Visiting Naini Lake in Nainital, Uttarakhand

One of the prettiest cities I’ve visited in Uttarakhand is Nainital, in the Kumaon region, famous for its beautiful lakes and picturesque surroundings. Blessed by the presence of nine lakes that make for a truly breathtaking natural landscape, Nainital is one of the most touristy places in this Himalayan region in northern India.

Nainital Lake, in Uttarakhand, India

As I was travelling throughout the region and since I love taking photos wherever there is water, I decided to devote one day to Nainital and enjoy the natural scenery of at least one of its many lakes.

Mountains on the way to Nainital

Now, being India, could it be just a normal lake? Let’s get on.

In order to fully enjoy the large expanse of open water on Naini Lake, I went on a boat trip, and this is when the captain of the most colourful and shakiest boat I’ve ever taken started telling me the story of the city.

Visiting Naini Lake in Nainital

Like the rest of the country, also Nainital was occupied by the British during their colonization that lasted for almost 200 years, until 1947, when Hindustan was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan, division that provoked endless massacres and an ongoing deterioration of Hindu-Muslim relations, and India declared its independence.

Landscape going to Nainital

According to the boat captain, when the British settlements were dismantled and rulers were leaving Nainital, all their possessions were dropped in the lake, and now, apparently, everything lies on the bottom, making for an invaluable historical and cultural heritage. Although I’m a good swimmer, I decided to avoid confirming this by plunging into the water, and not just by its unusual very green colour, but also because it did seem considerably deep.

This was the “real-life” story, but, again, being India, I expected more. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Road to Nainital

The word Nainital can be divided into two words, naini, that in Hindi means “eyes”, and tal, that means “lake”, and it comes from a legend that sees as main characters the Hindu god Shiva, Destroyer of the Universe, and his wife, Parvati. As the story goes, Parwati, daughter of King Daksha, held a “Yajna”, that in Hinduism should be a ritual for sacrifice, without inviting Parvati (or Sati) and Lord Shiva. Parvati could not bear the insult and furious she crashed into the “Yajna” ground, leaping into the flames and burning to death.

While Lord Shiva was carrying his wife’s dead body to Kailesh Parvat, Parvati’s eyes fell in the lake, and this is why the city was then called Nainital.

Boats ready to sail in Nainital Lake

Apart from being beautiful, Nainital is also very touristy, and as such not really the best place for shopping, not just for the prices that somehow reach unreasonable levels, but for the actual quality of the products. I’m particularly referring to the pashminas I saw just on the main road facing the river that was certainly not as good as in other less touristy places. Besides, since I wanted to buy only one, they wouldn’t even let me go inside to choose the colour I liked, but I had to pick among those they had put on display, only a couple and the worst ones.

Although I tend to avoid very touristy places and indulge in some lesser known spots, I did like the vibe I sensed in Nainital. This is why it’s not unlikely that one day I will go back.

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27 Comments
  1. Encore un beau récit de l’endroit que tu as visité. Je me répète, l’Inde est vraiment une surprise pour moi, je découvre des paysages magnifiques et leurs légendes sont enchanteresses! Il me semble avoir compris que Nainital est proche du Pakistan?

  2. Bellissime le foto, suggestiva la leggenda e molto interessante la descrizione del posto!

  3. Hey Angela,
    Once again gr8 post supported by equally nice pics. Nainital is a great place but has become a bit ‘touristy’ these days. There’s Naukuchiatal and Bhimtal near by equally breathtaking destination and home to a variety of avian species and I’d definitely recommend them to you especially from the photography point of view and a little bit of unspoiled environs.
    Keep traveling keep sharing :-)
    Cheers
    Nik

    • True, it’s pretty touristy, very curious to visit the places you suggested. Not sure when I’ll come back to India, but next time I will certainly visit.
      Very happy I inspired you to write about your travels, I’m going to check it out right now!

  4. And I did write about my recent trek as I mentioned in one of my replies to your post. Thanks for inspiring.

  5. India is so rich in history and culture — and there’s so much to see! You have great stories Angela…thanks!

  6. मैं भी यहाँ घूम आया हूँ,

    • Thanks for your comment, Jatdevta. I’m not familiar with Hindi, but thanks to Google translator I think I understood you are moving to Nainital? That’s a great city, I believe life in Uttarakhand is both challenging and fascinating.

