Nainital : The city of lakes

There are four most popular hill stations in Northern India that has the tag of “Queen of Hill”. These includes Shimla, Mussoorie, Nainital and Manali. Indeed the natural beauty of these places are unparalleled and everyone  has its own unique beauty. Shimla being the state capital of Himachal Pradesh and the capital of India under the Britishers host multiple of Victorian style architecture, Mussoorie too has been largely influenced by English style of living but also a part of Buddhist followers since long. There are many popular monasteries in the Mussoorie which still remains on the priority list of any visitors. Manali on the other side has both Hindu and Buddhist mix tradition. When you will about to reach Manali, the golden colored trees along with the crystal clear water of beas river welcomes you in an unprecedented manner and the same goes with Nainital. Once you deboard the train at Kathgodam railway station, you will see plenty of greenery all around along with hills in the background. The very first view itself promises the good way ahead.

I planned a trip to Nainital with my wife in the month of August during Independence day vacation. We boarded on Delhi Anand Vihar-Kathgodam Shatabadi Express at 6:15 from Anand Vihar Terminal. The 270 km distance was covered in 5 and a half hour and it is one of the best option to reach Kathgodam. The breakfast and newspaper were given on the board. With the slight delay we reached Kathgodam around 1 PM. Just outside the station there were many private taxis available with both reserved and shared option. The charges varies between 150-250 Rs per person depending on your negotiation skills.

nainital road

The road was quite good and as we start ascending a sense of calmness soon started setting inside. There were less traffic, that means less honking and almost no pollution. As it was the month of Monsoon in India so we too experienced drizzling on the way, which is quite common in hills as a sudden change in weather is likely to happen. This time we planned to stay away from hotel to get a more relaxing experience. Our destination was “Home Away From Home” run by a retired Army men. We quite liked this place as it has offered the magnificent view of Naini lake.

hotel nainital

First day we decided to simply relax and soaked in the environment. The dinner was served by the staff of the hotel and there were options to asked them to prepare something of your own taste. It was a two room set with a kitchen at our disposal. The evening was spent with a hot cup of tea and some snacks while talking with the owner Colonel sir about the past and present of Nainital and how much changes he has witnessed in all these years.

naini lake

Naini Lake

Next morning we started our city tour first by visiting Naina Devi temple. This temple is dedicated to goddess Naina Devi. It is believed to be one of the 64 Shaktipeeth’s in India, where parts of Goddess Sati’s body fell. At this place her eyes fell, and hence the temple and the goddess is called the Naina Devi. Besides temple of various deities the unique attraction of this temple is large number of fish along with the wall of the temple, constantly feeding by devotees. After temple it was time to do boating in the lake. As I remember less than 150 Rs was charged for a 30 minute ride. The ride in Naini lake was incredible. First it was little fear but then it was all fun. Seeing the lake from outside and being inside in the middle of the lake was entirely different experience.

boating in naini lake

Boating in Naini Lake

Due to the rainy season the mist was all around and has completely covered the lake. Luckily rain didn’t happen. There were boats of different shapes and design. One can also hire a motor driven boat to sail on its own. The entire area was buzzing with host of activity. Different food stalls, tea venders, local articles and hundreds of tourists were making this place noisy. If you are looking for a peaceful time then this is certainly not the place.

naini lake

Naini Lake

There was also a big open area which is also a playground for locale. A football match was going on there amidst the cheer of enthusiastic crowd. We also sat for some time and watch the match till its end. The crowd, the environment, the energy level everything was just superb. This big ground also doubles as a parking lot and can handle hordes of cars in the peak tourist season.

nainital parking

Parking, however is always an issue in hills. This one parking at the rooftop of a building catch my fascination. Due to the space crunch the optimum use of resources is always important in hills. Nainital also levied a tax on every private car entering in the municipal limit. Due to high influx of tourist vehicles in Nainital it somehow looked justified.

nainital parking

We then hired a cab for local sightseeing in 600 Rs. The first destination was Lover’s point and Suicide point. Due to heavy fog nothing much was visible. The next point was this waterfall, which was an ideal destination for couples to click photographs. There were few eateries outside where we had lunch. Nainital offers standard North Indian cuisine with ease.

nainital water fall

Further we moved towards a point known as “Khurpataal”. It has a very scenic view and a beautiful lake. The place is an ideal gateway for those who loves peace and solitariness away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is considered to be anglers paradise.

khurpatal

Khurpatal

The next place in our itinerary was Eco cave park, that comprises a natural cave and a musical water fountain. Nothing special was about it as most of the caves were closed due to Monsoon.

nainital eco cave park

Nainital Eco Cave Park

Our final destination was the Nainital Zoo. The Zoo was near to our place of stay so we keep it at last. This high-altitude hillside zoo has some large enclosures containing Himalayan animals, Siberian tigers, leopards and lots of pheasant species.

nainital zoo

nainital zoo

This one enclosure had lot of carnivores.

nainital zoo

Though the zoo was small but most of its enclosures were situated uphill, therefore it was not easy to walk. After spending good 2 hours we came back at our place.

nainital

View of Nainital from Naini Lake

Next day our train Anand Vihar Shatabadi Express was scheduled at 3.45 pm from Kathgodam. We took a cab that charges 125 Rs per person till Kathgodam railway station. It was a relaxing weekend that we enjoyed thoroughly.

