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Nainital Travel Guide: Discover Lakes, Scenic views & Beyond

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Nainital- The City of Lakes

Nainital, often referred to as the “Lake District of India,” is a picturesque and popular hill station located in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. This enchanting town is nestled amidst the Kumaon Hills of the Outer Himalayas, and its primary attraction is the stunning Naini Lake. Nainital is situated at an altitude of approximately 2,084 meters (6,837 feet) above sea level, providing a cool and refreshing escape from the plains of northern India. Nainital has a rich history dating back to the British colonial era when it served as a popular summer retreat for the British. The town’s name is derived from the Naina Devi Temple, a sacred Hindu shrine dedicated to Goddess Naina Devi, which is located on the northern shore of the lake. According to legend, the eye (naina) of the goddess fell at this spot, giving the town its name.

naina lake

 

Best Time To Visit Nainital

The best month to visit Nainital can depend on your preferences and what you are looking to experience. Here is a general overview of the different seasons in Nainital:

Summer (March to June):

Summer is a popular time to visit Nainital as the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities. The temperatures range from 10°C to 27°C during these months, making it a great time for sightseeing and outdoor adventures.

Monsoon (July to September):

The monsoon season in Nainital brings heavy rainfall, which can lead to landslides and roadblocks. While the lush greenery during this time can be beautiful, it’s important to be cautious while traveling in the region during the monsoon.

Autumn (October to November):

Autumn is a lovely time to visit Nainital as the weather is cool and pleasant. The temperatures range from 3°C to 15°C, making it perfect for sightseeing and enjoying the natural beauty of the region.

Winter (December to February):

If you enjoy snowfall and winter sports like skiing, this is the best time to visit. The snow-covered landscapes create a magical atmosphere in Nainital during the winter months.

Considering all these factors, the best month to visit Nainital for most travelers is typically between March and June during the summer season when the weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy various outdoor activities comfortably. However, if you prefer snowfall and winter sports, visiting during the winter months from December to February would be ideal.

How To Reach Nainital

 

katgodam station

By Road:

Most visitors to Nainital arrive by road. The town is well-connected by a network of roads and is approximately 285 kilometers from Delhi, making it a popular weekend getaway from the capital city. As you approach Nainital by road, you’ll start to see the beautiful hills and lush greenery that characterize the region.

By Train:

The nearest railway station to Nainital is Kathgodam, which is about 34 kilometers away and then take a scenic one-hour drive to Nainital . You can take a train to Kathgodam from major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, and Lucknow, and then continue your journey to Nainital by road.

By Air: 

The nearest airport to Nainital is Pantnagar Airport, which is approximately 70 kilometers away. However, this airport has limited connectivity, and most travelers prefer to fly to the nearest major airport, which is the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, and then proceed to Nainital by road.

Accommodation In Nainital

From luxury resorts to budget friendly hotels- Nainital offers a range of accommodations. Here are some good hotels:

  • The Naini Retreat
  • Shervani Hilltop
  • The Manu Maharani Hotel, Nainital
  • V Resorts Sattal
  • Aamari Resorts
  • Bhawanipur Greens
  • Vikram Vintage Inn
  • The Pavilion
  • Hotel Himalaya

Place to visit in Nainital

1. Naini Lake:

naina lake

Naini Lake is the centerpiece and a defining feature of Nainital, a picturesque hill station in Uttarakhand, India. This beautiful lake is one of the key attractions in Nainital and is surrounded by lush green hills.

Location:

Naini Lake is located in the heart of Nainital town, in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is situated at an elevation of approximately 1,938 meters (6,358 feet) above sea level.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Naini Lake is during the summer months, from April to June, when the weather is pleasant and the town serves as a popular retreat from the scorching heat of the plains. Additionally, visiting in late September to November offers pleasant weather and clear skies.

Note:

During the winter months, Naini Lake can experience cold temperatures, and sometimes it even freezes. This period is ideal for those who enjoy the winter chill and snowfall.

2. The Mall Road:

mall road

The Mall Road in Nainital is one of the most famous and vibrant streets in the town. It’s not only a commercial hub but also a popular promenade for both locals and tourists. You’ll find numerous cafes and eateries along the Mall Road, serving a variety of cuisines, from local Kumaoni dishes to international fare. Many of these establishments offer outdoor seating with stunning views of the lake. The Mall Road provides some of the best views of Naini Lake, especially during early mornings and evenings when you can witness the changing hues of the lake and the surrounding hills. Boating on the lake is a popular activity here and You can take a horseback ride along the Mall Road and nearby areas. There are several markets and bazaars branching off from the Mall Road, such as the Tibetan Market and the Bhotia Market, where you can find unique and locally crafted items. During festivals and special occasions, the Mall Road often becomes the center of local celebrations and cultural events, providing an opportunity to experience the town’s rich traditions.

Location:

The Mall Road is situated along the northern shore of Naini Lake, one of the central attractions of Nainital. It runs parallel to the lake, offering beautiful views of the water, surrounding hills, and the Naina Devi Temple.

