At Sasan-Gir, the Asiatic lion makes a brief but spellbinding appearance
But the celebrity, the Asiatic lion... He was nowhere to be seen. The Sasan-Gir sanctuary is the only natural habitat in the world, outside Africa, of the Asiatic lion; the only place where you can see them roaming free in the wild.
According to the 2015 census, currently, there are around 523 lions spread over the four districts that the forest spans. Among these, are 106 male, 201 female and 213 sub-adults, the naturalist added. This is good news, considering that indiscriminate hunting had led to the dwindling of their population.
Fortunately, due to the efforts of the Government and conservationists, the lion population has risen gradually. Even the Maldhari tribe, which lives in this region, is being compensated monetarily by the Government for the loss of their cattle by the lions.
After Sasan-Gir, it was time for Junagadh town, a former princely state with a long history. With little time on our hands, we rushed through the must-sees in and around the town. There was the spectacular Mahabat Maqbara, which was sadly not so well-maintained and there were restrictions on entry. The Uparkot Fort, another historic structure, is worth a visit. A modern structure, the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, was impressive. We had no time for the Jain Derasar.
However, our bus briefly stopped on the outskirts of town so we could pick up some local delicacies like mohanthal, ghari and ghugra, before embarking on the next leg of our journey.