Nainital – The Jewel of Kumaon – Dream Fulfilled – Part – II

After a long drive, we finally checked-in at KMVN’s TRH, Sukhatal around 1:15 p.m. We were hungry and after freshening up, proceeded to the dining hall for lunch. The entire staff of the TRH, Sukhatal was very polite and willing to help whenever required. The menu doesn’t have much variety to choose, but the taste of their non-veg dishes was awesome. I always found a similarity in taste of chicken dishes in most of the hills of Uttarakhand. People may use some common ingredients which give a distinct taste to the chicken delicacies. We left for the Lake immediately after lunch.

We parked our car in the flats, which was formed due to a major landslide in 1880. The flats is a multi-purpose place, from parking to children’s playground to cultural activities. The parking fee is fixed i.e. Rs.100/- per entry, similar to the entry toll tax to the city. Since Nainital is a popular tourist place, the collection is no doubt huge from both these arrangements. If the authority also allocate some money to develop the sports ground in the flats, as well as to improve the parking area, it would be good. Playing in such a coarse pitch is extremely difficult for the children.

It was already 2:45 p.m. and as expected, the place was already jam packed with people like us. Our first view of the mango shaped lake, against a backdrop of the hills was charming.

The mango shaped Naini lake from cable car

The mango shaped Naini lake from cable car

Ramesh, our boatman persuaded us from the flats area to take a ride around the lake in his canoe shaped boat and finally we gave in to his request, since we anyway had to hire a boat. We bought a ticket for the full circle by paying Rs.320/- from the counter.

You need to hire boat from here

You need to hire boat from here

The lake is a natural freshwater one and is larger than what we had expected with a maximum depth of about 90 feet. Slowly the boat went around the lake. Ramesh started telling the story of Nainital willingly and we just loved the conversation with him. We came to know about lots of things about the place and the lake from him.

Beautiful Naini Lake

Beautiful Naini Lake

We enjoyed the boat ride with the mountains on one side of the lake and a whole range of hotels on the other. As we drifted away from the shore towards the middle of the lake, everything seemed smaller and smaller in size. Suddenly the sky became overcast with clouds and seemed like it would rain, when we reached Tallital side of the lake. Even in the month of March, we felt the cold as cool breeze was hitting our faces and sent an occasional chilly shiver down our spines. However, you can expect sudden change of the weather in the hills anytime.

Overcast sky - climate changed suddenly

Overcast sky – climate changed suddenly

We also came to know from Ramesh that few years back the lake became polluted and there was a significant drop in water level. Now, the Government has installed a filter plant inside a lake which runs 24 hours and it’s good to see that people are concern about the lake’s cleanliness and beauty.

There are many water treatment plants installed inside the lake

There are many water treatment plants installed inside the lake

Ramesh, the boat man

Ramesh, the boat man

Finally, our hour’s ride had quickly come to an end and he dropped us near Naina Devi Temple. We exchanged our numbers and he assured us to arrange a good hotel or guesthouse at a reasonable price near the lake, whenever we will visit next.

Naina Devi Temple

Naina Devi Temple

We went to Naina Devi Temple for a darshan.

According to the Hindu Mythology, the temple is one of the 64 Shakti Peeths; the eyes of Sati fell here, while being carried by Lord Shiva to Hima Parvat after she committed Sati by jumping in to Yagna fire. Her left eye having formed the pear shaped emerald blue lake of Naini Tal.

You can see a perfect view of Naini Lake from Naina Devi temple.

One for our family album

One for our family album

After our visit to the Temple, we were roaming around the Tibetan Market aimlessly. However, even our aimless walk was very much enjoyable. It is a typical market in the hills.

Children were playing carom in the street. Some locals were also selling fresh strawberries and mulberries in a special cone shaped leaf.

Children were playing carom

Children were playing carom

Only a few left for us

Only a few left for us

There are many small shops selling toys, sweaters, jackets, candles. We had to bought some sweaters and jackets, as we were feeling cold and weren’t carrying any woolen clothes with us. We never thought that we would require sweaters or jackets even in end of March, when Delhi is boiling.

For few timeless hours, we sat on one bench built along the side of the lake and looked on to the lake and framed many pictures in our camera, as well as framed the lake in our memory, permanently. Evening had almost set in and it was the twilight stage. The sight of the last of the boats returning to the shore was a wonderful experience. The lake which was the main attraction of the city was slowly became deserted and the small eateries and food joints across the road were coming up to life.

