Beautiful Summer Destination, Nainital - One of the most popular tourist places in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand with beautiful lakes and Himalayan ranges

Before year 2001, there were handful tourist destinations in India and in last 20 years lot of new places caught attention of travellers as well as tourists. And it was mainly driven by key factors like connectivity of these places through public transportation, hotels/resorts to stay in and that too was seasonal. In 20 years, tourism in India has evolved a lot as middle class got access to own vehicles, better per capita income and improvement in infra which is needed to support tourism around lesser known places. But today we are going to talk about a famous tourism destination which had pretty good infrastructure in 1990s as well. We are talking about Nainital in Uttarakhand state of India. Some of the key tourist destinations around hills of North India are developed or influenced by Britishers and some of the wealthy families used to have hotels in these towns like Nainital, Mussourie, Shimla etc.
 

Before year 2001, there were handful tourist destinations in India and in last 20 years lot of new places caught attention of travellers as well as tourists. And it was mainly driven by key factors like connectivity of these places through public transportation, hotels/resorts to stay in and that too was seasonal. In 20 years, tourism in India has evolved a lot as middle class got access to own vehicles, better per capita income and improvement in infra which is needed to support tourism around lesser known places. But today we are going to talk about a famous tourism destination which had pretty good infrastructure in 1990s as well. We are talking about Nainital in Uttarakhand state of India. Some of the key tourist destinations around hills of North India are developed or influenced by Britishers and some of the wealthy families used to have hotels in these towns like Nainital, Mussourie, Shimla etc. 


Over the years, these places have changed a lot. From tourism standpoint, Nainital has become a huge summer destination for many and number of tourists visiting every year is increasing by huge numbers. At the same, lot of travellers are avoiding places like Nainital ad there are multiple reasons for that. At the end, it boils down to your personal choice and kind of things you want to do or explore when you step out of your house. Nainital is not a place, if you are planning to look for a peaceful break. For that you may want to consider nearby options like Naukuchiatal or Pangot and few more, we will list in the bottom of this blogpost. 


Nainital is a place if you are looking to spend time in hustle bustle of it's Mall Road, which has it's own charm or do boating in one of the most beautiful lakes surrounded by high mountains, or explore some of the old British architecture in the woods of Naini town. Nainital is also a good place to do shopping of woollens, candles and local fruits in season. Is that all? No, there is much more which is likeable about Nainital along with some of the recent struggles tourists have started facing here. 

Let's start with understanding how to reach Nainital from different cities of India.     How to Reach Nainital by Air :      Nainital doesn't have any airport/airstrip and The nearest airport to Nainital is located around 70km in Pantnagar, although the frequency of flights to Pantnagar is not that high. Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is the nearest big airport to Nainital.Delhi is very well connected to Indian cities as well as global cities. From Delhi you can either hire a taxi or book a car on rent and drive. If you haven't driven in North Indian hill stations, taxi is a better option.

Let's start with understanding how to reach Nainital from different cities of India.

 

How to Reach Nainital by Air : 

 

Nainital doesn't have any airport/airstrip and The nearest airport to Nainital is located around 70km in Pantnagar, although the frequency of flights to Pantnagar is not that high. Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is the nearest big airport to Nainital.Delhi is very well connected to Indian cities as well as global cities. From Delhi you can either hire a taxi or book a car on rent and drive. If you haven't driven in North Indian hill stations, taxi is a better option. 

 How to reach Nainital by Road:     Nainital has good road connectivity with several cities and small towns of north India. Daily bus service to Nainital is available from Delhi and Kathgodam. There are quite a few options in terms of luxury AC buses, semi-delux AC buses and transport buses. Boarding an overnight bus from Delhi is the most convenient way to reach Nainital and that what I have during my early trips to Nainital.


How to reach Nainital by Road:

 

Nainital has good road connectivity with several cities and small towns of north India. Daily bus service to Nainital is available from Delhi and Kathgodam. There are quite a few options in terms of luxury AC buses, semi-delux AC buses and transport buses. Boarding an overnight bus from Delhi is the most convenient way to reach Nainital and that what I have during my early trips to Nainital.

