Nainital is located in Kumaon foothills in Uttarakhand. The town lies in the midst of mountains, three of the most significant ones being Mount Naina, Mount Deopatha and Mount Ayarpatha. The name of the town literally translates to ‘lake of the eye’; ‘naina’ meaning ‘eye’ and ‘tal’ meaning ‘lake’.
History of Nainital
The town features in many mythological stories in Indian literature. According to folklore, when three sages - Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha - visited the town and found no water, they dug a deep hole where the present lake stands and brought water from Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. It’s also believed that a dip in the lake here is equal to a dip in the holy lake of Mansarovar.
According to another mythological account, Nainital is one of the 64 places where the parts of Goddess Parvati fell while Lord Shiva was carrying her. This gives the place religious importance and that is evident from the presence of the Naina Devi Temple, which is dedicated to Shakti, a form of Parvati.
Nainital is one of the popular hill stations of North India and was founded in 1841 by the British. It was the summer retreat for the British. They spent their time in this hill station to escape the extreme hot weather of the plains. The British built many European schools and colleges in the region, which are operational even today.
Nainital has an approximate population of about 38,559, but the population of the town more than doubles during the peak tourist season. Of late, there have been concerns by environmentalists over the deteriorating condition of the lake here.
Things to do in Nainital
Based around a lake, Nainital is a small town with steep mountains covered with green forests. This beautiful hill station of Uttarakhand has number of sightseeing attractions popular among tourists. Sightseeing in the town includes elevated peaks of Himalayas, lakes and tree-covered hillsides. Amongst numerous lakes within as well as around the hill station, Naini Lake is most popular. Other notable lakes in Nainital are Bhimtal Lake, Naukuchiatal Lake, Khurpatal Lake and Sat Tal Lakes.
Food & shopping in Nainital
With increasing number of tourists visiting the hill station every year, Nainital has evolved into a tourists’ paradise. The best way to get around Nainital is on foot. Moreover the important tourist hubs like The Mall are shut for vehicles in the evenings. Therefore, exploring Nainital on foot is the best option for tourists. Also, in areas like the Barra Bazaar, tourists can shop for local handicrafts, shawls, woolens, fresh produce like fruits and jams. Tourists can avail Nainital holiday packages to explore the hill station, both in winters and summers.
With commercialisation taking place at a fast pace, much of the area around the lake has been subjected to deforestation, which has resulted in the silting of the lake and other environmental issues. Efforts are on to stop the rapid commercialisation and encourage afforestation to restore the ecological balance of Nainital.
Travelling to Nainital
The town enjoys cool weather throughout the year; with the maximum temperature in summers reaching 27° Celsius while the temperature in winter goes down to 7° Celsius. The hill station even receives snowfall during the winter months of December to February, during which time it receives the maximum number of tourists.
Nainital is well connected to Delhi and other smaller towns located close to the hill station. The nearest railway station is in Kathgodam, which is 35 km away. The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is the closest to Nainital. Regular private buses ply between Delhi and Nainital. It takes close to 8 hours to reach Nainital by road from Delhi. The best time to visit Nainital is from December to June.
Accommodation options in Nainital
Hotel options in Nainital range from budget hotels to resorts, homestays as well as guest lodges and hostels, popular among backpackers.