A paradise for nature lovers, Nainital is one of the most captivating hill stations in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, India. It is surrounded by seven hills, commonly known as ‘Sapta-Shring’ namely – Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi-Bandi, Naina, Alma, Lariya-Kanta and Sher-Ka-Danda.
Located at an altitude of 1938 meters above sea level in Uttarakhand, Nainital is popularly called the “Lake District Of India” and is one of the most popular tourist places in Uttarakhand. It has derived its name from “Naini”, which is a popular tourist spot in this famous town.
One of the most attractive things about Nainital is the gorgeous lake, scenic beauty, and innumerable natural resources that surround it. If you are someone who is looking to find some of the best places to see in Nainital, we have curated a list.
Top 10 places to visit in Nainital
1. Naini Lake
One of the most common attractions is Naini Lake that is situated in the middle of the town and is considered the lifeline of Nainital. It is an eye-shaped lake and was named Naini as per locals who said that Goddess Sati’s eye had fallen here. A manmade lake, it is a natural reservoir of water supplying water to the entire town. Boating facilities are available for all visitors. The complete boat ride is for 60 minutes, and the cost of the ticket is approximately Rs 210 per person. The preferable time for boating is between 10: a.m. to 12 noon. It is open on all days. Visitors love to take a stroll around the lake which in itself is a means to relax. It is a very popular picnic spot for everyone.
2. Naina Devi Temple
It is located on one side of Naini Lake. It is a popular Indian pilgrimage place as it is one of India’s 51 Shaktipeeths. As legend suggests, when Lord Vishnu cut Goddess Sati’s body into 51 parts, her eyes fell here at the location where the temple was later built. This temple is regarded as one of the most sacred shrines of the country, thereby attracting pilgrims all year round. The town of Nainital, the lake and the shrine are all named according to mythology. The location of the temple on the banks of the lake has also made it a popular tourist attraction.
Timings: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
3. Naina Peak
It is the highest peak in Nainital. Also known as the “Cheena” or China peak by the locals, it is situated at a height of 2615 metres above sea level. It is a popular destination for trekking and horse riding, and also offers one of the most amazing panoramic views of the entire Kumaon valley along with the town of Nainital. Visitors like to visit this peak to enjoy the sunrise and sunset over Naini lake.
Timings: 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
4. Eco Cave Garden
It is a garden formed by a collection of naturally formed rocky caves. It is an amazing place to visit with children. There are six caves formed in the shape of animals namely, Bat Cave, Tiger Cave, Squirrel Cave, Porcupine Cave, Panther Cave, and Flying Fox Cave. There are hanging gardens throughout the pathway alongside the caves. Tourists can also enjoy the musical fountain show with audiovisual effects.
Timings: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Entry fee: Rs 60 for adults, Rs 25 for children, Rs 25 for photography
5. Snow View Point
This is situated at an altitude of 2270 metres above sea level. As the name suggests, this point offers a spectacular view of the snowcapped mountain peaks like Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Trishul. At the Snow View Point, a pair of binoculars have been set up for tourists to get a perfect view of the peaks. A small temple of Lord Rama and a Tibetan monastery on the mountain peak can also be seen from here. One can trek up to this point or take the ropeway. It is one of the most visited tourist places in Nainital. There is no entry fee other than the ropeway charges.
Timings: 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed on Saturdays
6. Tiffin Top
Tiffin Top is located at Aryapatta Hill at an elevation of 2292 metres above sea level. Tiffin Top is a famous viewpoint in Nainital.
Also known as Dorothy’s Seat, it is one of the most popular and best places to visit in Nainital. It is named after an English painter Dorothy Kellet, who used to sit here and paint. It is situated at a height of 2290 metres and gives the most picturesque view of Nainital City and the beautiful Kumaon range. It is considered a photographer’s paradise. It is also regarded as a famous picnic spot. One can take a horse ride there and charges vary between Rs 500 to Rs 700.
Timings: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
7. Nainital Zoo
It is located at an average height of 2100 metres above the sea level. Also known as Pt G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo, it was established in 1984 and opened in the year 1995 to the public. This zoo is home to several exotic and endangered species of animals and birds which are native to this region. The Snow Leopard, Himalayan Bear, Tibetan Wolf are just some of the animals you can hope to fine here. Around the zoo, one can go for a trek and also visit the astronomical observatory.
Timings: 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., from Tuesday to Sunday
Price: Rs 50 per person for adults, Rs 20 per person for children
8. St. John in the Wilderness
Bishop Daniel Wilson of Kolkata laid the foundation stone for this church in 1844 and it is named after him. According to folklore Bishop Wilson was forced to stay in an unfinished cottage at the edge of the surrounding forest during his visit, owing to his illness. As a result, the church was named St. John in the Wilderness since the bishop had to spend time in the wild forest. Jim Corbett was a devout member of this chapel and came here frequently for prayers.
As one of the oldest structures, this church is visited by architects interested in learning more about Neo-Gothic architecture. A graveyard at the back of the chapel is dedicated to those who died in the catastrophic landslide of 1880. Within the church, a brass memorial with their names has been built.
Timings: 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday
9. Kilbury Bird Sanctuary
It is one of the few high-altitude bird sanctuaries in India. Located at an altitude of 2000 metres above sea level, the sanctuary is home to over 240 different species of birds which are both migratory and resident. It is located in a picturesque forest village called Pangot. Here one can do trekking, and birdwatching and also try out the delicious local cuisines.
Timings: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
10. Bhotia Market
This Tibetan market in Nainital is a popular shopping destination. Located near the city centre, it is one of the most popular markets in town. The delights to look forward to are thupka and momos when it comes to the food in this market!
Shawls, sweaters, mufflers, backpacks and other souvenirs are available in plenty here. Some unique things to take back home are Himalayan bags, woollen scarves and shrugs, handmade candles, potpourri, household fragrances, Tibetan ethnic clothing, Kumaon woollens, bamboo fabric and crafts made of pinewood.
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.