It's time to come back to the shore

It’s time to come back to the shore

We were also feeling hungry and strolled down the road to the Tibetian market; stopped for a couple of times in between to have a taste of the road side eateries for momos, thukpa, Pav-Bhaji, or all time ladies favourite “Golgappa”, combined with numerous session of tea.  We were also indulged ourselves in games like gun shots after a long long time.

The market place

The market place

Pav Bhaji corner

Pav Bhaji corner

Fun unlimited!

Fun unlimited!

From there, we went to Mall Road, which encircles the Naini Lake at the heart of the town and is dotted by numerous shops, many of them selling decorative candles for souvenirs. There is a Municipal Library like in Mussoorie. However, it was closed by then.

Durga Shah Municipal Library

Durga Shah Municipal Library

(Every city or even small town has a library. Hope someone in Gurgaon MCD is listening and again, we don’t need a Five Star or the best in the world kind of Library in the making. Just a simple Library, where we can go and read with nominal membership fees. If there is already one, please share the information with me.)

By 8 p.m., the Mall road was busy with tourists and people at large. We also had our share of corn & ice-cream while walking. Nainital is famous for designer candles. We were also amazed by the variety of show pieces crafted out of wax. There were candles in the shape of different fruits and animals, or even dancing statues. We purchased quite a number of wax items for everyone.

Famous Candles of Nainital

Designer Candles of Nainital

There is many restaurants from Chinese to South Indian to North Indian. We also had our dinner in one such restaurants in the Mall. By 10 p.m., when we finished our dinner, the road was almost empty.

The empty Mall Road

The empty Mall Road

It was a long day for all of us. We walked at a leisurely pace, water on one side and the mountain on the other, under the cool shade of the trees. However, the elegance of the lake is even more magnified during the night. We stood there for couple of minutes looking at the lake and finally returned to our hotel by 10:30 p.m.

We had not decided about our next day’s plan. So, before we call it a day, we thought to finalize our next day’s plan. We had few choices, either to explore nearby popular tourist points like Zoo, Dorothy’s point, Cave Garden, Snow View point etc. etc. or plan for a tour to see few other beautiful lakes e.g. Sattal, Bhimtal, Naukuchiatal, Khurpatal etc.

However, being from a place where we have seen many rivers and real big ponds, jheels (agree, without such natural beauty, hills) we were interested in somethings else. We found few pamphlets in the table, mentioning nearest spots as well as KMVN’s other properties in Uttarakhand.  It didn’t took much time for me to decide our next day’s plan, as soon as I picked-up one. When I told her about our next days’ plan, the first question was “Why would we be interested to go there?”.  She was not aware of the place that time. The brief description in the pamphlet came to her rescue.

I had already read about the place here in (how SS’s trip was spoilt by some uncivilized youth on the New Year’s eve few years ago), but had no idea about the way or how the road lies ahead of us, except that it is ~90 Km from Nainital as mentioned in the pamphlet.

We came to Nainital after seven long years of waiting to relax only for two days. Now I suddenly felt the urge to explore the thrills and mysteries hidden in Himalayas, as well as to unfurl the delights of nature like none has done it before.

It was a very good day since morning. I fall in deep sleep by mid-night while remembering about our journey since morning, as well as preparing myself for tomorrow’s driving to a completely unknown, difficult terrain 0f Himalayas, while enjoying the beauty of the Kumaon Hills towards ‘Jageshwar‘, our next destination. The Himalayas is beckoning me…(to be continued)


  • I have never visited Nainital but after reading your story,now it is must go for me. I will also try to cover Jageshwar.
    Pictures are beautifully captured and the first one is excellent.

  • Thank you Naresh for liking the post and the photographs.

    Both the places are worth of many visits.
    Unfortunately, we couldn’t go to other places & lakes around Nainital this time due to time constraints and there are other places like Mukteshwar, Ranikhet, Kausani, Auli, Munsiyari etc. etc….surely all of these places are now in my wishlist…let’s see how & by when we go there…

    I wish you to go there at the earliest.

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Good post Amitava Ji.

    This post is published separately though it is the series so Nandan Ji can look for this.

