Nainital is a beautiful lake city in the hilly-state of India, Uttarakhand.
A Beautiful Lake surrounded by hills inhabited by the people of the town, is what how you can best describe Nainital.
Nainital has been the summer capital of the United Province, the British India.
A number of Bollywood movies including Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh’s Kati patang have been shot at Nainital. remeber the song ‘jis gali mein tera ghar na ho baalma..’.
The lake is equally beautiful round the year and tourists flock to the place for its lake, weather and ambiance.
The Nainital Lake is named after the local deity “Naina devi”. The temple of Nanda Devi is in the Mallital region near the lake. There is also a Gurudwara near the Nanda Devi temple.
A festival is held in the month of August on her name. Her idols are worshipped and then submerged into the lake. The festival is celebrated not only in Nainital but throughout the Kumaon and Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Places to visit in Nainital
Nainital city is only the hilly region around the lake, so if we talk about places to visit in Nainital city, the most attractive of them will be the Nainital Lake and the Nanda Devi Temple. There is also a big field just adjacent to the lake where a lot of sport and cultural gatherings are held. Still, Nainital lake remains the most attractive place to visit.
Now lets go a little far away from the city. The distance won’t be too far something maximum around 20 km, you will find a number of interesting places. And these places include a number of other small but beautiful lakes. Actually, I mentioned the ‘distance thing’ here, cause in the hills this distance also counts as far away, as in many cases you don’t find a vehicle and you have to walk as the only option.
So, let’s divide the places into two categories: Places to see in Nainital City and places to see in Nainital.
Places to visit in Nainital City.
Nainital Lake: Nainital lake is a beautiful lake. The lake has a circumference of around 3.25 km. The lake attracts the tourist as its a wonderful experience to row a paddleboat or sit on a rowing boat and see the city from the centre of the lake.
The Nanda Devi Temple: The temple of Naina Devi is situated on the lake-side at Mallital. Folklore also says that the two sisters Nanda and Sunanda, were attacked by an animal and their eyes fell in the lake. And hence the lake Nainital, ‘naini’ means the eyes. In the Nanda Devi festival, idols of both Nanda and Sunanda are worshipped.
China peak or Naina peak: It is the highest point in Nainital. The altitude of Nainital city is roughly around 2,000 meters from the sea-level. And Cheena peak or China peak is at altitude if 2,600 meters. The peak offers you a birds-eye view of the Nainital city on one side and on the other side, the panoramic view of the Himalayas. China peak is roughly a 6 km walk uphill from Mallital but it needs good stamina as the walk is steep.
Tiffin-top: Tiffin-top (or Dorothy’s Seat) is another altitude point in Nainital. 5 km walk uphill from Tallital. Tiffin-top gets its name from the time when Britishers going from Mallital to Tallital from this route and used to have their lunch here. And so the name Tiffin-top.
Snow-view: This is another high-altitude point at 2,270 meters. A quite popular destination in Nainital as unlike China peak and tiffin-top, you don’t have to walk all the way to the top. Snow-view is connected with Mallital with a rope-way. The trolly ride gives you a birds-eye view of Nainital Lake. Snow-view also gives you a bird-eye view of Nainital and a panoramic view of the Himalayas on the other side of Nainital. The rope-way charges you Rs.300/- for adults for both ways.
These are places that are just adjacent to the Nainital lake, hence mentioned as places in Nainital city. Now, time to cover a little distance.
Places to visit in Nainital
Hanuman Garhi: This is a Hanuman ji’s temple around 5 km from the Tallital end of Nainital.
Astronomical Observatory: A little distant from Hanuman Garhi Temple is this observatory. Also known as Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences: ARIES.
Khurpatal: Khurpatal is a beautiful small lake, around 7 km from Nainital from the Mallital end.
Pangoot and Kilbari: Pangoot and Kilbari are two small hamlet near Nainital famous for bird watching and beautiful Himalayan view.
Kainchi Dham. Kainchi Dham is famous for the Neem Karoli temple. It is 8 km from Bhowali on the Bhowali-Almora route. There is also a famous mela at this place called “Kainchi mela”. It is organised every year on 15th June. And is visited by thousands of followers of Neem Karoli baba Ji.
The Kainchi Dham is visited by pilgrims from across the world. Among these pilgrims, name of tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs is also included. Mark Zuckerberg visited the temple on the advice of Steve Jobs at the time of his struggling days.
Golu Devta temple at Ghorakhal. Golu Devta is the local deity of the Kumaon and Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
The temple at Ghorakhal, 5 km from Bhowali, is among the two most celebrated temples of Golu Devta. The other one is at Chitai, 10 km near Almora.
At Ghorakhal, there is also an army school called Sainik School Ghorakhal. It was established by the Nawab of Rampur in 1966.
The Golu Devta temple at Ghorakhal can also be seen in Bollywood movies like the 1958 classic of Bimal Roy, Madhumati. And in Shahid Kapoor starer Vivah (2006).
