Saturday, September 23, 2023

9 Best Places to Visit in Nainital for a Quintessential Experience

There’s something special about Nainital that touches the heart, heals the body, and soothes the soul. Away from the maelstrom of noise, chaos, and pollution, this quaint town stands as a serene oasis in the lap of nature. Nestled amidst Kumaon Himalayas, Nainital is ready to delight you with its natural splendor, lush greenery, serene charm, favorable climate, and heartwarming hospitality. Even the diversity of places to visit in Nainital is impressive enough to cover all preferences.

Solo getaway, honeymoon, family vacation, or adventure trip – Nainital has something for everyone. Fasten your seatbelts, as we take you on a journey through the mesmerizing landscapes, sparkling lakes, and tranquil ambiance. Take my word for it, the enchanting wonders of Nainital will spellbind, inspire, and leave you clamoring for more. But before we delve into Nainital attractions, let’s walk you through some basic information that will help you fully appreciate the town and its offerings.

Nainital: An Overview

Nainital is a prominent hill station in Uttarakhand, sitting pretty in the Kumaon Himalayas at an elevation of about 2,084 meters above sea level. In the heart of the town lies the emerald mountain lake, Naini, which has social, religious, and touristic significance. Bhimtal, Sattal, and Naukuchiatal are a few other worth-visiting lakes dotting the town. So, it’s not for nothing that they call Nainital the “Lake District.” The town is perched amidst a panoramic valley encircled by seven hills, (Sapta-Shring) – Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi-Bandi, Naina, Alma, Lariya-Kanta, and Sher-Ka-Danda.

State: Uttarakhand Division: Kumaon
District: Nainital Area: 11.73 km2 (4.53 sq mi)
Elevation: 2,084 m (6,837 ft) Time zone: UTC+5:30 (IST)
PIN: 263001/263002 Telephone code: +91 – 5942

Nainital: History

The town has a long, vibrant history dating back to antiquity. In the lack of any credible historical documents, we don’t know much about the town’s ancient history, except that it was a part of the Kumaon kingdom and home to the Koliyan and Kirat tribes. Some historical records suggest that the Katyuri Dynasty held sway over the region until the 10th century. Once it declined, the Kumaon state disintegrated into multiple princely states and Nainital came under the Khasiya dynasty.

Later, the Chand dynasty reconsolidated the Kumaon kingdom and absorbed parts of the present-day Nainital district. It took Kirat Chand (1488 to 1503) to fully conquer Nainital and the surrounding areas, despite stiff resistance from the Khasiya chieftains. In the 18th century, Gurkhas briefly took control of the region. The British East India Company subdued them to gain control of the region in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-1816. It was under the British that Nainital became Nainital.

In the summer of 1841, P. Barron stumbled upon Naini Lake. Enamored by its beauty and serenity, he came up with the idea of transforming the place into a summer retreat for British soldiers who were finding it hard to cope with the unbearable heat of the Indian plains. The town saw rapid development in the following years, as it emerged as an educational, cultural, and governance hub. Victorian-style buildings came up across the town, many of which still stand tall as historical landmarks.

Nainital: Legends

Like any historical town, Nainital has its share of legends and folklore. The most prevalent legend links the town to Goddess Sati’s eyes. Beleaguered and deeply hurt by her father’s indifference, Goddess Sati jumped into the Yajna fire. Grieving and disillusioned, Lord Shiva dismembered Sati’s half-charred corpse and threw different parts in different directions. Her left eye fell in Nainital, forming a creator that houses Naini Lake. That speaks for the name, Naini (eye) and Tal (lake).

Some scriptures offer a passing reference to Nainital, which makes the town religiously significant. Take, for example, ‘Skanda Purana,’ which refers to the town as Tri-Rishi-Sarovar, meaning the pond of three sages – Atri, Pulastya. and Pulaha. These mythological figures, according to folklore, were once passing through the region on their way to the Himalayas. When thirst got hard on them, they summoned their spiritual powers to dig a hole and draw water from the earth, hence, Naini Lake.

Nainital: Tourism

Nainital has a picturesque setting for quixotic memories (meaning, selfies galore!). However, there’s more to Nainital than mountains and lakes. Embellished with old cottages and connected by a web of rambling streets, the town takes you on a journey into the past. With multiple historic temples, it even caters to those seeking solace in divinity. From boating and sailing to hiking, there’s so much for adrenaline-pumping action. Even the flora and fauna are diverse and breathtaking. With all bases covered, Nainital attracts nature lovers, adrenaline junkies, history buffs, and spiritual travelers.

