By E Kay with inputs from Paul Mashangva
Situated at an altitude of 2.084 metres above sea level, and named after the famous eye shaped #NainiLake situated in the heart of the town, #Nainital is truly a sight to behold. The town is built around this picturesque lake and is a very popular destination for domestic tourists as well as international.
The famous mall road runs along the side of the lake and is a nice place to hang out at. There are various cafes and hotels along this road and you can take your pick of cafe any time of day. #Legend has it that the eye of goddess #Parvati fell at that site when Lord #Shiva was carrying her body in the air in sorrow after her death. Thus, the place came to be known as Nainital, "Nain" meaning eye and "Tal" meaning lake.
Our journey started from Delhi by a moderately priced Volvo Ac bus. The journey was pleasant, however, the place of halts were not up to the mark. I can't even recall the place we stopped at for food. The distance from Delhi to nainital is about 400kms and it took us about 11hours to reach the beautiful hill station. We had to change our bus at haldwani for a smaller one as we were told huge buses like the one we were on were not permitted to travel to nainital. That shift took place at around 6am in the morning. Then on, it was a winding ascent up the mountains.
We did stop once at a roadside dhaba for a refreshing cup of tea. The moment we reached Nainital, the first thing that caught our eye was the Naini lake, bang on in the middle of town. Like mentioned earlier, houses are built all around this lake, and it's an uphill climb to get to anywhere.
We reached our accomodation which was a 15 minute hike up. After catching a few hours of sleep, we were off to explore the beautiful little town. We walked about the mall road and checked out the various shops, and found some souvenirs and woolen garments.
We walked to the tibetan market at the end of mall road where we shopped for a few articles and had scrumptious plates of dumplings. At the start of the mall road, there are a number of rickshaws and cabs that you can travel in to reach the #Tibetan market and areas around it. Towards the end of the road is the lake house, from where you can hire boats for boating in the naini lake. The entire stretch of mall road is filled with trees and is a pleasant walk with considerably less traffic.
So, moving on to the places of interest. First off, the Naini peak or #CheenaPeak which is a nice moderate hike of about 6kms from the main town. You can walk the entire way or take a cab up to a point and walk the rest of the route till the top of the peak.
Cheena peak takes around two hours for average trekkers and 3hrs for others to climb. The route towards the west is quite beautiful and as you reach the top you will find a small temple also known as Naini temple and a rest house with a care taker. Towards the north you can see the Greater #Himalayan Range(white mountains), peaks like #NandaDevi, #Trisul, #Panchachuli etc. And from the view point you get the breathtaking view of Nainital town. Considered by many as the best site in Nainital, it is a must visit for people visiting the hill station.
And of course, for those of you who are not up to climbing the Chenna peak, there's tiffin top for you, also known as #Dorothy's Seat which is about thirty minutes from Nainital, for average trekkers n about one hour for others. Ponies are available here too that take you to the top of the peak. This peak is more crowded and popular as it is an easier trek compared to other peaks like Chenna peak. It offers a partial view of Nainital town and more of the green forests around.
Other than the usual sites at Nainital, we also made a half day trip to the numerous lakes situated at various stops about 5 to 20kms from the town like #Bhimtal, #Sattal and so on. You can opt for boating and various water sports on these lakes.
Other places you can visit are the Nainital zoo, the governors house and the numerous churches and chapels in the area.
We did not visit a lot of the tourist spots this time around as the destination was not really Nainital but the valley of flowers. And so, after a lot of mall walking, we started our journey to the beautiful valley of flowers, almost 300 kilometres away.