Make that several reasons, actually!
Located at an altitude of approximately 2,084 meters above the sea level, the town is located alongside the foothills of the Kumaon region of the outer Himalayas. Its various natural attractions and favourable climate all year round make it a quick getaway or an extended vacation destination for travellers. The town’s economy, like most hill stations in India, is dependent upon tourism.
Its mainstay and lifeline is, of course, the eye-shaped Naini Lake, situated in the middle of the town and is the lifeline of Nainital. Boating facilities are available for the visitors and alternatively, a slow-paced stroll around the lake is just as peaceful. You can also feed the larger-than-normal sized koi fish that swim in abundance.
It is believed that the Naini Lake is one of the 64 ‘Shakti Peeths’, or religious sites where parts of the charred body of Sati (Parvati) fell on earth while being carried by Lord Shiva. The spot where Sati’s eyes (or Nain) fell, came to be called Nain-tal or eye-lake. The Naini Mata Temple on the north shore of the present day lake is where Goddess Shakti is still worshipped.
The market adjoining the lake is a treasure-house of local goods – wooden handicrafts carved out of driftwood, locally made jams and honey and colourful, hand-knitted woollens made by the hill women.
Also called Cheena or China Peak, Naina Peak, situated at an average elevation of 2,615 meters above sea level is the highest peak in Nainital and offers stunning panoramic views of the entire valley. The Lake City can also be used as a base camp to explore the other destinations of Kumaon, such as Haldwani, Kaladhungi, Ramnagar, Bhowali, Ramgarh, Mukteshwar, Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiatal.
During monsoons, the verdant hills adorned by diaphanous clouds and spectacular rains look simply irresistible and are a sight for heat-roasted and clouded-by-city-pollution sore eyes.
Text and images by Aarti Kapur Singh