Crowded around a deep, green volcanic lake, Nainital is Kumaon’s largest town and favourite hill resort. It occupies a steep forested valley around the namesake lake Naini and was founded by homesick Brits reminded of the Cumbrian Lake District.
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.