Nainital - The City of Lakes

Nainital, the charming Himalayan lake town, is a picture-postcard perfect hill-station and one of the most popular in Northern India. Commonly known as the ‘Lake District’, Nainital is nestled high up in the Kumaon Himalayas at an altitude of around 2,000 m above sea level. This beautiful town in surrounded by seven hills, popularly known as ‘Sapta-Shring’ – Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi-Bandi, Naina, Alma, Lariya-Kanta and Sher-Ka-Danda. The majestic mountains and the sparkling waters of the lake add an immense lot to the beauty of the town.  The town is centred around the emerald mountain lake Naini, which on most days is dotted with colourful sailboats. According to mythology, the lake is believed to have been formed when the eyes of goddess “Sati” fell at this spot while her body was being carried by Lord Shiva after her death.

The summer capital of the United Provinces during the British era, the town has a strong colonial heritage with vibrant clusters of villas and bungalows. Homesick Britishers used to flock to this quaint town spread over a forested valley. It is also known for the revered Naina Devi temple, which stands on the edge of the lake. Nainital is not only a famous tourist destination but is also known for its prestigious educational institutions and schools, which have stood since the British era.

There are many renowned personalities who are either born here or have been associated with Nainital. Jim Corbett, author, and conservationist, was born in Nainital and was also educated here. Jim Corbett National Park in the vicinity is named after him, which is also the first National Park of India. Anoop Jalota, a popular classical singer and cricketer Manish Pandey were born in Nainital. Major Somnath Sharma, India’s first Param Vir Chakra awardee as well as legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan were educated at Sherwood College of Nainital.

Today, Nainital offers everything that's required for a perfect holiday. Plenty of hotels and resorts are set on the hillside; the Mall Road is a busy shopping hub; cafes and restaurants serve both local and global cuisine and there are innumerable forested trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You can paddle in the lake or even try riding a horse in the town. Nainital is also a popular hot-air ballooning and mountaineering.

Best Time to Visit Nainital

Nainital is an all-year destination but the weather is the best between March and June. It receives heavy snowfall in winter and turns into a white wonderland, making it a popular Christmas and New Year destination.

