Surrounded by towering peaks of the Himalayas, fruit orchards and thick coniferous forest, Nainital is a highly celebrated scenic spot in Uttarakhand.
Commonly known as the "Lake District of India", Nainital is one of the most beautiful hill stations in north India. Surrounded by mountains on three sides Nainital is located around the beautiful lake 'Naina Tal'. It is a lake resort situated at a height of 1,938 metres. There are many legends associated with the place. According to one, Nainital has derived its name from the Goddess Naina while the other legend says that when the Goddess Sati lost her eyes, she was being carried by Lord Shiva and a lake was formed. 'Naina' means eyes and 'Tal' means lake.
It is a beautiful small town in Uttarakhand 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 adds gems to the beauty of the town.
- Air : Pantnagar airport is the nearest airport (65 km).
- Rail : Nearest railway station is Kathgodham 34 kms.
- Road : Nainital is well-connected to all nearby places by a network of well-constructed roads, including National Highway 87, which links it to Rudrapur and Rampur.
Best Time to Visit Nainital
Nainital in the Kumaon hills maintains pleasant weather throughout the year except the winter months. The temperature is mild at any time but in winters it becomes very cold. The climate of Nainital is regulated by the lake here which showers rain almost every afternoon. The best time to visit the place is between April to June and then again in September and October. The months of January to March are marked by the snowfall.
NAINA LAKE : This picturesque lake is said to be one of the emerald green eyes of Shiva‘s beloved consort, Sati (nain is a Sanskrit word for eye). When Sati's father failed to invite Shiva to a family sacrifice, she burnt herself to death in protest. Shiva gathered the charred remains in his arms and proceeded to engage in a cosmic dance, which threatened to destroy the world. To terminate the dance, Vishnu chopped up the body into pieces, and the remains were scattered across Indian subcontinent. The Naina Devi Temple at the northern end of the lake is built over the precise spot where the eye is believed to have fallen.
SNOW VIEW : At the top, a close up view of Nanda Devi (7816m), which was, 'the highest mountain in the British empire'. Nanda Devi was India's highest peak until Sikkim (and thus Kanchenjunga) was absorbed into the country.
There‘s a small temple dedicated to Dev Mundi, housing images of Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva, Goddess Sita, Lord Rama, Sri Lakshmana and Sri Hanuman. From Snow View you can walk west to another point and then continue on to the main road to Kilbury. From here you can also continue up to Cheena Peak or head down the road to Sukhatal, passing great views of the lake enroute. A walk up to Snow View can take in the tiny Gadhan Kunkyop Ling Gompa of the Gelukpa order (of which the Dalai Lama is the spiritual head).
NAINA PEAK : Naina Peak is known as the Cheena peak. This is the highest point in Nainital. From here Nainital appears as a vast bowl. From here you can have the exciting views of Nainital. You can walk or take ponies to the peak. Naina peak also gives a good view of the Camelback peak. There are no hotel or restaurant on the top so carry food and water along with you.
NAINA DEVI TEMPLE : The attractive lake of Nainital is said to be the eyes of Sati, consort of Lord Shiva. Sati emulated herself into the sacrificial fire after being severely insulted. Lord Shiva, to mourn the death of his beloved wife carried the body across the universe.The remains of her body fell at various places which today are sacred worship places for the Hindus.
HANUMAN GARHI : The place is of much religious importance. Situated at a height of 1951 meters this place was established by Baba Neem Kiroli. A very beautiful Hanuman mandir is at the top. From Hanuman Garhi watching the Sunset is very soothing. You can walk down from Nainital to Hanuman Garhi.
OBSERVATORY : The clearly visible skies over Nainital encouraged the government to setup an observatory here. The observatory has one of the most advance telescopes in India. This telescope measures the movement of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies to great precision. The entry in the observatory is by permission only and timings are fixed.
ZOO GARDENS : Nainital has a small but a very beautiful Zoological garden. There are several animals kept here which include Deers, Bears, Tigers and many more. The hygiene and cleanliness of the zoo is a point which attracts the mind even if one ignores it. Not surprising this zoo is one of the most clean zoos in the country. The zoo can be reached on foot or taxi can be hired.
