Naini Lake is the prime attraction of Nainital, which is surrounded by green hills. Travellers can enjoy activities like yachting, rowing and paddling here. According to legends, the eye-shaped lake was formed at the spot where the left eye of the Hindu Goddess Sati fell (while Lord Shiva was carrying her to the Kailash Parvat).
The lake is also known as 'The lake of Three Sages' or the 'Tri-Rishi-Sarovar'. This name is mentioned in the chapter of Manas Khand in the Skanda Purana. This chapter reveals that three sages, namely Atri, Pulastya, and Pulaha who stopped at Nainital during their pilgrimage in search of water to satisfy their thirst.
Unable to find any water, they dug a hole and transferred some water brought from the Lake Mansarovar and consequently, the Naini Lake was created. This lake is quite long, and its northern end is known as the Mallital, while the southern is called the Tallital.
This is the only lake having a bridge with a post office on it. Besides, a bus station, taxi stand, railway reservation counter and shopping centres are located nearby.
Naina Peak is the highest point of Nainital, from where tourists can enjoy a majestic view of the entire region. It is also known as the China Peak and is perched at an elevation of 2611 m above sea level. Travellers can hire a pony or a horse to reach the peak from the Snow-View and the Mallital. It is situated at a distance of 6 km from the Nainital Town.
Nainital Ropeway is a popular tourist attraction, under the authority of the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN). This is the first cable car (aerial ropeway) installed in India. It covers a total distance of 705 m, gaining a height of 300 m. Each cable car has a maximum capacity of 825 kg (12 persons).
This ropeway connects the Snow-View to the town of Nainital. Moreover, as the speed of the ropeway is 6 m per second, tourists can enjoy a panoramic view of the region from above.
Snow-View is a famous tourist site located at an altitude of 2270 m above sea level. It is located at a distance of around 2.5 km from the town of Nainital. Visitors can either opt for the ropeway or hire a vehicle to reach the destination. It is perched on the top of the Sher-ka-Danda ridge and offers mesmerising views of the mighty Himalayan ranges.
The Snow-View provides the best landscape during the months of October and November, when the entire region is covered with snow. Besides, a small marble temple is also located at the site, which is devoted to the Hindu Goddess Mundi.
This temple is also enshrined with images of other Hindu gods and goddesses, like Durga, Shiva, Sita, Rama, Lakshman and Hanuman. Tourists can also visit the Gadhan Kunkyop Ling Gompa located ahead of the Snow-View.
Tiffin Top is a scenic picnic spot, which is also known as the Dorothy's Seat. This spot is perched on the Ayarpatta Peak, at an elevation of 7520 ft above sea level. Travellers can enjoy majestic views of the mighty Himalayan ranges along with the rustic landscape from here.
This spot was developed by the husband of Dorothy Kellet, an English artist, after her death in a plane crash. The Tiffin Top is an ideal spot for nature photography, and is located at a distance of 4 km from the Nainital Town. Tourists can reach this destination by hiking from the town.
The Boat House Club is the second oldest club in India. It was established in the year 1890, on the northern edge of the Naini Lake. The membership of this club is open to the aristocratic class of the society. This club exclusively looks after yachting in the lake.
Visitors can unwind at the in-house bar, play billiards and enjoy a shooting game at the club by paying the temporary membership fee. A small yachting festival is organised here in the month of June, which coincides with the yachting festival held in England.
Cave Garden, also known as the Eco Cave Garden, is a popular tourist attraction of Nainital. This garden provides a glimpse into the eco-friendly lifestyle to visitors. It has six underground caves (lit by petromax lamps) and a musical fountain (the first in Nainital).
The caves are known as the Tiger Cave, Panther Cave, Bats Cave, Squirrel Cave, Flying Fox Cave and Apes Cave. The passage connecting these caves is quite narrow and sometimes, visitors need to crawl. These are natural caves maintained by the local administration.
Naina Devi Temple is a ‘shakti peeth’, located on the northern end of the Naini Lake. This temple is devoted to the Hindu Goddess Naina Devi. Along with the statue of Goddess Naina Devi, idols of Ganesha and Kali are also enshrined in this temple. There is a huge ‘peeple tree’ at the entrance of the temple.
Pangot is a tiny hamlet located at a distance of 15 km from the Nainital Town. While travelling on the road that leads to this village, tourists can see the Naina Peak, Snow-View and Kilbury. It is famous as a birdwatcher's paradise as around 150 bird species reside here. The commonly seen birds are griffons, blue-winged minlas, rufous-bellied woodpeckers, spotted and slaty-backed forktails, lammergeyers, rufous-bellied niltavas and khaleej pheasants.
Raj Bhavan is a colonial building, which is also known as the Governor's House. This state-of-the-art building is the official residence of the Governor of Uttarakhand. It has 113 well-decorated rooms, a splendid garden, a swimming pool and golf links. It is compared to the Palace of Buckingham, and a prior admission is needed for visiting this building.
Hanumangarhi is a religious site located at a distance of 3 km from Nainital. The famous temple devoted to the Hindu Lord Hanuman is perched at an elevation of 1951 m above sea level. This shrine was built by Neem Karoli Baba in the year 1950. Besides, there is a Shitala Devi Temple and Ashram of Lila Sah Bapu located on the other side of the hill.
Khurpatal is an angler's paradise, located around 10 km away from Nainital. This beautiful hamlet is perched at an elevation of 1635 m above sea level. It is known for its pleasant climate and an enchanting lake, where fishing can be enjoyed. Khurpatal was famous for the production of iron implements till the 19th century, but now it is known for its green vegetable farms.
Tibetan Market is a busy shopping area of Nainital, where tourists can find various items under one roof. Things like scarves, shawls, woollens, Himalayan bags, junk jewellery and watches are available at competitive prices here. Moreover, bargaining is quite common in this market.
Kilbury is a beautiful picnic spot, located at a distance of 10 km from Nainital. It is an ideal holiday gateway, where tourists can relax in the verdant oak, pine and rhododendron forests. This spot is perched at an altitude of 2194 m above sea level, from where travellers can enjoy beautiful vista of snow-capped peaks.
It is also a perfect spot to indulge in bird watching as more than 580 species of birds inhabit the place. Birds like brown wood-owls, collared grosbeaks, white-throated laughing thrushes and forktails can be seen by tourists. Visitors can relax at the forest bungalow here.
Lariakanta, perched at an elevation of 2481 m above sea level, is the second highest peak of the Nainital District. It is located at a distance of around 6 km from the Nainital Town. Tourists can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the entire region from here.