Nestling in the Kumaon foothills of the outer Himalayan Mountain Range at an altitude of 6,358 ft in the state of Uttarakhand in India is the magnificent hill station of Nainital which has earned the sobriquet of ‘Lake District’ of India. Tallital and Mallital make up the 2 regions of Nainital with Lake Nainital in between them. The Nainital Yacht Club promotes yachting in Lake Nainital by holding national & zonal races here. Swimming, canoeing and kayaking are also popular in Lake Nainital. Parasailing, hot air ballooning, golfing, hockey, football, cricket, boxing, mountaineering and rock climbing are some other popular sports.
Fairs and Festivals
Some of the important festivals observed include Sankranti, Basant Panchami, Shiv Ratri, Holi, Samvatsar Parwa, Ram Navami, Dashra, Batsavitri, Rakshabandhan, Janmastmi, Nandastmi and Deepawali.
The Uttaraini Mela is held at Chitrashila near Ranibag on Makar Sankranti Day (approximately 14th January by the Gregorian Calendar). A festival is held near Budhansthli In the month of May on Buddha Purnima Day. The Harela Mela is observed in Bhimtal on 16th or 17th of July. The Somnath Fair is held in Kakrighat on the last Monday of Baishakh. Kartik Purnima is observed in Garjia in November. Nandashtami Festival is held at Naina Devi Temple.
Here are some of the major attractions of Nainital.
1. Nainital Lake
The kidney or pear shaped freshwater Nainital Lake bewitches one with its beauty. Nainital Lake is surrounded by 7 hills perfectly mirrored in the lake, namely Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi Bandi, Cheena, Alma, Laria Kanta and Sher-ka-Danda. Mallital is at the northern end of the lake and Tallital at the southern end. A bridge connects the two parts with a post office on it. Depth of the lake ranges from 6 m to 28 m. Oak trees, horse chestnut trees, walnut trees, pine trees and ash trees grow in the lake region. Recreational activities for tourists include yachting, boating and paddling.
2. Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo
Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo is situated about 1 km away from the bus stand at Nainital at an altitude of 2100 m. Interesting wildlife like monkeys, Himalayan black bears, leopards, Siberian tigers, palm civet Cats, wolves, silver pheasants, rose ringed parakeets, hill foxes, barking deer and sambhar are found here.
3. The Mall Road
The Mall Road or Govind Ballabh Pant Marg has a string of shops, hotels, restaurants and banks on it. Mallital and Tallital are connected by this road. Traffic is closed on the Mall Road during summer from 6 pm to 9 pm to enable people enjoy a refreshing walk in the evening.
4. The Flats
Used for cultural and sports activities, The Flats is an area situated at the northern part of Nainital Lake. Located here are the markets like Chat Bazaar and Bhotia Market. You can also see a water fountain, band stand and a roller skating rink here.
5. Aerial Ropeway
Connecting Nainital at the Flats region with Snow View Point at an altitude of 2,270 m is the aerial ropeway or cable car. The starting point for the ropeway is Mallital. One can have enchanting panoramic views of Nainital Lake and Nainital town from the cable car.
6. Governor’s House
Raj Bhavan or the Governor’s House is a vast 2 storied building with 113 rooms. The architecture is Victorian Gothic domestic style based on that of Buckingham Palace. Governor’s House features a beautiful garden, golf links and a swimming pool. Some of the interesting places to see here include Jhandidhar, Modi Heights and Munshi heights.
7. Caves Garden
About 1 km from Mallital, Caves Garden is in Sukha Tal and very close to Kumaon University campus. There are 6 small caves here. The caves are in the form of a tiger, panther, bat, squirrel, flying fox and ape. They are so small that one has to crawl through them.
8. Hanuman Garhi
Situated at an altitude of 6,401 ft, Hanuman Garhi is a temple complex dedicated to Hanuman, Ram and Shiv. A taxi, bus or a brisk walk will reach one to Hanuman Garhi which is at a distance of 3.5 km from the bus stop. One can have a marvelous view of the setting sun from here. Shitala Devi Temple and Lila Sah Bapu Ashram are located on the other side of the hill.
9. Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES)
Located on Mount Manora, Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) is about 9 km by road from Nainital and 1 km from Hanuman Garhi. It specializes in astronomical studies and optical tracking of artificial satellites. Visitors can watch heavenly objects through the telescopes on clear nights.
10. Snow View Point
Situated at an altitude of 7,448 ft on the Sher-ka-danda Ridge is the scenic Snow View Point at a distance of 2.5 km from Nainital. One can reach this place via the aerial ropeway (cable car) or a motorable road. Magnificent views of the surrounding mountains including Nanda Devi, Trisul and Nanda Kot can be had from here.
11. Naina Peak
Standing at an altitude of 2,611 m, Naina Peak or the China Peak is the highest peak in Nainital. Hired ponies or horses from Snow View Point or from Mallital will reach one to Naina Peak which is about 6 km from Nainital. Apart from a bird’s eye view of Nainital, this peak offers heart stopping views of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains including Bandar Punch in the west and Api and Nari Mountains in the east.
12. Lands End
Driving from Nainital to Barapathar and then walking about 1 km leads one to Lands End. It is at a distance of 4 km from Nainital and at an altitude of 2,118 m. Lands End offers stunning views of the hills, valley and the Khurpatal Lake.
13. Dorothy Seat & Tiffin Top
Dorothy Seat and Tiffin Top is about 4 km from Nainital at an altitude of 2,292 m or 7,520 ft on the Ayarpatta Hill. Dorothy Seat is a stone picnic perch built as a memorial to an English lady painter, Dorothy Kellet. One can have a panoramic view of the snow covered Himalayas and the surrounding country side from Tiffin Top.
14. Khurpa Tal Lake
Khurpa Tal meaning Trowel Lake, is about 10 km from Nainital at an altitude of 5,364 ft. This beautiful lake is surrounded by terraced fields.
Connected by a motorable road, Kilbury is at a distance of 10 km from Nainital at an altitude of 2,194 m. Away from the daily hustle bustle, Kilbury is one of the best places to unwind. A forest rest house for night stay is available for the convenience of the visitors.
The picturesque road junction of Bhowali is about 11 km from Nainital and an altitude of 1,706 m. It affords stunning views of the surroundings. There is a fruit market and a TB sanatorium here.
Situated 3 km from Bhowali and at an altitude of 2,000 m is the scenic place of Ghorakhal, meaning pond to water horses. It is well known for the Lord Golu Temple. The Army School is close by.
18. Sat Tal Lake
Sat Tal Lake or the Seven Lakes comprising a cluster of 7 magnificent lakes in the middle of an oak forest is situated about 23 km from Nainital at an altitude of 1,370 m or 4,495 ft above sea level. The first of the lake cluster is an old Nal Damyanti Lake. The other beautiful lakes are Panna Lake or the Garude Lake, Ram Lake, Laxman Lake and Sita Lake. The ashram of Stanley Johns, an American Missionary, is nearby.
19. Kainchi Dham
The pilgrim centre of Kainchi Dham is about 9 km from Bhowali and 17 km from Nainital on the Nainital-Almora Road. The renowned Neem Karoli Maharaj Ashram is located here.
20. Bhimtal Lake
Situated at an altitude of 1,370 m, the bewitching Bhimtal Lake is home to a number of aquatic species. It is at a distance of 22 km from Nainital and 11 km from Bhowali. Interested folks can have a recreational boating here. The lake has an island with an aquarium on it. Also located here is the Bhimeshwar Temple complex dating back to the 17th century.
21. Naukuchia Tal Lake
Magnificent Naukuchia Tal (Nine Cornered Lake) is at a distance of 26 km from Nainital and 4 km from Bhimtal. Situated at an altitude of 1,220 m., the lake is 983 m long, 693 m broad and 40.3 m deep. Bird lovers will make the most out of a visit to this lake. Rowing, paddling and yachting are also available here.
Situated 51 km from Nainital at an altitude of 7,500 ft is the enchanting place of Mukteshwar. Surrounded by fruit orchards and dense coniferous forests, Mukteshwar offers stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains. The Indian Veterinary Research Institute and an ancient Shiv Temple are located here.
