10 Places to Visit in Nainital For A Summer Vacay
Gorgeous in appearance and salubrious in climate
Gorgeous in appearance and salubrious in climate, Nainital is a veritable feast for the senses. You must take a trip to this scenic hill station at least once in your life to experience what the phrase ‘Heaven on Earth’ really means.
The word ‘Nainital’ comes from the two words ‘Naini’ which is the name of the eye-shaped lake in this hill station, and ‘Tal’ which means ‘Lake’ in the Garhwali dialect (more on this lake in a later section).
In the pre-Independence era, Nainital was the summer capital for the British officers working with the United Provinces. The popular hill station is today located in the State of Uttarakhand. It is not the State capital, but it is the judicial and economic capital of the State. The High Court of the State is located here, and also the HQ of the fearsome Kumaon Division. The Governor of Uttarakhand lives here in the State’s Raj Bhavan.
However, Nainital’s status as a hill station was cemented only after the year 1841, when the first British home came up here; it was owned by a wealthy sugar trader. Thereafter, many other houses started being built here rapidly, most of them overlooking the gorgeous mountains and the Naini Lake.
Set in the Kumaon Foothills, Nainital is a prime site for mountaineering and trekking.
Nainital is to the jaded city soul what oxygen is to the body. It is like a balm to soothe your nerves and uplift your spirits. There is scarcely a traveller who has visited Nainital and not come away with a lifetime of memories. Plus, it’s so beautiful!
* The air is purer than you have ever breathed. With air pollution raising its ugly head all over the country and especially in the cities, you battle poor air quality and a host of respiratory infections to boot. If you are tired of the constant pollution and seeing grey skies instead of blue, just head to Nainital. Breathing in the crisp and fresh mountain air will make you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the world!
* It is sparsely populated. Nainital has quite a low population of local residents. Most of the youngsters have migrated to Chandigarh and other cities in search of good job opportunities. If you don’t like crowded places, then you should certainly visit Nainital. Apparently, there are just 42,000 people in Nainital, give or take a few thousand, as per the 2011 Census. But there may be tourist rush in the summer months.
* It has an old world vibe that you will love: It’s a simple life in Nainital, a far cry from the crazed rat race of the cities. The local residents in Nainital believe in living simply and believing in a higher being, and their family oriented ways make them gentler, more caring and more humbler individuals. You will hark back to a simpler time during your visit to Nainital, when people dressed simply, were polite and considerate and did not care for material wealth as much as peace and happiness. Nainital is relaxing and comforting primarily for this reason.
* You will love the food on offer: Apart from eating the fare that you would find in most Indian cities, from rolls to pizzas, you must certainly try out the local cuisines in Nainital. It is simply delicious and not to be missed for any reason. Try out the best restaurants in Nainital or their famous street food joints for local dishes like ras dal, aloo ke gutke, baadi, bhat ki churkani, and the sweets like gulgula and arsa. Some of the best places to visit in Nainital are its street side eateries!
* It is an exciting shopping hub: Nainital tourism’s best kept secret is that it has many locally sourced and manufactured items for sale that you would not find anywhere else. Chief among these are handmade candles – they are so unique and well made, that you will buy a lot of them at one go! Besides these, you can buy fresh fruit sourced locally, such as mulberries, blueberries, peaches and apples, among others. You will also find food items made from these local fruits, such as jams and squashes.
Hill stations are best visited in the summer season, because they offer a respite from the blazing heat in the rest of the country. Nainital is no exception to this norm, so summer would be a best time to visit Nainital. In fact, the summer months between March and June are considered tourist season here, with the day time temperatures remaining pleasant. You can see all the interesting places to visit in Nainital, and even indulge in adventure activities. However, an even better season is the start of the winter, between October and mid-November. There are less tourists and you can move around undisturbed. Also, the weather begins to turn cold and you can see the beginnings of frost. We recommend avoiding Nainital during the monsoon season. The area is prone to landslides, and the roads become slick and dangerous to drive on when it rains.
Now that you have planned your vacation and booked your resort in Nainital, let’s get you acquainted with the top places to visit in this hill station. Be sure to add these to your itinerary:
* Naini Lake: The Naini Lake is the most famous distinguishing landmark in this area. In fact, Naini town is set around this lake, and it is possible that the town derived its name from the lake. Take a leisurely stroll around it with your partner, or simply enjoy the views. It is also possible to go boating on this lake, which your family will love and cherish. The boat ride takes about two hours, so carry water and snacks if there are youngsters in the group.