The Times Of India tells us, about 9.1 lakh tourists flocked to this small town in Uttarakhand in 2017. In the following two years, the number reached 9.3 Lahks before nosediving to 2.1 lakhs in 2020, and 3.3 lakhs in 2021. With the pandemic out of the way and normalcy restored, we are seeing a sharp rise in footfall. As a sought-after tourist destination, the town has good road connectivity, public amenities, hotels in Nainital, and everything else that assures a smooth and enjoyable trip.

So, the best places to visit in Nainital are calling, and you must go, whether alone or with friends and family.

Nainital: Weather

Nainital offers an equitable year-round climate, perfect for tourism. The annual temperature hovers around 17.1 °C, with June being the hottest month and January, the coldest. It receives about 1903 mm of rain each year, mostly during summer. The month of May receives the maximum sunshine, averaging 11.39 hours daily and 353.15 hours monthly. July is the wettest month while November is the driest.

Best Time to Visit Nainital

The best time to plan a trip to Nainital would be from March to June, as the weather is pleasant and cool. It would be the ideal getaway from the city traffic and heat. However, most people visit here to witness the beauty of snow-capped mountains and cold weather. And, if you desire to do the same, November to February are the ideal months to plan a trip. During summer, the average temperature of this city stays around 28 degrees Celsius, which is quite pleasant when compared to the plains.

Nainital Trip Duration

A short trip spanning two to three days is satisfactory to take advantage of all this city has offerings. For the adrenaline junkies, a day or two can be added to the trip to this charming city, to experience the thrill of trekking here and exploring the city of Nainital on foot. You can consider a week-long trip, if you desire to fully explore the city and other surrounding areas.

9 Best Places to Visit in Nainital for a Quintessential Experience

If Nainital tourism is flourishing, it’s due to some awe-inspiring places that deserve a visit. We have compiled a list of attractions within a 100-km range of the town to help make the most of your trip in line with your expectations and sightseeing needs.

1. Mall Road

Mall RoadWish to get accustomed to Nainital? Why not take a stroll across Mall Road? It is one of the town’s attractions to visit in Uttarakhand. Lined by charming shops and cafes, the Mall Road has a unique and hard-to-resist touristy appeal that draws a deluge of visitors from the world over.

Officially referred to as Govind Ballabh Pant Marg, Mall Road is in close vicinity to Naini Lake, connecting Mallital and Tallital, the two prime constituents of the city. It is easily accessible as well, just a 4-minute walk away from the bust stand. You don’t even have to bother about the traffic during May and June when strolling on Mall Road in summer evenings.

You can spend your time shopping for wooden handiworks, handcrafted candles, and countless other novelties and keepsakes. However, Mall Road isn’t just about shopping. The lake glistening beside the street and the panoramic views of majestic mountains looming over you offer a special experience to cherish forever. And, if you feel hungry, barge into one of the local restaurants.

2. Tibetan Market

Tibetan MarketA couple of minutes’ walk from the Mall Road, Tibetan Market is a shopaholic’s paradise. From Tibetan souvenirs to fashion accessories and clothing, the Tibetan Market proffers it all and more. Expect great deals on each purchase provided you know how to negotiate.

Once you have shopped your heart out, it’s time to replenish and treat your taste buds. The authentic Tibetan delicacies available locally can leave you clamoring for more. Just try a bowl of Thukpa at Chinatown, you will tell tales of the flavor for years to come.

3. Naina Devi Temple

Naina Devi TempleNow that the Tibetan market sojourn is over, it’s time to explore the Naina Devi Temple. Located a stone’s throw from the Tibetan Market, the temple houses the two Naina. For the uninitiated, Naina refers to eyes. That speaks for the temple’s name, Naina Devi.

As per a popular legend, the beleaguered Lord Shiva ran around with the remains of Goddess Sati. But, somehow, he dropped her eyes in Nainital. Revered as one of the 51 Shakti Peeths, Naina Devi Temple is a key site for some plenary indulgence.

Even if you are not religious or spiritual, this temple offers an extraordinary sight of the mountains and the expanse of Malli Tal encompassing it. Naina Devi Temple, one of the hill station’s famous places, is an attraction that can not be missed.

4. Naina Peak

Naina PeakWhen you yearn to witness Nainital at its most authentic and purest, you choose to visit Naina Peak. From this point, you can get a glimpse of the entire Nainital and the Nainital Lake, which, from here, does resemble a mango.

