There are a number of tourist places in Nainital. Amongst the must visits are:
At the Mallital end of the lake, you have the flats, a vast expanse of level ground, which in season is a cheerful colorful sea of humanity. One portion does duty as a car park, another houses an assortment of bazaars, notably the Tibetan market. At one end stand the Gurdwara and the Naina Devi temple complex. The spread of the flats offers a very welcome venue for sports events like football and hockey tournaments, held regularly every year.
At the mall end of the flats, you can pick up fresh seasonal fruit by the roadside-pink strawberries and clusters of garnet-hued mulberry, in tiny cane baskets, straight from Jeolikote on the Kathgodam-Nainital highway. Nainital has a long and thriving bazaar where you can shop for the whole range-designer clothes to shoes to books, curios and decorative candles. Candle making as a cottage industry has come to Nainital in a big way and retail outlets are dotted all over town. Latest in the line are the elegantly perfumed, iridescent candles that make light of power cuts.
Nevertheless, Nainital is an outdoor place, with a dozen or more picnic spots within easy reach. If you are not overfond of walking, you could hire a pony and clip-clop your way up. Seven hills surround the lake and provide excellent trekking. Ayarpatta, Deopatta, Handi Bandi, Cheena, Alma, Laria Kanta, and Sher-ka-Danda-goes the impressive roll of names. Cheena (Naina) Peak, at 8,568 feet-the tallest of all-commands a superb view of the Himalayas and an intriguing bird's-eye view of Nainital. Kilbury, the second highest, has a forest rest house that offers a quiet weekend. But snow view on the Sher-ka-Danda hill is the most easily accessible, if not on foot then via the cable car that skims its surface and whisks you away merrily to the top. Once there you can only gaze in wonder at the glittering panorama of Himalayan snows spanning the distant horizon. Tiffin Top (Dorothy's Seat) is every bit worth the climb. Land's End affords a charming view of the lake known as Khurpa Tal and the terraced hills surrounding it, while Hanuman Garhi, with its famous temple, is reputed for its glorious sunsets. Near the temple stands the Uttar Pradesh Government observatory and the Satellite Tracking Center.
Ayarpatta Hill is a haven of trees-oak, fir, deodar, pine and rhododendron. Some of the roads are narrow and still paved with brick. On this hill stands Gurney House, home of the great Jim Corbett, the fearless famous hunter, conservationist and writer to remember. The house was named after Corbett's father. It is now a museum of Corbett memorabilia-shikar trophies, fishing rods, books, writing desk and old moth-eaten maps of 'Nynee Tal'. For all those who love nature and admire Corbett's sensitivity to it, this is hallowed ground.
TOURIST PLACES AROUND NAINITAL
You might say poplars have overrun Bhimtal. As you enter the little town, clouds of translucent sliver-green leaves wave you on and on, right to the southern end of the expansive lake. Bhimtal has oak forests too and the habitation is thick enough to permit wildlife to exist side by side-hill birds, chiefly the pheasant, serao, kakar, sambhar (varieties of deer), the occasional beer and leopard.
If you are a fish fan, be sure to reach the tin-roofed Government fish depot at Sat Tal by 8 am for your pick of carp. Spanking fresh, netted right there at the crack of dawn. However, Sat Tal has a lot more besides fish to recommend it. Originally a cluster of seven lakes, now reduced to five (since two have dried up), Sat Tal (21 km from Nainital) has all it takes to veil the place in a kind of mystique-densely wooded hills, roads that glide under a canopy of gossamer green oak trees, pines and dark brooding firs, little creeks along the shores of the lakes, boat rides on the placid waters, a log cabin that's sheer temptation.
This tal has nine corners. The local wag has it that anyone who manages to see all nine from a single vantage point will either drop dead or come into big money. A visitor may or may not have the nerve to test the truth of this prophecy but he will doubtless find this tree-fringed lake clean and inviting. Brightly painted towing and pedaling boats are available for hire at two points along the shores.
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