Nainital – The Jewel of Kumaon – Reaching there – I

Why do we need vacations? There is a very simple answer to it. We need vacation to rest, rejuvenate, relax, as well as to recharge ourselves at least for the next few months. It’s very important to get away and de-stress oneself in today’s world. When we work for a living, we must get away from the work once in a while.

Mercury has already touched the season’s highest of 42 degree Celsius and hot winds blowing throughout the day. The heat and high temperature will only increase by every passing day. In this unbearable scorching summer, we usually tends to accommodate ourselves either in office or at home or at places in the comfort of an Air Conditioned environment, which make us feel comfortable irrespective of boiling temperature outside.

We, the Ghumakkars, also use this as a perfect excuse to have a getaway to a much cooler and pleasant place and plan our vacation to the nearest hill stations. This trend to go to hill stations during summer is not new. Most of the hill stations in India were developed by the British, who established hills stations as their summer capitals during their rule in our country.

Summer vacations in schools and colleges also provide a platform or a reason for us to have a family vacation so that the entire family can spend some quality time together. You will find hill stations all over India and for the people, who stay in Delhi & NCR; the advantages are far too many. There are many popular hill stations within a range of 350 Km and each place has their unique features and beauty that cannot be compared to any other. People go to hill stations in summer because due to their high altitude, offer cooler temperatures and so are really pleasant to visit. I am sure most of you have already planned your summer vacation and look forward to hit the hills or beaches around the globe. For all those who still haven’t decided where to go, this post may help you to decide a place to beat the summer and there are people who are already in love with the place may plan for a revisit.

In March just after Holi, we had three consecutive holidays from 29th to 31st of March, 2013 and we planned a short trip to the hills of Kumaon. I have a soft corner for mountains and hills and have been to quite a few of these hill stations in India, but never in Kumaon region. We planned to go to Nainital twice earlier in 2005 & 2006 but had to cancel our train tickets at the last moment.



Since then, it was always in our dream to be there someday. We had no idea about the place, except a few like a picturesque lake making it an excellent place for boating activities and full of natural beauty, which was a popular summer retreat for the British.

We were also made aware of the fact that almost all the hotel rooms offer a great view of the lake. We didn’t want to take any chance and booked our room for two days,  in KMVN Tourist Rest House, Sukhatal in advance.  We expected a lot of people visiting the place as most of the offices would be closed during these three days. We were excited to go to Nainital and also to have a view of the lake from the terrace in front of our room while sipping a cup of tea in the morning or evening.

We planned to reach Nainital before 12 noon. At 3 in the morning, on Good Friday, the 29th of March, 2013, the three of us started from Gurgaon and within 30 mins we found ourselves on Nizamuddin Bridge and from there it is a straight road till Rampur on NH-24.  On our way, we crossed Indirapuram – Ghaziabad – Hapur – Gajraula – Moradabad and then Rampur. You can plan to have your breakfast near Gajraula, as you can find number of food options from dhabas to luxury hotels, including McDonalds.



Agricultural Fields of UP

Agricultural Fields of UP

There are few routes to reach Nainital once you reach Moradabad By-pass. The first one is straight towards Rampur – Bilaspur – Rudrapur – Haldwani – Kathgodam – Nainital and the second one is through Moradabad – Tanda – Bazpur – Kaladungi – Nainital or another one on Kashipur – Ramnagar route. However, I was not aware of the Kaladungi route earlier and drove straight towards Rampur. Rampur is ~25 km further from the point from where you need to take left turn for Tanda – Bazpur route.  Once you reach Rampur (Rampur Railway Station on your right), take a left turn towards Rudrapur.

We reached Rampur around 7 in the morning. The distance from Gurgaon (IFFCO Chowk) to Rampur is approx. 210 Km and road is in excellent condition, nice and decent. From Rampur to Rudrapur, it was just opposite; the road was full of potholes. Practically, in Bilaspur the road is deteriorated so badly, you can’t call it a road anymore. Traffic was very very slow. It took us nearly two and a half hour to cover a distance of 40 km. The condition of the road improved drastically after Rudrapur.

Rudrapur - Haldwani Road

Rudrapur – Haldwani Road

Finally, we reached Kathgodam, via Haldwani at 10:30 a.m. Though it is one way, the road is in excellent quality and a pleasure to drive. The lake city of Nainital (at1938 metres above sea level) was just 35 km away and was waiting for us.

It would have been great if there is a toy train rides up to Nainital, I was thinking while driving. The drive of 35 Km, away from traffic with nature is the most memorable part of our journey. We rolled down the windows and allowed the cold breeze to welcome us.

It's an enjoyable drive

It’s an enjoyable drive

You can enjoy your drive

You can enjoy your drive

I would have love to be in co-passengers' seat

I would have loved to be in co-passengers’ seat

Destination doesn't matter anymore

Destination doesn’t matter anymore

Numerous times, we parked our car at a safe place on the way to capture the beauty it offers. Then all of a sudden after a turn, a cool, fresh mountain air seemed like heaven’s nectar welcome us and a huge lake is in front of us, out of nowhere. We wanted to savour every drop of it. We entered Tallital part of the lake. After paying an entry fee of Rs.100/- and  drove through the Mall Road and reached Mallital, the other part of the lake.

