WEEKEND GATEWAYS FROM DELHI: Nainital (Uttarakhand)
“Misty lakes and mountains”
Overview: Nainital Tourism
One of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Uttarakhand, Nainital, which is nestled amidst the Kumaon Hills, is a quaint hill station built around a uniquely shaped lake known as the ‘Naini Lake’ (thus contributing to its name Nainital). Also famously known as ‘City of Lakes,’ Nainital abounds in natural beauty, with its snow-capped hills and tranquil lakes lending it a nostalgic charm of its own. Situated at an altitude of 1938 km above sea level, Nainital has a pleasant climate all year round, and can rightfully be called a picturesque paradise for all travel lovers.
Whether you’re going for the weather, the lakes, the adventure, the food, or even the shopping, Nainital has something for every tourist. The Naini Lake flows through the heart of the city and is a popular spot for various activities such as paddle boating and row boating. Other lakes that you can visit are the Sariyatal Lake, Bhimtal Lake, and Khurpatal Lake. Even if you don’t want to go on a boat ride, you can simply take a walk along the promenade on the banks, and you will still be able to enjoy the ethereal beauty of the lakes. Owing to its gorgeous landscape, Nainital has quite a few hilltops that offer extraordinary vistas of the city and its surrounding regions to visitors. These include Naina Peak, Tiffin Top, and Snow View Point, all of which are very popular tourist spots.
Places to Visit:
Eco Cave Gardens:
Famous for its inter-connected rocky caves, hanging gardens, and the musical fountain, the Eco Garden is a set of six small caves in the shape of various animals. In the evenings, you can see the spectacle of the musical fountain with various audio-video effects.
Nestled amidst the township of Nainital, Naini Lake is a beautiful natural fresh body lake. The lake is in crescent or kidney shape and is one of the famous lakes of the Kumaon region. Bounded by Naini Peak on North West, Tiffin Point on the South West, and snow-capped peaks on the north, the lake offers a breathtaking view, especially during early morning and sunset. Coniferous trees that cover the hillside add charm to the raw beauty of the place. One can also visit Naini Temple on the shores of the lake. A pretty lake that once a European man fell in love with, Naini Lake today serves as a major tourist spot for people from all over the country.
The Naini Lake is a charming beauty that is surrounded by seven different peaks namely Ayarpata, Deopata, HandiBandi, Cheena Peak, Alma, LariaKanta, and SherKaDanda. The lake itself can be divided into two distinct sections, the northern part called Mallital and the southern region called Tallital. Naini Lake is most famous for its wonderful scenic beauty which is a hotspot for family picnics. Boating, long evening walks, and endearing interactions with ducks are some of the things that are a must-do whilst visiting this glittering lake. You can also seek the blessings of Goddess Naina Devi at the Naina Devi temple which is also situated near the Naini Lake.
Naina Devi Temple:
Regarded and revered as one of the fifty-one Shakti Peeths that are located all across India, the Naina Devi Temple is a holy site that is situated on the northern shore of Naini Lake, in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. This temple is one of the most renowned places of Hindu worship all over the country. Dedicated to Devi Sati’s eyes, devotees from all parts of India flock to this region in huge numbers all year round.
The temple was built in the 15 A.D. while the idol of Naina Devi was installed in the temple in 1842 by a devotee of the goddess named Moti Ram Shah. Unfortunately, the temple got demolished in 1880 due to massive landslides. It was then rebuilt again in 1883 by the local inhabitants of the area. This shows their immense faith in the goddess as well as their firm belief in their religion and values. The presiding deity of the Naina Devi Temple is MaaNaina Devi or Mata Sati. According to Hindu mythology, the temple is built on the exact spot where Goddess Sati’s eyes fell on the Earth after Lord Shiva carried her charred body after taking it out from the fire of the yajna that was performed by Sati’s father- Daksha.
Inside the Naina Devi Temple, you will find the two eyes on the roof, depicting the Goddess Naina Devi, placed in the center; with the statues of Goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha surrounding it. It would be interesting to note that the city of Nainital got its name from the temple of Naina Devi only. As you climb the hill to reach the temple, various shops selling prasad and other essential puja items will greet you on the way. Considered to be extremely pristine and sacred by the devotees, the venerated temple is a must-visit on your next trip to Nainital.
