Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand, is so beautiful that it feels like heaven on earth.The name Dehradun is a derivation from "Dera" meaning camp/home and "dun" meaning valley.
Dehradun is perched at a height of 435 m above sea level, in the Doon Valley, in the foothills of the Himalayas that are huddled between the Ganges and Yamuna. It is believed by locals here that Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana meditated here in penance before slaying down Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
Dehradun also serves as the entrance to the famous Mussoorie and pilgrimage spots like Haridwar and Rishikesh. Dehradun is an elite educational town with many superior educational institutions like Doon School, Welham School. etc. Due to the above-mentioned reason and the first class weather that prevails throughout the year, there are many people settling down in Dehradun after retirement.
Nainital is celebrated as the Lake District of India and rightly so. It is home to 60 lakes. Parked at a great height of 1938 m above sea level, Nainital is surrounded by mountains on all three sides. The life of Nainital revolves around its pride, Lake Naini.
Nainital organises yachting competition at a national level during the season. Once a favourite summer capital of the British of United Provinces, Nainital still remains a hot favourite among tourists. Nainital still retains its colonial charm of bungalows, schools, churches and cemeteries.
Best Time To Visit Nainital
Armed with proper clothing, Nainital can be visited all throughout the year as it maintains a pleasant weather the whole year. Yet, the winters can be a tad brutal for the unaccustomed. Lake Naini regulates the weather of Nainital.
There are spells of rain almost every afternoon. Nainital encounters snowfall from January to March. The perfect time to visit Nainital is from April to June and then in September-October.
Nainital sees a swell in visitors during Dusshera (usually in October) as the festival is celebrated on a grand scale that lasts for nine days with many festivities and processions.
Ways To Reach Nainital From Dehradun
By Air: The nearest airport to Nainital is at Pantnagar, which is at a distance of 65 km. However, there are no commercial flights operating to and from this airport. It mostly sees a traffic of private flights. The next nearest airport is at Delhi, which is 300 km away. You can hire a taxi to get to Nainital.
By Train: Kathgodham railway station, at a distance of 34 km from Nainital is the closest railhead. It enjoys excellent connectivity to stations like Delhi, Lucknow and Howrah. There is an option to use either a shared cab or private taxi to reach Nainital from the railway station.
Route 1: Dehradun- Haridwar- Najibabad-Ramnagar-Nainital via Ambala-Dehradun-Haridwar Road/ Haridwar Road, covering a total distance of 285 km and clocking 7 h 21 min.
Route 2: Dehradun- Haridwar- Najibabad-Nainital via Ambala-Dehradun-Haridwar Road/ Haridwar Road and Bijnor- Moradabad Road. The distance swept is 325 km and the time taken is 8 h.
Route 3: Dehradun- Bijnor-Kashipur- Ramnagar-Nainital via NH 307. The distance covered is 337 km and the time taken to travel is 8.5 h.
Since Route 1 is fairly shorter than the other two, we recommend Route 1.
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Dehradun is known for lovely hills, doon valleys, and thick verdant forests. Robber's Cave is a 600 m long cave with a small rivulet running inside it. It is an exciting and interesting activity to walk in the cave. Malsi Deer park is one of the most frequented tourist destinations, located at a distance of 10 km from the centre of Dehradun. It is a great picnic spot in the lap of nature.
Forest Research Institute, established by the Council of Forestry Research and Education has a museum on forestry that is open to visitors. Shashtradhara is a mesmerising waterfall that plunges from a height of 9 m. Shastradhara means "a thousand springs". The water from this waterfall is said to possess medicinal qualities.
Tapovan, on the banks of the river Ganga is the place where Dronacharya, the Guru of the Kauravas is said to have undergone penance. It is one of the holiest places for Hindus.
Tapkeshwar temple in Dehradun is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is inside a cave and the water droplets from the rocks fall on the Shivalingam. This is the story behind the name "Tapkeshwar". This temple comes to life every Shivratri with the festivities and a fair is also organized by the authorities.
Next on the route is Haridwar, which is at a distance of 53 km from Dehradun. It takes 1h 38 min to reach Haridwar. Haridwar is mostly associated as a religious destination for Hindus. This place is considered extremely holy and revered.
