Nainital is a beautiful hill station located in the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand. Two wandering souls, a sugar trader and his hunter friend, got lost in the hills while hunting, and found a beautiful place surrounding a divine lake. P Barron, the sugar trader, was left mesmerized by the beauty of the place and he set up the first European colony in the 18th century – this was the birth of the hill station of Nainital.
A tourist attraction since many decades, the lake city of Nainital in Uttrakhand still holds a special place in the hearts of all mountain lovers. Popular in the 1980s and the 90s as a filming destination, the charm of the Nainital in the days of yore is immortalized in Bollywood classics like Kati Patang and Gumrah.
While a lot more places in the hills of India are now in vogue among tourists, Nainital continues to attract visitors like a magnet, all round the year. Read on to find what makes this city is one of the most visited tourist place of the country till today.
The Jewel in the Crown of Nainital, the Naini Lake
A feeling of elation sets in as one enters Nainital through the Tallital area – especially when visiting for the first time.
Seeing a dainty hill station surrounding a magnificent pear shaped lake will make you believe in the phrase ‘Love at First sight’! When in Nainital, a boat ride across the Naini Lake is something that cannot be missed. You can opt for a rowing boat or a boat that you can paddle on your own!
The Leisurely Strolls in the Field
We locals call the area adjacent to the Naini Lake as ‘Field’. We can spend our entire day strolling out here. Woolens, footwear, a vast array of knick knacks on sale are a common sight here.
Enjoy some tangy aam-papad and Kaafal (a Pahadi fruit) sold by the hawkers sitting here. The Naina Devi temple and other places of worship, the Tibetan Market or Bhotiya Bazar are all located in this area.
A City Where a Temple, Gurudwara and Mosque Stand Close to Each Other
Pay reverence to Naina devi, the deity after which the city was named, at the Naina Devi temple. Very near to the temple is a Gurudwara and a Mosque where believers can go and offer prayers.
A Chance to Relive Your Childhood Days
When in Nainital, a number of things will let you recreate your childhood outings with your Mom and Dad. Visit the G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo to see a variety of animals and birds.
Hop on to the ropeway to reach the Snow View – where in addition to witnessing the beautiful Himalayan ranges through telescope, one can have fun in the small amusement area setup. Here you can skate in the skating rink or do Go-carting, play video games, etc.
Short Hikes for Divine Views
A short hike to the top of China peak, also called the Naina peak, would give you a mesmerizing view of the Kumaon hills all around you. Dorothy’s seat or Tiffin Top on the top of Ayarpatta hill is another one such place that offers splendid sceneries.
Walk and Crawl through Caves
One can also visit Eco-cave gardens and experience the thrill of exploring natural caves. There are around six caves of different kinds which are safe yet exciting to explore though in monsoon they can be a bit slippery.
A Heaven for Bird Watchers
With 1200 species of birds, Uttarakhand is the state with highest diversity in birds in India. If you are an avid bird watcher or just a lover of serenity, Kilbury is your place to be. 13 kms from the main city, this place is a home to a variety of birds and act as a great picnic spot as well.
You May Shop Till You Drop
Whether it’s the Tibetan market in the ‘field’ or the shops on the Mall road, Nainital is a place that will make you go on a shopping spree. Warm woolens, apparels, junk jewellery – the list goes on. One of the must buy souvenirs in Nainital are the beautifully crafted candles and pine cone handicrafts.
Plenty of Treats for Your Tummy
Being a popular tourist destination, Nainital has a number of places where you can eat to your heart’s content. The Machan restaurant on the Mall road often has a waiting line, given its fame for non-vegetarian delicacies.
There are a good number of vegetarian places as well. Sakley is the oldest bakery in the town – do indulge in the molten chocolate truffle pastry here. For hot piping Momos, walk till the far end of the Tibetan market- Sonam’s momos are a must have when you are in this area.
Smaller Unexplored but Enchanting Destinations Nearby
Once you are done exploring the main city, you may drive to Pangot through Kilbury for bird watching and stay at one of the quaint guest houses here. Or explore the quieter lake towns of Sattal, Naukichiyatal or Bhimtal in Nainital district.
Despite bustling with tourists, Nainital is a place that has something to offer for everyone – it’s a perfect get away when you want to spend some time in the hills with your family or friends.
While the city has definitely changed a lot since its Kati Patang days, the place has an undying charm and infectious energy that make every moment spent here worthwhile!
Nainital is a one hour drive from Kathgodam, the nearest rail head. One can quite easily get share cabs and buses from Kathgodam and is connected to Delhi by three trains that run daily, also there multiple bus operators running comfortable overnight buses between the two places.