Snow View Point:
Snow View Point in Nainital stands at a dizzying altitude of 2270 meters above sea level and is hands down, one of the most attractive tourist spots of the area. As the name suggests, Snow View Point offers a panoramic view of the mighty Himalayas draped in a blanket of milk-white snow. Enveloped in cotton clouds, the peaks of these mountains ranges pierce the sky and are enlightened with shafts of sun rays that make the snow sparkle with joy. A single glance at the mesmerizing Himalayas is sure to lift your spirits as nothing else will.
One can see a picturesque view of all three important peaks- Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Nanda Kot peaks together from this point. Known as the daughter of the Himalayas, Nanda Devi (7816 m) is a two-peaked massif- eastern summit Sunanda and western summit Nanda, and is the second-highest peak in India. The Trishul peak (7120 m) is the highest of a group of three mountain peaks that resemble the structure of a trident and hence, is named so. The Nanda Kot peak (6861 m) means Nanda’s fortress. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, Goddess Parvati has made her sanctuary in this peak making it her sacred abode.
A huge pair of binoculars has been installed at the Snow View Point that allows you to take a closer look at the Himalayan range and its magical peaks. If you look closer, you will find a small temple housing the images of Ram, Sita, Laxman, Hanuman with Durga and Shiva. An aerial cable car connects you to the Snow View Point directly from the Mall Road of Mallital and shows you a spectacular view of the beautiful town.
Tiffin Top (Dorothy’s Seat):
Located in Ayarpatta Hill of Himachal Pradesh, Tiffin Top is a very famous tourist attraction in Nainital. A fantastic picnic spot in its own right, one gets a complete view of the town of Nainital and its surrounding hills in the Kumaon region from this location. Its serene and peaceful environment makes it irresistible to the photographers. Those who love nature’s beauty must not miss out on this vacation spot. Adventure activities such as rappelling and rock climbing are conducted in Tiffin Top as well.
The attraction got its name as Tiffin Top after people started to have lunch on top of the hill on Dorothy’s Seat. Tiffin Top is also called Dorothy’s Seat because it was constructed in the loving memory of the English artist named Dorothy Kellett by the army officer Col J.P. Kellett. The officer lost his wife Dorothy whilst she was aboard a ship to be with her four children. She was buried in the Red Sea in the year 1936. The beautiful Tiffin Top is surrounded by trees of Cher, Oak, and Deodar. Naini Lake and Kumaon Hills look lovely when seen from here. On clearer days, one can also get hold of the majestic view of Nanda Devi.
NeemKaroli Baba Ashram:
The NeemKaroli Baba Ashram is a quaint little ashram that is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttaranchal. Situated at the height of 1400 meters above the sea level, this modern pilgrim center has been built in dedication to Shri NeemKaroli Baba Maharaj Ji, a saint who is well known not only across the country but rather all over the world. This Hindu guru was a devotee of Lord Hanuman and is reputed to have performed many miracles throughout his life.
The ashram serves as the perfect image of silence and solitude, for it is tucked away in the foothills, with lush greenery surrounding it. There are not even telephone lines surrounding the temple, which means that devotees cannot be disturbed by the outside world in any way and continue with their devotion and meditation undeterred. Devotees can even stay at this ashram, which is an altogether different and solemn experience that is hard to put into words. Of course, these devotees are expected to partake in the morning and evening rituals of the ashram without fail, but they gladly do so. A visit to the NeemKaroli Baba Ashram thus is a must, not only for staunch devotees of MaharajJi but for any and everyone who wishes to spend a day in peace and silence.
- The Mall Road
- Naina Peak
- Governor’s House
- High Altitude zoo
Events in Nainital:
Snowfall Season December-January
Nainital is a year-round destination, however, if you want to enjoy the beautiful misty surroundings with snowfall, December to January is a good time to visit.
Best time to visit in Nainital:
- March to June is a good time to Visit Nainital in Summer
- October to February is a good time to Visit Nainital in Winter
- July to September is a good time to Visit Nainital in Monsoon.
How to Reach:
How to Reach Nainital by Flight
There is no direct connectivity to Nainital by air. The nearest station is in Pantnagar, some 65 km. away from the district. However, unless you opt for privately chartered flights, this is not the ideal arrival spot either.
Nearest Airport: Dehradun – 173 km from Nainital
How to Reach Nainital by Road
The only way Nainital is actively connected to the rest of the world is through the roadways. Regular bus services, whether based in Uttarakhand or interstate, connect Nainital to the rest of India. Shared radio cabs and taxis are also available, depending upon your budget.
How to Reach Nainital by Train
The nearest railway station for Nainital is Kathgodam, which is some 35 km. away from the town of Nainital. Regular bus services connect Kathgodam and Nainital well.