Finally we made it

Finally we made it

We couldn’t find our hotel KMVN Tourist Rest House (TRH, Sukhatal) and with the help of traffic police, we came to know that the Hotel is further up and they showed us the direction of the TRH, Sukhatal.  On our way to the hotel, we went passed by the High Court. TRH, Sukhatal is located a bit off from the mall, approx. 1 Km up in the hill from the Lake and guarded amongst the trees. There is a dried up lake (hence the name Sukhatal) and came to know that it fills up with water during the monsoon. We were slightly disappointed thinking that we won’t be able to view the lake from our room, as we thought before. The room was very spacious,  neat & clean  and the Himalayas were visible from our room. It brought back smile on our face. It can be a very good place to stay,  if you are traveling  by your car. However, if you are reaching Nainital by train or bus, this place may not be ideal for you. Reaching there at night from the Mall would be a difficult task if you don’t have your own vehicle.  I don’t know whether any other mode of transport is available there or not. You can book rooms online through KMVN website. It costs us Rs.2,200/- per day. There are few categories of rooms, you can check the details online, including their availability.

KMVN Tourist Rest House

KMVN Tourist Rest House

Neat & clean, spacious room

Neat & clean, spacious room

A brief summary of the route:

  • Gurgaon to Rampur – 210 KM (NH-24 : excellent road)
  • Delhi (from Connaught Place) to Rampur – ~185 (NH-24 : excellent road)
  • Rampur to Rudrapur – 40 KM (NH87: Road condition is very bad)
  • Rudrapur to Kathgodam – 35 KM (NH87: excellent road, you will enjoy the drive)
  • Kathgodam to Nainital – 35 KM (NH87: I have no words to express…fantastic road)
Waiting for the food

Waiting for the food

It was 1:15 p.m. and we were informed that Lunch would be ready by 2 p.m.  We were extremely happy to fulfill our dream to reach Nainital after seven years. We decided to take a tour of the city after freshening up and taking our lunch at the Rest House…(to be continued)


  • vinaymusafir says:

    A good start-up.
    I am also planning to go there. Let’s see, when will my dream be fulfilled.
    Waiting for next part of travellogue.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Yes, Nainital (and places around it) indeed is a great hill-station to be. During rush time, the mall is too crowded but as it thins down, one can just sit there for hours.

    I take a different route these days. Rampur – Swar – Bazpur – Kaladhungi – Khupra Tal – Nainital. Between Swar and Bazpur about 8 KMs is broken but it is is still better than Rampur-Rudrapur mess. Mordabad-Tanda-Bazpur is worse.

  • Yeah, it is really a very nice place indeed…even a person like you who is going there on a regular basis, the charm will never end.

    On our return, we took the other route…Nainital – Khupra Tal – Kaladhungi – and then somehow we reached Ramnagar – Kashipur and then Moradabad…just before Kashipur road is broken for few km but manageable…I think that is between Swar and Bazpur (not sure about the place)…though it was 30 km extra but we save time and drive was peaceful.

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Good post with complete information……….

    I have been there many times but It’s not my favourite place due to heavy crowd, I always prefer Mukhteswar for peace & scenic beauty.

    thanks for sharing…….

    • Thank you Saurabh.
      I heard a lot about Mukhteswar from lot many people, posts and there are few posts published here recently. ‘ll definitely go there someday for sure.

      …liking a place is all relative, we have no choice but just fall in love with such places.
      Do visit this space for the next.

  • Thanks for refreshing the memories !!!

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Hello Amitava Ji….

    Thanks for rewind my memory on Nanital…

    Your Post is very informative & Picture are awesome….


    • Hi Ritesh
      Thank you…last year when I read your post on Nainital – I realize what I was actually missing…and made up my mind to go there at the earliest…and finally we were there.

  • ashok sharma says:

    nice post,good pics.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Excellent Photos and post! You are putting your camera to good use nowadays. Its been a while since I have been to Nainital. All these posts from Kumaon are making me restless!

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you Nirdesh for liking the photos, as well the post.
      Nikon D5100 is extremely good and ‘am still learning its’ features and there are so many of them…
      You can plan for a trip during this month or next month…

      • Wow! So, you have D5100. Same to same as mine. I have also recently bought D5100 to replace my Sony HX10. This camera’s low light shooting capabilities are tremendous and I try to exploit that to the most. Which lens did you get with it? 18-55 ?

        While it is apparent that you are using your camera nicely, one or two things may be added. Looking at your pics of Nainital lake etc., I can suggest one thing, “While taking pics of distant objects in our landscapes, we should try to include something in foreground also. This adds to our interest and creates an illusion of depth i.e. three-dimensionality. Including a few branches of a tree near you in the viewfinder serves the purpose splendidly. This may be used to frame your distant object. The combination of near and far subjects in the picture supplies the much needed feeling of depth. This feeling is available in some of your pics – “I would love to be in co-passenger seat”, “Destination doesn’t matter any more”, picture of the zigzag road while approaching Nainital.

        I will try to include this topic in my next Insight.

        • Yeah…it is one of the best in that segment…and ‘am still trying to figure out its’ features. So, you know why I’m eagerly waiting for your Insight post…’ll look forward to your next.

          It comes with 18-55 and I am resisting my temptation to go for a 300 mm, at the moment due to budget constraints and may take a few months’ time.

          You are absolutely correct in pointing out the same. I just thought to post these pictures, though I have taken other shots and will use them in subsequent posts – hope you will like them.

          Thank you,

  • Nainital is a place where I have always wished to be but couldn’t till date. Once I had even booked our bank’s holiday home for 3 days but at that time my son was just two months old. My mother didn’t permit us to take the infant to such a cold place (even though it was May 1985 ! ) But in those three days when we should have been in Nainital, Saharanpur became as cold as Nainital after heavy rains and hailstorm ! So, we had lakes flowing in every street of Saharanpur, thunder storms and rains for two-days non-stop !

    Moral of the story : If you have planned to visit Nainital, do honour your plans otherwise if you don’t visit there, Nainital will come to your city. :D

    • Thank you.
      Why don’t you plan to go there now. I also had the same feeling of you till last March and then we realized what we missed for so many years, once we reached there…

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