* Cheena or China Peak: The Cheena or China Peak is traditionally referred to as the Naina Peak by the locals. It is one of the best places to visit in Nainital, with the most stunning views from up high. While many prefer to walk right up to the top, you might enjoy taking a horseback ride up – it is less tiring and certainly a wonderful experience. The ride is a safe one, but do engage the services of a senior guide who is in complete control of the horse. Your resort can recommend a good operator for you.
* Snow View: It is one of the best places to visit in Nainital if you want 360⁰ views of the region. Visit Snow View for an exquisitely serene experience of watching the beauty around you from up high, in hushed silence and with the sounds of birds for company. You can trek up the trail to the top, or take the famous cable car that drops you to the top (there might be long queues in the tourist season, so arrive as early as you can). Meanwhile, another thing to do apart from gape at the valley, is to go trekking with a trusted guide, and make your way to the bottom of the Himalayan peaks.
* Land’s End: Yet another viewing point in Nainital, this is the place to be if you like staring at gorgeous vistas. It is actually a trekking location and both amateur and experienced trekkers will enjoy the trail. You can see the surrounding hills and also acres of pine forests alongside. There is also the beautiful Khurpa Lake to look at, and you can take pony rides here with your family.
* GB Pant High Altitude Zoo: Do you like wildlife? Do you like high altitudes? How about if you combined the two? This is literally one of the highest zoos in India, at an altitude of 2100 metres above sea level. It is a breathtaking property, full of hushed silence and the sounds of animals and birds. There are many endangered species of animals here, as well as those native to Nainital. Expect to see some real beauties, like Tibetan Wolf, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Bear, etc.
* Kilbury Bird Sanctuary: Nainital is rich in wildlife and several species of flora. If you like birdsong playing in the background and looking at pretty birds, then you should head to one of the best places to visit in Nainital – the Kilbury Bird Sanctuary. It is one of the highest bird sanctuaries in India (it is located about 2000 m above sea level) and is the only one to be located inside an actual living village. It has over 250 species of birds. Many of these birds are migratory, and you can see a lot of them during the winter months.
* St John in the Wilderness Church: Set in a dense forest full of deodar trees, this remarkable church was the site of a disused and unfinished house in the 1800s. There is an interesting story behind this church: it appears that St John, who was a bishop in Calcutta, was forced to move away from the city to care for his health and respiratory issues. He used this old and abandoned house in Nainital to recuperate from his illness, a surprising move since the house was not furnished and it was completely cut off from the mainland. Thus, the house got the name ‘St John in the Wilderness’. The house was later torn down and a church was built there in the year 1880, in honour of the over 150 victims who died in the region’s most horrific landslide a year previously. However, the church was named after the bishop who lived on the site previously.
* Eco Cave Gardens: This is a manmade set of caves set in a way that they interconnect via a common road. You will love how the road twines in and out of the caves, and your children will love the musical fountain created at the centre of the cave complex. There is also a sound and light show here in the evenings, but not during the monsoon season. Entrance to the caves is on a ticketed basis.
* Tiffin Top: Also known as ‘Dorothy’s Seat’, Tiffin Top is a viewing point that overlooks the Himalayan range. It is one of the best places to visit in Nainital if you are looking to bag some stunning photographs. The place was named ‘Dorothy’s Seat’ after a former British artist Dorothy Kellet, who would sit at the extreme point of the jutting rocks to paint the landscapes. Ask your resort or hotel to pack a picnic hamper and spend half a day at this scenic spot with your family.
* Mall Road: This famous landmark is among the most popular places to visit in Nainital. It is a long stretch of road originally laid during the British Raj. It was used in those days as a pathway through the town for walking, transport, moving cargo around, etc. It runs right through the centre of town, parallel to the Naini Lake. Today, it has hotels, banks, restaurants, home stays, stores, cafes, money exchange centres and travel agencies. It is normally abuzz with activity from both locals and tourists during the day time, while the evenings are more sedate but not during the tourist season.
Your holiday in Nainital will be made even more special when you book yourself and your family into a luxury resort. Let the resort in Nainital pamper you and attend to your every need. We recommend the Club Mahindra Naukuchiatal Resort for every kind of comfort and luxury for your stay.
Located in Uttarakhand, this exclusive Club Mahindra resort is the stuff of dreams. Check out the well-appointed rooms, gorgeous views from all around the property and also from the rooms, spa and other relaxing activity zones, children’s recreation area, and the restful vibe that the property has. Besides this, you can go walking to the nearest market (just 5 km from the resort) and indulge in some retail therapy. And you will love the amazing food on offer at this resort’s restaurant as well! So if you are headed to Nainital, you should certainly book yourself into the Club Mahindra Naukuchiatal Resort.
About Mahindra Holidays
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Resort Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Membership the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com