Total distance to Nainital was 49 kms from Mukteswar. We took “Bhowali-Ramgarh-Mukteswar Road” to reach “Haldwani-Bhowali Road” and from the junction I diverted a kilometer to NH109 to get fueled. Important note for everyone that If one wish to visit Mukteswar with a petrol vehicle, its better to get fueled up from “Bhowali”. We moved on from the junction to Nainital through 109 and reached there around 1200hrs.
Our halt was at “Hotel Maharaja” which was at the zoo road of “Tallital” and I did not feel very comfortable to park in that extremely elevated, narrow and congested road, where the parking lot was just in front of the hotel in a very cramped space. So decided to park inside one of the government parking lot. The mall was very crowded and the parking lot near stadium was full so went to the second option of another lot nearby named “Metropolis” and took a taxi to reach at the hotel. Like other hotels at zoo road “Hotel Maharaja” looked a bit congested and clumsy but the interiors of rooms, decorations were good and though the view of lake from common small balcony was not so adequate but seemed bit acceptable than most budget stays at Nainital in that peak season. The internet service and food quality was wonderful while we stayed there. We booked a rental car for the afternoon to finish local sightseeing after lunch in our hotel.
Our first halt was at “cave garden” .A network of inter connected rocky caves and hanging gardens, it leads the visitor into a mysterious and ancient dream world and gives the tourist an encapsulated glimpse of what the wilderness of the hill region can offer right in the middle of civilization. An wonderful world of our prehistoric ancestors. Six caves were in the form of Tiger, Panther, Porcupine, Bat cave etc. There was a musical fountain inside the enclave first in Nainital to enjoy the evening with snacks which can be availed from inside the garden. On the way we passed Raj Bhawan near mall road which is an architectural construction from British era now being used as the residence of Governor of Uttarakhand.
The third site was Botanical Garden. The Himalayan Botanical Garden was developed in 2005. This picturesque and splendid garden is exquisite in its natural beauty. This garden has become a major tourist attraction of the region, especially for the tourists oriented towards the nature. The Nature Study Center provides a platform for education and learning to the students, scientists, researchers and botanists. The garden is blessed with some rare medicinal plants. The garden also has a collection of many endangered plant species, native of the Himalayan region, thus driving the attention of the conservationists from all over the country. It houses a rich collection of orchids, ferns, cactus, trees and aquatic flora of the Uttarakhand region.
The major attractions of the garden include a butterfly park, an orchidarium, library, fernery, herbarium, Thunia Alba orchid, Geodesic dome, waterfalls, cactus garden, bamboo hut, etc.A her-barium has been prepared for the botanists here and the endangered species of the Himalayan region are being developed. Bamboo enclosures have been constructed so that the medicinal plants can be kept safe from the landslides, which is a common phenomenon in this region.There are three demonstration areas in the garden where trees are planted from all over the Uttarakhand region.The Forest Department also developed a cactus garden and a bamboo hut at the Botanical Garden in 2011 for the promotion of tourism in the region.
The Cactus Garden is housed in a transparent geodesic dome that has been constructed in such a way that it gathers maximum sunlight to protect the plants from the frost and the harsh weather conditions, especially during the winter season. There is a unique collection of rare and beautiful cactus plants at the newly developed cactus garden. The Cactus Garden is the first of its kind in the Uttarakhand region with more than 90 species of cactus plants, which have been gathered from different places, which offers an exclusive experience to the people visiting the garden.
The new bamboo hut has been constructed for the visitors so that they can stay and rest in a serene and peaceful environment away from the noise and busy life of the cities. The bamboo cottage not only provides a unique experience to the visitors, but has also helped to popularize the use of bamboo as an alternative construction material which is cheaper as well as Eco-friendly. This is also likely to promote employment opportunities for the local inhabitants of the region.However, the botanical garden, no doubt, is an interesting spot for clicking photographs.
Emerald blue-green lake of Khurpatal is cradled in Nainital, which was another of our visit. It is encircled by the lofty pine and old cedar trees along the coast, boating is prohibited as there are mysteries ebbs which caused accidents. There is another lake named “Sariatal”. In the cool suburban area of the lake city, lays the jade green lake called Sariyatal which has emerged as a popular tourist spot in the recent times. There is falls of that lake also, which is also an attraction.
Another sport was “Tiffin Top” or “Dorothy’s seat” is another tourist attraction for nature lovers,
Located on “Ayarpatta Hill” it provides the visitors a 260 degrees view with mystic surroundings of Kumayon range all over. The place overlooking the far below Nainital city is an awesome place for photographers also.
Our last place to see was “Satyanarayan Temple” at the starting point of “kilbury forest” famous for bird watchers but before that was, “Barapatthar”- a rock climbing institute realistically and naturally, “snow view point”- a view point from where Himalaya can be watch at its best but unfortunately pollution claims its aggression in that divinity also so the horizon was foggy and we couldn’t see any snowy peaks, however those can be found in winter time.
We returned nearly around at 1630 hrs and walked passed “The flats”, which is also a tourist spot at Nainital. The flat is famous for its playing activities like volley, cricket etc and while we were there a cricket match was going on, apart from playing events many cultural fairs and festivals used to take venue over there. We made our way for boating at the lake.
