Nainital: the town of lakes

According to Hindu legend when the body of Shiva's consort, Sati, was dismembered, one of her eyeballs fell into the Himalayan foothills and the emerald green Naini Lake (or Tal) was formed. There is no denying that Nainital is unbelievably beautiful.

Nainital : a brief introduction
This renowned hill station is one of the most important tourist spot of the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal. Its altitude is 6343 feet (1934 mtr), roughly the same as that of Mussoorie (2003 mtr). It has got its name from the Naini lake. Tal in hindi means lake. This emerald green lake is said to resemble the eye of sati, the wife of Shiva. Nainital was once known as Chakta, meaning a city of 60 lakes. But most of the lakes in the area have vanished and only few bigger one remains. The city as of today is the head quarter of the Nainital district. The high court of Uttaranchal is located here. It was an important military station during the Brtitish reign. It was the summer capital of the Government of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh and also the head quarter of the Eastern Military Command. Lord Barron discovered it around 1840. The best time to be here is either in summer or during November.

How to reach there:
There are several ways to reach Nainital. Nainital is well connected by road to other parts of the country. You can reach Nainital by road from Delhi, Lucknow, Agra and Bareilly. If you are traveling by road from Delhi, then state roadways buses starts from ISBT at Anand Vihar. There are two daily trains to Kathgodam, the nearest railhead. Nainital is just 34 kms from Kathgodam by road. It takes about an hour or so to reach Nainital from Kathgodam.  Pant Nagar is the nearest airport, which is 71 kilometres from Nainital. From Pant Nagar one can hire a taxi or take a bus.

Local sightseeing at Nainital:

The Naini Lake:
The main attraction of Nainital is the lake and the mall road. A boat ride in the lake is almost unavoidable when in Nainital. Boats in every size and shape are available for an enjoyable ride. You can catch a boat from any of the many boarding points. To make the ride more enjoyable without any effort, we hired a shikara type boat with rowman. So, we did not have to row or pedal for the half an hour ride. Here again you can bargain for rates because there is fierce competition. Boats trips are available for half trip (for covering only half of the lake) or full trip. We enjoyed full trip for Rs.80/- per boat. On the northern side of the Naini lake is built a temple dedicated to Sati and is called the Naina Devi temple.

The Mall:
The mall road in Nainital is unique. One call strolls on the mall road or can take a man pulled rickshaw. There is an organized system of ricksaws. You need to buy tickets of 5 bucks each for hiring a rickshaw. So, you do not become a victim of fighting of rickshaw pullers. There are few shops on the mall for souvenir shopping. But the main attraction is a bhutia market located on the field next to the lake. This place is called Mallital. What one should look to buy here is designer candles. These candles serve as a good souvenir.

Cave garden:
We had hired a cab for 400 bucks for local sightseeing. The hotels arranged it. This would spare us the headache of driving in an unknown hilly place. The cab took us first to the Cave Garden. To our surprise this spot is located on the road we had traveled from Kaladhungi.

This is a cluster of 5 underground caves. We started with the Tiger Cave. It was the easiest to get in and out. Then we got into Panther Cave. Getting in out got harder. After Panther Cave we move towards third cave named Porcupine Cave. It was the hardest to get in and out. I have read that there are 5 caves. But I could found only these three.

Later, when you emerge back into the world of today, you can relax in the hilltop-garden, surrounded on all sides by the lush green hills, from where you have an un-interrupted view of four peaks that stand as sentinels over this beautiful resort town. Aesthetically designed to give you a glimpse of the hill-culture of this region.

Himalaya Darshan Point:
The cab then took us to the Himalaya Darshan Point. There is nothing to boast about this spot. But on way to this point you get another point from where the Naini lake looks like a mango. This is the point from where you get a complete view of the lake.

Lovers Point:
The cab then took us to Lovers Point. The view was magnificent from this point. This is the point from where you get horses for going to Tiffin Top. These horses earlier operate from Mallital near the lake. But the horse dung was polluting the lake and beauty of the mall. So the high court had to step in and pushed them this higher. Someone told us, that there were huge protests, even violent protests, from horse owner when this order was implemented. The rate for a horse was 175 bucks for the trip to Tiffin Top and few other spots. It is easy to get fooled by the talk of the horse owner and get to believe that you will be taken to many points. But the truth is that, they will actually take you to two points --- one from where you get a view of the Khurpa Tal and the second is Tiffin Top. All other points are worthless spots that lie on these routes. They would just stop en-route and tell you the name of that spot.

Tiffin Top:
After traveling for about half an hour, we reached Tifin Top. With an altitude of 2352 meter (about 7710 feet), it is the second highest point of Nainital. It provides a majestic view of the Nainital town and the lake. What impressed me is the view you get of the thick lush green cover of pine trees down below. There are few tea / snack stalls here. The descend to Mallital started here. Tiffin Top also know as Dorothy's seat.

Well, that concludes the local sightseeing. Considering the distances we were actually driven, I felt that the 400 bucks we paid for the cab was a bit high. He hardly drove 15 km. One should try to bargain for 300 bucks. 

We also enquired about the rate for going to Bhimtal and Naukochiyatal. For this roundtrip of about 70 km, the cab quoted 800 bucks. If you are traveling to Kausani then, try visiting these two lakes en-route. 

Corbett National Park:
The Corbett National park wasn't just the home of tigers, You may get to see, panthers, wild elephants, chital, pythons, wild boar, jackals, fish-eagles etc. This enormous patch of wilderness were brought down by a hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett. The park shuts down for the monsoon between June 15 and September 15 and roads in and out of the park become flooded. Every visitor to the Park has to obtain an entry permit as well as pay for accommodation in the park. The only place to stay inside the park is Dhikala which is a fortified camp and getting there is difficult without your own transport. Once there they do dusk/dawn elephant rides into the park.

Nainital Zoo:
Nainital Zoo is among the very well maintained Zoos in India. It is situated in the hills of Sher ka Danda at about 1 km. from Tallital Bus Station at an elevation of 2100 meters above sea level and connected by motorable road. This high altitude zoo serving habitat to :

-  Snow Leopard
-  Himalayan Black Bear
-  Barking Deer 
-  Sambhar Deer
-  Palm Civet Cat
-  Wolf
-  Silver Pheasants
-  Hill Fox

-  White Peacock

Entry fee :- Adults Rs 25, Children Rs 10 
Camera fee :- Rs 25 Fees
Professional Video Camera Rs. 200.00

Students get free entry on World Environment Day, Zoo Foundation Day, Ozone Day and during Wild Life Week.

Timings :- 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Please Note :- The Nainital Zoo remains closed on Mondays and on all National Holidays.

Before concluding, I must say the only way to enjoy Nainital is to walk. The best time to be Nainital is in November when the chinar leaves turn yellow giving a different look to the area. Or, go there during summer, which is the peak season. To make the trip more interesting one should look forward to go beyond Nainital – to places like Kausani or Binsar.


  1. nice & informative content !!
    here are some more information about Nainital & other hill stations of India

  2. As we all know Nainital is most beautiful place in India. Enjoy this tourist place with budget tour packages with Southern Travels.


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