Nainital is a year-round tourist destination that attracts tourists from all over the country and outside. During the winter, Nainital is quite another beautiful experience of Peaceful, open, and invigorating. The first recorded discovery of of Nainital, was in 1841 when a British, Mr. Barron, chanced upon the lake. Moved by the scenic beauty of the lake and thickly forested hills, he constructed a house named Pilgrim’s Cottage. It was the first of many residences, which were to transform Nainital into a popular resort. By 1858, Nainital became a well-known hill station, and within a few years the summer seat of the provincial government.
Prior to 1839, the valley was covered by thick forests and inhabited by hill tribesmen. A major landslide in 1880 led to the formation of the flats, the level ground by the lake. Nainital’s attractions range from quiet walks in meadows and forests of pine and deciduous trees, adventure sports as well as popular entertainment. This hill resort can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
In Indian mythology, Nainital is regarded as one of the 64 ‘Shakti Peeths. The Nainital Lake is shaped like an eye and the town derived its name from the combination of Nain (eye) and Tal (lake). According to local belief the origin Sati’s eye fell near the lake, where the Naina Devi temple now stands
Nainital has several lakes close by- Bhimtal,Sattal, Naukuchiatal, Khurpatal, Malwatal, Harishtal and Lokhamtal. Sat Tal (seven lakes) is 22 km from Nainital. Bhimtal is close by, almost the same distance from Nainital. Close to Bhimtal, 4 kms away is Naukutchiatal.
Sports and adventure activity:
The Nainital Yacht Club has been encouraging sailing for a long time. Apart from yachting, one can canoe and kayak on the lake. Parasailing activity has started near Naukuchiatal Hot ballooning camps have sprung up near Sukhatal.
The Golf Club near the Raj Bhawan is a delight. For those interested in rock climbing and mountaineering, the Nainital Mountaineering Club would be a good place to start.
Naini Lake: The core of this city is this beautiful green Naini Lake, where the reflection of the hills with their hotels and cottages form a pretty picture. The promenade is lined with shops selling trinkets, woolens and the very artistic candles, a bandstand, a fountain and a skating rink. The lake is ideal for yachting and boating, so you must try your hand at sailing these multi-coloured boats especially during the annual boat festival. The lake is especially pretty during night-time when Nainital’s lights are reflected in its waters.
Naina Devi Temple: Located at the north of the lake, this temple is dedicated to Naina Devi, a manifestation of Goddess Durga. It is believed that this is the spot where Goddess Sati’s left eye fell, when Vishnu chopped her body to stop Shiva’s cosmic dance of destruction. Also located close to the temple is the Naina Devi cave.
China Peak or Naina Peak : at a height of 2610 metres is a 5.5 km trek and has a 4 roomed log cabin built for tourists. This is the highest peak bordering the lake. A popular picnic spot which offers a panoramic view of the resort.
Boat House Club: Dating to the 19th century, visit the Boat House Club, which has a bar and billiards room facing the lake. Catch shimmering views of the city at night when millions of lights reflect on the lake.
Hanumangarhi: Located at an altitude of over 6000 ft near Tallital, Hanumangarhi has a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, who is depicted tearing his chest open to reveal Lord Ram and Goddess Sita. This high altitude also offers beautiful views of the sunset. Especially worthwhile is visiting it during the Ramnavami and Hanuman Jayanti Festivals.
Bara Bazaar & Snow View: Bara Bazaar is a vibrant market in Mallital. Its highlight is the ropeway or cable car, which leads to the Snow View. Located at an altitude of over 7000 ft, Snow View, on a clear day offers brilliant views of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Kot peaks.
Open from: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Ropeway fare: Round trip Rs 70 (1 hr)
Astronomical Observatory: Set up because of the clear skies here, the observatory is said to have one of the most advanced telescopes in India. This telescope is said to calculate the movement of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies extremely precisely.
Dorothy’s Seat: Also known as Tiffin Top, it is located 4 kms west of the lake and offers somewhat spectacular views of Nainital. This seat was built by Kellet, an Englishman in memory of his wife, who died in an air crash.
Lands End: Located on the southern corner of the lake, Lands End offers panoramic views of Khurpa Tal.
Its altitude is 2118 mts. & it is located at about 4 Kms from the town. The best feature of this spot is that one does not have to climb much and as the name suggests one feels on reaching the area that the end of the land has really come. Needless to say the view of the neighboring hills and valley and the Khurpatal lake is exquisite from this point. One can go to Barapathar on a vehicle and then walk about one Km. up to the spot. Tiffin Top & Lands end can be covered at a stretch as both spots are side by side.