  7. If possible visit Mukteshwar/Mukteshwar temple 50 km approx. from Nainital and try to visit Shri Ramchandra Mission Himalayan Ashram, Satkhol another 11 km through dense jungle.

  8. If you want to see great temples you should go to the south they have some excellent temples like the Madurai Meenakshi,The Tanjavur Brihadisvara Temple or the Anantha Padmanabha Awamy temple in Trivandrum where billions of dollars worth of treasure was unsealed after a century.

  9. I know the solution to the world’s problems – particularly as they impact upon women – let’s demonise the British and embrace Iranian Islamic theocracy.

    That’s bound to make the world a better place. Especially for women.

    I mean, Honestly – you should be ashamed of yourself. Parading around in a headscalf, embracing the Islamic iconography of female oppression, while pretending to be a champion of freedom, equality and women’s rights. It’s enough to make anyone with a fuly-developed moral sense sick to their stomach.

    Let’s indulge your fantasy for a minute and assume – for the sake of argument – that Western (and, by implication, British) power is overthrown and replaced by full, worldwide, Iranian-style Islamic theocracy.

    Who do you think would be the first victims of that revolution? Who do you think the big losers would be?

    Me? My brother? My dad?

    Or you, your sister, your mum and every other woman in the world?

    Who do you think Islamic law presses down on with most force?

    Who do you think bears the most barbaric and intolerable burden?

    Women or men?

    You would be the first victm of any diiminution of Wester power. Yes, YOU! – aswell as your mum, your sister, your aunt, your niece and all your female friends..

    The first target, the first enemy and the first victim of the Islamic state.

    Always.

    Women, not men.

    Only in the West – America, Britain and Europe – are women accorded the full rights of freedom and citizenship. Only in the West is the physical and sexual integrity of women safeguarded by the full moral force and sanction of law, and yet you parade around in your Islamic headdress, denigrating the legacy of British rule whilst campaigning against the diffusion and enforcement of liberal democratic norms and in favour of the lunatic rule of misogynist Islamic theocrats.

    It seems to me that, instead of spending your time evangellising on behalf of Ahmadinejad, your privileged position as an educated Western woman woud be put to better use highlighting the appalling plight of women and girls in the Muslim world

    Instead of lobbying on behalf of the mullahs, how about standing up for the rights of Muslim women and girls for a change?

    Or would that compromise your anti-imperialist credentials too much?

    • Hi Scott, I hope you are well, although as I see from this comment you might have a problem or two.

      First of all, it seems to me that when you wrote it you were either drunk or had never read any of my posts. You should remember from uni in London that I’m not a fan of religion, ANY religion. This, if you ever understood anything about me, which I’m starting doubting.

      Who has ever talked about replacing wonderful Western democracy (sigh!) with the Islamic Republic? “Embracing the Islamic iconography of female oppression”? Seriously, Scott, use your own language, stop repeating the words written on the cheapest propaganda outlets. Your comment sadly shows how brainwashed you are and how nothing you have traveled, otherwise you would know there are places where you can live much better than the UK.

      If I remember our discussions, I know you are proud of the horrors your beloved British empire committed, never mind for the millions of victims, shit happens, right? Now, this is something to be ashamed of. And to be honest, even now that the empire is over, you can’t be proud of the legacy of rubbish the British “pioneers” have left, especially in Asia, where much of the instability comes right from that unfortunate period. Funny that you left your comment on a post about India, where by the way, I don’t even talk about the British bloody occupation (did you know it was bloody and inhumane?), but just that much of the remains that were in Nainital are now allegedly in the lake. Blaming the British/US? Yes, I blame the British/US when it comes to imperialism, I will blame other countries when they will invade/bomb/occupy/colonize/ new lands, in whatever name they do it, be it democracy, religion, or whatever you like.

      “How about standing up for the rights of Muslim women and girls”? What do you know about these rights? Have you ever talked to any muslim woman? Have you ever asked them what they want? Nobody is denying that in many countries women face injustice and their rights are abused, but this is a much more complicated issue than how you put it. You can’t just go to a country and change the regime as you please without even knowing the society you are working on. Well, as a British, you would probably think this is the right way, as regime change has always been a favorite of the Anglo-American democratic system, but if you claim you have studied, and as far as I know you took at least a MA, you should know this is wrong. It’s not a mystery that today in Afghanistan, after the West imported democracy, women face possibly worse conditions and more violence than before.

      Don’t talk to me about women rights, and as a general rule, don’t talk about something you know nothing about.