    Photo of mango shaped naini lake is beautiful. I remember my experience when I purchased strawberries, before purchasing it seems there are lot of berries after purchasing only few were there which are showing in photo.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and waiting for the next one…. Regards.

    • Thank you Saurabh.
      Yeah, you can have a good view of the lake from cable car. We were the second last customer to buy fruits from him – he must had a good & productive day in office.

  • Stone says:

    Its turning out to be another fascinating series by you.
    Really like the fluid narration, and your attention to the details is another thing worth appreciating.

    Hope you visited the Governor House too, that’s one of my fav. area.

    • Thank you Sandip.

      Regarding detailing, it is all because of this forum…like others, there are few changes in me while going to some places now-a-days…it’s not that I would have missed those earlier, but I am much more alert, keeping in mind the fact that I may like to share these with you as well.

      Unfortunately, it was a brief tour for us…and missed that during this trip. We are planning to go to that side sometime end of this year…surely I will visit the Governor’s House.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Amitava,

    I like to go to the hills in the winters when there are no crowds. But Nainital seems full even during March.

    Nainital looks pretty in your photos especially the evening lake photo. 90 feet is pretty deep. Do they give life jackets on the boat?

    Yes Praveen is motivating us all to go deep into the hills away from the cities.

    Nice post and enjoying Nainital with you!

    • Thank you Nirdesh.

      Winter in hills – I would have also loved to be there when hills are covered with snow, hills also look beautiful during rain as well…this was my first visit so I don’t know about the crowd during the season but the place was full of tourists when we went there in March…

      We were provided life jackets, everyone used the same, except me – since I love swimming and know it very very well. It’s time for my son to learn the tricks to float – may be once we reach home this Saturday, we can start the swimming lesson for him during his summer vacation or summer camp at home.

  • Kumar says:

    Hi Amitava

    Your posts on Nainital brought back memories of my trip to Kumaon in 2006 and 1998.

    The photographs, especially of the night life is really very good.

    • Hi Thank you so much.

      That’s one of the main objectives of any travelogues…a) bring back those memories and b) encourage others to visit the place…and also to encourage to write and share their take on the place to everyone.

      I am glad you like the photos.

  • Hi Omeet Dada, had’t enjoyed the Police Band in the night. Near Gurudwara and Tibbatan Mkt. The Police welcome touriest with their famous band in the open ground (five days a week) and any one can dance at his own whim and particularly children enjoy it very much.

    Thanks for sharing nice write up and good pics.

    • Tx Tridev for sharing this info.
      We weren’t aware of this before. We were there on Friday and in the evening, we spent our time in the Market – most probably, we had missed them or didn’t notice them.
      If we go there again in future, will definitely see them playing.

  • Hi Omeet Dada, had’t enjoy the Police Band in the night. Near Gurudwara and Tibbatan Mkt. The Police welcome touriest with their famous band in the open ground (five days a week) and any one can dance at his own whim and particularly children enjoy it very much.

    Thanks for sharing nice write up and good pics.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Hello Amitava Ji…

    Thanks you very much for nice post & Picture…..

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Saurabh – Have put this in a new series and linked the first part. Would do with next in a day or two.

    @ Amitava – Yes, I also had the same feeling. This one is pretty detailed. The pics and the text are giving a great insight into the local setup, the sights, the sounds and the ambience all around. Itching to go. :-)

  • Thank you Nandan.

    As I am heading for my home for my second summer vacation (first one just for a day three weeks ago and this one is going to be a long one), replying to you from a Howrah Rajdhani train, while about to complete a new post…yeah there is no Dil-Kol-Dil run this time, since I need to accompany my Dad while returning….due for next few months.

    Once I come back, I promise there will be some new, exciting stories for all our readers.

    Take care,

  • Bheemtal says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Thank you so much for such a nice information and photos of Nainital.
    You gave good information about Nainital and its places to visit .when I was reading your article I felt as if i am in Nainital enjoying its such a nice weather .You explained beauty of Nainital in such a fantastic way that I want to visit there, I will soon visit the place whenever i will get holidays with my family.


    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Hi Thank you for coming to this post and liking it.
      It was a beautiful trip for three of us and I am sure you too will enjoy the place.

      Do share your side of the story and we all would love to read.

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