The Gir National Park in the pride of Gujarat and it is the only National Park in the country where you can have the opportunity to sight the Asiatic Lions in the Wild and every year thousands of tourists come to the Gir National Park to enjoy a vacation and at the same time have the opportunity to sight the Lions roaming in the wild. However, another very important National Park is the state of Gujarat that is known to be home to the endangered Black buck species and also the wolf and the lesser Florican is the Blackbuck National Park that is located at the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. The Blackbuck National Park was established in 1976 in the Bhal region of Saurashtra in Gujarat and this National Park is located around 42km from the district headquarters of Bhavnagar. The National Park is spread across an area of 34 sq. km. and it was originally the hunting grounds of the princely state of Bhavnagar where the Maharajas used to hunt the cheetahs and the black bucks. While the Gulf of Khambat borders the Black Buck National Park in the South, the park is surrounded by agricultural fields and wastelands in the Western side.
The Blackbuck National Park is known for its successful conservation of the Black Bucks, wolves and lesser Florican. The lesser Florican was once found across the country but due to loss of habitat and hunting, the species is now endemic and the largest population this bustard species is found here at the Blackbuck National Park. Due to the successful conservation, the number of wolves in the park is increasing and so is the number of the stripped hyenas. The total area of the Blackbuck National Park in the year 1970 was only about 18 sq. km. and later in 1980 another 16 sq. km. was added thus taking the area of the park to around 34 sq. km. The park is bounded by the Gulf of Khambat in the south and the flow of the seawater in the monsoon allows the Blackbuck National Park to create suitable habitat for the various flora of the park. The park area is classified as dense grasslands, sparse grasslands, saline land and high tidal mudflats. The mudflats at the Blackbuck National Park are high tidal zones of the Gulf of Khambat and the lower part of the place is prone to flooding. Apart from the Black Bucks, the prominent wildlife of the park are wolves, hyenas, fox, jungle cats, jackal, wild pigs, hares, rodents, etc.
The Blackbuck National Park is a very beautiful and blessed 34km area National Park that is located about an hour’s drive from the business hub of Bhavnagar in Gujarat and the entire area of the Blackbuck National Park is comprised of large areas of pale, custard-coloured grasslands that stretches across two seasonal rivers. The flagship species of the Blackbuck National Park are the Blackbucks the is a beautiful fast antelope that is known to sport spirally horns that extend to almost 65cm in mature males and around 1800 of these blackbucks are known to inhabit the area of this National Park in Gujarat. Apart from the Blackbucks, the Blue Bulls that is India’s largest antelope and birds known as harriers are to be found here at the Blackbuck National Park. Also guests who come here can have the opportunity to witness about 120 species of birds and also the wolves of the park. The best time to spot the wolves of the Blackbuck National Park is during the morning time or else during the day they are rare to be spotted because they are mostly nocturnal animals but you can have the opportunity to spot the blackbucks during the day time. The pale gold grasslands of the park are dotted with a cluster of blackbucks.
The blackbucks of this National Park are known to roam around the protected area of this park in gendered groups viz. the males stay together, and the females and fawns stay together in their own group. When it comes to exploring the beauty of Blackbuck National Park it is always recommended to hire a local guide as it is best to travel across the place with a person who had lived across the fringe villages of the park since long. The Blackbuck National Park even though it is one of the smallest National Parks in the country, is a place that is packed with robust amount of animals and bird species that are great for any wildlife lover. To access the Blackbuck National Park you will have to come to Bhavnagar that is the nearest airport and rail head and the National Park is around 47km away from Bhavnagar and it takes about an hours drive from the place. You can hire the services of a taxi or a bus to come to Blackbuck National Park from Bhavnagar. The Blackbuck National Park remains open most of the year around and it remains closed in the monsoon season to tourists visiting from mid-June to mid-October and this is also the breeding time of the blackbucks and the lesser florican bird species of the Blackbuck National Park as well.
