"Action expresses prioritites. "
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Nainital: Lap of Nature

Amit Agarwal is a Systems Engineer with Siemens Information Systems Limited, New Delhi

"Clikety-Clak...Clikety-Clak...!", goes the endless sound of mindless keyboards, the telephone forever shrieking in agony, the garrulous paging system always urging somebody to grab the nearest phone or make a dash to the reception. Life is an endless sojourn at this software development centre of a global giant. An announcement of a company sponsored trip to Nainital, seemed to have come straight from the Messiah.

After days of endless waiting and speculation, finally the day of departure dawned. Friends and colleagues had stayed overnight with me since I live close to the office from where we had to start at daybreak. With friends around, sleep is always an unwanted intruder, and the night was spent in the anticipatory excitement of escape from the crazy city life of Delhi.

More on Uttaranchal

Kumaon Remembered


Pilgrim's Trail

As we set out in the cool November air, we were already invigorated. After the initial hustle-bustle, amidst raucous cheers and cat-calls, we set out in our AC bus. The three hour drive to Gajraula, where we stopped for breakfast, was uneventful. Then, came a five-hour non-stop ride to Nainital. After three mindless hours of dumb-charades and Antaksharis, the plains metamorphosed and we were engrossed by the scenic beauty.


A five-hour non-stop ride to Nainital. After three mindless hours of dumb-charades and Antaksharis, the plains metamorphosed and we were engrossed by the scenic beauty.

The sun was far up in the sky, and the cool, fresh mountain air seemed like heaven's nectar after the poisonous air of Delhi, and I wanted to savour every drop of it. The ride was rendered thrilling by the antics of our driver who, with unbridled enthusiasm, accosted the hair-pin bends with speed and dexterity. The endless valleys, green with lush foliage, bathed in the exuberance of the cool, winter sun was a delight to our city-bred eyes. We checked in at hotel Manu-Maharani to enjoy a relaxed bath and lunch, before setting out to explore the beauties of nature that Nainital had in store for us.

We went to Mall Road, which encircles the Naini Lake at the heart of the town, and is dotted by numerous shops, many of them selling decorative candles for souvenirs. We queued for the joy-ride on the famous rope-way, that carried us to Snow-view peak, high up in the mountains from where the view of the valley and the town spread in its lap, is breathtakingly beautiful. The surrounding thick fog made visibility poor. We tramped around awhile, and relaxed with a refreshing cup of tea at the garden restaurant.

Returning below, we went boating in the Naini Lake. In the twilight, the moon was as beautiful as you could possibly want it to be. The boat slowly eased out into the lake and the rhythmic lapping of the oars against the water's surface held us spellbound. The air was light, cool and refreshing, and yet it sent an occasional chilly shiver down one's spine. The sound of silence was deafening; its spell broken only by the melodious humming of a Kumaoni tune by our boatman. The lake was larger than I had expected, and our hour's ride had quickly trickled by. On one side the imposing hill rose steeply, like a gigantic sentinel on guard. The other bank was dotted with numerous lights from endless shops, as if in festive celebration. The moon seemingly smiled down at us and nobody, save the boatman, wanted the ride to come to end. The air was now distinctly chillier, and the brisk walk on Mall road thawed our numb limbs. Returning to the hotel we sang around the bonfire warmed by the bonhomie of shared moments.


Standing there, it seemed I was redefining life's meaning for me. The Himalayas were beckoning me. To come and explore the thrills and mysteries hidden in them, to break the shackles of materialism.
Next day, we woke early to ride horseback to Dorothy's Seat, regaled by stories of the peak named after Dorothy, who used to sit and paint the Himalayas in the days of yore, during the British Raj. The view from here was absolutely fantastic: the snow-clad Himalayas, golden in the early morning sun.

Standing there, it seemed I was redefining life's meaning for me. The Himalayas were beckoning me. To come and explore the thrills and mysteries hidden in them, to break the shackles of materialism. To look beyond the constricted world of my cubicle and unfurl the delights of nature.

My reverie was broken by the "chai-wallah" and a cup of tea that tasted the best in years. Two timeless hours later, we returned to the hotel, and onto the hue and cry of Delhi. As the bus once again set in motion, I left something of me behind forever in the lap of nature.

Nainital factfile
The first recorded discovery of this now popular hill station of Nainital, was in 1841 when a British, Mr. Barron, chanced upon the lake. Moved by the scenic beauty of the lake and thickly forested hills, he constructed a house named Pilgrim's Cottage. It was the first of many residences, which were to transform Nainital into a popular resort. By 1858, Nainital became a well-known hill station, and within a few years the summer seat of the provincial government.

According to local belief the origin of Nainital harks back to mythological times. Sati, Lord Shiva's consort, committed suicide at the yajna of Daksha Prajapati. When Lord Shiva roamed across the universe carrying her dead body, Sati's eye fell near the lake, where the Naina Devi temple now stands. The waters of the lake are therefore considered sacred and the Naina Devi temple is the venue of an autumnal fair. In ancient times, the lake was know as the Tri-rishi Sarovar, the lake of three rishis-Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha.

Prior to 1839, the valley was covered by thick forests and inhabited by hill tribesmen. A major landslide in 1880 led to the formation of the flats, the level ground by the lake. Nainital's attractions range from quiet walks in meadows and forests of pine and deciduous trees, adventure sports as well as popular entertainment. This hill resort can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Area : 11.7 Sq. km.
Population : 30,951 (1991 census)
Altitude : 1938 meters above sea level
Season : March - June, mid September - October
Clothing: Summer - Light Woollens; Winters - Heavy Woollens
Language : Hindi, English & Kumaoni.
Local Transport : Rickshaws, Dandies, Ropeway, Ponies, Taxis.
STD Code : 05942

Nearest railway station is at Kathgodam - 35 km, which is connected by metre guage to Agra, Bareilly and Lucknow. Some of the important train connections from Kathgodam are: Shatabadi Express, Howrah Express (3019/3020), Ranikhet Express (5013/5014), Rampur Passenger (1/2 R.K. Passenger and R.K. Passenger), Nainital Express (5308/5307).

Nainital is connected by road to major centres of northern India, some of the major road distances are:
Almora - 62 km.
Agra - 379 km.
Delhi - 277 km.
Kausani - 117 km
Ranikhet - 60 km.
Corbett (Dhikala) - 128 km.
Bareilly - 141 km.

Snow View
Situated at 2270 meters this popular vantage point is accessible by rope way. It offers an excellent view of the northern Himalayan ranges.

Naina Peak
At 2611 meters this is the highest peak bordering the lake. A popular picnic spot which offers a panoramic view of the resort.

Dorothy's Seat
Named in memory of an English woman who was killed in an air crash. This pleasant spot offers a partial view of Nainital.

Land's End
Situated at 2,881 meters on the southern border of the lake, this hill affords a view of another lake, Khurpa Tal.

Hanuman Garhi
A place of religious interest, also good for viewing the setting sun.

State Observatory
Located on the top of a ridge, the observatory is open to the public in the evening.

The Mall
Nainital's popular promenade offers a variety of entertainment

Home | Back | Top | Feedback

Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.