ST. JOHN'S CHURCH : This church was built in 1847. A brass memorial is kept in memory of the persons who were buried in the infamous landslide in the 19th century. The few bodies which could be dug out were buried in the church premises.
BHOWALI : 1706 meters above the sea level and 11 kms away from Nainital, this road junction serves all the nearby hill stations from Nainital. Bhowali is famous for its scenic grandeur and as a hill fruit mart. Its also known for itsT.B. sanatorium established in 1912.
GHORAKHAL : Famous for the temple of Lord Golu (God of Law & Justice) worshipped by hill people and sainik school this place is at a distance of 3 kms from Bhowali.
SATTAL : At a distance of about 23 kms. from Nainital at an altitude of 1370 mts. Sattal is a unique, unforgettable spot having cluster of lakes placed amidst the oak forest. It is comparable with Westmoreland of England. As one approach toward Sattal first lake is NaI-Damyanti Lake. On moving ahead there is the ashram of Stanley Johns an American Missionary. Next lake is Panna or Garude lake. As we move down there is a cluster of three lakes, these lakes are Ram, Laxman and Sita lake.
BHIMTAL : 22 kms from Nainital and 11 kms from Bhowali at an altitude of 1370 mts. The pride of Bhimtal is a beautiful lake, which offers magnificent vistas for tourists.
NAUKUCHIATAL : A deep crystal clear lake with its nine comer is a captivating site. Length of lake is 983 mts., breadth is 693 mts & depth 40.3 mts. It is within an enchanting valley offering an opportunity of angling and bird watching. There is ample scope for rowing, paddling or yachting.
KILBURY : Kilbury is slightly away from Nainital. 12 kms from the main town. Located amidst green forests this tranquil place provides a break from the city. Kilbury gives a breathtaking view of the Himalayas. The forest department has got its guest house here. Kilbury takes you into the laps of nature from Hustle Bustle of the cities.
UPAT KALIKA : 6 kms. from the town on Almora Road the place has one of the best mountain golf links (9 Holes) in the country surrounded by dense forests just one km trom Upat is Kalika with its famous temple.
KAINCHI DHAM : On the Nainital - Almora Road, 9 kms from Bhowali and 17 kms from Nainital is a modern pilgrim centre. This place has achieved recognition owing to the ashram of the famous Neem Karoli Maharaj. Kainchi is a term used for two sharp hairpin bends of the motor road in local dialect hence the name.
RANIKHET : A hill station, idyllic in its charm, Ranikhet with its majestic pine trees, is 60 kms from Nainital. According to popular belief this spot had won the heart of Rani Padmini, queen of Raja Sudhardev. She chose this scenic place to her abode & since then, it has come to be known as Rani-Khet, literally "Queen's Field".
MUKTESHWAR : This exciting place is 2286 mtRs in altitude and 51 kms from Nainital. Surrounded by fruit orchards and thick coniferous forest it was developed by the Britishers as Research and Education Institute (IVRl) in 1893. It is the celebrated scenic spot overlooking long ranges of Himalaya. An old temple of Lord Shiva exist on the top of a rock.
KAUSANI : Nestling among thick dense pine forests, a top a narrow ridge and separated from the towering mountains of the Nanda Devi range by low, medium mountains; at Kausani the grandeur of the Himalayan scenery comes alive.
BAIJNATH : Situated at an elevation of 1125 mts. it is 19 kms from Kausani towards Bageshwar. Lying on the banks of Gomti River in a flat valley, the temple complex of Baijnath was constructed by the Katyuri kings.
Where to Stay (STD Code - 05942)
- Tourist Rest House (Reservation/Inquiry Office) : 236274
- Tourist Rest House (Sukhatal) : 235400, 231437
- Tourist Rest House (near Bus stand, Tallital) : 235570
- Tourist Rest House (Snow View) : 238570
- Tourist Rest House (Ramnagar) : 251225
- Tourist Rest House (Kaladhungi) : 242124