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Where the emerald lake does its magic

“Naina” means eyes. It is a Sanskrit word. It was where the emerald eye of Sati fell on the earth after an enraged Shiva carried her charred body and toured around the earth that the Naini lake was created, the story goes. You might hear it from many locals and guides too, if you go to Nainital.

This dreamy crescent-shaped lake imparts its name to the hill city of Nainital in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. To some, it’s crescent-shaped, to some, mango. Some call it kidney-shaped too.

Here goes another story. It is the year 1839. Two men set out on a hunting trip. One an English businessman named P Barron, the other a seasoned hunter. The two lose their ways and end up finding a lake, a tranquil, crescent-shaped lake. The businessman gets so enchanted that he quits his sugar business and decides to set up a European colony along the shores. Five years later, the lake appears in the issue of a magazine named Englishman Calcutta. History says that although the British occupied the Kumaon and Garhwal range in 1815, they did not popularise Nainital falling in the Kumaon range until its ‘rediscovery’ by the sugar merchant.

Over a century later, Nainital is one Uttarakhand’s of most popular tourist spots. Come fall or spring, it never ceases to receive love from its loyal travellers. It lies in the Nainital district.

Here, we take you in and around the city. Read on. 

How to get there:

By rail: Take a train to Kathgodham which is 34 kilometres from the city. Kathgodham Railway Station is connected to major cities like Delhi, Lucknow and Jammu.

By air: The nearest airport is Pantnagar Airport that is around 68 kilometres from Nainital.

By road: Nainital enjoys a good road connectivity. Here is how far it is from these cities:

Delhi to Nainital: 298.5 km via NH9

Ranikhet to Nainital: 55.9 km via Ranikhet Rd and NH109

Lucknow to Nainital: 424.8 km via Bareilly - Nainital Road

Dehradun to Nainital: 290.6 km via NH734

Chandigarh to Nainital: 531.8 km via NH 44

Ramnagar to Nainital: 65.9 km via UT SH 41

Jaipur to Nainital: 558.4 km via NH9

Best time to visit:

Nainital receives plenty tourists throughout the year. With its temperature ranging between 10° C and 27° C Nainital in summers (March till June) to as low as 0° C in winters (October till February), it offers numerous tourism options. It is, however, advisable to check for landslides during monsoons.  

While summers are considered idea for local sightseeing tours, many travellers like to undertake trekking expeditions during the chilly months to experience snowfall.

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