Places to visit in Nainital

  • The Himalaya Museum: Visit this museum in Nainital to get an insight into the state of Uttarakhand. Established under the Department of History, Kumaun University in1987, the Himalayan Museum has been conserving the historical and cultural identity of Uttarakhand. Explore documents and relics ranging from Uttarakhand’s archaeology, history, folk literature, culture to agricultural development and famous personalities. Some must-see pieces are an idol of four-armed Ganesha, a four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu and Sun God. The museum also houses several Veerkhambs (victory stones) and an astounding collection of ancient coins.
  • Kainchi Dham: On the Nainital to Almora Road, 9 km from Bhowali and 17 km from Nainital is the popular pilgrimage centre Kainchi Dham, a Hanuman Temple and ashram founded by the sage Neem Karoli Baba, in 1962. It is located between two hills that cut and cross each other to create the shape of a pair of scissors (scissors in Hindi is kainchi). The place gained more recognition owing to a visit by Apple founder Steve Jobs, and the founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg. There is a cave near the Kainchi temple, which is said to be the place where Baba Neem Karoli used to meditate and pray.
  • Kilbury: The quiet Kilbury hamlet is the ideal place for a serene holiday. Located just 12 km from Nainital town, you can come here for walks around forests and for breathtaking views of the Himalayas. It is famous for its flora and fauna and bird watching. The Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary here is home to around 600 species of birds.
  • Pangot: Pangot is a small picturesque hamlet famous for its jungles and birds, located just 15 km from Nainital. It is a haven for bird watchers, as it is home to a plethora of exotic birds. The weather in summers is very pleasant with light and cool breeze and in winters, Pangot is blanketed in snow.
  • Sariyatal: At a distance of 5 km from Nainital, Sariyatal is an almost heart-shaped lake located on Kaladungi Road in Nainital district. It is fed by a mountain stream and sits amidst a lush green landscape. The Himalayan Botanical Garden is also located here.
  • Khurpatal: Sitting at 1,635 m above sea level, the emerald blue-green lake of Khurpatal is just 12 km away from Nainital. Surrounded by pine forests, it's a serene picnic spot.
  • Ghorakhal: Ghorakhal, meaning ‘a pond for horses’, is a picturesque site, with natural serenity and placidity. Famous for the temple of Lord Golu, the presiding local deity, and an Army School, Ghorakhal is at a distance of 17 km from Nainital. The Ghorakhal tea garden makes for an interesting stop. Located at 1,800 m above the sea level, the tea garden is known for its rich and aromatic teas.
  • Naukuchiatal: Situated at a distance of just 25 km from Nainital, the crystal-clear Naukuchiatal lake with its nine corners is a captivating sight. Enjoy angling and bird watching, and also rowing, paddling and yachting.
  • St John in the Wilderness Church: One of the most popular tourist spots in Nainital, the St John in the Wilderness Church is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Built in 1846, the beautiful church with Neo-Gothic architecture, stands in the middle of a forest, surrounded by tall deodar and pine trees. Hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett was a strong follower of this church and used to come here regularly.
  • Tiffin Top: A popular picnic spot in Nainital, Tiffin Top (also known as Dorothy's Seat) is located on Ayarpatta hill, and offers a panoramic view of the Nainital town and surrounding hills. A delight for photographers, many tourists also like to trek up to the place, which is just 4 km away from the town.
  • Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences: The Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences or ARIES is an observatory sitting on the Manora Peak in Nainital. Known to have one of the most advanced telescopes in India, ARIES is an educational institution on astronomical studies. It is also open to visitors. 
  • Snow View Point: One of the most beautiful spots in Nainital, the Snow View Point, located at 2,270 m above the sea level, offers stunning views of the snow-covered mountain peaks of the Great Himalayas. A large pair of binoculars is installed here to let visitors take a closer look at the peaks. Spend an hour or so to enjoy the views, as children can play in the amusement park. There are food and tea stalls here as well. The KMVN TRH Snow View guesthouse, which was once a Britisher's bungalow, is an excellent place to stay.
  • Mall Road: Built by the Britishers to connect the two ends of Nainital city, Mallital and Tallital, the iconic Mall Road is a must on most tourist's to-do list in Nainital. Running along the lake, the busy road, which is officially called Govind Ballabh Pant Marg, is a hub of multi-cuisine restaurants and shops selling knick-knacks. The must-buys here are handmade candles and pinewood artifacts crafted by local artisans. Take a leisurely evening stroll along the road to enjoy sweeping views of the lake and Nainital city spread across the mountain slope.
  • Ropeway: The cable car or ropeway in Nainital is one of the must-try experiences. Plying between Snow View point and Mallital, the 3-minute one-way journey offers breathtaking aerial views of Nainital and Naini Lake. It draws hundreds of tourists every day. The charges are INR 300 per adult (two-way trip) and INR 200 for children up-to 12 years of age. It runs from 10 am every day and you can spend about an hour at Snow View Point before returning. Mallital, the upper end of the Naini Lake and the Mall Road ,offers great shopping and dining options.
  • Nainital Zoo: The Pt Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo in Nainital is popularly known as Nainital Zoo. One of the most well-known family destinations, the zoo is perched on the Sher Ka Danda hill at an altitude of 2,100 m above sea level. Spread over a green area of 4.6 hectare, the zoo is home to a variety of animals like the royal Bengal tiger, Tibetan wolves, leopard, various types of deer, and the Himalayan bear. The zoo is also home to several species of birds.
  • Naina Devi Temple: The sacred Naina Devi temple with Goddess Naina Devi as its presiding deity is located atop the Naina hill near the Naini Lake. One of the most revered temples in India, the two eyes of the Goddess represent divinity here. There are many myths and legends associated with the temple, which attracts devotees throughout the year. The Naina Peak, locally known as Cheena peak, is the highest point in Nainital.
  • Naini Lake: The beautiful, crescent-shaped Naini Lake is at the heart of Nainital. The most popular attraction in the town, the shimmering lake is surrounded by seven panoramic hills, snowy peaks, and rows of willows. An all-year round destination, the lake is well-known for boating, yachting and other water sports, and colourful boats dot the water along with quacking ducks.

How to Reach Nainital

By Flight: Pantnagar Airport is the nearest airport to Nainital. After that 70 kms distance has to be traveled by road through a bus or cab. People can also reach Delhi IGI Airport and travel another 300 kms by road.

Source Link: Nainital - The City of Lakes | Uttarakhand Tourism

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