Nainital, one of the pristine beauties on earth is a quintessential hill station in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. It’s supreme for the lakes that adorn this quaint little hill station.
Originally a city of lakes, it had once numerous lakes surrounding the Nainital lake – the primary source of attraction of the region. It is this lake that founds its way in the heart of many tourists and locals and hence finds its place in various books. Namita Gokhale’s recently published historical fiction “The Things To Leave Behind” is an addition to that list. The book gives a vivid description of Nainital lake and its adjoining areas.
Apart from Naini, there’s Bhimtal, Khurptal, Sattal, Shymaltal, and Naukhuchiatal that comprises the list of 60 lakes adorning the region. All the lakes are set amongst the mystical Himalayan Mountains and have a fair share of folklore associated with it.
History and Origin of The Place
Nainital, the name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Nain’ meaning eye. Legend has it that Sati’s eye had fallen on this part of the land and hence it became a holy ground for Hindu pilgrims all over the world.
Consequently, the lake has a Naina Devi temple on the northern side dedicated to Lord Shiva and Sati, known as Naina Devi in this part of India. It’s considered to be one of those pious places (Sati Peeth) where Sati’s body parts had fallen.
Other legends and folklore attribute the Lake’s origin to Verses from the Skanda Puran (sacred texts) where it’s stated that some sages had come to the place in search of water and subsequently had dug a hole to usher in water from the Manasarovar. The success of these 3 sages, Pulastya, Pulaha and Atryi created Nainital.
Climate & Accessibility
Nainital’s pear-shaped lake bounded by the ethereal Himalayas attracts tourists all through the year. Its pleasant climate makes it an ideal destination for people. The average temperature here is 15-18 ̊C with the highest being 27 ̊C and the lowest 10 ̊C.
The place is quite well known and is easily accessible by road. The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, just about 34km from Nainital. Regular trains ferry passengers from Delhi, Howrah, Lucknow to this station.
The capital of the state Dehradun lies at a distance of 286km and takes about an 8hours ride to reach via the NH34 Highway. Trains are available at regular intervals from Dehradun to Khathgodam.
Pantnagar Airport is the nearest airport which takes about 1-hour ride from the city. Nainital lies within 22kms of Soulitude which is near the Tagore Top region in the Nainital-Mukhteswar highway.
Places To Explore
The chief tourist attraction of the Naini is the Naini Peak which offers a breath-taking view of the town. Just about 6 Kilometers from Mallital, this peak stands tall at height of 2611m and is the highest peak of the region.
If you are done with trekking it’s best you take the cable car ride across the hill. The glistening sunlight reflecting waters at the ends of the lakes (known as Tallital and Mallital) is to die for.
- The region is famous for nature lovers, photographers, and adventure junkies.
- Boating, horse riding, trekking and rock climbing are some of the adventure sports that people enjoy here.
- Apart from all this the town itself has some attractive places like the Nainital Zoo, Eco Cave Garden etc.
4. For astronomers and stargazers, this place offers a special treat. Not only does it offer you a golden opportunity to bring out your telescope and gaze out into the night sky but the place also has an observatory which you can visit. The Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences is the place to visit.
5. For the wildlife enthusiasts, it has a no. of sanctuaries up its sleeves. This includes the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pangot & Kilbury Bird Sanctuary.
6. The famous Corbet National Park is just about 5 hrs ride from Nainital and covers a distance of 151km.
How To Get The Pahari Feel?
Now, if you aren’t satisfied just with the natural beauty of the place and want to get the local feel then take a ride across the town. Explore the locality to soak its intricate feel.
When in a hill station do as the Pahari’s do. So get a taste of the local cuisine from the various roadside shops. Check out their art and crafts.
Go on a shopping spree at Tibetian Market, Mall Road, and Bara Baar. When you return tired and exhausted unwind with a hot cuppa from the Café Chica, Shakley’s Restaurant and Pastry Shop, Embassy and other famous places.
The Best Time To Visit
Nainital is a revered place and top tourist destination for people all over the world. Hence, it’s best to skip the rush hours and visit during the off-season of winter when the town is covered with mild snowfall. December-February is the ideal time to pay a visit in order to enjoy the best of both worlds.
So, overall Naini still retains some of its old-world charms and unwinding on its alleys gives out a rustic effervescent feeling. Explore the city and relive the essence of Uttarakhand!