Named after the 'Naini Tal' or lake shaped in the form of the eye, Nainital is perhaps one of the most popular hill resorts, tucked away in the sylvan surroundings of Uttaranchal Himalayas. A convenient getaway from the plains of northern India, Nainital is surrounded by seven hills known as the Saptshring, and is a hot favourite with boaters. Legend has it that Sati's eyes, or naina landed at Nainital thus giving the place its name. In ancient times the lake was also known as the Tri-rishi. However, according to historical records, Nainital was discovered by a British sugar merchant named P. Barron.
The lake is the centre of much of all holiday activity in Nainital with the Mall, shops, stalls and pony rides stretching to one side. Around the lake are several colonial bungalows that reflect the town's British history. On the fringes of Nainital and around town are some interesting tourist spots which can be covered by short walks. If you have a sense of adventure and want to explore the scenic mountain side, trek to Naina Peak. Take a cable car ride to Snow View, where on a clear day you can see the breathtaking view of Nanda Devi, which is amongst the highest peaks in the world. In addition, you can go rock climbing at Bara Pathar, 3 km from Nainital. Sat Tal or Seven lakes 21 km away from Nainital is a quick getaway. At these secluded lake destinations, you can do kayaking, rock climbing and even mountain biking.
Nainital has a host of expensive hotels as well as budget accommodation. Most hotels hike up their rates during the peak tourist season between May and July. At other times it is possible to get hefty discounts. From Punjabi to Tibetan, you'll get almost any kind of cuisine! The best seasons to visit Nainital are from March till June and again in September-October. An Autumn Festival is organized at Nainital in October, making it the best time to visit. Nainital can be cold even in summer, with sudden rains bringing bad weather.
The nearest airport is at Pantnagar, 72 km from Nainital. There are connecting bus services and private taxis plying to Nainital everyday at regular intervals. The closest railhead for Nainital is at Kathgodam, 40 km south. Trains connect Kathgodam with Agra, Bareilly, Lucknow, and Delhi. From Kathgodam you can take a hired taxi or bus to Nainital. Two main highways come in to Nainital, one to the south at Tallital and the other to the head of the lake at Mallital. You can hire a taxi, share a cab, drive up or avail the city bus services to Nainital from Delhi.