Exploring Nainital – The Lake District of Uttarakhand

Nestled in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Nainital is one of the most popular hill stations in India. Known for its natural beauty and pleasant climate, Nainital offers stunning views of the Naini lake surrounded by mountains. Today Travellerduo takes you on an incredible tour of Nainital and shows the top tourist attractions in and around the town.

Overview of Nainital

Nainital gets its name from the Naini lake, which is shaped like an eye, with the town settled around it like an eyebrow. According to legends, the left eye of Goddess Sati fell at the site of the Naini lake while her body was being carried by Lord Shiva after the Daksha Yagna. The lake is thus considered pious by locals.

At an altitude of 1938 meters above sea level, Nainital offers a cool and comfortable climate in summer while remaining moderately cold in winter. The pleasant weather, mystical lakes, rich cultural heritage and beautiful mountain landscapes make Nainital one of the best hill stations in North India.

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Top Tourist Attractions in Nainital

Naini Lake

The star attraction of Nainital is the picturesque pear-shaped Naini Lake. Surrounded by the tall peaks of the Kumaon hills, boating at the Naini Lake is an ethereal experience.

The northern end of the lake has the Naina Devi temple, after which the lake is named. According to myths, the eyes of Goddess Sati fell at this spot, and the temple was built to honor her.

A paved promenade runs along the lake, which is ideal for tourists to take a stroll and enjoy the vistas. The lakeside also has some cafes and eateries where you can relax and soak in the beauty.

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Naina Peak

Also known as the China Peak, Naina Peak is the highest point in Nainital, towering at an altitude of 2615 meters. Perched on a steep incline, reaching the peak requires trekking through thick forests.

The effort is well worth it though, as the peak offers a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the Nainital town and the surrounding hills blanketed in deodar and oak trees. Watching the first rays of sun paint the Himalayan peaks in golden hues from Naina Peak is an unforgettable experience for every traveler.

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Mall Road

Mall Road is the pulsating heart of Nainital’s commercial center. Lined with stores, restaurants, cafes, hotels and more, Mall Road is perfect for shopping, trying local cuisine and enjoying the energy.

During the peak tourist season, Mall Road is closed for vehicles from 6 PM to 9 PM so that tourists can stroll freely. It is the perfect time and place to enjoy local street food or shop for souvenirs.

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Eco Cave Gardens

The Eco Cave Gardens in Nainital are a unique attraction, with several inter-connected, artificially created caves and hanging gardens. Lit with colorful lights, exploring the caves which have different themes is an adventure, especially for kids.

Some of the popular attractions inside the Eco Cave Garden include the Panther Cave, Tiger Cave and Bat Cave which recreate the experience of being inside those habitats with sounds and light effects.

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Snow View Point

Snow View Point, as the name suggests, is a vantage point that offers spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Kot. At an altitude of 2270 meters, it can get chilly at the Snow View Point, living up to its name.

Along with the scenic beauty, Snow View Point also has several activities like zip lining, ropeways and ATV rides to indulge in.

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Naina Devi Temple

One of the most revered temples in North India, the Naina Devi temple is located on the banks of the Naini Lake. It is believed that the eyes of Goddess Sati fell at this spot, making the temple highly auspicious.

The temple complex houses several small shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman and more. Exploring the market around the Naina Devi temple gives a peek into the rich cultural heritage of Kumaon.

Naina devi temple Nainital

Raj Bhavan

Raj Bhavan used to be the residence of the Governor during British Rule. Built in the Gothic domestic style, it has expansive lawns, golf courses and beautiful architecture that exemplify old British hill stations.

Parts of Raj Bhavan are open for tourists, with an entry fee. The well-maintained gardens surrounding the building are refreshing to explore.

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Lands End

True to its name, Lands End is a vantage point that marks the end of the flat land before cliffs take over. Perched at the edge, Land’s End offers dramatic views of the Khurpatal valley and the surrounding hills.

Considered one of the best sunset points in Nainital, watching the golden sun sink behind the Himalayas from Lands End with a loved one is an unforgettable experience.

Hanuman Garhi

Hanuman Garhi is an ancient temple situated at a height of 1951 meters on the uphills of Nainital. The temple was established in the 1950s by Bharat Ratna Pandit Neem Karoli Baba and is managed by the Neem Karoli Ashram.

The main shrine has a huge idol of Lord Hanuman. Besides religious significance, Hanuman Garhi offers magnificent views of the Nainital town and the neighboring hill ranges.

Tiffin Top

Also known as Dorothy’s Seat, Tiffin Top is a charming picnic spot offering panoramic views of the Himalayan foothills. Tiffin Top can be reached by trekking 4 kilometers from Nainital or taking a horse ride.

Named after an English lady, Dorothy Kellet, who used to often picnic at this spot with her husband, Tiffin Top has a stone resting place that serves as a vantage point.

Gurney House

Gurney House is a beautiful heritage building erected in 1880, and named after Sir Henry Gurney, the Governor of Madras. Designed in a Victorian Gothic style, Gurney House has steep sloping roofs, dormer windows and more architectural elements typical of that era.

These days, Gurney House serves as the official residence of the Chief Minister when he visits Nainital. Tourists can admire the building from the outside and its well-maintained gardens.

Nainital Zoo

Home to a wide range of animals like tigers, leopards, Himalayan wolves, sambar deer, gray goral sheep and more, the Nainital Zoo makes for an enjoyable wildlife tourism experience.

