With lionesses and their cubs in Gir

Posted: June 2, 2010 in Travelogues
Tags: ,

“Sometimes they come so close, you can touch them,” was the forest guide’s comment, as a lion cub walked past the car, without even as much as a look at us.

We were in the Gir sanctuary and we had stopped the Gypsy in a culvert to watch two lionesses and their cubs playing near the water. One of the cubs, after wrestling with a sibling, broke away and ran towards the car. It stared at us, growled and then strolled away probably realising we weren’t worth the trouble.

Gir wasn’t on our itinerary at all. Once we had reached Udaipur from Mount Abu, and after spending a day there, we had planned to start on our trip back to Pune. That was when we decided to drive to Gir, because I didn’t know if we would get the opportunity to make it again.

Calculating the distance – 584 kms – it didn’t seem a very difficult drive. I was sure we would easily make it there by 4 pm, if we left at our usual 6.30 am departure, taking into account our usual halts for breakfast, lunch and tea. So at 6.20 am the next day we were off. Once we cleared Udaipur City limits, we reached the NH 8 bypass. Soon we were cruising along.
Once we left Rajasthan behind, and entered Gujarat, we stopped for breakfast at an eatery with an intriguing name – Asopalav. It gave us a pretty decent masala dosa and tea…is well tea! But it had very clean toilets and was generally well maintained.

Apart from the marvellous roads, what we also found interesting in Gujarat was in every major town, auto-rickshaws were run on CNG. How I wished some politicians in Maharashtra would have the guts to implement such a system in the State. We would be able to breathe cleaner air.

We discovered this very cute vegetarian hotel called Lotus in Junagadh and parked there for the night. The rooms were a revelation, and very comfortable, but the food wasn’t anything to write home about. The next day we set off for Gir, which was 57 kms away. Eighty minutes later we were at Gir Jungle Lodge, a lovely motel just off the road to the sanctuary.
At the sanctuary, we had a fruitless afternoon and were coming back disappointed – unless, you can count seeing a lion and lioness some 200 metres away in the thicket, as a ‘sighting’. As we reached the fag end of the safari, the driver of our jeep stopped to talk to a forest officer, who asked us if we had any sightings. Seeing our obviously crestfallen faces, he pointed to a spot behind us. There she was lolling on the ground.

Soon she got up and walked under the cover of the foliage till she reached an opening. Then she waited. We waited too our engines running but the animal didn’t move from her spot. It was then we realised that she was probably waiting for us to go past before crossing the road. So we requested the driver to shut off the engine. The minute the engine died, she looked once in our direction and walked across the jeep. It was an amazing sight. Even in the jungle, wild animals observe the law, unlike us humans, who don’t do it anywhere!

The next morning we were back, hoping to get twice as lucky. At one point we waited for almost half an hour because the driver of another car told us there were some lions coming our way. And emerging from the bushes, were a pride of lionesses with cubs in tow and walked ahead of us and disappeared down the road.

A little while later, as we turned into a culvert we were greeted by the sight of at least half a dozen cubs, playing around at a watering hole, with their mothers lolling nearby. Two of the cubs began to wrestle and then ran towards our jeep. They came to a few feet of us and growled, then probably decided, we were just the ubiquitous interfering humans, and continued their wrestling. I guess our holiday had been a roaring success!

We left Gir the next day and reached Vadodara, where we stayed the night. The next day we left for Pune and had an unpleasant journey back. First we got stuck in a traffic jam near Bharuch and then saw an accident right in front of us. When we should have reached by 4 pm, we ended up reaching at 11.30 pm. From the sublime it was time for the ridiculous…

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Comments
  1. Candice says:

    What a cool way to holiday! Definitely ‘the road’ less travelled… 🙂 But Sinha….. please do detail all the lovely food you must have enjoyed too!

  2. mohansblog says:

    I’m a veggie. so please contact my wife for that!

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