      From my travels I understood than in every country there are the bad and the good aspects, yes, I know it’s unbelievable, but the UK is not perfect either, actually very far from it, and probably this is what is bothering you. With my articles I wish to write about the diversity of cultures and oppose the prejudice that stems from a life of not traveling at all, like yours, but with you I seem to have heavily failed. Sorry for that and happy new year.

      • Niether drunk nor brainwashed, Anglea.  Just saddened and frustrated by your continuing embrace of the most regresseive and reactionary forms of anti-western politics.

        I mean, of all the photos you could use for your profile, of all the hats and forms of headdress in the world, you choose one associated with a thuggish, violently misogynistic form of religious rule.

        What is it that makes an accomplished, intelligent, articulate woman like you embrace the symbols of a brutish medieval death cult?

        For all its flaws, Western power has carved out a space in the world where women enjoy the benefits of full citizenship, where their personal and physical integrity is underwritten by the full moral force and protection of law.

        In a world where women are routinely subject to the most hideous forms of oppression and exploitation, denied the most basic freedoms, and live under the cloud of constant physical, sexual and psychological assault, that is a considerable historical achievement.  It marks the West out as something precious; to be protected and nurtured, not sniped at, disparaged, undermined and attacked.

        You are a women of considerable talents. But on this central question, you are simply wrong.  And dangerously so.

        You have allowed your distate for the excesses of British and American power to push you into the embrace of some of the most violently regressive and rectionary forces in the world.  It is a tragic mistake.

        I’m left wondering where this moral confusion comes from, just how it is that, on the central question of our time, you lack all moral clarity?  How it is that you can, in all good conscience and as a woman, side with the religious thugs in Tehran and against those working for a more open, liberal, democratic future there?

         You seem to me to be toally disorientated, morally.  It is about time you recovered a sense of moral direction and recognised the Iranian regime for what it is.

        Yours ever,

        S.

        xxx

        • Sorry Scott, but it looks to me that in this you are the “morally disoriented”, and mainly I blame the fact that you have never traveled. Your words clearly show a pragmatic ignorance of all Asia and East Asia cultures and traditions, and even worse, your constant defensive attitude towards British and US crimes (today and yesterday) is decadent and sad.

          I’m very far from advocating and promoting an Islamization of Europe, since this seems to be your biggest fear, as, you probably remember, I don’t support any religion, which in the end are very much all the same. I also wish to live not just where women are equal in everything with men, but also where both men and women are free to do what they want, not just not wearing a headscarf, which again seems to be your main worry, but for example living with their partner before (or without) getting married.

          There are many aspects of Mideast social mores I don’t agree with, but I also disagree with many aspects of Indian society, which is not muslim. Although, disagreeing doesn’t necessarily involve putting up a smear campaign supported by superficial arguments like yours.
          What you say stems solely from academic books and articles, I suggest you take a trip to the Middle East, so you can experience first-hand the bad and the good, talking to locals and watching how they live.

          I’m not a fan of hijab either, not for the allegedly repressive reasons you list, but simply because in the longterm it can harm one’s hair. On the photo on my Facebook profile (I didn’t think it was so important!) I wear the hijab because it was taken in Iran, where the scarf is imposed.

          Your continuous attacking of foreign cultures shows the typical fear of the unknown, that if it can be (slightly) forgiven to uneducated people, it cannot be accepted from someone who has a degree in International Relations. You are expected to form your opinions by yourself, not just relying on other people’s work. Being in touch with other ways of living will show you that a balance of mutual differences and cooperation is probably the way to go.
          If you want, and if you are still in London, when I come we can meet up and discuss it further.

        • I’m not defending US and British crimes. Nor am I “constantly attacking foreign cuItures”.  I am trying to liberate Iranian culture from the degradations of a pitiless, suffocating death cult.

          When I look to Iran,  I see a proud people, an ancient people, a magical civilisation beaten into submission by a murderous gang of religious thugs.

          The rule of the Mullahs is not an authentic expression of Iranian culture; it is a murderous imposition, a disgusting profanity, a vile and poisonous obscenity.

          And the Iranian people know that, of all the pathologies swirling around the Middle East, this primitive desert religion is the most disabling, the most wretched; the most deceitful and wicked of all the great lies.  And they have had their fill of it.

          What they want and need now, more than ever, and above everything, is for their politics to work.  That means an end to the Mullahs, the Imams, the death squads, the religious police and the whole supporting infrastructure of indiscriminate violence and thuggery that sustains the regime.