Ramgarh. Ramgarh in Nainital district of Uttarakhand is famous for its orchard and the serene Himalayan view. The weather of Ramgarh is also very pleasant round the year. And this also makes it enter the list of some not-so-crowded but beautiful hill-stations.
The place has good produce of Apples, Plums, Apricots and walnuts. Also, another local fruit ‘kafal’ is also quite popular here. If you arrive at Ramgarh or anywhere else in the Kumaon hills, in the months of May and June, ‘kafal’ is a must-try.
With all these fruits produce, Ramgarh is termed with ‘the orchard country’ or ‘the fruit bowl of Kumaon’. The fruits from here are exported to many other countries.
Due to the surplus produce of these fruits, many local organisations work to produce juice and squash from these. This helps in local employment as well.
How to reach Nainital
Nainital is in the hilly region and does not have a railway station or an airport.
Buses and taxis by road are the modes how it’s connected to the rest of the world. The buses and taxis are available at Tallital, this is one end of the lake. And on the other end of the lake, near Mallital, there is another point Sukhatal, where the buses connecting the route to Ramnagar Hault. All these places end with the term tal, this tal stands for ‘lake’
If you starting from Delhi and looking for Delhi to Nainital bus, you can board it from Anand Vihar Bus station (Swami Vivekanand Inter State Bus Terminus) directly.
From here Delhi to Nainital distance is around 300 km and takes around 7 to 8 hours. Delhi to Nainital Volvo and ordinary buses both are available. Recommended are government buses only and not to opt for private buses waiting for you outside the entry gate.
Or if you are starting from Dehradun, you can find buses at Dehradun ISBT. This again takes around 7 to 8 hours and the distance is around 300 km. You will find buses till Haldwani only.
Haldwani to Nainital is around 40 km. Buses and Taxi are available from here. Haldwani to Nainital taxi fare is a nominal of Rs.100/- to Rs.150/-. But in the peak seasons, its depends on the availability and the fare may cost you up to Rs.400/-. Buses are available but again, in the normal days it’s okay but in the peak season times, they are crowded.
If you are starting from Delhi only, you can also plan to drive from Delhi to Nainital.
Route from Delhi to Nainital is safe. And is easy to drive. But as the distance is more one can plan to have a substitute partner to drive, so that you don’t get exhausted while driving. Drive carefully.
Is it safe to drive from Delhi to Nainital at night?
Drive carefully. It is a highway, the road is smooth, except for some parts. But there are a lot of heavy vehicles in that route so you have to be careful, especially in the night.
Also, keep in mind, the route from Kathgodam to Nainital is a hilly-route and is zig-zag. So, only choose to drive from Delhi to Nainital if you are accustomed to driving in the zig-zag hilly-terrains.
Nearest Railway station to Nainital is Kathgodam railway Station, which is around 35 km from the Nainital City. And another one, Haldwani railway Station is just 4 km ahead of Kathgodam.
How to reach Nainital from Kathgodam
From Kathgodam or Haldwani further you can opt for a cab or a government bus to Nainital. Government buses are frequent but if you visiting the peak vacation months of May-June, it will be a bit difficult to get a bus. So, it’s better you inquire for a cab to Nainital.
From Kathgodam, they are available just outside the station. But from Haldwani, it will be a good option to take a local auto and reach Tikonia Chowaraha. This is where you can find a lot taxis, giving you a good chance to bargain.
Haldwani and Kathgodam are very well connected to a major North-Indian Cities by Rail. Kathgodam is the last station of this route. So, if you are planning for Delhi to Nainital by train or how to reach Nainital from Lucknow, refer the below image.
From Delhi to Nainital Flight isn’t available. The nearest Airport to Nainital is Pantnagar Airport at a distance of 75 km. Though this isn’t very well connected but do have a few flights connecting to Delhi and Dehradun and from there onward to rest of India.
From Pantnagar airport, you will find a few cab options for Haldwani and Nainital. These are a bit expensive but they are the only option available. You can opt a cab till Haldwani and find a bus or a shared cab to Nainital. OR you can opt for direct cab from Pantnagar airport to Nainital. It works both ways but hiring a cab till Haldwani becomes a little cost effective. If you are a group, the charges gets distributed and that gets in the budget. No direct Public transport is available from Pantnagar to Nainital.
Else, if you have landed at Indira Gandhi Delhi Airport, you can directly take a Express metro to New Delhi Railway Metro Station.
From here, you can directly take a New Delhi – Kathgodam Shatabdi Express to Haldwani or Kathgodam.
Or you can further take Delhi Metro to Anand Vihar bus Terminal or Anand Vihar Rail Terminal. And opt for Road or Rail transport as already mentioned above under “By Rail”.
And if you are landing at Jolly Grant Airport and plan from Dehradun to Nainital. Or from nearby city Haridwar, which is equally distant from the airport as is Dehradun.
You can hire a cab outside the Airport to reach Haridwar or Dehradun. Both, Haridwar and Dehradun are equally distant. And from there further Buses or trains can be chosen as per your convenience.