Bhimtal is one of the largest freshwater lakes tucked away in the peaks of the Kumaon district of Uttarakhand. The region has a collection of lakes which includes the Sattal Lake, the Naukuchiatal Lake and the famous Nainital Lake which are there in the thick forests and valleys and have similarities with the Lake District in England.
The town of Bhimtal in Uttarakhand exists on the slopes around the lake which is a contrasting feature in comparison to the tourist-filled Nainital. Unlike the popular town of Nainital, Bhimtal does not have any colonial imprint nor the resort hotels which are found typically in all the popular hill stations.
The place has abundant and a very straightforward charm which grabs the attention of its visitors. A very ordinary town with the beautiful lake at the centre and nothing else.
Best Time To Visit
The months from March to June and September to December are the best months to visit the place and enjoy its beauty to the fullest. The months of July and August are the monsoon months and Bhimtal receives heavy rainfall which makes it not a very good time to visit the place.
Waking Up To The Lake
The mountainous terrains make one to rise early to catch the crisp morning air accompanied by the chirping of the birds. The gentle sunshine adds on to the tranquility of the beautiful lake which is filled with ducklings following their mother's lead around the lake.
There is not much traffic on the roads which go past the lake which makes it perfect for an evening walk in the cool evening breeze. At one end of the lake is the Bhimtal Dam which has terraced flower gardens.
As you walk beside the dam, you will reach the 17th century temple dedicated to Bhimeshwar Mahadev which is open to visitors from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM. According to local legends, when Bhima the strong Pandava warrior felt thirsty, he broke open the earth's surface with a blow from his mace which lead to the formation of the lake which was named in his honour.
The Burst Of Colours
The landscape here is filled with deep and cool shades. You will also find bright coloured birds and butterflies. The gardens and the trees here are flushed with beautiful blossoms and the meadows resemble a carpet of wild flowers. The Bollywood flick Koi Mil Gaya was shot here and the locals will point at a cottage which was the hiding place of Jaadu.
PC: Yogendra Joshi
The climate of the place makes it an ideal place for floriculture. On the outskirts take the road to Sattal, and you will encounter numerous greenhouses and fields which are filled with beautiful roses, the exotic lilies and the hydrangeas all arranged in neat rows.
It comes as no surprise why the place is filled with numerous butterflies. The Butterfly Research Centre here displays a huge variety of butterflies which have different patterns embossed on their wings.
Head to the Dhat Market, where one can purchase local wooden handicrafts and hand woven shawls. One would find organic food, local herbs, cedar, and apricot at the various outlets in the market area.
The Road To Jageshwar
PC: Varun Shiv Kapur
In the northeast direction of Bhimtal, one would find the stone temples of Jageshwar which are tucked deep in the forests of Kumaon and will give you the feel of a sage meditating in the untamed nature. The path to Jageshwar takes you through the forests comprising of oak and deodar trees. The temples here take you back to the time period between the 8th and the 18th centuries.
The small complex of Jageshwar has 124 temples dedicated to Shiva. One can find a temple dedicated to Bal Jageshwar which depicts Shiva as a child and another dedicated to Vridh Jageshwar who is Shiva in his old age.