The Lake District of India – Nainital
In the Himalayan foothills of Uttarakhand lies Nainital, a picturesque hill station and one of the most favored summer retreats of India. Magnificently nested around the beautiful Naini Lake, it captivates the fascination of the tourist from all over the world. The tall mountains, the green woods, the lake side streets, the colonial styled houses along with the spectacular lake makes Nainital a wonderful tourist destination.The Lake District of India, located in the Himalayan belt amongst the Kumaon hills, is a paradise for nature lovers. A splendid holiday spot with a rich treasure of lakes and hills, Nainital is a destination for the young and the old alike. Located at an altitude of 1,938mts above sea level. It shines as a glittering jewel in the Himalayan Mountains and is surrounded with lakes and nature’s bounty. Nainital tourism flourishes during the summer months i.e from April to November, when visitors from the plains come to Nainital to escape the blazing heat of the Indian summer.Nainital tourism provides for boating and yachting in Naina lake. Fishing is also permitted with prior permission from the local authorites.
Nainital is referred to as the lake of three sages, or the Tri Rishi Sarovar as mentioned in the Manas Khand chapter of the Skanda Purana. As recorded in history, the three sages, Atri, Pulastya, and Pulaha stopped over at Nainital on their pilgrimage, to quench their thirst. Finding no water, they dug a hole and transferred some water into it to from the sacred lake of Tibet, Mansarovar. Thus the famous lake of Nainital came into existence. Another legend has it that the left eye or Nain of Lord Shiva’s wife Sati fell in this center and formed an emerald eye shaped lake, and thus emerged the city of Nainital.
Natural beauty abounds in the state of Uttaranchal’s Lake District. Boaters flock to hill-ringed Naini Lake, which according to mythology is one of the emerald eyes of Shiva’s wife. A hike or horseback ride to the top of Naina Peak (aka China Peak), the highest point, provides stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayas. To share a prime vantage point with family members of all ages, take the aerial lift up to Snow View; there’s also a small marble temple at the top dedicated to Dev Mundi.
HOW TO REACH
By Air: Pant Nagar Airport is situated in Uttarakhand state and is one of the two airports of Uttarakhand. Pant Nagar is the nearest airport to Kathgodam and Nainital as well. It is situated 72kms from Nainital and is well connected by motorable roads
By Rail: Kathgodam is the nearest railway station to Nainital, situated at a distance of 41kms. Kathgodam is well connected by Railway networks with major destinations of India like Lucknow, Delhi and Kolkata
By Road: Nainital is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of northern India. Nainital is only one hour drive from Kathgodam which is spread on the hills of the lower Himalayan range. You can take taxi or bus from Kathgodam to reach Nainital. Most number of tourists who visit Nainital commences their journey from New Delhi. The distance between Delhi to Nainital is 320kms which can be covered by 9hour drive
MAJOR TOURIST SPOTS
Naina Devi Temple
The deity of the temple is Maa Naina Devi represented by two eyes. The temple was destroyed by the drastic landslide of 1880, and was later rebuilt because the temple was of great importance amongst locals. Naina Devi Temple is located on the northern shore of Naini Lake
.Naini Lake (Nainital)
Amidst seven mountains touching the sky, the heart of the place is a ravishing lake showering its beauty with pristine and stagnant water. Naini Lake has earned respect since beginning and even the district is named after this enchanting lake. The lake offers ample opportunities for adventure lovers as well with yachting, boating and paddling facilities. One can explore the lake from one end to another watching the dynamic sun setting for the dusk providing peace and tranquility. Naini Lake is divided into two parts Mallital and Tallital. The north end of the Lake is called Mallital and the southern end of the Lake is known as Tallital. Both ends of the Naini Lake have shopping centres with luxury and varied shops.
The lake is on its majestically height during the night time when the light of the houses, cottages and hotels situated on the mountains covering Nainital reflects upon it and makes the view invigorating. During night it feels like there’s a city underneath the stagnant water of Naini Lake. The perimeter of Naini Lake is approximately 3.5kms. Nainital is an ideal destination for families, honeymooners, poets and writers, nature lovers and adventure lovers as well.
The Mall Road:
Mall road nexuses Mallital with Tallital and thus is busiest road of the town. During peak season (May and June) vehicles are not allowed to enter mall road so that the trade keeps on strolling as this point is famous amongst tourists. Mall road is now named as Govind Ballabh Pant Marg. The road is filled with hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, banks, travel agencies and street shops as well.
The Flats is situated on the northern side of the lake where the statue of Govind Ballabh Pant is erected. The Flatts covers a large area touching the lake. The Flatts has a cemented playing ground which is generally used for cultural activities during festivals but you can see kids playing there most of the time. The Flats get crowded in the evening because of the chat bazaar and famous Bhotia Market selling their varied and unique products. The divine Naina Devi Temple is situated on the Flatts alongwith a mosque and gurudwara.
Govind Ballabh Pant high altitude zoo is situated around 2km from the bus station. The zoo is set at an elevation of 2100mts above sea level providing high altitude animals a sufficient and habitat like environment. The Zoo consists of animals like Leopard , Hill Fox, Siberian Tiger (snow tiger), Palm civet cat, Wolf, Silver Pheasants, Barking Deer, Sambhar, Monkeys, Rose ringed Prakeet, Himalayan black bear, Ghoral, White Peacock. The zoo is closed on Mondays and the entry ticket is of Rs. 10. Feeding animals is strictly prohibited in the zoo and eatables are also not allowed (you can take liquid diets).
