The Kumaon region in Uttarakhand is a treasure trove of scenic beauty. A quartet of water bodies - the Naini, Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiatal form the state's picturesque lake district. Centered around Lake Naini, Nainital, named after the lake is a flourishing little town that enjoys the celebrated status of being a "hill station". Surrounded by the Himalayas, coniferous forests and glorious 360 degree views, Nainital is a nature lover's paradise.
Nothing provides soothing relief from blistering heat faster than the sight of water. And there's plenty of that in and around Nainital. Enjoy pedal or row boating for a moderate sum in the placid Lake Naini, while the more adept can try their hand at yachting! After all that exertion, wouldn't a picnic just be ideal? Grassy slopes around the lake are perfect for munching, relaxing and gazing at the green cover all around.
Situated within the confines of the town, Naina Devi temple has special religious and mythological relevance. It has the unique distinction of being one amongst the fifty one Shakti Peeths that are scattered all over India. As her name suggests, the Goddess in the shrine is represented in the form of two eyes. The temple organises an eight day celebration during Nanda Ashtami, an occasion when devotees throng to the premises to receive blessings.
Undoubtedly, one of the foremost reasons for visiting the Kumaon belt is to get a glimpse of the majestic mountains. Nainital boasts of several vantage points that afford a great view. Chinese Peak or Naina Devi Peak, the highest hill top at 2,615 metres is a favourite with trekkers as well as photographers. Walk through towering cypress trees and flowering rhododendrons until you reach the top for breathtaking views of the Himalayas before you and the city below. For the adventurous, a ride in a cable car or Aerial Ropeway will provide loads of thrill. During the three minute ride to Snow View Point, savour the feeling of gliding through air while soaking in the panoramic landscape around you.
Bird lovers keep your binoculars handy! Kilbury, part of a forest reserve at an altitude of 2,582 metres is home to several endangered and common species. Here's a chance to observe the birds in an enchanted natural setting; for an extended stay, there's a tourist bungalow in the vicinity that offers comfortable accommodation.
Two places of historical interest in Nainital are Raj Bhawan, which is the Governor's residence and Gurney House, home of hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett where one can see his personal artifacts. No holiday is complete without picking up a few souvenirs. Mall Road, running alongside the lake has a number of shops from where visitors can buy curios before bidding Nainital adieu.