At a Glance
1 million
3422 sq.kms
Geo Location
Average Climate
Summer 15 °C - 28 °C
Winter 1 °C - 10 °C
Best time to visit
Summer & Winter

Nainital tourism revolves around the scenic beauty and salubrious climate that this hill resort offers. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Nainital. The hill station of Nainital takes its name from the lake, on the shore of which stands a temple of Goddess Naina Devi. The lake itself is situated at a height of 6,350 ft in a circle of beautiful tree-clad mountains. It measures 1400 meter in length and 200 to 300 meter in width. The reflection of hill sites, dotted with cottages and buildings connected by enormous roads, is a pretty sight by day. At night the twinkling lights on the roads and buildings are reflected as sparkling garlands on the still water of the lake. Round the lake is a beautiful promenade where hikers and riders can enjoy themselves and on the lake itself yachting, boating and swimming can be enjoyed to the full. The flats situated at one end of the lake, afforded ample space for sports and athletics. Some of the best All India Tournaments are held here. For the amusement seekers, there are good cinemas, tennis, roller skating and a running drama hall. The gay socialite finds himself fully occupied in well-equipped clubs and a never ending round of parties, dance and entertainment in the hotels, resorts and Boat House Club.

The view of the eternal snow clad mountains from China peak is glorious. From the land’s end, and Hanuman Garhi the view stretches towards the deep green of the Tarai forests to the light green of the intensely cultivated fields. The beautiful lake town of Nainital came into being due to the efforts of an adventurous Englishman named Button who visited Nainital in March 1839 AD while on a shoot at Haldwani with his brother-in-law Mr. P. Barron. Mr. Barron gave a vivid description of his find in 'Agra Akhbar’ under the name of pilgrims. Barron visited Nainital again in December 1842 AD. This time, he came via Bhimtal and brought with him a boat. Thus, Nainital was put on the tourist map by this adventurous Englishman and thereafter, Nainital has never looked back. Today it is one of the gayest and most crowded hill stations.

Nainital is located in Uttarakhand. The name of Nainital is well known to all classes of tourists but very few know the legend behind it which states that in ancient times it was known as Tri Rishi Sarovar. The legend goes that three of the seven saints (Rishis) Atri, Pulsatya and Pulaha, came to Uttarakhand for a pilgrimage to Chitrashila. They meditated on top of a hill and after sometime when they looked down they saw that no water was available. They prayed to Lord Brahma for water & he filled the valley down below with water. Thus, a lake came into being which later on became the abode of Narayani Devi who is supposed to live in the bottom of the lake.

Nainital is surrounded with a cluster of lakes, out of which Bhimtal is the most famous where a beautiful sheet of water surrounded by high wooded hills, and just over a 800 meter in length and 360 meters in breadth. Its water is of a bluish green and very clear. Fish are available in plenty and can be observed leaping up in the air. The lake has an island which adds to the beauty of the lake. At the end of the lake is an old temple which has a wooden Chhatri or canopy built by a Kumaon king Baj Bahadur Chand. There are other lakes in the neighbourhood off the main roads but known to enthusiastic anglers, such as Sat-Tal, Malwa Tal and Naukuthiya Tal. Naukuthiya Tal is most famous because of its nine corners and the legend attached to it. Birds from Salim Ali’s book can be seen here. Another famous lake is Malwa-ka-Tal which lies about twelve kilometers to the east of Bhimtal and is about 1460 meter by 210 meters.

But the gem amongst pearls of lakes remains Nainital. The lake of Nainital with its shining waters of lovely turquoise hue, glance up from the depths of their glen. The lake was first measured in 1871 AD by Dr Ansbury. He fixed the length from east to west as 702 feet, the width at Smugglers Rock 792 feet and at the broadest point as 1518 feet, the circumference as 11,880 feet and the depth between 20 and 97 feet. The emerald coloured lake is encircled by graceful willows. During the day, the city with brightly coloured tiny villas and bungalows and ponies, rickshaws and sail boats beckon the visitors to discover the town in its own special way. And as the sun sinks behind the mountains, the hill station turns into an enchanting, alluring fairy land, reflections of the row of lights dancing in the water to weave mysterious fantasies.