The depth of this lake is said to range between 6 m to 28 m. Most Important Characteristics of the town Nainital has some unique features and physical characteristics. By far the greatest attraction is provided by the lake Naini. Flowing on the base of rising peaks. Seven hills encircle the Nainital Lake which are known as Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi Bandi, Cheena, Alma, Laria Kanta and Sher-ka-Danda. All of which are above 2000 meters. Of these, Ayarpata is so called from Ayar tree (Andromeda ovalifolia) and Handi Bandi from the echo (or devil’s laughter) which it is said can be heard here. Sher-ka-Danda means the tiger’s ridge and Laria Kanta is said to have been named after some forgotten goddess.
The Alma ridge has been named after the famous battle of Alma, fought during the Crimean war. The soldiers who fought in this battle were stationed in Nainital during 1857. The lake presents a view which lingers in memory. All around the lake is wide road, the Mall, now known as G. B. Pant Marg, which is crowded by pedestrian and automobile traffic, which is now restricted during evening of 1830hrs to2100hrs. All this is mirrored up and brightly reflected in the glittering blue waters of the lake. While we took the boat ride , noticed the water was quite filthy and had a proof of negligence of the authority.
There are many mythological stories related to this lake, especially its origin. Popular story says that Naini Lake was earlier known as “Tri Rishi sarovar”, meaning “the lake of three sages”. Three sages – Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha – of the saptirshi group landed in Naintal, during a pilgrimage, and did not find water to drink. They dig the ground and worshipped there, for getting water at the spot. The Naini Lake is also mentioned in the “Skanda Purana” as the Tri Rishi Sarovar.
After boating we took a walk through crowds at the Mall, purchased some gift items and back to the hotel by 2100hrs.
On 26th morning we went to Nainital zoo which was only a 20 minutes walk from our hotel at the end of zoo road. The only problem was the stiff elevation and it took nearly 45 minutes to reach there. A shuttle service is there to take the passengers to the zoo.
The high altitude zoo was a perfect place to roam for the first half of the day. Not many wide range of animals were there but the cleanliness was all over and the occupants enjoys a natural habitat mostly. The leopards, kinds of deer, Himalayan black bear, tiger, dogs etc, were in their prime conditions for show and in quite an open enclave type with many trees created busy formations. There were many kinds of high altitude birds also. While entering nainital one can find hoardings all over the roads advertizing the zoo. The Zoo was established in 1984 and is spread over an area of 4.693 hector area. The Zoo was opened to visitors on 1st June 1995 and is managed by “The Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo Management Society Nainital” from 1st March 2002.
We made the zoo within the first half of the day and returned to our hotel for lunch and took some rest before roam out at the Mall for some souvenir purchase in the evening. As we came downhill to the mall a sudden blast of rain came with small pebble sized ice, falling all over. We took a shelter at the police booth on the road and made a call to the hotel for their shuttle service. We returned back again after some time. All the tourists were in hurry to complete their schedule as the sky was still over hanging with the clouds. We made some purchases and soon after the rain came again and we half heatedly returned to our hotel.
The Bimtal and Sattal were almost on our return road to Lucknow on 27th may when curved the journey through Bhimtal. The total days programme was for 438 kms, while the first halt at sattal was of 22 kms. Following NH109 after 15 kms we took an almost 160 degrees hairpin turn to right to take “Kutani-Sattal Road”, which, after 6.5 kms lead us to Sattal.
“Sattal” is a cluster of pristine lake in captivating greenery of alpine forest consists largly of Oak and Pine trees. Sattal proffers an unruffled environment with abundance of natural flora and fauna. Calm and quite ambiance of Sattal makes this sleepy environment a special memorable attraction for the travelers. At the hight of 1219 m above the sea level ‘Sattal” enforce the twin effect of tranquility and serenity, the green gush of water and abandunce of green forest all over with the birds chirping within them.
“Sattal”, which comprises of “Purna Tal, Ram Tal, Sita Tal, Laxsman tal, Nal-Damawanti Tal, Sukh Tal and Garud Tal”, is may be the best unspoiled place with fresh water biomes in the Himalaya, where migratory birds used to come in there voyage of migration to avoid harsh climate of freezing cold. The place is heaven for birding,has became an ideal solitude for travelers wants to be engulfed by the vastness of nature.
We started at 0530 hrs in the morning and completed “Sattal” with a brisk walk near the tranquil lake within 0700 hrs. There were few travelers over there at that time,may be people who took a halt a “Sattal” and came out for a morning trek to enjoy the eternal beauty. I also noticed some bird watchers with there tripod on there solder and disappeared inside the adjacent vegetation. The days journey was near 450 kms and we had to add the hill way up-to near Haldwany, keeping that in mind we moved on.
From Sattal, the 13 kms of road to Bhimtal took less than half an hour, which was on our way of “Bhowali-Bhimtal-Haldwani Road”, the same road took us to “Haldwany”. Nestled at the height of 1370 m , Bhimtal lake is a pristine lake surrounded by dense vegetation of Pine,Oak and shrubs with a vast blue green water body. Though the vastness of the lake makes an enormous beautiful appearance but as the highway goes through the side of the lake and made a 90 degrees turn and takes a route along its boundary so the nature was not very abundant like Sattal, which was like, “far away from civilization”. Pedestrian footpath was made along the lakes boundary, there were few shops also hear and there which may give one , the bitter scent of civilization.
We stopped for a while near the lake , took some snaps and move on, with a little increased pressure on the pedal towards our nest destination Lucknow.