Kumaon’s largest town and favourite hill resort, Nainital gets crowded with holidaying families and honeymooners during peak seasons. Occupying a steep forested valley around the deep, green volcanic lake Naini, it’s an attractive, upbeat place founded by homesick Brits reminded of the Cumbrian Lake District. Disaster struck here in December 1880 when a major landslide buried a hotel and 150 people, creating the memorial recreation ground now known as the Flats.
Plenty of hotels are set in the forested hills around the lake, there’s a busy bazaar and a spider web of walking tracks covers the forested hillsides to viewpoints overlooking the distant Himalayan peaks. For travellers it’s a good place to kick back and relax, eat well, go horse riding or paddling on the lake, but avoid peak seasons – roughly May to mid-July and October – when Nainital is packed and hotel prices double.