As I made my way up the magnificent hills of Uttarakhand for the umpteenth time, I realised that the fragrance and sight of the typical mountainous flowers, the little cottages and the pine trees still managed to enthral my senses and totally captivate my heart and soul. In complete contrast to the bare and desiccated sands of Rajasthan, where I live, the hills of Kumaon maintain a rich abundance of flora and fauna. The sight of a habitat so enriching and of such recreational value was truly reverberating and soothing to the mind and body.
The enchanting beauty of the evening had not even set in when I entered my destination; a place which appeared no less than paradise, Nainital. The first sight of this small hill station fascinated me and filled me with a strange sense of déjà vu. I felt as if, after centuries, I was finally back home. As the flood of lights hit my eyes, it left my mind and soul illuminated; little did I realise that those lights were only reflections; reflections of the star studded mountains on the eye shaped Naini Lake. This pristine lake is nestled between the glorious mountains of Nainital which are an abode of rich Kumaoni culture and society. This unusual geographic demeanour of the place instantly made it feel magical and welcoming.
Nainital is a highly favoured tourist destination and earns a significant part of revenue from its tourism department. Therefore, apart from the scenic beauty, the Naini Hills also envelop a host of tourist attractions; from recreational sources like a small adventure park, mountain expedition programmes, exotic picnic spots and boating to the taste buds-tingling Tibetan cuisine and cuisines from around the world. The trek to Snow view, Kilburry, Tiffin Top and the China peak have proven to be the most challenging trekking paths for those who yearn for adventure.
Restaurants and fun zones are interspersed with shopping stores and markets throughout this little town. From five star cottages to camps, the Mall road and the upper hills are host to an array of hotels of all categories and styles for the discerning to choose from.
Moreover, this seemingly remote hill station is well connected to all major cities through road and tracks. The nearest train station is an hours’ drive away at Kathgodam which is further connected to Nainital by well-maintained roads. Another very convenient way of travelling to Nainital is a variety of buses run by The Uttarakhand Roadways, making Nainital easy to approach.
Also, this centrally located hill station is conveniently connected to other Lake valleys of Uttarakhand. Hotspots like Bhimtal, Sattal, Kausani, Ranikhet and Almora are only hours away and are linked by well laid out snaking hill roads. The breathtaking view of snow peaks and Himalayas add immense value to the scenic beauty making the drive and the overall experience a truly memorable one.
This remote hill station houses a number of up end educational institutions that date back to the time of the British Rule in India. The buildings are masterpieces in themselves and are a clear reflection of British architecture.
This little town may be isolated but is a miraculous land in itself. A place right in the lap of nature, untouched by pollution and the daily pandemonium of urban living, it offers the traveller a veritable feast of scenic beauty and peace of mind. The rejuvenating experiences invigorate the body and soul and clear your mind of all its cobwebs. All these fascinating features ensure that Nainital holds a special place on your list of ‘Ten places to visit before you say bye’.
Photo credits: Dushyant Shah