There is mention of Nainital, in the chapter Manas Khand of Skanda Puran, where Nainital is mentioned as Tri-Rishi-Sarovar (river of the three sages). The three sages were on a pilgrimage and upon finding no water in this region to quench their thirst hollowed out a hole and tapped water into it from the sacred Mansarover Lake in Tibet.
Nainital is also renowned as one among the 64 'Shakthi Peeths'. When Lord Shiva was carrying the charred remains of Goddess Parvathi to Mount Kailash, it is understood that the left eye (nain) of the Goddess fell here and thus the name Nainital (Naina and Tal meaning eye in the lake). The existing lake is supposed to have the shape of an emerald eye and the Naina Devi temple is located to the North end of the lake.
Nainital is a scenic hill town in the State of Uttaranchal. This place is situated at a height of 1939 meters and houses some spectacular peaks and hills. Nainital is located 34kms from Kathgodam, the entry of Kumaon and is the last station of the Northeastern Railways.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam is 34 km from Nainital and is the gateway of Kumaon hills. This station is well connected to and from Delhi and Howrah and Lucknow. Lalkuan, located 60 km form Nainital is linked by means of narrow gauge to Agra, Bareilly, and Lucknow.
By Air: Delhi is the nearest airport for both domestic and international flights. Nainital is well connected by road from Delhi and Lucknow.
Nainital is the coldest region when compared to the rest of the Kumaon region. April to mid-June is the most pleasant time to visit Nainital. From late June to September, monsoon sets in and heavy rainfall is experienced. Winter sets in from late October and gets severe in December and January and begins to ease off during March end.
Summer is the right time for sporting activities in Nainital, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hot ballooning; mountaineering, trekking and golf are the favorite sports. Many competitions are organized during summer and this attracts a lot of tourists to Nainital. Horse riding, fishing and angling can also keep the traveler entertained.
There are both luxurious and budget accommodations at Nainital. If you wish to visit Nainital in summer then ensure you have done your bookings well in advance to avoid disappointment. While at Nainital, shop for pine items, candle sticks and wooden sticks.
Places of interest in Nainital
Naina Devi Temple: Located on the northern shore of the Lake, this temple was fully ruined in the 1880 landslide. It was later rebuilt and is the most famous attraction of Nainital.
Raj Bhavan: Governor's house was built in 1899 and is an example of Gothic architecture. It was built to serve as the summer residence for the Governor of the Northwestern Province. It is a two-storied mansion with 113 rooms, a swimming pool, large garden and golf links. Permission is required to visit the place.
St. John in the Wilderness: The church was established in 1844 and was named by the then Bishop of Kolkotta. He had come to lay the foundation stone of the Church and eventually fell sick and had to spend the night in an incomplete house close to the forest. This church is close to the Naina Devi temple.
Snow View: Located at an altitude 2270 m on top of the Sher-ka-danda rim, it is accessible via cable car. On a clear day, travelers can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Himalayas along with Nanda Devi, Nanda kot and the Trishul. You can catch the best views in late October and November.
Tiffin Top: Also called Dorothy's seat, this place is a terraced mount peak, located on Ayarpatta hill at 2292 m altitude. This place is a memorial built for the English artist, Dorothy Kellet, by her husband and her admirers after she passed away in a plane crash. The place is a 4-km hike from the town and offers the most excellent sights of the nearest countryside.
Naina peak: Also famous as Cheena or China peak, this is the highest peak in the town and stands at an altitude of 2615 m. It is situated 6 km from the North end of the town. The peak offers a panoramic view of the town of Nainital and the Himalayas as well.
Gurney House: The house of Jim Corbett is situated on Ayarpatta hill and now houses the Corbett memorabilia. The surrounding hillside is densely populated with oak, deodar, pine and rhododendron.
The other places of interest are the High Court of Uttaranchal (the former Secretariat building), High altitude Zoo exhibiting the rich flora and fauna of Nainital, Land's End and Laria Kanta.
Excursion trips from Nainital
- Jim Corbett National Park - India's oldest National Park - 63 km from Nainital.
- Bhim Tal - Named after Bhima in Mahabharata houses a 17th century temple complex - 22 km from Nainital.
- Mukteshwar - View point of Himalayas and also houses the Indian veterinary research institute - 52 km from Nainital.
- Hanuman Garhi - a brilliant view point for setting sun.
- Khurpa Tal - Beautiful Lake - 10 km from Nainital.
- Naukuchia Tal - 26 km from Nainital.