally looks like that although there are trees and shrubs there), the Lion came into sight. Actually there were 3 of them! Lazing! In the Sun! As we waited to grab them on camera, they Lazed! and Slept! Oblivious of their fans waiting for a picture to show back home! Nonetheless we got a shot of them snoozing and one Lion looked up the other way as if he was snubbing us (=How dare he!! I have a good mind to set Rajni on him!! pun intended)

Ah the Black Bucks are a sight to see!! Their horns curving gracefully with hard rims and the majestic sweep of white along their eyes!!! Mindblowing!! The Sambar and Spotted Deer pale in comparison!! I am uploading a picture!!

We were also treated to a pack of deer drinking water at a pool nearby. A simple sight it is to see animals drink but yet it is so calming. I could just sit and stare at that sight for a long long time

The trail ended soon and we made our way to the Interpretation Centre where there was a small TV playing a video made on the Gir Forest and the lion habitat there. There was also a display spanning 2 rooms about the History og Gir, The Fauna of Gir, Birds, Reptiles and other Interesting Facts that made Gir special. It also shed light on the importance of Gir to the local ecosystem and how essential it was to the ecological balance and survival of the adjoining areas. It was very well done.

Following that, we went to the Souvenir shop and got some T-Shirts, Honey (=Yummy), Some Caps and the Book with photos and Information about Gir (=ya i copied the facts out of this little one!)

After we went outside, we saw uhh..A scoo-cart!! Its a scooter which pulls a cart behind it!! Innovative. It functions as a rickshaw and they ply between towns. It also takes your harvest to the market. So presenting Rural Gujarat’s eccentric and indigenous reply to the Tractor. Presenting the “Scoo-Cart” (=I made the name up its not what its called there)

We clicked a few photos with the scoo-cart. After that we had some tea at a restaurant which also had a farm behind it as well as tents. Then we made our way to Club Mahindra.

Coming Up: The Actual Gir Safari-To see or not to see..Its not in my hand anyway

Stay Tuned

The Spotted Deer…we “Spotted” them most often

Board at the entrance

A Sambar

A shy Blue Bull

One of the pics

Gir Forest beckons:-Part 1


What was a booking by compulsion turned out to be a short, power packed trip filled with tons and I mean tons of Wildlife n fun!!!

We never intended to actually go to Gir, we’d just booked 2 TENTS, yes tents at Club Mahindra, Gir because our days were scheduled to lapse. By chance we decided not to cancel the booking and make a trip out of it.

So this follows, the notes are BACK!!!

Day 1: 16th Jan, 2011 6:30 am

Our flight earlier scheduled for 5:30 am take off was delayed to 8:00 am (whew, more time for zzzzs). So early we woke and went to the airport for our JetLite not without a couple of donuts (M.O.D rocks!!)

Rajkot, a super small airport you’d probably not think of, was our destination. It’s funny to think of how the revolution and spread of airports and air connectivity has put small cities and towns on the national radar making them so much more easily accessible and reachable!!

Back to point, Rajkot is an hour from Bombay (I still like calling it Bombay,!!) and it being morning was chilly.

Outside the airport we met our driver and companion for the next 4 days, Sanjay, a gem to travel with, filled with many many anecdotes about life in a village and also very good knowledge about farming and crops (he could name every crop they grew there by just looking out of the corner of his eye)

Ha so we loaded the luggage and then found an authentic Gujju (read Gujarati) place that would serve us Sunday breakfast Rajkot style. We ended up having puris, fafda (excuse the spellings), gathia and some awesome cold carrot salad (=MasterChef Aus fans read coleslaw) and cold green chillies rubbed with salt. A classic way to start the day.

Now our destination was not Rajkot but a village called Sasan, which held the famous Gir Lion reserve being the only reserve in Asia to house the Asiatic Lion. Which happened to be about 4 hours drive I think.

On the way we could see the rural landscape transformed because of industry which had spread to even small villages. Nothing had been spared in the spread of industry and investment. There were areas which had developed into auto hubs, cotton ginning and spinning hubs and sugar hubs. Small pockets worked on their USPs and became industrial hubs bringing in higher incomes and consequently a better standard of life. All this was also helped by Amitabh Bacchan’s endorsement of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ inviting people to explore the state. Whatever people across the country may think about Gujarat the fact still remains that the men at the top (read Modi) have done a brilliant job to leverage on their unique features, use their capabilities to bring Gujarat on the global map (My Gosh, reading Business Standard is having an effect on me, I write like those people in the Opinion page lol)

Our first stop, Virpur, a place famous for the temple of Jalaram Bapu. The temple itself was pristine and small but the aura of the place was marred by many commercial establishments outside and beggars who’d follow you everywhere. I’d have to say the things on sale were interesting (=lots of trinkets, utensils, devotional items)

It is said that a devotee with a true heart who prays at this temple does not return disappointed. This explains the number of people who flock to the temple.It is also said that a person who visits the temple has to have the Prasad that they gave there. So we made our way to the place where devotees were given Prasad which turned out to be some Sweet Boondi, Sev and a Potato bhaji on the side.

Soon after we were driving across various towns and villages to our destination, Gir!!

*Sheepishly* I napped while we drove through Junagarh and I missed the stories our driver told everyone about the fort and the history of the place. I was up when we were very close to Sasan and where we’d left the National Highway and come into the lanes that would carry us to Club Mahindra.

But I did catch fields of wheat, tur dal, cotton and carrot!!. A special mention about carrot fields, carrot flowers are white, small and when in a field it looks like a white carpet!! Awesome!!! Also wheat fields look like a green carpet. And because we saw fields in patches that were sown at different points of time, they were in different hues of green. This monochromatic arrangement was a sight to see as well.

Our Tent Room

Ah finally we entered Sasan as the pic below shows. And drove quickly to Club Mahindra. I and Sachi grabbed a quick bite and made our way to the tents.

Now our tent wasn’t a typical tent (=it had an A/C, a proper bathroom, tiles and a bed….i was hoping for something more authentic but nonetheless)…Yeah, the tent didn’t have a door, we just had to zip it!!

So we settled into the tent pretty soon and then decided to explore the Fun Activities Centre. Club Mahindra always has a set of Fun Activities and this time they had cycles which we could ride on their property. CM Gir wasn’t a big property but it made a good ride.

 

Considering it was ages since I’d cycled, I was apprehensive but it turned out to be quite fun. After some initial bloopers, I had a fun time driving across the property. Sachi and my Dad also had a fun time with the cycles.

The Fun Activities centre also had a carom table, an ice hockey table, a TT table, and Chess. There was badminton and a Zorb thru which we could Zorb on water!!

While playing TT, my dad and sister were totally engrossed and one of the table legs was getting loose, so when my dad leaned across to play a shot, the TT table collapsed!! We were too surprised to react let alone capture the moment through the camera lens. We did have a lot of laughs after that!!!

We also walked across the property and outside. It becomes pitch dark after 6:45-7:00 and the air becomes chilly. The chilly walk was a lot of fun. We followed that up with badminton and then dinner (Club Mahindra style) and then retired with awesome plans for the next 3 days.

Coming Up: Gir Interpretation Centre, Devaliya

                      Afternoon Safari: Rendezvous with the Lions

Stay Tuned!!

Our Tent from outside