Monday, 30 November 2009

India 29th November – 12th December

Gujurat – Bhavnagar

Map picture

India has a diversity of wildlife to match and possibly surpass Africa and whilst most people know that India is the best country to see Bengal Tiger not many people know that you can also see Lion. The Lion is a sub-species of Panthera Leo and was separated as recently as 100,000 years ago. It almost became extinct with numbers falling to around 20 about 100 years ago. Luckily it has managed to stage an incredible recovery with numbers now in the region of 350, however the gene pool is still very restricted and the sub-species threatened. Almost the only place to see them with any degree of certainty is the Gir forest in Gujurat state and this was where Lisa and I ended up.

Arriving in Mumbai at 01:00 and then transfered to the domestic terminal for a long wait for out 07:10 flight to Bhavnagar. Jet airways was used for the domestic flight and we had to wait 45 mins before we could take off due to various repair works being performed on the runways and taxi ways! We finally made it to Bhavnagar around 09:00. We then transfered to the Nilambagh hotel and it looked as though a wedding had been held there the previous day as a lot of rubbish and red carpet had been laid around. In fact we had arrived in peak wedding season and Indian weddings are huge affairs lasting several days in some cases.

The hotel was originally the palace of the ruling Gohil dynasty, the dining room had impressive Bohemian crystal chandeliers and a carved Burmese Teak banqueting table.

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We both then fell asleep for 4 hours until we met up with our driver and he took us on a visit to the old town market and a mauseleum built in 1873 for the maharajahs wife. Also a musuem and temple on a hill giving good views around the city. Didn’t realise that Ghandi went to college here and a lot of the museum was dedicated to his life although most of it was in hindi so couldn’t understand but luckily there were lots of photos. Noticeable that not many tourists are around. Good restaurant in the hotel.

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A few birds in the hotel gardens, coppersmith barbet, house crow, rufous treepie, large grey babbler, red-vented bulbul, common myna, black kite, green bee-eater, asian koel.

Post roost flight of Indian Flying Fox over the hotel at dusk.

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