As per history, the area of the Blackbuck National Park was once owned by the Maharaja of Bhavnagar and this used to serve as the hunting grounds of the Royal family and it is said that during the time of the Kings, the Blackbucks were hunted only during a specific period of the year while the rest of the time, the population of this endangered antelope species was protected by the local population. However, it was only post-independence and the passing away of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, that these blackbuck species were started to be hunted indiscriminately thereby leading to a severe decline in the numbers. A small part of this park was declared as a Sanctuary by the Government in 1976 to save the population of the blackbucks and later in 1980 it was declared as a National Park and the area was expanded to 34 sq. km. Today a major part of the area of the Blackbuck National Park comprises of grasslands and some parts are invaded with thorny acacia plants and some parts form the mudflats of the Gulf of Khambhat. The blackbuck species here mostly inhabit the northern part of the park that is marshy grasslands and agricultural farms as well. When you plan your visit to the Blackbuck National Park ensure that you do not plan your visit in the summer season as the summers can be disappointing as the heat keeps the animals away from the sightings.
Temperatures in the summer can go up to 40 degrees and the winter season is pleasantly cool around the Blackbuck National Park. The best time to visit the Blackbuck National Park like the Kaziranga National Park in Assam is during the months from October to April when the climate remains favorable. The monsoon time is prone to floods and so it is advised not to visit the park. To be able to spot the blackbucks clearly and also the wolves of the Blackbuck National Park, it is advised to arrive at the park before dawn and then take a hike across the Sanctuary accompanied by a local guide who the best person to be able to show you the interiors of the park. It is strictly advised to guests to not litter inside the park premises and also at the same time do not carry any items of objection inside the park. Pay attention to the local guide as he is the best judge to provide you a good experience here at the Blackbuck National Park and also do not smoke out consume alcohol inside the premises and do not carry items that can create a fire inside the park.
When it comes to the dominant flora of the Blackbuck National Park, then it can be described as a park being a large grassland area with a few pockets of Prosopis Chilensis and this is a beautiful Savannah habitat. The various trees and plants to be found at the Blackbuck National Park are the acacia, banyan, Karanji, Vad, Kalom, Charal, Amli, etc. The dominant mammals that inhabit the Blackbuck National Park are the blackbucks, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Indian grey wolf, Stripped hyena, Indian fox, Golden Jackal, Hare, jungle cat, gerbil, Mongoose, field mice, wolves, wild pigs, rodents, etc. The unique reptile species to be spotted at the Blackbuck National Park are cobra, rat snake, sand boa, saw scaled viper, etc. The various bird species to be spotted are…. Apart from enjoying your wildlife safari rides at the Blackbuck National Park, you can also go to visit the Jakhteshwar temple that is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that was built by the Royal family in 1893. When it comes to the stay options around the Blackbuck National Park, then there is a forest lodge run by the forest department or also you can enjoy a stay at the Blackbuck Safari Lodge.
Few of the popular Hotels that are located at Bhavnagar are Jubilee Hotel, Hotel Sun Shine, Blue Hill Hotel, Hotel Apollo, Hotel White Rose, etc. The blackbuck that is the flagship species of the Blackbuck National Park has distinctive horns that are entangled with 2 to 4 spiral turns and the horns of the blackbucks can extend up to 28 inches. The male blackbucks has an upper body that is black in color and the belly and eyes are white. The female is generally light brown colored and is hornless. The blackbucks of the Blackbuck National Park can be considered to be one of the fastest animals and it can outrun most of its predators over long distances. The chief predator of the blackbuck species was the Indian Cheetah that is now extinct and now it is preyed upon by the wolved and feral dogs. The diet of the blackbucks comprises of grass and it is also known to eat pods as well and the maximum life span that is recorded is around 16 years. The breeding season of the blackbucks of the Blackbuck National Park remain from August to October and March to April.
When it comes to the deluxe stay option around the Blackbuck National Park, then one name that comes to mind is the Blackbuck Lodge that is set across a huge area. The Blackbuck Lodge comprises of 14 deluxe cottages that are having an en-suite bedroom, sitting area along with indoor and outdoor bathrooms as well. These beautiful cottages at the Blackbuck Lodge comprise of bedrooms that have granite floors and polished furniture and the walls are made of wooden logs and stones and the entire view of the rooms is a combination of rustic and contemporary elegance. The three categories of rooms at the Blackbuck Lodge are the Villa, Plunge Pool Cottage and the Pool Villa. All the three categories of rooms at the Blackbuck Lodge are a combination of elegance and wilderness and are one of the most comfortable stays with all the modern facilities. During your stay at the Blackbuck lodge, get to enjoy a guided tour of the Blackbuck National Park on custom designed jeep safari vehicles that accompany you with field guides and binoculars.