 

How to Reach Nainital by Rail:

 

Kathgodham Railway Station is nearest one for Nainital which is approx 35 km. Plenty of trains connect Nainital with Delhi and Dehradun. Kathgodam is a beautiful railway station and from here you can have a taxi for your hotel in Nainital. 

Now that we have talked about all these options for reaching Nainital there is a very important factor to consider in terms of time you plan to visit Nainital. If you plan in summers, be sure that you know that your vehicles are now allowed to go inside the town. So you have to drop your vehicle at a spot and then take local cab. Then you can take your vehicle during a small window of time early in the morning or late evening. Know about these details. 


Now let's talk about some of the interesting things to do when in Nainital Town of Kumaon.  


Who doesn't like to boating and specially when you are around one of the popular lakes of India. Nainital lake has been very popular in Bollywood movies and lot of songs are shot while doing boating in the Naini Lake. But that's not the reason, I am recommending a boat ride in Nainital. Boating is a good way to be in the lake and explore the surroundings of the lake while sitting at one place. Niani lake is surrounded by Mall Road, which leads further to local markets of the town.

Boat ride in Naini Lake (something which is a must do) :

Who doesn't like to boating and specially when you are around one of the popular lakes of India. Nainital lake has been very popular in Bollywood movies and lot of songs are shot while doing boating in the Naini Lake. But that's not the reason, I am recommending a boat ride in Nainital. Boating is a good way to be in the lake and explore the surroundings of the lake while sitting at one place. Niani lake is surrounded by Mall Road, which leads further to local markets of the town. 

There are are different types of boats to chose from. You will also see yachts in the lake, but those belong to Nainital club and not available for tourists. So you can chose between the boat which has paddles and other one is with oars managed by boat owner. 

On a good day, you see snow-capped peaks on one side while doing boating in Naini Lake and the Cheena Peak or the Tiffin Top in other directions. I have lost my photographs of Nainital due to HDD crash and some of the remaining photos are below average.  


Timingsof Boating in Naini Lake, Nainital : Every day, 6 AM to 6 PM

Charges/Fees for Boating in Nainital: Starts from INR 150 and goes on to INR 500 (per person)


If you are interesting in Kayaking, that's also possible now in Nainital. Just make sure that you go through reliable guide. 


You have multiple places for great Sunset views around Nainital, especially Hanuman Garhi :  Hanuman Garhi is a popular place where lot of tourists visit and not only tourists, pilgrims from different part of the country visit this temple dedicated to lord Hanuman and Lord Ram. If you plan to go there, plan your visit in the evening as its a beautiful place to witness magical sunset. And if you are interested in temple, there are some very interesting stories associated with this temple in terms of how it came into existence, who played a key role so far in developing it etc.


You have multiple places for great Sunset views around Nainital, especially Hanuman Garhi :

Hanuman Garhi is a popular place where lot of tourists visit and not only tourists, pilgrims from different part of the country visit this temple dedicated to lord Hanuman and Lord Ram. If you plan to go there, plan your visit in the evening as its a beautiful place to witness magical sunset. And if you are interested in temple, there are some very interesting stories associated with this temple in terms of how it came into existence, who played a key role so far in developing it etc. 

Make a note that you need to walk to reach this temple and hence do your own research to figure out if it's a place suitable for everyone in your group or family. 


Evening walk around the Naini Lake and Mall Road of Nainital :  I have great memories of Shimla Mall Road and especially those strolls on the Mall Road during evenings. There is something special about malls roads of hill stations and I loved walking around the Mall Road of Nainital. It's a magical experience with lights reflecting on the surface of Naini Lake on one side and interesting cafes, restaurants, shops on the other side. I can walk for hours on the Mall Road which stretches further to local markets of Nainital


Evening walk around the Naini Lake and Mall Road of Nainital :

I have great memories of Shimla Mall Road and especially those strolls on the Mall Road during evenings. There is something special about malls roads of hill stations and I loved walking around the Mall Road of Nainital. It's a magical experience with lights reflecting on the surface of Naini Lake on one side and interesting cafes, restaurants, shops on the other side. I can walk for hours on the Mall Road which stretches further to local markets of Nainital. 


