Commonly known as the “Lake District of India”, Nainital is one of the most beautiful hill stations in North India. Surrounded by mountains on three sides Nainital is located around the beautiful lake Naini Tal. This lake resort is situated at a height of 1,938 meters. There are many legends associated with the place. According to one, Nainital has derived its name from the Goddess Naina while the other legend says that when the Goddess Sati lost her eyes, she was being carried by Lord Shiva and a lake was formed. (‘Naina’ means eyes and ‘Tal’ means lake.) This beautiful small town in surrounded by seven hills, popularly known as ‘Sapta-Shring’ – Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi-Bandi, Naina, Alma, Lariya-Kanta and Sher-Ka-Danda. The majestic mountains and the sparkling waters of the lake add an immense lot to the beauty of the town.
The city is a beautiful mixture of all the hues of nature. Naini lake is the pride Nainital and the many gaily coloured yachts on the sparkling lake have now become synonymous with this beautiful picture-postcard resort. A national level yachting competition is organized here during the season.
Nainital used to be the summer capital of United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh) during the British era and remained so for many years even after Independence. The British were the first to ‘discover’ Nainital as a holiday resort in 1841. Today, it has grown into a highly popular tourist destination. The emerald waters of this mountain lake continue to retain their charm and beckon tourists from far and wide.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Nainital in the Kumaon hills maintains pleasant weather throughout the year except the winter months. The temperature is mild at any time but in winters it becomes very cold. The climate of Nainital is regulated by the lake here which showers rain almost every afternoon. The best time to visit the place is between April to June and then again in September and October. The months of January to March are marked by snowfall. Equipped with right clothing, this unique hill resort can otherwise be visited any time of the year.
PLACES TO VISIT
In a mythological account, this picturesque lake is said to be one of the emerald green eyes of Shiva’s beloved consort, Sati (nain is a Sanskrit word for eye). When Sati’s father failed to invite Shiva to a family sacrifice, she burnt herself to death in protest. Shiva gathered the charred remains in his arms and proceeded to engage in a cosmic dance tandav, which threatened to destroy the creation. To bring the dance to an end, Vishnu chopped up the body into pieces, and the remains were scattered. The Naina Devi Temple at the northern end of the lake is built over the precise spot where the eye is believed to have fallen.
Naina Peak is locally known as the Cheena peak. This is the highest point in Nainital. From here Nainital appears like a majestic shining bowl. You can walk or take ponies to reach the peak. Naina peak also gives a good view of the Camel’s Back, another interesting peak. There are no hotels or restaurants on the top so it is advisable to carry food and water along.
At the upper end of the attractive Nainital lake, a temple of Naina Devi is located. Dedicated to the patronizing goddess of the town, Naina Devi, this temple and its complex becomes the location of the famous Nanda Devi Mela, held every year on Nandashtami during September.
The place is of great religious importance. Situated at a height of 1951 meters, this place was established by Baba Neem Karauli. A very beautiful Hanuman temple is at the top. Watching the Sunset from Hanuman Garhi, is an out-of-the-world experience. You can leisurely walk down to Hanuman Garhi from Nainital town.
Nainital has a small but a very beautiful Zoological garden. There are several animals including Deer, Bears, Tigers and many more. Special efforts have been put in to make the environment of the zoo hygienic and clean. Not surprisingly this zoo is one of the cleanest zoos in the country. The zoo can be reached on foot or by small vehicles.