Nainital: The lake city
January 1, 1970
About the city
Nainital is a small yet renowned hill station situated in the Kumaon region of the outer Himalayan range in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is very often referred to as Nainital: the lake city because of its scenic turquoise color lake that attracts an influx of thousands of tourists throughout the year. It is ideal as a weekend getaway and can be covered in a span of 2-3 days. Swimming is prohibited in the lake due to its depth and the danger it posses of possible drowning accidents however hiring boats (canoeing) for a full or half round of the entire lake is a favorite activity among the tourists. Private sail boats can also be hired but is subjected to their availability.
A plethora of shops, shacks and eateries have established around the lake which is called as the Mall road/Mallital. It also happens to be the most well known location in the city. Thus, always keep this in mind while making hotel reservations.
It is Ideal for Couples, Student groups, Families with kids and Foreigners.
How to reach here?
Take an ordinary or air conditioned Uttarakhand Roadways bus from ISBT Anand vihar, New delhi heading towards Haldwani, Uttarakhand. Haldwani is merely 45 km away from Nainital.
Then take another bus from Haldwani bus station to Nainital (its economical but slow) or hire a cab from Haldwani Taxi stand to Nainital. (Hiring rates depend upon the season of visit)
Nearest railway station is Kathgodam. It is 41 km from Nainital.
The nearest airport is in Pantnagar. Which is 72 km from Nainital
Best time to visit
Although Nainital enjoys an influx of tourists through out the year yet warm months of March and April, autumn months of October, November and chilly months of December and January are particularly considered as the best months to visit this city.
Christmas and New year celebrations are the most sought after events in this city during which finding an accommodation becomes a tedious task. Specially because it also snows at times during December and January which transforms this city into a winter wonderland. So if you are planing a visit during this time of the year, please book in advance.
Things to do
It is the most attractive activity to do when in Nainital due to the easy availability of boats to hire and their economical prices. A full round of the lake will cost only about Rs. 290 and half a round Rs. 150. One can also hire paddle boats which are to be paddled by the user and are a cheaper substitute to canoeing. So, if you are fit enough to paddle then definitely go for it.
Visit ‘The Flatts’-
It is a large ground locally called as the Flatts that hosts recreational activities through out the year. It hosts sports tournaments and cultural activities, the entry to which is always free. The Flatts are visible on the left as soon as we reach the end of the Mall road. Its super easy to get here. One can sit and enjoy a good match of cricket or football on most days.
In the recent years the city has witnessed growth in adventure camping enthusiasts, leading to set up of camping sites around the city. They offer hiking trails and camping facilities to tourists. High mountain trekking is one such camping site. They also offer other recreational activities on the camping site. The hike can be categorized as simple/moderate on the difficulty scale. The route has small patches of grassland on the way to the camp site which is refreshing to gaze upon. The camping facility is impeccable as they have arranged for sturdy tents and washroom facilities in the middle of nowhere. Visit their website for more information. http://www.hmtrekkingcamp.com/en-gb/
Cable car/ Rope-way-
An operating cable car works between 10 AM to 4 PM that transports you from the city (Cable car stand, Mallital) to Snow view point. Its a 1.8 km/9 minute to and fro ride. The entry is ticket based and allows the ticket holder to explore the view point for two hours after which the descend is mandatory. It is a must do activity as it allows an aerial view of the lake while ascending and descending from the rope-way.
Mall road/Mallital has local handicraft selling stores and shacks. Don’t forget to grab some candles as souvenirs. The city also has a local Tibetian/Bhotia market at the northern end of the lake. Visit ‘The Pahadi Store’ for some delightful and local souvenirs. Purchasing wooden handicraft items, locally made apple, peach and kiwi pickle, fruit squash juices and woolen pullover and muffler hand knitted by local women of Uttrakhand not only solves the problem of collecting souvenirs but also support the self help groups and small scale industries set up for the welfare of these women. Always buy local.