Spread over 4.6 hectares, the zoo has various endangered animal species brought from different corners of India. The zoo authorities also focus on conservation breeding programs to protect native endangered species.

Best Time to Visit Nainital

Nainital enjoys pleasant weather for most of the year, which makes it suitable for tourism in all seasons. However, the peak seasons are during summer and spring.

The summer months of March to June are perfect to beat the scorching heat of the plains in India. With temperatures ranging from 16°C to 25°C, you can explore all the attractions comfortably.

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Plan your Nainital trip between March and June if you wish to avoid extreme cold or rainfall. Winters are cool with temperatures dipping to sub-zero levels at night, so carry adequate warm clothing if visiting between November and February.

The spring blooms during February-March add an extra dash of beauty to the natural landscape of Nainital, making it ideal for photography.

While Nainital is worthwhile visiting all year round, traveling during the peak season ensures all attractions are open and active. The hill station may have limited options during monsoons.

How to Reach Nainital

By Air

The nearest airport is Pantnagar Airport located about 65 km from Nainital. Flights are available from New Delhi and Dehradun to Pantnagar Airport. Cabs and buses are easily available from Pantnagar to Nainital.

By Train

The closest railway station is at Kathgodam, approximately 35 km from Nainital. Regular trains connect Kathgodam to cities like New Delhi, Dehradun, Lucknow and Howrah. Taxis, buses and shared cabs are available from Kathgodam to Nainital.

By Road

Nainital is well connected by roads to major North Indian cities. State-run and private buses frequently ply from New Delhi, Dehradun, Lucknow, Meerut, Haridwar and other towns to Nainital. The drive from Delhi to Nainital takes around 8 hours.

Getting Around Nainital

Walking

Since most tourist attractions are located around the Naini Lake, covering them on foot is easy. Mall Road, Tibetan Market and other shopping areas are also best explored on foot.

Taxis

Taxis are readily available for sightseeing in and around Nainitaal. You can either hire a private taxi for the day or travel in shared taxis plying to different points. Shared taxis charge nominal per passenger fares.

Cable Car

The cable car or ropeway from Mallital to Snow View Point makes for a fun ride while also offering scenic vistas of the town below.

Boating

One of the top things to do in Nainitaal is boating at the Naini Lake. Rowboats, pedal boats and yachts can be rented at affordable rates. No boating is allowed after sunset.

Where to Stay in Nainital

Nainital has accommodation options suiting all budgets and styles.

Budget

There are many budget hotels and lodges along Mall Road and near Tallital bus stop offering clean rooms and basic amenities at affordable rates.

Mid-range

To enjoy a comfortable stay with modern amenities, book resorts or hotels like Victoria Club, Alka Hotel, and Hotel City Heart along Mall Road or nearby areas.

Luxury

For a luxurious vacation, consider premium heritage hotels like Manu Maharani and Abbotsford. Most luxury options have prime lakeside locations, along with multi-cuisine restaurants, swimming pools and recreation facilities.

Shopping in Nainital

Nainitaal offers plenty of shopping choices from clothes to handicrafts and sweets. The two main markets for shopping are:

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  • Mall Road – Mall Road has stores selling woolen clothes, fashion apparel, cosmetics, handicraft items and more. You can pick shawls, caps, traditional Kumaoni garments and scarves as souvenirs.
  • Bhotia Market – Walk through narrow lanes lined with shops in Bhotia Market near Tallital to buy candles, organic products and traditional Kumaoni artifacts. It is great for sampling local cuisine too.
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Apart from these, the Tibetan Market near Flats Ground sells vibrant Buddhist souvenirs, wall hangings and statues. The famous sweet shop Chaina Ram sells mouthwatering multi-flavored candies and more.

So if you are craving retail therapy or want unique mementos, Nainital will not disappoint!

FAQs

Here are some common queries answered about planning a Nainital tour:

What is the best time to visit Nainital?

The ideal time to visit Nainitaal is during summer (March – June) when the weather is pleasantly cool and all attractions remain open. You can also plan your trip during spring (February-March) to enjoy the colorful blooms.

What is famous in Nainital?

Some of the most famous places in Nainital are Naini Lake, Naina Peak, Mall Road, Eco Cave Gardens, Snow View Point, Naina Devi Temple, Raj Bhavan and more. The hill station is also famous for its scenic natural beauty.

How many days are enough for Nainital?

To explore all the top attractions at a relaxed pace, plan at least 2 full days in Nainital. If you want to include nearby sightseeing spots, keep 4-5 days for your Nainital tour.

What are the best places to visit in Nainital at night?

Some good places to visit in Nainital at night are Mall Road, Bara Bazaar, Tibetan Market, and lake-side cafes like Café Lake View. You can also enjoy the light & sound show at Pt G B Pant High Altitude Zoo in the evening.

What can we do in Nainital at night?

There are plenty of things you can do in Nainitaal at night like – take a boat ride in the lake, see the city lights from Snow View Point, admire the night view of town from Lands End, enjoy drinks & dinner at a lakeside restaurant, or go shopping at Mall Road.

So pack your bags and head out to explore the unique delights that Nainital holds for every type of traveler! This beautiful lake town in the Kumaon Hills will rejuvenate your senses and leave you wanting more.

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