Naini Lake is a natural freshwater lake located in the heart of Nainital, a popular hill station in Uttarakhand. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the state, attracting millions of visitors every year. The lake is famous for its scenic beauty, its boating options, and its religious importance.
But there is more to Naini Lake than meets the eye. This lake has a rich history, a fascinating legend, and a variety of activities to offer. Whether you want to enjoy boating on the lake, visit the Naina Devi temple, admire the view from the Snow View Point, shop at the Mall Road, or take a cable car ride to the Tiffin Top, Naini Lake has something for everyone.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about Naini Lake, from its geography and history to its legends and facts. We will also give you some tips on how to enjoy boating on the lake and what to see and do around it.
Naini Lake has a crescent shape that resembles an eye. It is about 1.5 km long and 0.5 km wide, covering an area of 48 hectares. It has a maximum depth of 29 meters and an average depth of 18 meters. The lake is surrounded by seven hills that form a picturesque backdrop for the lake.
The lake is divided into two parts by a bridge called Mall Road. The northern part is called Mallital, which means the head of the lake. It is where most of the hotels, shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions are located. The southern part is called Tallital, which means the foot of the lake. It is where the bus station, the railway station, and the Naina Devi temple are located.
Naini Lake was discovered by a British sugar trader named P.Baron in 1841. He was so enchanted by the beauty of the lake that he decided to build a house on its shore. Soon, other British officers followed his example and established Nainital as a summer retreat for themselves. They also developed various facilities and attractions around the lake, such as hotels, schools, churches, clubs, parks, etc.
Naini Lake witnessed some important events in Indian history, such as the first session of the Indian National Congress in 1885, the escape of freedom fighter Govind Ballabh Pant from a British prison in 1917, and the assassination attempt on Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse in 1948. Some famous personalities who visited or lived near Naini Lake include Jim Corbett, Rudyard Kipling, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, etc.
According to Hindu mythology, Naini Lake is the place where Lord Shiva performed his Tandava dance after the death of his wife Goddess Sati. Sati’s father, King Daksha, had insulted Shiva by not inviting him to a yajna (sacrifice). Sati, unable to bear the humiliation, immolated herself in the fire. Shiva, enraged by this, carried her body and roamed around the world.
As he did so, some parts of Sati’s body fell at different places, which became sacred sites known as Shakti Peethas. One of Sati’s eyes (nain) fell at Nainital, creating Naini Lake. Hence, the lake is also called Naini Sarovar, which means the eye-shaped lake.
The Naina Devi temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, where Sati’s eye is believed to be present. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Naina Devi, who is worshipped as a form of Shakti (power). The temple was built in the 15th century by a devotee named Moti Ram Shah. It was destroyed by a landslide in 1880, but was rebuilt by the locals. The temple attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year, especially during the festivals of Navratri and Chaitra.
How to Reach
There are different ways to reach Nainital from Delhi, such as by train, bus, car, or flight. The distance between Delhi and Nainital is about 300 km, and the travel time varies depending on the mode of transportation and the traffic conditions. Here is a summary of the options that you can choose from:
You can take a train from New Delhi to Kathgodam, which is the nearest railway station to Nainital. The train takes about 5 to 6 hours and costs around Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,800. From Kathgodam, you can take a taxi or a bus to Nainital, which is about 23 km away and takes about an hour.
You can take a bus from Delhi to Nainital, which takes about 7 to 8 hours and costs around Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 2,500. There are several bus operators that run daily services from Delhi to Nainital, such as International Tourist Center, Fasttrack Travels, Swagatam Holiday, etc. You can book your tickets online or at the bus terminals.
You can drive from Delhi to Nainital, which takes about 4 hours and costs around Rs. 2,600 to Rs. 3,800 for fuel and tolls. The route is via AH2 and SH13, which passes through Ghaziabad, Hapur, Moradabad, Rampur, Rudrapur, and Haldwani. You can also hire a car or a taxi from Delhi to Nainital, which costs around Rs. 4,700 to Rs. 6,000.