          And so I am asking you to cut through the surface detail, look beyond the swirl of events and make a basic moral commitment to liberal, democratic norms over the vicious rule of Islamic thugs.

          I’m asking you to commit to the struggle for open, democratic regimes.

          I’m asking you to recognise that, for all its flaws, there is a fundamental lack of moral equivalence between Western-style liberal democracy, on the one hand, and the rule of violently repressive Islamic thugs on the other, and to side with the former, against the latter. 

          That seems to me to be the basic moral challenge of our generation, and it is one you are in danger of getting horribly, hideously wrong.

          From reading your work over the last couple of years, it seems to me that, in every trial of strength, every contrived confrontation, every cynical act of anti-Western defiance and every outburst of violently misogynist, homophobic, anti-semitic rhetoric, you invariably come down on the side of the theocrats, in support of Ahmadinejad, and against those pushing for a more open, liberal, democratic Iran.

          That points to a basic lack of moral clarity, a fundamental lack of moral seriousness and a willingness to support any regime, no matter how murderous and repressive, provided they oppose the West.

          That is more than moral blindness Angela.  It is moral sickness.

        • Sadly, you are the epitome of the worst aspects of old British mentality: belief (not sure supported by what) that your culture is the only good one and total disrespect for different mindsets. I could agree with some of your points, but certainly not in the despicable way you have expressed them, as you only show ignorance and contempt.

          Let’s be frank, you, and your beloved political establishment, don’t give a damn about an “open, liberal, democratic Iran”. Today, like before, it’s always been the same story, bringing to power the elite you choose, so that your economic interests are safe, and if the infamous “Mullahs” will ever agree to this, I’m pretty sure the public opinion in the West will change drastically. And stop pretending you care about women rights, otherwise you would tackle countries where these are truly denied.

          Do yourself a favor, Scott, get your ass on a plane and open your eyes.

  10. And there you have it, the moral sickness at the heart of your position.

    When invited to express a preference for liberal, democratic norms over the rule of murderous religious fanatics, you can’t do it, can you?

    Even at the level of principle.

    I was hoping that I could at least draw that basic moral and philosophical commitment out of you, that – your overriding dislike of British and American policy aside – there was still some residual commitment on your part to the principles of enlightenment, that you hadn’t lost all sense of moral proportion, that – somewhere, underneath your anti-imperialism – there was still the clarity of vision and moral purpose to get the basic moral categories right. 

    But it’s just not there, is it?

    You are lost; hopelessly, utterly, irredeemibly lost

    It is astonishing just how deep the sickness goes.

    Yours, in sadness.

    S. 

    :-(

    • Very funny that a fan of imperialist wars and strategies talks about human rights. Well, actually, it’s exactly what the cheapest propaganda teaches you, so I guess you are a good student. Bravo, the poor and downtrodden are in the hope that your establishment arrives with their democratic regime changes and invasions, so like in Iraq and Afghanistan, their human rights will be protected. Speaking about sickness.

      • Lol!  x

        Only in the through-the-looking-glass world of Gramscian politics is a commitment to the spread of liberal democratic norms a “sickness”

        I guess you’re still under the spell of the old Sardinian hunchback.

        I’d love to carry this on, but we’re never going to agree, and  I’m conscious that I’m taking up far too much of your time, and too much space on your blog, so I’ll draw this exchange to a close.

        I’ll try again in a couple of years!

        Hopefully by then the old Sardinian clown’s magic will have worn off, and you’ll have discovered a measure of democratic principle and commitment … ;)

        Take care Angela,

        Your friend,

        S.

        xx

        • Oh Scott, this is so sad.. First Iran, then Sardinia.. Which place are you going to insult next? Don’t you think you might be the fanatic one? Don’t bother in a couple of years, I’ll never be British, so I’ll never understand the ideals of freedom and democracy that a proper colonization brings about. I would wish you happy travels in 2012, but I know you despise every country except your own, so I’ll just wish you all the best.

  11. Nice post Angela!
    I am from Nainital & I solute you for your great effort blogging about Nainital.
    Nainital known for its beautiful lakes and cold weather, there are numerous lakes and visiting places around the Nainital. Bhimtal-Naukuchiyatal-Sariyatal-Sukhatal are famous lakes for boating and Mukteshwar, Ramgarh, Kausani, Binsar and Ranikhet are best tourist places Known for their unspoiled natural beauty.

    thanks

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