Plenty of hotels are set in the forested hills around the lake, there’s a busy bazaar, and a spider’s web of walking tracks covers the forested hillsides to viewpoints overlooking the distant Himalayan peaks. For travellers, it’s an easy place to kick back and relax, eat well, go horse riding or paddling on the lake. In peak seasons – roughly May to mid-July and October – Nainital is packed to the gills with holidaying families and honeymooners, and hotel prices skyrocket.
Tallital (Lake’s Foot) is at the southeastern end of the lake where you’ll find the bus stand and the main road heading east towards Bhowali. The 1.5km promenade known as the Mall leads to Mallital (Lake’s Head) at the northwestern end of the lake. Most hotels, guest houses and restaurants are strung out along the Mall between Mallital and Tallital. You’ll most find shops, including pharmacies, in Bara Bazaar; check out the Panchachuli outlet, where you can buy shawls and other textiles handwoven by women from the Kumaon hills.
Corbett Tiger Reserve – famous reserve was established in 1936 as India’s first national park. It’s named for legendary tiger hunter Jim Corbett (1875–1955), who put Kumaon on the map with his book The Man-Eaters of Kumaon. The British hunter was greatly revered by local people for shooting tigers that had developed a taste for human flesh, but he eventually shot more wildlife with his camera than with his gun.
Tiger sightings take some luck, as the 200 or so tigers in the reserve are neither baited nor tracked. Your best chance of spotting one is late in the season (April to mid-June), when the forest cover is low and animals come out in search of water.
Notwithstanding tiger sightings, few serious wildlife enthusiasts will leave disappointed, as the 1318-sq-km park has a variety of wildlife and birdlife in grassland, sal forest and river habitats, and a beautiful location in the foothills of the Himalaya on the Ramganga River. Commonly seen wildlife include wild elephants (200 to 300 live in the reserve), sloth bears, langur monkeys, rhesus macaques, peacocks, romps of otters and several types of deer including chital (spotted deer), sambars, hog deer and barking deer. You might also see leopards, mugger crocodiles, gharials, monitor lizards, wild boars and jackals. The Ramganga Reservoir attracts large numbers of migrating birds, especially from mid-December to the end of March, and over 600 species have been spotted here.
Of Corbett’s five zones – Bijrani, Dhikala, Domunda, Jhirna and Sonanadi – Dhikala is the highlight of the park. Forty-nine kilometres northwest of Ramnagar and deep inside the reserve, this is the designated core area, where the highest concentration of the animals you probably hope to see are found. It’s only open from 15 November to 15 June and only to overnight guests, or as part of a one-day tour available only through the park’s reception centre, opposite Ramnagar’s bus stand.
Jhirna, in the southern part of the reserve, is the only zone that remains open all year. Short jeep safaris can be organised in Ramnagar, but your chances of seeing serious megafauna there are iffy. In certain years, depending on conditions, some of the other zones open in October, but the only way to find out is to contact the reception centre.
Be sure to bring binoculars (you can hire them at park gates) and plenty of mosquito repellent and mineral water. If you’re interested in the life of Jim Corbett, his former house at Kaladhungi, 26km southeast of Ramnagar, is now a museum.
Summer (March to June) is pleasant with temperature between 10°C to 27°C. This is the best time for sightseeing and enjoying adventure activities.
Monsoon (June to September) is occasional and brings out the best of the natural beauty.
Many tourists also visit during the Dussehra celebrations, which last for nine days during October and are very attractive with many colorful processions and festivities.
Winter (October to February) offer a chilly climate between 0°C to 15°C. Heavy snowfalls are common during winters. This is a perfect time for honeymoon in Nainital. The weather is very cold and heavy woolens are a must. Best time for honeymoon and ideal for enjoying snow.
A variety of sweaters, cardigans, caps and shawls in exquisite designs and brilliant colors would tempt you to purchase.
Visiters can also pick up intricately carved cane sticks, beautiful wood-carved objects and multicolored candles in unique designs while shopping in Nainital.
You can buy fresh from the orchard apples, peaches and cherries.
Hang out at the teeming shops at The mall for shopping in Nainital. The shops are replete with artifacts and souvenirs from various parts of Uttarakhand. Never mind if you need to bargain a little bit with the shopkeepers to get the reasonable prices!
Bal Mithai (“Chocolate” Mithai)
Bhatt Ka Joula
Muli ka Thechua
Gaderi Ki Sabji
Gauhat ki Daal
Lason Ka Lur
Bathue ka Paratha
Madwe Ki Roti
Bhatt Ki Churkani
Bhang Ki Chatnee
Dhai ka Jaula
Papad Ki Sabji
Peenalu Ki Sabji
Chanda Devi aur Saladi ka Raita
Durga Pooja festival
Phooldeyi or Phooldeli
Gheeya Sankranti or Olgia
Uttarani or Kale Kaua