Shop at Candle shops of Nainital :

I find it interesting that Nainital has plenty of candle shops on the Mall Road and have good variety in terms of size, shapes, designs, fragrances and some crazy magical candles. Even if you don't want to shop, it's worth going inside these shops and know what all these stores have to offer. Generally, these candles can be good souvenirs for your loved ones from Nainital of Uttarakhand. 


Nainital also has a Zoo, so visit if you are there with Kids :

It's always debatable in my mind if it's a good thing to visit Zoos? Are we encouraging this practice of caging animals for human entertainment of education. Not sure what's right and if you have specific views on it, please share through comments. 


Hike to Tiffin top for beautiful views of Himalayan Ranges :    Tiffin top is of the beautiful peaks around Nainital which offers great panoramic views. For locals, Tiffin top is one of the favourite places for  picnics.


Hike to Tiffin top for beautiful views of Himalayan Ranges :


Tiffin top is of the beautiful peaks around Nainital which offers great panoramic views. For locals, Tiffin top is one of the favourite places for  picnics. Tiffin top is located on the Ayarpatta Hill and from this place one can see the city of Nainital on one side and the beautiful Kumaon hills on the other side. It's a beautiful hike and highly recommend if you like hiking or walking when weather is good. I loved this hike and in general I love walking around. There are no charges for going on to this hike or to the top. 


Adventure Sports around Nainital :

Most of the adventure sports which you get in other hill stations are available in Nainital as well. For some you may need to move out a little. Things like :

Paragliding

Rock Climbing

Mukteshwar is located in Uttrakhand state of India and Chauli ki Jali is very exciting place for adventure lovers. I also had an exceptional experience of rock climbing at same place. Chauli ki Gali is a huge rock standing still on a hill and facing a deep valley.


Rappeling

Adventure is the first word that comes to mind when we hear about Rishikesh. Rafting is of-course the primary adventure sport of Rishikesh but now there are various companies with are organizing Rock Climbing, Rappelling and Trekkings around Rishikesh. There is another company which is specialized for Bungy Jumping and Flying-Fox. Let's check out from Photographs and exciting videos from our latest trip to Rishikesh, Uttrakhand (INDIA).Here is an interesting video of Bungy Jumping. Swapnil was the first one to try this and then one more group member did it.Rumjhum, Sanchit & Garima enjoyed Flying Fox at Rishikesh. This sounded more exciting to me. Garima really had fun doing Flying Fox as well as Bungy Jumping at Rishikesh.We were staying at ASPEN Camps and they arranged Rock Climbing & Rappelleing for us. Although this experience was not that exciting but I am sure that there must be some great places in Rishikesh to have good Rock-Climbing & Rappelling experiences.During our stay at Rishikesh, we noticed various Rappelling places around Ganges. While we were rafting, we noticed many camps near Ganges and organizing such sports activities for guests.Rafting is no doubt a special adventure sport of Rishikesh and it's sort of synonym for Rishikesh. Majo tourism in Rishikesh is because of Rafting & spirituality associated with Ganges.Trekking to various places around the hills is one of the exciting activities that I love a lot. These were waterfalls that we explored during our stay at Rishikesh.

Kayaking

The lady in above photograph was busy in kayaking with her little girl and both of them were in sync most of the times. It seemed that she was also training the kid and in few minutes the little one was ready to contribute.