3. Naina Devi Temple:

naina devi temple

The Naina Devi Temple, located in Nainital, Uttarakhand, India, is a sacred Hindu shrine dedicated to Goddess Naina Devi. This temple holds significant religious and cultural importance, and it is one of the prominent attractions in Nainital. It is believed that the eyes (naina) of Goddess Sati fell at this spot while Lord Shiva was carrying her body. The exact date of the temple’s construction is not well-documented, but it is believed to have been in existence for centuries.

Location:

This Temple is situated on the northern shore of Naini Lake, in the heart of Nainital town. Its prime location provides stunning views of the lake and the surrounding hills.

4. Snow View Point:

The Snow View Point in Nainital is a popular tourist attraction that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The main highlight of the Snow View Point is the spectacular view it provides of the Himalayan mountain range. On clear days, you can see several prominent peaks, including Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Nanda Kot.

Location:

The Snow View Point is located at an altitude of approximately 2,270 meters (7,448 feet) above sea level and is situated to the west of Nainital’s town center. It’s easily accessible by road or by taking a cable car ride from Mallital.

How to Reach:

  • By Cable Car: One of the most popular ways to reach the Snow View Point is by taking a cable car ride from Mallital. The cable car, locally known as the “Aerial Express,” offers a scenic journey through the hills and forests. It’s not just a mode of transportation but also an attraction in itself.
  • By Road: If you prefer to drive, you can reach the Snow View Point by car or taxi. There’s a motorable road that leads to the viewpoint. The road may be steep and narrow in some sections, so caution is advised while driving.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit the Snow View Point is during the months of October to February when the skies are clear, and you have a higher chance of witnessing the snow-covered peaks. However, keep in mind that the weather in the Himalayas can be unpredictable, so it’s advisable to check weather conditions before planning your visit.

Note:

The Snow View Point can be quite crowded during the peak tourist season, so it’s a good idea to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds.

5. Tiffin Top (Dorothy’s Seat):

Tiffin Top, also known as Dorothy’s Seat, is a popular viewpoint and trekking destination near Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. It offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks and Nainital town.

Location:

Tiffin Top is situated at an elevation of approximately 2,292 meters (7,520 feet) above sea level, providing excellent vistas of the Nainital town, Naini Lake, and the snow-capped Himalayan mountains.

How to Reach Tiffin Top:

  • By Trek: Tiffin Top can be reached by a pleasant trek from Nainital. The trek starts from the northern end of Mall Road, near the St. Joseph’s College. It’s a moderate trek of approximately 3 kilometers, and the trail passes through dense forests and offers scenic views along the way.
  • By Horse: If you prefer not to trek, you can hire a horse or pony from the Mall Road area to reach Tiffin Top. It’s a popular option for those who want to enjoy the views without the physical effort of hiking.

Best Time to Visit:

Tiffin Top can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to experience clear views of the Himalayan peaks is during the months of October to February when the weather is cool and the skies are generally clear.

Note:

It’s advisable to check the weather conditions before heading to Tiffin Top, as fog and mist can sometimes obstruct the view, especially during the monsoon season.

6. High Altitude Zoo:

The High Altitude Zoo in Nainital, officially known as the Pt. G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo, is a renowned wildlife facility located in Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the highest zoos in the world, situated at an altitude of approximately 2,100 meters (6,900 feet) above sea level.

Location:

The High Altitude Zoo is located approximately 2 kilometers from the town center of Nainital and is nestled amidst lush greenery. Its elevated location offers visitors a combination of animal viewing and stunning views of the surrounding hills and Naini Lake.

7. Eco Cave Gardens:

Eco Cave Gardens is a popular tourist attraction located in Nainital, a picturesque hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The gardens are known for their natural rock formations and caves that have been creatively landscaped and illuminated, creating a unique and enchanting experience for visitors.

Location:

Eco Cave Gardens are situated in the Mallital area of Nainital, not far from the Naini Lake. This makes it convenient for tourists to visit both the gardens and the lake in the same trip.

  • Visiting Hours: The gardens usually have specific visiting hours, so it’s a good idea to check the opening and closing times before planning your visit.
  • Accessibility: The gardens are accessible by foot, and there are pathways and steps that lead to the caves. However, due to the rocky terrain and steps, it may not be suitable for people with mobility issues.

8. Bhimtal and Sattal:

Bhimtal and Sattal are two beautiful lakes located in the Nainital district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. They are popular tourist destinations and offer a peaceful and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. And both Bhimtal and Sattal are less crowded compared to Nainital and offer a quieter and more tranquil experience for visitors. They are great destinations for those seeking natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a peaceful escape in the lap of the Himalayas.

bhimtal

 

9. Hanuman Garhi:

hanuman ghari

Hanuman Garhi is a prominent religious site and tourist attraction located in the town of Nainital in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, a revered deity in Hinduism known for his strength, devotion, and loyalty.