Places to visit
Naina devi temple-
situated in the northern side of the lake Naini is the very famous temple of Goddess Naini Devi that can be accessed from Tibetan/Bhotia market. This temple has a fantastic location from which the lake can be viewed unhindered and is also a tourist favorite spot to click photographs. One can also feed the fishes in the lake as the temple is situated at the edge of it. After being done with the temple visit, instead of waking back into the Tibetan market one can take a left from the temple’s exit and walk towards Tallital/Thandi sadak. This is the road that runs parallel to Mall Road/Mallital but is comparatively quieter because it does not have a market.This road is used by localities for taking a stroll every now and then away from the hustle bustle of Mallital. This road finally ends at the Nainital Bus Station where it meets the Mallital road.
High altitude zoo-
Visit this High altitude zoo situated at 2100 meters making it favorable for many endangered fauna species. The zoo is closed on Mondays but can be accessed on all other days. It is well connected by the road and shared taxi/ zoo shuttle bus / hiking to the zoo are some common means to reach there as private vehicles are not allowed in the Zoo. Make sure to spot a Himalayan Monal once in the zoo as this beautiful bird is the State Bird of Uttarakhand.
The Governer house-
It is British Era building which is now functional as the residence of the Governor of Uttarakhand. It is open for public to visit on all days except Sunday and other National Holidays.
It is a famous Bird watching route/ Picnic spot 15 km away from the city. Hire a cab or take a shared taxi to be transported into this bird watchers paradise harboring 580 species of birds living in the forest. There is also a bird reserve called Naina Devi Bird Reserve famous for various bird species. Kilbury is away from the main city and is best suited for peace lovers. There are a couple of hotels and guest houses here and one of the vantage point of staying here is that it offers the best view of the lake. The shape of the lake appears similar to that of a Mango (Yes! the fruit). Thus, if distance is not an issue it is highly recommended to stay here.
Eco cave gardens-
If you have children on board this place is a must. It is an educational tour comprising of many naturally inter-connected caves of various animals that educate about the natural habitat of Bats, Tigers, Panther, Flying Fox etc. The entry is ticket based.
It is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the monkey god from the epic of Ramayana. It is also famous as a sunset point from where sunset and winter line can be easily seen over the Himalayas. It is 3.5 km away from Nainital bus station. Monkeys here are always on the prowl so make sure to keep any sort of eye wear (sunglasses and spectacles), head wear (caps and hats) and packets of chips inside your bags as they tend to snatch away these items.
Places near Nainital
There are a number of other tourist attractions just around the corner from Nainital. It is highly recommended to also visit the areas nearby this city to make the experience even more richer and fuller.
This is an another lake town situated at a mere distance of 21 km from Nainital. Bhimtal is a hit among the tourists interested in Paragliding, Kayaking, Zorbing ball and other sky and water activities. Take a local bus from Nainital Bus Station heading towards Bhimtal or hire a cab to reach here.
It is a Hanuman temple and Ashram established by a religious saint called Neem Karoli Baba. This Ashram has been visited by eminent personalities like former Apple CEO late Steve Jobs and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It is just a 18.6 km ride away from Nainital. Take a bus from Nainital Bus Station heading towards Almora and ask the bus conductor to let you down at Kaichi Dham.
It is a network of seven mysteriously interconnected lakes that have not been commercialized yet. The location is quieter and peaceful in comparison to its counterparts. It is 22 km away from Nainital and highly suitable for solo travelers in search of tranquility. Visit during Summer or monsoon months for best experience. Bus service in this location is not active therefore hiring a taxi is must.
It is a lesser known hill station that is gaining popularity among the travelers. It was established by the Britishers as a Research and Training institute in the 1800’s. This small hill station is tucked away in the laps of Kumaon Himalayas surrounded by fruit orchards and conifers which makes it look like a movie scene straight out of the movie ‘Twilight’. Apart from being bejeweled from pristine natural beauty it also offers a plethora of fun and adventurous activities which can be easily done without any prior bookings. Bus service in this location is not active therefore hiring a taxi is must.