White River Rafting

Rafting or white water rafting is one of the challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water having different levels of water-current. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. Rafting is considered an extreme sport, as it can be dangerous as times. This Photo Journey shares some of the photographs of Rafting in Risikesh, which is one of the popular places in India to do White Water Rafting.Recently we were in Rishikesh with office friends and Rafting was one of the top item in our list of things we wanted to do. We started in bus from Aspen Camps in Rishikesh and then boarded to jeeps with rafts. We had to start from Marine Drive which is a huge Ganges beach with enough space for folks to prepare and get started. Marine Drive is a place, strategically identified to start Rafting. Shivpuri is another preferred place to start Rafting. Idea is to make people comfortable with various types of water-rapids and then gradually start enjoying various stretches in river. Ganges provides a good range of water rapids and makes rafting an unmatchable experience.Rishieksh is one of the main places to do rafting in North India. Long time back I had done rafting in Vyas River near Kullu and that time all other rafters were professionals and I was covering a particular camp for Tourism Development program. Since I was not much involved in rafting activities, I couldn't enjoy it much that time. At Rishikesh, we had a wonderful coach/leader, who made rafting experience as great fun.After reaching Marine Drive Ganges beach, everyone of us got life jackets, a pedal and helmet. All three important things were with us and coach told us the best ways of using these three. All set with tight life-jacket, well settled helmet and appropriately gripped pedals we stepped into the raft after cleaning our feet in ganges water. It's recommended not to bring sand particles inside the raft, which can harm later. The coach threw chilling ganges water on us to start the journey in chilled water of ganges with different current levels. Coach with one of other Rafting professional entered into the raft. Then he briefed everyone of us about different commands like fast forward, move backward, stop etc. Initially it was difficult for us to gram every details of each command, but every command was very important for best rafting experience.Apart from basic Rafting commands, coach/leader also tells about basic rules of White Water Rafting. He also understands about each person sitting in the raft about their past experience with water. He also shares some basic steps for people who are not comfortable while sitting in raft. Of course, there are some standard rules to sit on a raft and make yourself comfortable even when body needs to stick with raft through feet in a particpular position. The Thumb rule is to listen your coach and follow him without any alternation, even in difficult situation. Idea is to trust the coach/Leader and follow his/her commands with any panic.So we started with baby steps and raft started moving towards Rishikesh (Lakshman Jhoola). For first 10 minutes, we were really slow and it was more of practice session, wehere coach was making us prepared for following his commands throughout the whole stretch we had to do in river. After practicing all the commands and moving our raft in circle, coach/leader asked us to stand on boundaries of raft and balance with pedal mounted on raft top. None of us could gather courage to stand on the boundaries and negotiated with coach/leader to stand inside the raft and try to balance with pedals. It was one of the major test for us and raft moves a lot. Many times, some of us stumbled and others were getting impacted because of imbalance. This task completed and coach/leader asked us to move forward.First we encountered Good Morning Rapid which is the beginning of Rafting experience. Good Morning rapid always come of the way and it doesn't matter that what was your starting point :). It was very basic but yet exciting because of first encounter with relatively fast flow of water-waves. Before hitting the rapid, some of the screaming while others were laughing to hide the fear :)All these photograph in this Photo Journey are clicked day before we did rafting. One day before we did rafting, we kept going to different places around river bed to shoot rafts sailing through high rapids of Ganges white water. Above photograph shows one of the raft getting up side down at Golf Course. One of the other leader jumped into the water to rescue raft and then every rafter. Within 5-8 minutes everyone was back on top of raft and moved forward towards Laxman Jhoola, which was end point. In such situations, ideally, everyone should listen carefully to what leader says and follow with panic. Things can get worse in case of avoidance of leader commands.The modern rafts are inflatable boats, consisting of very durable, multi-layered rubberized (hypalon) or vinyl fabrics (PVC) with several independent air chambers. The length varies between 3.5 meters and 6 meters, the width between 1.8 meters and 2.5 meters. The exception to this size rule is usually the packraft, which is designed as a portable single-person raft and may be as small as 1.5 metres long and weigh as little as 1.8 kilograms.Rafts come in a few different forms. In Europe and Australasia, the most common is the symmetrical raft steered with a paddle at the stern. Other types are the asymmetrical, rudder-controlled raft and the symmetrical raft with central helm (oars) or Stern Mounts with the oar frame located at the rear of the raft. Rafts are usually propelled with ordinary paddles and or oars and typically hold 4 to 12 persons. In Russia, rafts are often hand made and are often a catamaran style with two inflatable tubes attached to a frame. Pairs of paddlers navigate on these rafts. Catamaran style rafts have become popular in the western United States as well, but are typically rowed instead of paddled.Check out more at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RaftingAfter Good-Morning rapid, we crossed - Black Money, Three Blind Miles, Cross Fire, Shivpuri, Return to center, Roller Coaster, Tea off, Golf Course, Club House, Initiation, Body Surfing, maggie point & Cliff jumping, Double Trouble, Hilton and fianally Ram Jhoola. I went till Golf Course only and most of the other rafts from our group ended at Lakshman Jhoola.The most suitable time for River Rafting in Rishikesh is from September to November and from March to April-May. One of the best rivers in the world to experience the sheer exhilaration of white water rafting, it is the sheer invincible power of the Ganga river that often attracts the adventurer to the challenging sport of river rafting at Rishikesh.Generally White Water Rapids are divided into 6 levels of difficulty.Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level required is very BasicGrade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skillGrade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: experienced paddling skills)Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: whitewater experi\\Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: advanced whitewater experience)Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill level: successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill and is considered by some as a suicidal venture)In Rishikesh, we have crossed rapids of Level-3 difficulty as max. But it was great fun to face level three rapids. Water comes on to your body and pushes back and sometimes people get down into the water due to thrust.White water rafting can be a dangerous sport at times, especially if basic safety precautions are not observed. Both commercial and private trips have seen their share of injuries and fatalities, though private travel has typically been associated with greater risk. Depending on the area, safety regulations covering raft operators may exist in legislation. These range from certification of outfitters, rafts, and raft leaders, to more stringent regulations about equipment and procedures. It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a rafting operator before signing on for a trip. The equipment used and the qualifications of the company and raft guides are essential information to be considered.Like most outdoor sports, rafting in general has become safer over the years. Expertise in the sport has increased, and equipment has become more specialized and increased in quality. As a result the difficulty rating of most river runs has changed.


