Set around the shores of the beautiful Naini Lake fringed with graceful weeping willows, Nainital is a Himalayan hill station of wonderous charms. Tiny villas and ancient bungalows dot the mountain sides of Ayarpata and Sher ka Danda and sailing boats move with the breeze in the lake. As the sun sinks behind the mountains, myriad reflections of twinkling lights transform Nainital into a fairy land by night.
The name Nainital has been derived from Goddess Naina Devi, the presiding deity of the town. In 1880, a landslide destroyed the Temple of Naina Devi and other buildings in the town. The temple was rebuilt on the shores of the lake on the flat land called The Flat.
The first account of the lake was made in the writings of Commissioner Trail in 1841, and later on Mr. P. Barron of Shahjahanpur gave a vivid description of it and advocated that it would be a suitable place as a holiday resort. As I have said else where, the Britishers had this knack for finding beautiful and hospitable places on earth for their own habitation and Nainital being as such could not escape their attention. Thus in 1842 Mr. Lushington Commissioner of Kumaon constructed a house and drew up regulations for grants of land for buildings. Schools, hospitals, churches, clubs, bazars soon developed and within 15 years it was a popular British resort, so much so that it became the summer capital of the then “ United Province of Agra and Avadh” which today is Uttar Pradesh.
After formation of Uttarakhand state, Nainital has become the seat of Uttarakhand High Court. The sprawling Raj Bhawan of British times continues to be the second Raj Bhawan for the Governor of Uttarakhand.
Like Dehradun and Mussoorie, Nainital too is known for its top class public schools. Sherwood, St Josephs, Birla Vidya Mandir are some to name. The state Public Services Administrative Institute continues to be there from the days when Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh.
Nainital is a very popular holiday resort with boating and yachting on the lake, pony rides around the “Thandi Sarak” and uphill areas, and excursions to nearby picnic spots. The Boat Club provides yachts on hire. The ropeway to Snow View peak has become a big attraction for visitors. Merry joyful crowds can be seen going up and down everyday. During the tourists season, various kinds of cultural programmes are organised regularly. In the evenings, the happy holiday makers flock to the Mall road where restaurants, hotels, clubs, cinemas are located.
The lake measures nearly 1434 mtr in length 463 mtr in width and has an area of 120 acres with its deepest part being 28.4-mtr. By road, the circumference is 3622 mtrs.
Nainital is located 35 km from the railhead at Kathgodam.
Places of Interest in & around Nainital
Hanumangarhi 3 km. away this is a popular place of worship where there is a temple of Hanumanji. One can have the panoramic view of sun rise and sun set here.
Observatory 4 Km away on a hillock called Manora, there is an elaborate observatory for astronomical studies. Visitors can use the telescopes installed there to view planets and stars above.
Khurpatal 5 km. from Nainital this place looks a gem set into the vast terraced farms. It is here that the conifer belt merges with the sal trees. This is an angler’s paradise and the Tourist office may be contacted for latest rules regarding fishing permits.
Naina Peak (Cheena Peak) 6 km. From here (altitude 2611 mtr above sea-level,) is the highest point of Nainital. From here One can see the distant plains on the one side and the snow clad Himalayas on the other. This peak was so named as in the good old days visitors hoped to see the friendly China from here, but were largely disappointed. But now Naina peak being the proper name, one wonders why the authorities do not drop the name Cheena Peak for ever.
Laria Kanta 6 km. from the lake, at an altitude of 2481mtr above sea-level, this is the second highest peak of Nainital and commands a glorious view of the lake region.
Snow View 3 km. At an altitude of 2270 mtr above sea-level, this is the most popular spot in Nainital, as the ropeway takes visitors to this point only. Snow view is atop Sher-ka-Danda Hill. A powerful telescope is fixed here which enables one to view the Himalayan ranges.
Jeolikote 18 km. towards the railhead of Kathgodam, Located at an altitude of 1219 mtr. this is an excellent spot for those interested in apiculture and butterfly catching. This bee-keeping Centre of Uttarakhand Government is of some interest.
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