Nainital – The Lake District of Uttarakhand
If you’re an avid traveller and a culture enthusiast, then Nainital is the place for you! It is the place of lakes, greenery and awesome weather. Situated 1,938 metres high and 280 kilometres away from Delhi, in to the altitudinous Shivalik Hills in Uttarakhand is Nainital, renowned for its superb views of the Greater Himalayas. It lost its beauty in the ‘landslide of 1880’ but with the wills of God, it was resurrected and became one of India’s most loved gataways.
Nainital is also one of the best destinations for someone who loves sceneries and photography; it also has great flora and fauna. On the other hand, the winters look amazing here!
It is said that the place existed even in the pre-historic period. It was ruled by the Khasi dynasty and hence was called the ‘Khasidesh.’ It had around 60 lakes that eventually disappeared due to deforestation and climatic changes.
Legend has it:
Goddess Parvati was very angry with her father King Daksha for not inviting her and her husband, Lord Shiva to an occasion. She took it as an insult and jumped into the fire and became Sati. While the grieving Lord Shiva was carrying the dead body of her sati to Kailash Parbat, her left eye fell into the lake. Hence, the lake got its name Nainital as ‘Nain’ means ‘ an eye.’ It is also one of the 64 ‘Shakti Peeths’ in the country. Every shakti peeth is a holy place where a body part of the Sati fell.
Nainital witnessed one of greatest landslide in the 1800s. In September 1880, a landslide occurred at the north end of the town which resulted in the burial of 151 people. This event is known as ‘the landslip of 1880’.
The landslide is presumed to be the result of the continuous heavy rainfall that took over the town for a whole two days and continued even after the landslide. The Assembly Rooms and the Naina Devi Temple were destroyed in the disaster. A recreation area known as ‘The Flats’ was later built on the site and a new temple was erected. To prevent further disasters, storm water drains were constructed and building bylaws were made stricter.
People & Culture:
Nainital gives you a glimpse of the local life, customs and lifestyle of people living in the hilly regions of the country. Here, the lifestyle is very simple and religious minded, unlike the city counterparts. The main population constitutes the Kumaoni people. They live in very small huts built of bricks or in traditional houses made of wood.
The normal routine of people is guided by commonly believed superstitions. Any action against the blind belief is considered offensive by the society and the person becomes answerable to everyone. For instance, all death mourning takes place only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The rest of the days are meant for all auspicious invitations and good work initiatives. Visit to sick people on mourning days and Thursdays is a complete no. Women also cannot visit their parents’ house on Thursdays. To keep evil spirits away, a black kohl dot is put on the forehead or behind the ear of a person. This is a common practice to save small children from negativity.
During the festive season in Nainital, Aipan a traditional style of painting can also be seen here. Another form of art which is famous for its colour and intricate work is the Kumaoni Art. In Nainital various festivals are celebrated by the commoners. Some of the famous festivals and fairs are Nanda Devi Mela, Phool Dei or Phooldeli, Sharadotsav, Basant Panchami and Garjia Devi Fair.
The official languages of this region are Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi; however, Kumauni is another language that you would commonly hear.
Nainital’s lip-smacking traditional cuisine is a must try for food lovers. Rice or roti is an integral part of Nainital cuisine. It is a usually accompanied with different types of chutneys. People here use different varieties of rice for different recipes.
To name a few, here are what you should opt for:
Bhatt ki Churkani
Aloo Ke Gutke
Black and White Roti
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit this place would be between March to June which is the summer season in India.
- Jim Corbett National Park: It is the oldest national park in India and is located in Nainital
- Nainital was a popular summer vacation resort for the British