You can fly from Delhi to Pantnagar, which is the nearest airport to Nainital. The flight takes about an hour and costs around Rs. 4,300 to Rs. 12,500. However, there are only limited flights available from Delhi to Pantnagar, operated by IndiGo Airlines. From Pantnagar, you can take a taxi to Nainital, which is about 65 km away and takes about an hour and a half.
Facts About Naini Lake
Naini Lake has a unique water source that consists of underground springs and rainwater. The lake does not have any visible outlet or inlet but maintains a constant water level throughout the year.
The lake is home to various species of fish, birds, and plants, such as mahseer, trout, kingfisher, mallard, lotus, water lily, etc. The lake hosts several annual events that attract visitors from all over the world, such as the Nainital Boat Festival, Nanda Devi Fair, and the Winter Carnival.
The lake also holds some records that make it stand out from other lakes in India, such as being the highest lake in India (at an altitude of 1938 meters), being the only lake in India that has a gondola boat service and being the first lake in India to have a yacht club (established in 1890).
Boating is one of the most popular activities on Naini Lake. There are four types of boats that you can choose from depending on your preference and budget. Row boats are wooden boats that can accommodate four people and are rowed by a boatman.
Paddle boats are pedal-powered boats that can accommodate two or four people and are operated by yourself. Gondola boats are traditional Venetian boats that can accommodate four people and are steered by a gondolier. Yachts are sailboats that can accommodate six people and are sailed by a skipper.
The boating charges vary depending on the type of boat and the duration of the ride. The average charges are Rs. 210 for a row boat for 30 minutes, Rs. 250 for a paddle boat for 30 minutes, Rs. 500 for a gondola boat for 30 minutes, and Rs. 800 for a yacht for an hour. The boating timings are from 6 am to 6 pm in summer and from 8 am to 5 pm in winter. The boating rules include wearing life jackets, following the instructions of the boatmen or skippers, avoiding littering or feeding the fish or birds on the lake, etc.
Things to See and Do Around Naini Lake
Naini Lake is not only a beautiful attraction in itself, but also a gateway to many other attractions in Nainital. Here are some of the things that you can see and do around Naini Lake:
Visit the Naina Devi temple:
As mentioned earlier, the Naina Devi temple is one of the most sacred places in Nainital, where you can pay your respects to Goddess Naina Devi and seek her blessings. The temple is located on the northern shore of Naini Lake and is easily accessible by foot or by boat.
Enjoy the view from the Snow View Point:
The Snow Viewpoint is a vantage point that offers a panoramic view of Naini Lake and the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. You can reach the Snow Viewpoint by taking a cable car from Mallital or by trekking from Mall Road. The view from here is especially stunning during sunrise and sunset.
Shop at the Mall Road:
The Mall Road is a bustling street that runs along the edge of Naini Lake. It is lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other establishments that cater to tourists’ needs and wants. You can shop for souvenirs, handicrafts, woolens, candles, books, etc., or enjoy a cup of coffee or a bite of food while watching the lake activities.
Take a cable car ride to the Tiffin Top:
The Tiffin Top is another viewpoint that offers a splendid view of Naini Lake and its surroundings. It is also known as Dorothy’s Seat, as it was built in memory of an English lady named Dorothy Kellett by her husband. You can reach the Tiffin Top by taking a cable car from Mallital or by trekking from Bara Pathar.
Naini Lake is one of the most beautiful and popular tourist destinations in India. It has a rich history, a fascinating legend, and a variety of activities to offer. Whether you want to enjoy boating on the lake, visit the Naina Devi temple, admire the view from the Snow Viewpoint, shop at the mall Road, or take a cable car ride to the Tiffin Top, Naini Lake has something for everyone.
If you are planning a trip to Nainital, don’t miss the chance to experience the charm and beauty of Naini Lake.