*This post was previously live on my older site TheWingedFork.
This post is not about food but a short funny vacation to an Indian National Park in Talala, Gujarat to see lions. The funny thing is that this trip started as a girls-only trip; then the ladies decided to take their boyfriends and us guys along.
They begged & pleaded for me to come along as I was being extremely frugal and living on my own. Now the funny part is just a couple of days before the trip all the boyfriends drop out for some reason or the other. I tried backing out too, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Reaching Talala Gir In Gujarat
Finally, the day is here; the vacation has begun. The group chat was going crazy all night. While some have not slept the entire night, I slept like a log. We have an afternoon train and it’s an approx 17hours journey by train from Mumbai to Veraval & another 2 hours to Gir.
After some last-minute packing for the trip, I stir-fried some chicken cheese & jalapeno cocktails for the journey which the ladies loved. We reach the station just in time for the train and the crazy journey begins on the so-called “Girls Trip & The Caretaker”.
We find our seats and settle down. None of us had lunch and were getting very hungry. We started with the cocktails that I had made, then after some time, we were hungry again. Finally a vendor with food passed by and we had Vada Pav.
Soon it was almost time for dinner. The train food we ordered was terrible, but the good thing was nobody slept hungry. I tried to stay up looking after our luggage and kept dozing off in between. The funny thing is my snoring woke up the others, so I did a good job looking after the bags after all ;).
Day 1: Visiting Temples Near Gir
We finally reached Veraval early in the morning around 7ish. We had a very nice driver-guide for the next 3 days and less stress for me as I had to look out for 3 beautiful & sweet ladies. Enough pampering for them, that’s it! We found a place nearby to freshen up and had breakfast.
As check-in to the hotel was around 2 in the afternoon, we started the day by visiting a few temples nearby in Veraval. The ladies wanted to pray and go inside the temple and to follow religious sentiments, so we visited Triveni Temple, Somnath Temple, Krishna Temple & Ganga Temple.
The heat was quite unbearable. So we quickly wrapped up and headed towards Gir which was a 2 hours drive. En route we stopped for lunch. This was a roadside restaurant & the street food was amazing. I ate like there was no tomorrow and enjoyed every bite.
We continued driving to the hotel and checked in at 2. After getting to our rooms, we slept for a few hours to cover up for the previous night’s sleep. In the evening we had plans to celebrate one of the ladies’ birthdays.
But after dinner, we were so tired, the poor birthday girl had to wake us up at 12 AM to cut the cake & have a drink. The ladies can’t live without a photo session. So for a good amount of time after that, I was just clicking photos for them, and finally, I got to go back to sleep at 2:30 in the morning.
Day 2: Sightseeing Near Gir
We woke up early. 5 AM on a holiday! Today we had 3 things on our list for sightseeing. So we started with the Ropeway at Mt. Girnar. Ideally, you have to pre-book tickets online but due to weather conditions, they mentioned on the website that we had to book tickets on arrival if operational.
To our luck, it wasn’t raining. The weather was a bit dull and they were operational. It was perfect for a day out. The views from the ropeway were beautiful. The girls visited the Amba Mata temple and in the meanwhile, I just ended up taking pictures of the surroundings and the sky.
From there we headed to Willingdon Dam and got some lovely pictures there too. I almost captured images like the old Windows 95 screensaver, don’t you think?
We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch as one of the ladies had a special requirement that she needed non-veg at least once a day. Things I had to do & endure during this trip were crazy. We managed to get a decent place to eat where the food was well cooked and the taste was great.
After lunch, we head to Sakkarbaug Zoological Park which is home to a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles. The heat was getting really bad when we got there.
So we decided to use the buggy car and had to pay INR 50 per person; which was okay as long as we did not have to walk in the heat. We make our way back to the hotel and recuperated for the rest of the day.
Day 3: Gir National Park Finally! Devalia Zone!
Today is the most awaited day of the trip. It’s the only reason I agreed to tag along for the trip! We’re going for safaris. Just a note for those who want to go on the safari at Gir National Park – remember to check the dates beforehand.
When we had visited, the main park was closed due to a cyclone and the opening dates were further postponed. We were fortunate enough as we had another option of doing the safari at the Devalia Park, which is the buffer zone for Gir National Park. Again we pre-booked this the day we arrived at the hotel. Sometimes there aren’t many safaris available. So always book in advance!
What is the Devaliya Park you ask? And why am I calling it Gir National Park? It’s because the Devaliya Safari Park is about 412 hectares of the Gir National Park that was developed as an interpretation zone. It’s also often called the Sasan Gir Interpretation Zone.
This zone allows visitors to see lions, deers, boars, and other species of wildlife without disturbing their natural habitat too much. So you don’t have to only go on the Gir Jungle Trail to see the animals in Gir National park. The Devalia Safari Park which is about 13 kilometers from Sasan Gir Village is perfect for this!
We started the day early and everything was going well.
As we entered the park, we saw some Indian Gazelle (Chinkara) sitting under some brush and also some deer (Chital) crossing the path ahead of us.
It was pretty green as we went just at the end of the rainy season. We were so lucky that we also spotted 2 lions playing with each other just within 15 minutes of entering the park.
The funny thing was that one of the lions started walking towards our vehicle and one of the girls started freaking out and told the driver she had seen enough and let’s go ahead.
Her reaction to the lion walking towards us was just amazing. Unfortunately was unable to capture the lion modeling for us. But just sitting there quietly in the wild just felt so nice, it was peaceful to be able to soak it all in.
Later, we saw leopards too. They were kept in an enclosure as they had just eaten some humans a few days earlier. They are kept in a 25-foot enclosure and are looked after by the caretakers at the National Park.
My first time seeing leopards and I also caught a glimpse of them mating. What a sight! Isn’t this better than seeing lions mating in Kenya?
Our local guides Najma & Bulabhai were very informative and helpful. Post the safari we had some local breakfast at a place nearby and returned to the hotel. The next day we started the train journey back to Mumbai. All in all, it was a good trip to Gir National Park – Devaliya Park! If you need more info, head over to the Forest Department website at Gir National park.
About the Author: Roy
Where do I start? Who am I? or Who will I be? These are questions that many of us keep asking ourselves. I am still working on the answer to all 3, having found myself at many crossroads in the recent past. From heartbreak to a career change, it’s been a rollercoaster; but food is something that gives comfort and keeps me going. So here I am trying my hand at baking for family and friends. Hoping that the future will bring only the best!
Apart from this, I had Covid; I was hospitalised as my condition was serious. Given my current health situation, it’s gonna be at least 2 years to reach the fitness that I once had. Also, I moved out of my parent’s place, it’s a big deal as it’s not very common in India for a bachelor to move out & stay alone when your parents are in the same city. It was dramatic but I did manage to get out and find a nice cozy place for myself. I’ve never felt so good in a long time after the last break up & I’M LOVING IT!
Find me on Instagram at Roy. Or If you live in Mumbai, India, and want to order some brownies or chocolates instead of making them yourself, me at +91-9920979603 for some delicious goodness.
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