The jeep safari experience at the Blackbuck National Park, is a very thrilling experience where you get to sight the blackbuck species along with the various other fauna and birds of the National Park and the drivers and guides of the jeeps offered by the Blackbuck Lodge are well trained naturalists who know where exactly to spot the animals and birds of the park so that you do not miss out on the wildlife viewing experience here. The jeep safari at Blackbuck National Park arranged by the Blackbuck Lodge is a very rewarding experience for wildlife photographers and enthusiasts. Apart from the stay at the Blackbuck Lodge and the jeep safari experience, you will have the perfect opportunity to spot globally threatened birds and endangered mammals as well. Apart from the jeep safari ride visitors staying at the Blackbuck Lodge can also have the opportunity to for village tours as well where you can get to witness the daily life of the villagers who were once known to protect the blackbuck species during the times of the King of Bhavnagar. This village tour is a great way to experience the rural culture of the area and learn about the Bharwad community of Gujarat.
After you enjoy your jungle safari rides inside the vast savannah lands of the Blackbuck National Park arranged by the Blackbuck Lodge and enjoy a warm stay at this luxurious retreat near the Blackbuck National Park, you can also take the opportunity to embark on a journey to Palitana that is a beautiful Jain complex located at the Shetrunjaya hills and this place is about an hour and a half drive away from the Blackbuck lodge. This Shetrunjaya temple complex is considered to be very sacred among the Jain community and it is believed that Lord Adinatha had visited this hill and this son had built the first temple at this hill. The construction of temple have continued since then and even after repeated invasions by the Muslim invaders even today, there are around 860 temples that are intact here and these were built across the 11th and 19th centuries. The view across the hill that is 600m above the ground is absolutely breath taking and you will simply love and admire the grand architecture of this place near the Blackbuck National Park.
The town of Palitana where this temple complex is located has a river flowing across the place. The town has several artefacts and constructions that remind us of the former kingdoms that ruled across this region. Apart from the Jain complex, there are various other Jain Museum and art galleries across this town of Palitana as well as various markets for handicrafts. On your drive to Palitana from the Blackbuck Lodge, you will cross Sihor that is a 17th century fortress that belonged to the Rajput’s and this fort has various beautiful and intricate wood carvings that narrate court scenes, battles, processions and religious themes as well. Apart from the beautiful fort at Sihor, you can also visit the Brahma Kund that is a 12th century stepped tank, and it is surrounded by 108 sculptures of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Sihor is also known to be home to various holy temples and the artisans here work on various cottage industries like metal ware, brass ware, copper utensils, etc. A visit to the places of Sihor and Palitana during your stay the Blackbuck lodge is definitely recommended to catch a glimpse of the glorious part of Bhavnagar.
Come back to the Blackbuck Lodge to enjoy your luxury stay experience and you can also take the opportunity to enjoy a grand bush dinner at the place as well (prior request in a group of minimum 10 members). You can also take the opportunity to go cycling across the villages or even near the area of the Blackbuck lodge and within the vast wilderness of the savannah lands of the Blackbuck National Park. Take time to cycle across the villages and interact with the local villagers who will describe you about the blackbucks and wolves of the Blackbuck National Park. Enjoy the glimpse at the rural life of the country and get to understand the diverse culture and traditions of the Bharwad community of Gujarat. Take a trip to Bhavnagar that is a city that was found in in 1724 and this is a beautiful city that is surrounded by the richness of traditions along with the modern life. Bhavnagar is a nice port area that has allowed trade to flourish across the place and the major attraction are Barton Museum, Barton library, Gauri Shankar Lake, Jakkeshwar temple, etc. Also take a trip tip to Alang that is a major ship breaking yard and it is said that almost half of the of the World are salvaged here and recycled. Alang is located 100km away from the Blackbuck lodge and various items of recycling like modern furniture and crockery can be found here.