One of the most popular destination for hill stations in North India, Nainital is also known as the ‘lake district of India’. Named after the Naini lake shaped like an eye, the place derives its name from ‘naina’ meaning eye and ‘tal’ meaning lake. A mesmerizing and enthralling destination in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon district, Nainital is a valley that sits cozily near Naini lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, amid coniferous trees, this is a perfect vacation spot with a blend of nature’s charm, a flavour of the colonial times and touristy activities in short.
How to reach?
Located in the foothills of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Nainital is 2084 meters above sea level. It is 268 kilometres from Dehradun the capital of Uttarakhand and 345 kilometres from Delhi the nearest metro city. Hence it is a popular getaway destination for people in and around Delhi.
Pantnagar airport is the closest airport to Nainital which is located 70 kilometres from the city centre. There are direct flights from Delhi to Pantnagar.
Delhi being the closest major city, most of the tourists drive down from Delhi in cabs and cars. It is a 6-7 hour drive to cover the 296-kilometre distance. There are also buses (both AC and non-AC) available from Delhi and other nearby cities and towns which is another convenient option of road travel. There are well-connected roads leading to Nainital allowing the travellers to enjoy the view and surroundings.
The nearest railway station is Kathgodham, also Haldwani which is located 36 kilometres from Nainital. There are several trains that connect major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Agra, Lucknow to Kathgodham on a daily basis.
Where to stay?
Hotels and Resorts
There are plenty of hotels ranging from star hotels to budget hotels which offer a scenic and comfortable stay in Nainital. The resorts are a great option for those who wish to relax in luxury.
Cost – Prices range from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000 per night
For more simple and cozy accommodation, homestays are a good option.
Cost – Prices range from Rs 600 to Rs 2500 per night
Hostels and Camps
Solo travellers, youngsters and the ones with a spirit of adventure can opt for hostels and camps which provide for cheap and reasonable stays.
Cost – Prices range from Rs 250 to Rs 2500
Places to go:
- Naini Lake
The most famous location in Nainital, the Naini lake is where the place derives its name from. The lake is indeed a beautiful and stunning body of water which is shaped like a pear or a kidney and is 1 km from the city centre. The scenic beauty of the location makes it a hotspot for picnics, walks and strolls, and of course, boating with family and friends. The lake is surrounded by several peaks all around which offers a breath-taking view of the snow-capped mountains.
Timings- 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Entry fees- None
- Snow Point
Located around 4 km from the city centre this spot offers the best view of the hill station, the peaks and the snow-capped mountain ranges namely Nanda Devi which is the second-highest Himalayan peak in India as well as Trishul and Nanda Kot. The point is accessible with cars and small vehicles. The aerial ropeway facility is another option that makes for another experience in the hill station. It is a short trek of 3 km from Nainital.
Entry fees- None
- Naina Peak
This is the highest peak of Nainital which is also known as China Peak or Cheena peak. It offers a splendid view of the entire valley which resembles a bowl from that height. It is a delight for those who love and enjoy walking and trekking. There are also horses or ponies available to reach the peak. Snow dusts the peak for the most part of the year due to its altitude. The morning sunrise and evening sunset is a must experience from Naina Peak. It is a relaxing and refreshing sot to visit.
Timing- 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Entry fees- None
- Naina Devi Temple
Around 2 km from the city centre, the temple is located in the northern part of the Naini lake. It one of the Shakti Peeths and dedicated to the eyes of the Devi Sati or Naina Devi. The temple is considered to be very sacred and thus visited by people from all over the country.
Timings- 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Entry fees- None
- High Altitude Zoo
The zoo is located at a height of 2100 meters and is spread over an area of 4.6 hectares. This is a well-maintained zoo which offers a home to several endangered species of flora and fauna so as to protect and conserve them. Some of the fauna that can be spotted there include the Himalayan bear, Himalayan civet, Tibetan wolf, Hill partridge, leopard, the Royal Bengal tiger, barking deer and so on. It also provides sanctuary for birds in the region.
Timings- 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
- Eco Cave Gardens
This is a spot which is a series of interconnected caves and gardens giving us a glimpse of the flora and fauna in the region. It is a rather fun experience climbing ad crawling through caves such as tiger cave, bat cave, panther cave and so on. It is located around 2 km from the town.
Timing- 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry fees- the charges are around Rs 20 – 30
- Raj Bhawan
A symbol of British colonial rule, the Governor’s house is a building showcasing the colonial architecture. The Victorian Gothic structure is two-storeyed and served as the summer residence for British Governors. It covers a vast and beautiful landscape with a swimming pool, golf course and so on. It is located 3 km from the city centre.
Timing- 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry fees- For Raj Bhawan Rs 50, for the golf course Rs 450
Things to do
Boating in Nainital is the most popular activity and is enjoyable by friends and families alike. A relaxing and scenic ride in the lake for around half an hour or an hour is a great option for tourists to consider. Yachting is also a recently introduced activity on the lake.
Timing- 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Charges- Under Rs 200
- Cable Car Ride
The ropeway in Nainital connects the town with Snow Point. The ride offers a stunning view of the Tiffin Top, Chine peak, Naini lake, and the entire valley. It is one of the safest ropeways in the country. This is a must try ride.
Timing- 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Charges- Rs 150 for adults, Rs 100 for children
- Horse Riding
Nainital is a place where those who wish to experience horse riding can grab the opportunity. There are several packages available wherein the entire ride covers points like Tiffin Top, Snow view point, Land’s End, Naina peak and so on. The exciting experience could be for a duration of around 2 hours and vary depending on the points covered.
Upon reaching on top you will get a breathtaking view which cannot be explained in words at all! You should definitely visit it!!
- Hiking/ Trekking
There are several hiking trails in and around Nainital for all adventure lovers trailing through the forests and covering various incredible points.
The Tibetan market is a great place to shop for local handicrafts and purchase souvenirs. The market is filled with shops with Tibetan handicrafts, ethnic clothes, scarves, accessories, and other trinkets all bright and vibrant. Mall Road is another place to hit for shopping which offers tourists everything that they could ask for.
The cuisine of Nainital is a blend of Tibetan, North Indian, and local cuisine. The most famous local dishes include ras which is a dish made out of a mixture of dals, baati, bhatt ki churkani, aloo ke gutke, arsa a sweet dish, gulgula a sweet snack. Even Nainital has a Chandni Chowk of its own offering pani puri, jalebi, samosa, momos and so on. The local dishes are a must try in Nainital.
A walk through the Mall Road certainly gives a glimpse of the local life and is a great place to shop, try the local cuisine and stroll around. Nainital is a quiet, pleasant place to visit at any time of the year as it offers enjoyable weather for the most part of the year. All things considered, all one has got to do is pick a weekend and travel to Nainital!