The Aerial Ropeway commences at Mallital and is connected with Snow view point situated at a breathtaking elevation of 2275mts above sea level. Snow view point offers the majestic views of puissant Himalayan range. Two trolleys carries passenger from the flatts to snow view point in approximately two and a half minutes of time. The capacity of the trolley cabin is 11 persons or 800kgs of weight. The trolley is opened for seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. The ticket for adult is Rs. 100 and Rs. 60 for child.
Governor’s House (Raj Bhawan):
Governor’s House was built in 1899 and designed in the Victorian Gothic domestic style by the architect F.W. Stevens as the summer residence of the governor of North West Province. Presently, Raj Bhawan is the official guest house for the governor of Uttarakhand and for state guests stay. It consists of a two-storied mansion with 113 rooms, a large garden, a swimming pool, and golf court as well. Previously obtaining prior permission was must for visiting. But now by purchasing Entry Ticket of Rs. 30 you can go to explore Raj Bhawan.
Snow View Point:
Snow view point offers the invigorating view of snow clad peaks of the majestic Himalayan range like Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Kot. Snow view is the most easily accessible cliff amongst other nearby mountains surrounding Nainital. The peak is connected by motorable roads and aerial ropeway or cable car. The ropeway is opened for seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. The point has some restaurants, tea shops and even photographers to click your pictures. Charges for cable car is Rs.100 for adult and Rs. 60 for child.
Eco Cave Garden
Eco Cave Garden is located one kilometer above Mallital near Kumaon University Campus. This spot is a latest tourism spot of Nainital. Cave Garden offers caves of different kinds of animals which you can explore by going in it. There are no real animals there for sure.
Naina Peak/ China Peak:
Naina peak is situated at a breathtaking altitude of 2615mts above sea level. Naina Peak is the highest point of the town and is located 6km north to Mallital. Naina peak is also known as China peak and Cheena peak. Naina peak offers invigorating views of the enchanting snow clad peaks of the mighty Himalayan range, the bird’s eye view of the pristine Naini Lake and the Nainital town itself. In order to enjoy the celestial beauteousness of this point one must trek 6km by foot or can hire a pony from Mallital or Snow view. But remember the trek of 6km is worth the view from the summit of the Naina peak.
Tiffin Top is situated 4km from Nainital set at an altitude of 2,292mts above sea level on Ayarpatta hill commanding splendor views of the neighboring country side and the majestic Himalayan range. Tiffin Top & Lands end can be covered at a stretch as both spots are located side by side. Dorothy seat is a stonework picnic perch on Tiffin Top built in memory of an English lady painter Dorothy Kellet by her husband and admirers after her death in a plane crash.
The main attraction of Land’s End is the beautiful view of the stagnant water of the Khurpatal. Land’s End is set at an elevation of 2,120mts above sea level offering splendid views of neighboring hills and the green valley with rural houses. In order to reach Land’s End one can drive to Barapathar on a vehicle and then trek 1km to the spot where one feels like the land has really come to an end.
SHOPPING AT NAINITAL
One can shop a lot in Nainital even while exploring the places. Shopping in Nainital is an astonishing and sometimes enlightening experience. The Mall is the main shopping center in Nainital which has some of the good shops where one can do some shopping
Mallital and Tallital are two busy areas of Nainital. A highly vibrant and happening market, the Bara Bazaar is a very famous area in Mallital and also serves as an excellent landmark. Nainital is very popular for the variety of different beautiful candles available. Do not miss to buy candles and cane sticks from Bara Bazaar. The other traditional buys include scarves, shawls, woodcrafts, cardigans and so on.
The Bara Bazaar in Mallital area also houses a lot of restaurants, which serve good food at reasonably cheaper rates. Once you have shopped enough for the variety of handicrafts and even freshly prepared jams from Bara Bazaar, you can be satisfied about having purchased the specialties of Nainital. Nainital is also famous for handmade candles, home-made jams, squashes, juice concentrates and fruit preservatives. One can buy all this and more from authentic shops in Bara Bazaar, The Mall Road, Bhotia Bazaar and Mallitaal. One can also buy fresh Cherries, Apples, Strawberries, Mulberries, Peaches and Blueberries.
The Tibetan Market runs along the famous Naini lake of Nainital. This market is a shopper’s delight, for you can shop for a variety of items under one roof. Scarves, shawls, woolen clothing, Himalayan bags, junk jewellery, watches and much more are available in the Tibetan Market.
The weather is very pleasant throughout the year except during in winter months. The temperature is not very high 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 months of January to March are marked by the snowfall which is for a very short time. Average rainfall is 1407 mm. Nainital offeres snowfall to visitors between December and February months.People, from the plains, flock to Nainital in December, to view the first snowfall of the season. Till February, Nainital continues to witness fresh spurts of snowfall. Summer days is the best time for visitors to visit Nainital and its beautiful lake, hills is to visit during the months beginning from April to end of the October. Have a memorable trip………….