Nainital can easily be termed as rain-drenched town. Nainital remains bathed for weeks at a time, soaking in mist and rain, the average annual rainfall being nearly ninety inches. Nainital gets maximum rain because it stands on the outer range of hills, considerably higher than the lower hills adjoining it, and catches the rain clouds which are thus to a large extent exhausted before reaching Ranikhet what to say of Almora.

Over the years Nainital has grown as a flourishing and highly cherished tourist spot. Nainital was first brought into limelight in 1841 AD through the columns of ‘Agra Akhbar’ and soon it attracted the attention of Bishop Daniel Wilson of Kolkata. The Bishop passed through Nainital on his way to Almora in February and again on his return in March 1844 AD. The station had just been selected, no houses were built. The weather was inclement during the Bishop’s sojourn at the place his Lordship suffered in his health and having to reside in a dark mud hut, which admitted light only by the door. The whole scene appeared to him more of a wilderness than a paradise. This, no doubt suggested to his mind the name which he proposed for the church and by which the building since created has been designed.

Nainital is situated in a valley running from West to East and bounded on the north by the Naina Peak (2,590 meter), also called Cheena Peak or China Peak, continued by Alma (2394 meter) and Sker-ka-Danda (2360 meter) to the eastern extremity where the ridge descends to the level of the lake 1805 meter above sea level. On the west the rugged hill of Deopate (2,397 meter) and on the south Ayarpata attains an elevation of 2,238 meter diminishing gradually towards the east. The eastern boundary is a pass through which the surplus waters of the lake find an exit forming the principal source of the Baliya river which in turn is the principal feeder of Gaula river. Oak, cypress and other beautiful trees continue from the margin of the lake upwards the ridges for 2 km up to the peaks which stands at the extremes of this vast amphitheatre. There are two sulphur springs — one near the Rawksdale and the other just outside the southern end of the lake.

The first building to be constructed in Nainital was of the St. John in Wilderness – a church. Few buildings were constructed later, amongst which Victoria Hotel was prominent but unfortunately it was washed away in the cloud burst of 1880 AD. Amongst the early settlers of Nainital were the Shahs of Almora who caused to be constructed most of the existing bungalows at Nainital. The selection of Nainital as the summer seat of the government in 1856 AD was instrumental for large scale construction after which extensive construction activity started on all sides.

Nainital is surrounded from all sides with a chain of mountain peaks which provide excellent scenic views of the down town and the Himalayas which lie across the mountain ranges, one piled after another, but the best view of Nainital is from the Naina Peak that overhangs the lake and station of Nainital. From this point, the elevation of which is about 8700 feet, an observer can obtain an admirable idea of the structure of this part of the Himalaya. Over horizontal distance from the foot of hills is only about five miles. Look down over the beautiful wooded mountains of Gagar range, covered thickly with oak and pine, mingled with the gorgeous rhododendron, to the Bhabar forest, which lies almost at our feet, 700 feet below, and beyond to the Terai and the great plain.

Turning to the North, find a scene which the painter and poet can alone describe, but which can never pass from the mind of one who has once behold it. A chaotic mass of mountains lies before the beholders, wooded hills, and deep ravines, and dark blue ranges rising one above another, and behind all, piled up into the sky, the snowy peaks of the great Himalaya. A tourist who has seen this view, or the still finer ones that are to be obtained from other parts of Central Kumaon, may feel quite satisfied that he / she has seen the most sublime and astonishing of all earthly spectacles.

A gem in perfect setting, this charming lake resort was discovered by an English traveller. Graceful willows encircle the emerald mountain lake. During the day, the city with brightly coloured tiny villas and bungalows and ponies, rickshaws and sail boats beckons the visitors to discover the town in its own special way. And as the sun sinks behind the mountains, the hill station turns into an enchanting, alluring fairyland. The lake reflecting the row of lights dancing in the water wears a mysterious fantasy. That is, how it is Nainital — the lake town.

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