A day trip to Pangot for Birds :


I never knew that I was a mountain person until I visited Pangot. I have always been a nature-lover but never knew that mountains provide a premium view of it. The peace you can find in the mountains is unmatchable. A person who loves solitude is definitely a mountain person and I’m one of those.

Pangot is a nearby place which is popular amongst birding enthusiasts. If you have interest in birds, this place can be a wonderful for a day outing. It's relatively peaceful place in comparison to Nainital and has decent places where you can have lunch. 


Where to stay when visiting Nainital : 

Nainital has diverse options to stay and it depends what kind of property you are looking for and where. There are lot of hotels around Mall Road of Nainital and as you go little away, you can find more spacious resorts. Home-stays are also there but make sure you do advance booking during summers. 

Lot of people now prefer stay outside Nainital or nearby hill stations like Bhimtal, Naukuchiatal or Pangot and plan day visit to Nainital. You will find multiple recommended hotels, resorts, homesteads on our blog in Nainital region of Kumaon. 


Now let me share a spoiler as well. Over the years Nainital has become very commercial and chaotic due to increase in tourists visiting here, construction which is covering lot of green space of the hill station. Traffic is a huge problem and I can go on. Lot of people prefer other places like Saattal, Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal. And if someone wants to also experience commercial side of Nainital, they plan a day trip. So it depends what kind of vacation you want. If you want to spend more time around nature, try to stay in a resort in surrounding areas. If you want to know specific s, please drop a comment below and we shall share more specific details. 


Let's also talk about some of the other interesting places to explore around or on the way to Mukteshwar (Other interesting places to explore in Uttarakhand state of India) :


Let's also talk about some of the other interesting places to explore around or on the way to Mukteshwar (Other interesting places to explore in Uttarakhand state of India) :


If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -

- Manage your waste well and don’t litter.
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.
- Don't play loud blaring music in forests or jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.

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