The Nainital tourist destination is the pride of the Kumaon region in Uttarakhand. While there are many other places equally beautiful, Nainital is certainly the most popular tourist destination in Kumaon. It’s a pleasant hill station. For tourists looking for hustle and bustle the best time to go is the summer months when a lot of traffic ascends from Delhi and the plains. The town gets equally crowded during the September/ October season which coincides with the Diwali and Puja holidays. However, like most hill resorts, it has its quite periods too. During the winter, Nainital is quite another beautiful experience when it reverts back to the local population and the crowds are absent. Peaceful, open, and invigorating.
In Indian mythology, Nainital is regarded as one of the 64 ‘Shakti Peeths’. Legend has it that a grief stricken Lord Shiva was carrying Sati’s body and one of her eyes fell here. The Nainital Lake is shaped like an eye and the town derived its name from the combination of Nain (eye) and Tal (lake). The Naina Devi temple is located at one end of the lake.
Lakes : Nainital has several lakes close by- Bhimtal,Sattal, Naukuchiatal, Khurpatal, Malwatal, Harishtal and Lokhamtal. Sat Tal (seven lakes) is 22 km from Nainital. Bhimtal is close by, almost the same distance from Nainital. Close to Bhimtal, 4 kms away is Naukutchiatal.
Sports and adventure activity : The Nainital Yacht Club has been encouraging sailing for a long time. Apart from yachting, one can canoe and kayak on the lake. Parasailing activity has started near Naukuchiatal Hot ballooning camps have sprung up near Sukhatal.
The Golf Club near the Raj Bhawan is a delight. For those interested in rock climbing and mountaineering, the Nainital Mountaineering Club would be a good place to start.
Neighbouring hill stations and towns : The quiet hill station of Ranikhet is 60 kms from Nainital. It is mainly an Army cantonment and thus has not grown the same way as other towns in Kumaon. Ram Nagar is 65 kms from Nainital and famous for being the place to access Corbett National Park, 50 kms away. Mukteshwar was once a British cantonment. It is located 52 kms from Nainital and is really quiet, green and picturesque. It offers some of the most magnificent views of the Himalayan peaks. The oldest town close by is Almora, 60 kms from Nainital. Steeped in Indian culture and traditions, Swami Vivekanada recommended Almora as a great place to meditate in. The Nainital, Almora, Ranikhet route can be made into an interesting itinerary for someone interested in a quick 3 day tour of the area.
Getting there : The nearest railhead is Kathgodam, 35 kms away. Kathgodam is a pleasant railway station with a quaint restaurant which looks as if it is frozen in time. Trains arrive at Kathgodam from Agra, Delhi and Lucknow. By road, Nainital is approximately an 8 hour drive from Delhi at a distance of 277 kms.