Nainital is a hill station set around an emerald lake. The Naini Lake,
according to Hindu mythology, is one of the eyes of the Goddess Parvati,
wife of Lord Shiva. It is said that the modern Naina Devi Temple at the
northern end of the lake is built on the exact spot where Parvati's eye
fell after Vishnu hacked her body to bits to end Shiva's cosmic dance
of destruction. Sailboats skim across its waters now and there are trekking
trails, temples, forest groves, a zoo, a 100-year-old golf course and
an aerial ropeway. Around Nainital are other smaller resorts that make
for good one or two day trips. The region is also called the Lake District
due to a string of closely located lakes. Nearby places worth visiting
are Kausani, which makes a pretty picture, while Ramgarh is known for
its apple orchards. Snow peaks encircle Ranikhet and in the foothills
is the Corbett National Park, where tigers reign. This is certainly one
of the more pleasant hill stations of the north for walks through forests
and superb glimpse of the Himalayas.
Over the last few years, there have been conscious efforts to control
the building activity in Nainital. Some of the lakes too, have seen a
significant reduction in water leading to a gradual decline of the Himalayan
flora and fauna of the region. Concerned environmentalists have now started
educating local people and even tourists on how to keep the hill station
pollution free and environmentally clean.
If you have only a weekend to spare, take on the three peaks on the
first day - China Peak, Tiffin Top and Snow View. If picnicking is
your way of fun, Kilbury is a good idea - it is a dense forested area
and the view of the Himalayas from here is spectacular. Spare one day
for walking and shopping on the Mall and boating in the lake. If you'd
rather have an energising walk, take the four km quiet and forested route
to Land's End.
For children, there are video games on the Mall, pony rides, skating
rink and a huge park called Company Garden.
Snow View: A ropeway called the Aerial Express takes you up to the
popular Snow View (7,450 ft) that offers breathtaking views of the majestic
Himalayas dominated by Nanda Devi. The round trip costs Rs 60, but you
have to return in an hour.
A walk to the Snow View can include a visit to the Gadhan Kunkyop
Ling Gompa. The road uphill from Hotel City Heart branches off to the
gompa (follow the colourful prayer flags).
Golf: Golf is an alternate option for those who play it. You can swing
a club at the Raj Bhavan golf course that is a hundred years old, or you
can go putting at the mini-golf course (18-hole) at the Himalaya Hotel
near the bus stop. Tourists wishing to play the game should contact any
of the tourist rest houses of KMVN. Charges are Rs. 100 for a half-day
and Rs. 200 for a full day.
Kumaon: Take to the air in the Kumaon hills. At Naukuchiatal,
23 km away from Nainital, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) has introduced
paragliding in association with Snowland Holidays Pvt. Ltd of Manali.
This is a tandem joyride and a trained pilot always flies with the passenger.
Five-ten minutes of flying costs Rs. 650.
Bird watching: Nainital is an officially notified bird sanctuary and
an ideal place to pursue this activity. Almost 150 species can be spotted
here. The High Altitude Zoo is 1.5 km from the bus stop and is home to
the Siberian leopard and other wildlife. The zoo is closed on Mondays.
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