Apparently built on the lines of Cumbrian Lake District by the British, Nainital is one of Uttarakhand’s most popular hill stations. With majestic views, Nainital is set in a valley around an eye-shaped lake, where according to legend, the Goddess Sati’s eyes had fallen. Bustling markets with spectacular views of the hills essentially make Nainital a gateway to the upper reaches of the mighty Himalayas. With the scenic and bio diverse Jim Corbett National Park just a two-hour drive from here, hordes of tourists tend to flock here at peak season which is generally between March-July each year. Offering a plethora of opportunities to unwind throughout the year, Nainital has fascinating remnants of its colonial past seeped with mythical legends. A few kilometres from Nainital lie other towns that have lakes as their centres. Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiatal are charming little hill-towns built around tranquil lakes as well, and so this region is known as the Tal region. It offers generous opportunities for spending a holiday in serenity by the lake, visiting temples or as an adventure junkie.
un[travel]’s Top Picks
Rock Climbing and Rappelling
A 4 kilometre drive from Nainital takes you to the rock climbing area of Bara Pathar. Quite obviously named after the twelve huge rocks in this area, Bara Pathar attracts a decent number of climbers and trekkers. The climb on natural rock is fairly tough and requires a lot more resilience than a normal wall at an activity centre. With an experienced instructor to guide you through every step, making safety is the top priority, rock climbing at Bara Panther is compelling and exhilarating.
Ropeway to Snow View point
Ropeway at Nainital
One of Nainital’s prominent factors of allure, the cable car is an opportunity not to be forsaken. It provides an irreplaceable offer of catching a bird’s eye view of the breath-taking Naini Lake and the entire Nainital hill station. A treat for the senses, relax as you glide across the air over such pristine landscapes.
Picnic by the Waterfall
Picnic by Waterfall
Pull up a bit of rock and grass as you settle down for a rejuvenating lunch amidst the cascading waters of the waterfalls in Mukteshwar. Complete with the open valley views and unmatched serenity, this will come as a welcome break from the unending buzz which is the chaotic city life.
Drop in for a spot of the stargazing at the Aryabhata Research Institute of Observational Sciences for an otherworldly experience. Lose yourself in the stars and beyond as you delve deep into the majestic unknown of the universe and its underlying mysteries.
Sunset at Hanuman Garhi Temple
Hanuman Garhi Temple
A famous temple in the honour of Lord Hanuman, who is a much celebrated image of unwavering devotion himself, being one of the greatest worshippers of Lord Ram. Perched at an altitude of 6400ft above sea level, the whole case of divinity is multiplied by the sun making its gorgeous descent beyond the mountains silhouetting the statue of Hanuman, its palm open in blessing.
Best time to visit Nainital
March to June is the popular tourist season when the weather is perfect for outdoor activities and quite pleasant. If you’re the type to lace up your adventure boots, this is the time to visit here with paragliding, trekking, camping and rafting all up for grabs. July to September sees heavy rainfall and quite a drop in visitors. On the up side the rains make the hills more luxuriant and if you’re the kind who prefers dripping weather and lonesome hikes, this time has your name all over it. October to February gets chilly and January brings in snowfall too. Although Nainital is a year-round destination, the activities open to you may vary based on when you visit. So, plan accordingly.
Things to carry
Pack as light as possible given the amount of road travel involved here. • Cotton clothing for summer and a light jacket would work for when evenings get cooler. If you’re un[travel]ling in winter, warmer clothes complete with thick socks and warmer jackets. Carry your windcheater and umbrella if you’re here in the monsoons as well. • Sturdy walking shoes, mandatory if you’re hiking, make sense given the amount of walking involved here. • Sunscreen, especially if you’re going up to the higher reaches. Usual prescription medications. • Mobile and tablet electronic chargers.
Best places to stay
• Manu Maharani, Nainital • The Naini Retreat, Nainital • Shervani Hilltop, Nainital • The Pavillion, Nainital • Balrampur House, Nainital