23. Binsar Hill
Located about 95 km from Nainital at an altitude of 2,412 meters, Binsar Hill (or Jhandi Dhar) has a temple dedicated to Shiv called Bineswar Temple. This enchanting place features ferns, hanging moss and several species of wild flowers. One encounters oak and rhododendron forests on the way to the top of the hill. Panoramic views of the Himalayas and the surrounding valley can be had from here.
The historical town of Baijnath, known for several 12th and 13th century temples, is 19 km from Kasauni. The renowned Shiv Vaidyanath Temple dates back to the 13th century and houses the statues of Ganga and Yamuna, the image of Surya, the Sun God and Shiv Vaidyanath Lingam. The temple features graceful balcony windows and exquisite carvings.
Jageshwar is situated at 105 km from Nainital on the Almora-Pithoragarh road. There is a Shiv temple complex here within thick Deodar forests. The temple complex has 124 shrines and many exquisitely carved statues. A fair is held in the months of July and August bringing devotees from several places to this temple.
26. Jim Corbett National Park
Sprawling over an area of 521 square km, the beautiful Jim Corbett National Park is situated at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Ramnagar in the district of Nainital. Jeep and elephant safari offers convenient means of exploring this charming park.
Jim Corbett National Park features 33 species of grass and bamboo, 110 species of trees and 51 species of shrubs. It is home to wonderful animals like Royal Bengal Tigers, jungle cats, fishing cats, leopard cats, black bucks, chital, sloth bears, Himalayan black bears, Indian grey mongooses, otters, goat antelopes, Indian pangolins, langurs and rhesus monkeys.
27. The Church of St. John in the Wilderness
The Church of St. John in the Wilderness is towards the northern part of Nainital at Mallital and about 1/2 a mile north-west of the Naina Devi Temple. The names of the landslip victims of 1880 are inscribed on a brass plaque placed on the altar.
Ranikhet or Queens Meadow is a charming hill station at an altitude of 1,829 m. It is about 60 km from Nainital. Interesting places to visit include Chaubatia Gardens known for its orchards, Majkhali village with picturesque views and Upat with a 9 hole golf course. The resort of Sitlakhet situated on the Syahi Devi Hill is another attraction. The Kafni Glacier at an altitude of 3,870 m near the Sitlakhet resort is a must visit. The renowned Jhoola Devi Temple is about 7 km from Ranikhet.
Situated at an altitude of 1,890 and at a distance of 117 km from Nainital, Kausani hill station was described as India’s Switzerland by Mahatma Gandhi. Covered with fruit orchards and pine forests, Kasauni is a beautiful place to visit.
Location: Nainital is located in the Kumaon foothills of the outer Himalayan Mountain Range in the state of Uttarakhand in India.
Altitude: Nainital is situated at an altitude of 6,358 ft or 1,938 m.
Climate: Summer temperature ranges from 10°C to 27°C and winter temperature from 3°C to 15°C. Average annual rainfall is 44 in. or 110 cm. Snow falls from December to February. Have light woolen and tropical clothing in summer and heavy woolen clothing in autumn and winter.
Best Time to Travel: March to June, September to November and December to January is the best time to visit Nainital.
Accommodation: Luxury hotels, budget hotels, government guest houses, resorts and lodges are available.
By Flight: Pantnagar Airport at a distance of 65 km is the nearest airport to Nainital. Travel time from Pantnagar Airport to Nainital is about 2 hours.
By Train:Kathgodam at a distance of 35 km is the nearest railway station to Nainital. Haldwani at a distance of 40 km and Lalkuwan at a distance of 56 km are the 2 other nearest railway stations. One can take a taxi or bus from Kathgodam and Haldwani to reach Nainital.
By Road: Nainital has a good road network connecting major cities and towns in Northern India. The distance from Nainital to Almora is 62 km, to Agra is 379 km, to Delhi is 277 km, to Kausani is 117 km, to Ranikhet is 60 km and to Bareilly is 141 km. There are daily buses from Delhi to Nainital. Driving from Delhi to Nainital on NH 24 and NH 87 takes about 8 hours.