21 Comments

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Nainital is a complete paisa-vasool place, esp during the season. But the mall does get very crowded. During summers, it is hard to believe when you see the crowds.

    I often go that side but its been a while I went to Nainital during winters and I am hoping that this winters, I am able to make it. Thank you Amit for sharing your Naini story with us.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      I am familiar with your love towards kumaun Himalaya and remember that you were probably looking for a permanent place for your stay in that area. The proximity from Delhi and the beauty of Kumaun hill also makes this place more desirable for Delhites.
      I have learned about “Home away from home” by a post of fellow ghumakkar, and it was indeed comfortable stay with one of the best view of the lake.

      Amit

  • Hi Amit,

    Beautiful post. Nainital is really full of Tals, Bhimtal, sariatal etc. Clouds/fogs over Naini lake is actually hiding its beauty. I liked your post.

    I have also read one of the most beautiful post on Nainital written by our author Nirdesh Singh, which you may read it here

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/nainital-the-last-leaf/

    Please read that, you may also like it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Vivek Kumar Srivastava says:

      Right Anupam,

      “nainital-the-last-leaf” is a most beautiful post on Nainital. Photos are awesome.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Hello Anupam Ji,

      Thanks for liking the post. I have gone through the link you send me and I was spell bounded that how beautifully the mood of Nainital was captured by Nirdesh. I visited during monsoon when mist were all around blocking the views of almost everything. Still I consider myself lucky to experience those blissful moment at Naini lake.
      Thanks for sharing this link, I am also going to compliment Nirdesh for his imaginative command over words.
      Regards
      Amit

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Wow Amit,

    As always a beautiful post with mesmerizing snaps. Recently returned back from Shimla & Manali, the discussion I had with you few days before my tour proved very helpful in Shimla.

    Thanks.

  • Venkat says:

    Amit, nice post on Nainital. The mist covered pic of Naini Lake looks very inviting.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Venkat.
      You know monsoon is my favorite season to visit hills, because after the rain it looks like someone has cleaned the house for your arrival. The colors gets saturated and you can sense a wonderful fragrance all around.

      Amit

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear Amit,
    Your log refreshed the memories. A very good log, Nainital is beautiful in all seasons with varying essence in each climates. Thanks for sharing.

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    very good and refreshing post,pics are good too.you have given good details including some prices etc. too.that Home away from home seems to be interesting.it would have been better if you had shared the room rent etc at that place and how to book a place over there,i mean any phone no.etc could have been of great help.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Hello Ashok Ji,

      Thanks for liking the post. If you want to book the facility you can contact to the owner Col. Kiran Dangwal on any of these numbers : 09411107798 , 05942-233812, 09312326050, 09410143022 or you can also mail him on kiran_dangwal@yahoo.com. I have his bank account number too, for transferring the amount, but I am not mentioning it here on public platform to protect it from any misuse, either he will tell you or I can give it to you if you required.
      The charges varies according to the season but you will find it more than reasonable considering every factor.

      Regards
      Amit

  • Can someone confirm which hill station is officially ‘Queen of Hills”? I see Ooty, Mahabaleshwar and many other places are often called “Queen of hills”

    Or do we have too many queens!

  • We frequently call and even some official site of respective Govt and its institution call these as the Queens of Hill. They are:-
    A. Mussoorie as Queen of the Hills
    B. Ooty as Queen of Hill Stations
    C. Darjeeling as The Queen of The Hills
    D. Shimla: The Queen of Hills
    E. Nainital- The Queen of the Kumaon Hills.

    Different places, different queens. Dont you like that? Dont you like many queens? He He

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Amit Ji…

    Very Nice Description & Picture.

    Last Monday I was in Nainital …

    Thanks

  • Amit Kumar says:

    Thanks

    Glad you liked it.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Amit,

    When Delhi is scalding hot, Nainital seems like just what the doctor ordered. Looking at the beautiful photos it seems Nainital looks pretty in all seasons.

    Lovely post about a place we all love.

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