Nainital is a prime holiday destination in Kumaon hills of outer Himalayas in Uttarakhand, India. Its beautiful lakes, temples and lush greenery make it a go to destination for many honeymooners. The city well-known for Naini Lake or Tal from where it gets its name; is divided in two parts with lake in the center; Talli-tal in south and Malli-tal in north. Legend says that when Shiva was wandering around with charred body of Sati, Vishnu used his Sudarshan Chakra to cut her body, and an eye or nain of Sati fell here creating the tal or lake. Considered one of the Shakti peeth, the goddess is worshiped as Naina Devi in a temple north of the town, a major pilgrimage spot. The modern town is connected by road to Kathgodam for rail travel and Pant Nagar for air travel.
Nainital was established by Britishers in 1841, after they won control of Kumaon hills from Nepal post Anglo-Nepalese War. The picturesque town surrounded by mountains namely Naina, Deopatha, and Ayarpatha; has relatively mild temperatures. This makes it ideal for tourist visit throughout the year who can enjoy themselves in the rains and snowfall. Tourists are advised to pack cloths as per season. For tourist advance booking for staying or sight-seeing is must to avoid rush. There are numerous places worth visiting in and around the town, namely Tiffin Top/Dorothy's Seat, Snow-view Point, Gurney House, Eco Cave Garden, Sattal, St. John’s church, Mukteshwar temple, Pashan Devi temple, St. John in the Wilderness church, Hanumangarhi temple, Shiv mandir, Peer Baba Mazar, Mall Road, and GB Pant High Altitude Zoo.
Other places worth visiting are Khurpatal, Kainchi Dham, Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary, Himalayan Botanical Garden, Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, Sariyatal, Bhimtal, Gurudwara Shri Singh Sabha, Sattal Christian Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Managir village, Sonapani village and Governor's House Gardens. Tourists can also visit Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an astronomical observatory in Manora Peak to observe stars/planets in the afternoons on weekdays; a lucky few can get a chance to watch the sky at night. Tourists can enjoy ride on Nainital Ropeway; which is India’s first ropeway that connects Snow-view point with Malli-tal, or take a walk on the suspension bridge.
Nainital has numerous hotels, resorts, cottages and lodges that tourist can avail depending on their budget; however, tourists are advised to ensure advance booking. Nowadays many people are renting out their heritage homes and villas as homestays; giving tourists a feeling of homely environment. Besides sightseeing, tourists can indulge in variety of activities such as boating in lake, trekking to mountains or forests, and horse-riding. For adventure seekers and nature lovers; trekking on foot to Naina Peak and Guano Hills is a favored option. The trek also allows birdwatchers to see Sunbirds and Himalayan Griffon Vultures in their natural surroundings. Other popular treks include treks to Land's End, Tiffin Top, Snow-view point, Betalghat, Binayak, and Camel’s Back. There are numerous tourist agencies with registered guides that organize such trips for tourists.
Tourists can also visit the famous education institutes like All Saints' College, Sherwood College, Birla Vidya Mandir, St. Joseph's College, and St. Mary's Convent High School. Prominent personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Kabir Bedi, Sam Manekshaw, and Rajiv Gandhi have studied in many of these institutions. Every year in October the government to promote Uttarakhand region organizes the Autumn Festival/Sharad Utsav, when art/craft mela, folk dances, theatrical performances and musical shows are held. For tourists interested in shopping, trip to shops in Mall Road market on banks of Naini lake is must. Shops here sell variety of branded or cheap products that tourists can buy depending on their budget. The Snow-view market, Bara Bazaar, and Tibetan/Bhoti market are also worth visiting. Tourists can purchase various items like wax candles, scarfs, and shawls. For foodies there are numerous cafes, restaurants and street-side food stalls in Nainital that sell variety of cuisines like North Indian, Chinese, Continental, Italian, Thai, Tibetan and local Uttarakhand cuisine. Tourist should try out local delicacies like Ras, Baadi, Bhatt ki Churkani, Aloo ke Gutke, Arsa, Gulgula and Bhel Puri. Pleasant weather of Nainital makes it a happening destination for tourists.