Bhimtal is located at an altitude of 4,500 feet in the Nainital District of Uttarakhand. This town is 22 km from Nainital and 21 km from Kathgodam. One road from Bhimtal connects Kathgodam to the entire Kumaon region leading towards Nepal and then Tibet. This is often considered a part of the renowned Old Silk Route.
History of Bhimtal
The ancient town of Bhimtal derives its name from Mahabharata’s famous character Bhima, who is believed to have visited the famous Bhimtal Lake during the Vanvas period when the Pandavas were banished from their kingdom. Hence, the main attraction of this region is the Bhimtal Lake that is much cleaner and less crowded than the Lake at Nainital.
Things to do in Bhimtal
There is an island at the centre of Bhimtal Lake which can be reached by a boat. This island has an aquarium with different species of fish from China, South Africa and Mexico. Earlier there was a restaurant, which has been closed due to pollution. Another landmark is the Victoria dam located at one end of the Bhimtal Lake.
The famous Bhimeshwara Mahadev Temple is located on the shores of the Bhimtal Lake. This temple is believed to have been there during the period of Bhima’s visit. However, Baz Bahadur, the ruler of the Chand Dynasty and King of Kumaon, constructed the existing temple in the 17th century.
After the Anglo-Nepalese war from 1814 - 16, Bhimtal went under the control of the British. Close to the Bhimeshwar Temple, there is the Garg Parvat, a small hill that happens to be the origin of the River Gargi, which is called Gola Nadi in this area.
Bhimtal offers many tourist attractions like the Nal Damayanti Lake that is only two kilometres from Bhimtal. This is where King Nala is said to have drowned. Other places that can be visited are the Sattal, a collection of lakes located 5 km from Bhimtal, Godhakhal Temple, Hidimba Parvat, named after one of the demons from Mahabharata Hidimba, etc. In the Hidimba Parvat there is an animal sanctuary created by Vankhandi Maharaj.
Tourists can visit this region during Rishi Panchami, when there is a festival around the Nag Temple of Karkotaka hill, dedicated to the mythical cobra, Karkotaka. Another spiritual spot is the Sayyad Baba Ki Mazar, where bed sheets are distributed to people when someone’s wish comes true. Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya or the Museum of Folk Culture that houses wooden artefacts and folk paintings interest many travellers too.
Bhimtal is now a mini headquarters of the district of Nainital, as many administration offices of the district have been transferred to Bhimtal in the new buiding of Vikas Bhawan. The best time to visit Bhimtal is April to July and again from September to October.
Travelling to Bhimtal
Pantnagar airport is the closest airport to Bhimtal. Airport is well connected to Delhi with regular flights. Bhimtal is well connected by road and railways with other towns and cities within the state of Uttarakhand. There are regular buses to Bhimtal from Nainital, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Accommodation options in Bhimtal
Accommodation options in Bhimtal can be classified into budget, mid-range and luxury hotels. Tourists can avail hotels suiting their budget.