21-Jan-2004 -- This is my fourth confluence visit. My previous one was 22°N 73°E. On 21 January 2004 I and my friend Satyabrat Rout were on an official visit from Bhavnagar where we work to Una. It is a small town which is situated in the southern most tip of Gujarat State in the district of Junagadh. Just 15 km from here is situated the Island of Diu. This laid-back beach town was the first landing point for the Parsis when fled from Persia, although they stayed only three years. Like Daman and Goa, Diu was Portuguese colony until it was taken over by India in 1961. Along with Daman, it is still governed from New Delhi as a Union Territory rather than as part of Gujarat. The former colony includes the island of Diu itself, about 13km long by three km wide, separated from the coast by a narrow channel. There are also two tiny mainland enclaves. One of these on which the village of Ghoghla is situated is the entry point to Diu if you arrive through the town of Una.
This confluence point is situated inside the Sasan Gir forest. The National Park was established on 18th September, 1965, as a Forest Reserve, primarily to conserve the Asiatic Lion classified as one of the World's most threatened species. Now Gir National Park is the only remaining place in the world, where one is likely to see the Asiatic Lion. The sanctuary covers a total area of 1,412 sq. km of which 258 sq.km at the core forms the National park
The land is rugged with deep ravines, steep rocky hills and plenty of rivers. The Asiatic lion once had a wide range in natural territory running from North West India through Persia to Arabia. But unfortunately hunted as a coveted trophy item during the British Raj era, it is now only found in the Gir forest of Gujarat. The India Government declared this place as a National park. The lion population which had sunk to an alarming two dozen in the early 20th century has slowly climbed over the years since, and now numbers about 300. Within the sanctuary, there are numerous human settlements of cattle herders called Maldharis.
Apart from the Asiatic lion, other wild attractions in the sanctuary are Nilgai, Chinkara, Sambhar, Black Bucks, the four horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Crocodile, Indian Flying Foe, Grey Musk Shrew, Indian Hare, Pale Hedgehog, Small Indian Mangoose, Small Indian Civet, Indian Pangolin, Indian Porcupine, Ratel, Indian Fox and Jackal. The three smaller wildcats - the Jungle Cat, Desert Cat and the Rusty Spotted Cat, also inhabit Gir forest. The forest is also rich in bird life, and an estimated of 300 species are found inhabiting Gir National Park over the years, the most common is the peafowl. Gir Forest is today the only place in the world outside Africa, where the lions can be seen in their natural habitat.
Now back to confluence. After our work was over myself and my friend Satya arranged for a taxi and started from Una at around 5 pm and took the National highway NH8C and traveled 2 km and took a turn towards north and picked the State Highway SH10 which leads to Dhari where the office of the conservator of forest of this particular division is situated. I happened to see their office while I visited Dhari some time ago. After 20 km we passed a village called Dhokadva and few minutes later we could feel the change in the surroundings.
We had entered the forest area. Along the way we spotted a wild squirrel, a herd of Sambhar deer grazing in a shrubbery and a male Nilgai (Indian Antelope). Nilgai in Hindi means “Blue Bull” is the second largest antelope family which is of Indian origin but found in large numbers in the Texas state of USA than in India. After 10 km we were stopped at a Check Post. Here one has to tell the reason why and where we are going and they will note your vehicle registration number and also issue a free pass.
This path is opened only from 6 am to 8 pm. Next to the office cabin a huge notice board is kept informing about the precautions and other restrictions to be followed. They have also clearly mentioned that one should not get out of the vehicle and walk inside the sanctuary. One of the Forest Ranger informed us that in the morning at about 11.30 am a Lion had come near their office and killed a Cow and taken it inside the forest. I hid my GPS and other gadgets as I thought that it would make them suspicious and they might not allow us to take it inside.
We traveled a few kilometers and reached a place where the GPS showed the CP to be lying 3.2 km. off the road inside the forest. I was really disappointed because neither we could take a risk of going inside the forest nor the officials would allow us to go. After taking some snaps we proceeded further towards Tulsi shyam which is situated 6 km from this place.
We reached this place and paid a visit to the Temple which is dedicated to Lord Krishna and visited the nearby Hot water springs. Only a very few people were present there and we could see a large number of peacocks in the vicinity. One more temple of Godess Kankai Mata was situated nearby on top of a hillock. After spending some time there we started back and got down at Una at 8.10 pm. We got a Luxury bus to Bhavnagar at 9 pm and reached Bhavnagar in the midnight around 2.30 pm. This is my first confluence visit which I couldn’t finish successfully.
My Cyber Home : www.sriramksharma.com
My Confluences : www.sriramksharma.com/confluence/