Goddess Manasa Devi is the presiding deity in Manasa Devi Temple, which is the most important and famous temple of Haridwar. It is believed that the Goddess has emerged from the mind eye of sage Kashyap. The Ganga Aarti at Haridwar, to pay respects to the river goddess is a famous and beautiful affair. You will literally stand mesmerised.
Haridwar is also known for Patanjali Yogapeeth. It is a must visit for yoga lovers and experts. The other important temples in Haridwar are Chandi Devi temple and Maya Devi temple. There is a Vaishno Devi Mandir here in Haridwar that is a replica of the Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir.
Najibabad is the place next en route Nainital. It is located at a distance of 50 km from Haridwar. After an hour of driving, you will arrive at Najibabad. There's nothing in Najibabad that is worth a visit. However, if you want to experience life of people in hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, then do make a stopover at Najibabad.
Ramnagar is next up and is 3 h from Najibabad. The distance is 120 km. Garijya Temple is a famous Shakthi temple in Uttarakhand dedicated to Goddess Parvati, who is said to be the daughter of the King of the Himalayas, Giriraj. It is situated amidst river Kosi.
Jim Corbett National Park
Another important and famous must-do in Ramnagar is visiting Jim Corbett National Park. This national park is the oldest in India and was founded in 1936. The park sweeps an area of 525 sq km. This national park is home to over 585 types of birds and animals, and 488 species of plants. The stars of the national park are tigers and elephants.
The park also has a Jim Corbett museum where the famous hunter Jim Corbett stayed and wrote books after he denounced hunting. Some of the books he wrote here are Man Eating Tiger, Man Eating Tiger of Kumaon, etc. The museum has on display some of his personal things like a gun, fishing net, cap, bag and some photographs. Nainital is 66 km away from Ramnagar.
Apart from offering mesmerising views and enchanting experience of hills, Nainital also offers various adventure sports like boating, yachting, grappling, trekking and ropeway. Here's what you can do in Nainital.
Bara Bazar, Tibetian Market and Mall Road Market are avant-garde of shopping in Nainital. You can pick up handicrafts, souvenirs, scarves, scented candles, mufflers, books and some junk jewellery.
Many locals suggest that viewing the sunrise from Tiffin Top is a must do in Nainital. The Himalayas in all their glory reveal themselves to the world. Tiffin Top is a peak in Nainital and trekking to get to the peak is a wonderful experience in itself. There is also an option to enjoy horse rides here.
Hanuman Garhi is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The sunset viewed from this temple is enchantingly romantic. Reach the temple on or before 4 pm to enjoy the lovely sunset.
Cable Car Ride
This ride takes the tourist to small peaks in Nainital, whilst also offering bird's eye view of the hill station. It runs from Mallital to Snow View point, passing through the very gorgeous Lake Naini.
PC: Mandeep Thander
Boating At Lake Naini
Nainital is known as the Lake District of India. The best way to savour and enjoy these lakes is by taking a boat ride. Naini Lake is a pear-shaped lake that reflects the colour of its surroundings. Boats are offered for 30 min or 1 h. The lakes are so scenic that an hour of boating merely feels like a few minutes.
Pangot And Kilbury Bird Sanctuary
These are bird watcher's paradise, and there are about 580 species of them at Kilbury. Some of the indigenous birds found at Kilbury are brown wood owls, white throated laughing thrushes, collared grosbeaks and forktails.
Snow View Point
This viewpoint extends enchanting views of Nanda Kot and Nanda Devi. The peak is serviceable by motor roads and an aerial ropeway. Many people also prefer trekking up to this point as it makes the views of the Himalayas all the more enjoyable.
Wildlife At Nainital Zoo
This zoo is also known as Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant Zoo. It is home to several endangered species of animals. Perched at a height of 2100 m above sea level, it attracts many species of beautiful birds and animals. Some of the animals found here are spot snow leopard, wolf barking deer, Himalayan black bear, etc.
Naina Devi Temple
Situated on the banks of Lake Naini, Naina Devi temple attracts a great lot of tourists. Local legend has it that the eyes of Goddess Sati dropped at the same place where the temple exists at present.
Eco Cave Gardens
This is one of the best places to visit in Nainital for children. The park has seven natural caves marked with different animals and they are to be reached through a narrow, winding road. This excites children very much. There is also a fountain in the gardens that is operational during the peak tourist season.