Nainital Zoo: Located at a high-altitude, the Zoo is home to the rare Snow Leopard, steppe eagle and the Himalayan Black Bear. The regal spotted owl is believed to emit a human voice if kept awake for 40 days.
Open from: 10 am-4.30 pm, (except Monday)
Entry fee – Adults Rs 20, children Rs 10 Camera fee Rs 25
Eco Cave Gardens: A naturally maintained park, this is a great place for children. The park has a musical fountain operating only in May and June. The six caves here are interesting to visit.
Open from: 9.30 am-5.30 pm
Entry fee – Adults Rs 20, children Rs 10 Camera fee Rs 25
The Flatts :
At the northern side of the lake there is a place of rendezvous for people from all walks of life . Here evenings are heavily crowded. There is a statue of Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant and a beautiful fountain . There is a band stand . The Flats has playing ground used for sports games and cultural activities during festivals. There is Chat Bazar,Bhotia Market in the flats . In Bhotia Market vendors sell their fancy items .There is Mosque,Gurudwara and Naina Devi temple in flatts.Capitol cinema and Rink theatre which is used for roller skating are also situated in Flatts.A portion of the flatts is used for car parking .New club ,Boat House club ,Masonic Hall are in the periphery of the flatts for recreation.
Governor’s House: The Raj Bhavan has gardens spread over 220 acres lined with deodar trees. The portico is designed in the shape of the British crown. The other memorabilia’s worth watching are the magnanimous fireplace, the mailbox next to the writing table and conserÂvaÂtories called ‘glass houses’. You can also try your hand at the 18-hole golf course at a fee of Rs 450.
Open from: 11 am-5 pm
Entry fee – Rs 50
St John Church in the Wilderness: Located in the thick of pine forests, the church is an ancient marvel, complete with stained glass windows and old wooden pews. Dilapidated, but worth visiting is the old cemetery within its grounds, which is the resting place of the British
11 kms from the town, Kilbury is sanctum sanctorum of bio-diversity and an ideal place for bird watchers and nature lovers for a quiet and peaceful holiday At an altitude of 2194 m and 10 Km from the town this place is accessible by a motor able road. There is a forest rest house for night stay. Kilbury is an ideal spot for a quiet and peaceful holiday.
This is a popular picnic spot where you get panoramic views of the snow peaks on clear days. It is at the edge of the reserve forest and there is also a forest bungalow here.
Shopping activity is centered on the Mall which runs along one side of the lake. There are many decorative items for sale such as candles and wooden art and handicrafts. Woolen items are available at low cost in Bhutia Bazaar. Excellent quality shawls are manufactured by Kumaon Woolens and Nainital woolens both of whom have showrooms on the Mall.
Neighboring Hill Stations:
The quiet hill station of Ranikhet is 60 kms from Nainital. It is mainly an Army cantonment and thus has not grown the same way as other towns in Kumaon. Ram Nagar is 65 kms from Nainital and famous for being the place to access Corbett National Park, 50 kms away. Mukteshwar was once a British cantonment. It is located 52 kms from Nainital and is really quiet, green and picturesque. It offers some of the most magnificent views of the Himalayan peaks. The oldest town close by is Almora, 60 kms from Nainital. Steeped in Indian culture and traditions, Swami Vivekanada recommended Almora as a great place to meditate in. The Nainital, Almora, Ranikhet route can be made into an interesting itinerary for someone interested in a quick 3 day tour of the area.
How to Reach Nainatal :
Nearest railway station is at Kathgodam – 35 km, which is connected by metre guage to Agra, Bareilly and Lucknow. Some of the important train connections from Kathgodam are: Shatabadi Express, Howrah Express (3019/3020), Ranikhet Express (5013/5014), Rampur Passenger, Nainital Express (5308/5307).
Nainital is connected by road to major centers of northern India, some of the major road distances are:
Almora – 62 km. , Agra – 379 km. ,Delhi – 277 km. ,Kausani – 117 km , Ranikhet – 60 km. ,Corbett (Dhikala) – 128 km. ,Bareilly – 141 km.
Nainatal Quick Facts :
Area: 11.7 Sq. km.
Population: 30,951 (1991 census)
Altitude: 1938 meters above sea level
Season : March – June, mid September – October
Clothing: Summer – Light Woollens; Winters – Heavy Woollens
Language : Hindi, English & Kumaoni.
Local Transport : Rickshaws, Dandies, Ropeway, Ponies, Taxis.
STD Code : 05942