If you wish, you can hire a cab from Mall Road to get to Naina Peak, or you can go on a trek — it is a feast for the eyes either way. Although it is one of Nainital’s famous spots, Naina Peak isn’t very crowded. You can relax here for a while, savoring the cool breeze and the soft sounds of nature.

5. Gurney House

Gurney HouseNainital isn’t merely about lakes, hills, and nature’s beauty. The place carries a historical significance that is worth exploring. The Gurney House is one such place of historical interest for people who want to delve deeper into India’s past as a British colony. Every corner offers relics of this era for the history buffs.

One of the most exciting sights in Nainital, Gurney House, is open to tourists, and it was the residence of Jim Corbett, hunter-conservationist and writer. Built in 1881, the house is located close to Nainital Lake. The cottage is well-maintained and radiates an old-world grace that is perfect for those who seek all things historic.

6. Snow View Point

Snow View PointOne of the best tourist attractions in Nainital offers a glimpse of the snow-capped Himalayas. A haven for trekkers and trotters, the uphill walk to Snow View Point delivers a rewarding experience and astonishing views of the snow-clad summit of the Himalayas.

You can get to Snow View Point via cable car for tourists who are not up for trekking. That, too, is an exhilarating experience in itself. Ordinarily, a cable car or ropeway is the way to get there, but a trek to this site can be much more gratifying for adventure-seekers.

7. High-altitude Zoo

High-altitude ZooZoos are and will always be the best places to hang out during a family outing. The high-altitude Zoo can offer the perfect spot for safe yet fun-filled adventures when you have children with you.

This place can be an entertaining experience for kids as they look closely at tigers, bears, a red panda, and various species of birds outside of their picture books. The diversity of animals here ensures that the high-altitude Zoo is one of the best places to visit in Nainital.

The zoo has numerous animal enclosures uphill, so it may not be a suitable option for elderly people. Kids, for sure, will have a grand time here!

8. Malli Tal

Malli TalIt can offer a perfect escape for those who are looking to spend some peaceful time during vacation. One of the most underrated spots near Nainital Lake, the Malli Tal, is the place where you can merely sit by the lake and let the fresh, crisp air make you forget everything urban chaos.

Nothing could be more therapeutic than merely sitting here quietly, observing the beauty of the vast surrounding lake as you enjoy the tranquility all around. For many, Malli Tal remains one of the best places to visit in Nainital. Get here early in the morning or in the late evenings, long after the touristy bustle has died down, to experience stillness like never before. You’ll fall in love with the tranquility!

9. Raj Bhavan or Governor’s House

Raj Bhavan or Governor's HouseOne of the top places to visit in Nainital, Raj Bhavan, is also known as the Governor’s House. It is currently the summer residence of the Governor of Uttarakhand. Best identified for its English-inspired architecture, the Raj Bhavan is prominently situated amid a vast blanket of lush greenery.

It can be one of the excellent places to visit in the hill station for couples looking to create picture-perfect moments. The gardens of Raj Bhavan with their Deodar and Oak trees turn the garden into an ideal backdrop for honeymoon snaps. Many guides are available at the entrance and will tell you everything about the history of Raj Bhavan, something that many enthusiasts are sure to find engaging.

9. Kilbury

KilburyStraight out of a Ruskin Bond book, Kilbury is among the most famous tourist spots close to Nainital. Although it is a famed picnic spot, the lightly isolated Kilbury is the perfect refuge for trekkers and peace seekers. The majestic deodars coupled with the misty atmosphere make Kilbury a magical location! Even the air here feels more restful, and the surroundings more serene.


Surrounded by green hills, embellished with old cottages, and connected by a web of rambling streets — Nainital offers a heartwarming stay for all its visitors. Add to it the favorable year-round climate and diversity of places to visit in Nainital, and this quaint hill station is a traveler’s delight.

The small town has a picturesque setting for quixotic memories (meaning, selfies galore!). Nainital’s charm comes from its many adventures — from boating and sailing to ancient temples and heritage buildings, and of course, spectacular views at every turn. Nainital is a crown jewel of Uttarakhand with stunning locales and diverse flora and fauna. Walk around to your heart’s content and explore as much as your wanderlust desires.

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Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar
Passionate about content quality and attention to detail, Rohit has penned over 15,000 copies for some of the leading online and offline publications in his eight-year career. Currently heading the content team at Dunia Ka Gyan, he believes in team spirit, ingenuity, and reader satisfaction.

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