10. St. John in the Wilderness Church:

St. John in the Wilderness Church is a historic and picturesque church located in Nainital, a popular hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. This church is one of the notable landmarks in Nainital and holds historical and architectural significance.

Location:

The church is situated amidst a serene and lush forested area, which adds to its unique charm. It is located about 1.5 kilometers (approximately 1 mile) from the main town of Nainital.

 Shopping

Nainital is famous for its handicrafts, woollen clothing, and local sweet.

You can find a wide range of Tibetan handicrafts, woolen clothing, jewelry, and prayer flags.
Bargaining is common here, so be prepared to haggle to get the best deals.

Bara Bazaar:

This bustling market in the heart of Nainital offers a variety of goods.
You can shop for clothes, shoes, handicrafts, souvenirs, and more.
It’s a great place to experience the local culture and shop for everyday items.

Mall Road:

Mall Road is a popular shopping destination in Nainital, lined with shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
You can find a wide range of products, including clothing, jewelry, woollen items, handicrafts, and local sweets.
It’s a great place for leisurely shopping while enjoying the scenic views of Naini Lake.

Nainital Candles:

Nainital is famous for its handmade candles, and you can find several candle shops along Mall Road.
These candles come in various shapes, sizes, and fragrances, making them great souvenirs or gifts.

Bhutia Market:

Located near Tallital, this market is known for its woolen clothing, scarves, shawls, and blankets.
You can also find a variety of handicrafts, trinkets, and accessories with a Bhutia influence.

Dorothy’s Gallery:

Dorothy’s Gallery is known for its exquisite hand-painted candles and artwork.
You can find unique and artistic candles that make for excellent souvenirs.

Naina Devi Temple Market:

This market area near the Naina Devi Temple offers a range of religious items, as well as souvenirs and local products.
You can find small trinkets, prayer beads, and other spiritual items.

Wooden Crafts:

Nainital is known for its wooden handicrafts. You can find wooden toys, home decor items, and furniture in various shops around town.

  • Local Sweets and Food Products:

Don’t forget to try the local sweets and food products, such as Bal Mithai, Singauri, and Aloo Ke Gutke. You can purchase these from local sweet shops.
While shopping in Nainital, it’s advisable to carry cash as many small shops may not accept cards. Also, be prepared to negotiate prices, especially in street markets. Shopping in Nainital can be a delightful experience, offering a chance to take home unique souvenirs and locally made products.

 Local Cuisine

Nainital, nestled in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, offers a variety of local cuisine that reflects the flavors and culture of the region. When visiting Nainital, be sure to try some of these delicious local dishes and specialties:

Aloo Ke Gutke:

This is a popular Kumaoni dish made from boiled potatoes that are pan-fried with a mix of spices like cumin, mustard seeds, and red chili. It’s a flavorful and spicy side dish.

Ras:

Ras is a traditional Kumaoni curry made with various dals (lentils) and yogurt. It has a tangy and slightly spicy flavor and is typically served with steamed rice or chapati.

Bhatt Ki Churdkani:

Bhatt is a variety of black soybeans grown in the region. Bhatt Ki Churdkani is a thick gravy dish made with black soybeans and a blend of spices. It’s often eaten with rice or chapati.

Gahat Ki Dal:

Gahat, also known as horse gram, is a nutritious pulse that is used to make a hearty and wholesome dal. It’s a staple dish in the Kumaon region.

Bal Mithai:

Bal Mithai is a popular sweet treat in Nainital. It’s made from roasted khoya (milk solids) and then coated with white sugar balls. It has a unique taste and is often given as a souvenir.

Singauri:

Singauri is another famous sweet from Nainital. It’s made from roasted gram flour and ghee, forming a delicate and melt-in-your-mouth treat.

Bhang Ki Chutney:

Made from ground hemp seeds (bhang), this chutney has a nutty flavor and is often served as a condiment with local dishes.

Aloo Daal Pakodi:

These are deep-fried potato and lentil fritters, often served with tamarind chutney. They are a popular street food snack.

Kachmauli:

Kachmauli is a traditional dish made from spinach and fenugreek leaves cooked with lentils. It’s a nutritious and delicious preparation.

Local Momos:

You can find local variations of momos in Nainital, usually stuffed with ingredients like potatoes, vegetables, or even locally available meats.

Local Bakery Items:

Nainital has a history of British influence, and you can find various baked goods such as cakes, pastries, and cookies in local bakeries. These are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.

Chana Madra:

Chana Madra is a flavorful curry made from chickpeas in a yogurt-based gravy, often seasoned with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.

Conclusion

Nainital, with its tranquil lakes and picturesque landscapes, evokes feelings of serenity and wonder. Strolling by Naini Lake, surrounded by lush hills, one can’t help but feel a deep connection to nature. The crisp mountain air, the charming colonial architecture, and the vibrant local culture make it a perfect retreat. Nainital is not just a destination; it’s an experience that captures the heart and soul, making it a beloved choice for anyone seeking peace and beauty.

Also Read: Sandakphu Adventure Trek

 

 

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