Offbeat Places to Visit Near Nainital | Nainital Travel Guide

By Rutuja Bhagwat - December 20, 2018


Each one of us has our own travel preferences. Some of us love to visit the popular destinations because they guarantee security and a cent per cent chance of finding transportation and other facilities, whereas some of us love to run away from the crowd and explore the lesser explored. For a few of us, travelling equals visiting the tourist-friendly destinations and for the rest, travelling means relaxing and rejuvenating oneself without any nuisance.

For those who belong to the latter group – the ones who love travelling to secluded, lesser known places – you might always search for offbeat places around a locale. Well, this post is for those who want to achieve much more from Nainital. This list includes places at the most 2 hours away from this city, so you can enjoy your stay at Nainital and still visit these offbeat destinations nearby. 


BHIMTAL


Bhimtal or "Bhim Tal" is named after Bhima from Mahabharata who is said to have made the Bhimtal lake, which is a significant attraction in this town. Bhimtal is relatively calmer than Nainital, the reason why people have started visiting it. The town is located at an elevation of 1,370 metres above sea level and is one of the attractions in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. One can enjoy activities here like boat roading, kayaking, zorbing at the Bhimtal lake as well as other adventure sports like trekking, paragliding, and camping. One can visit the aquarium that lies in the mid of the lake via a boat ride.




The tourist attractions in Bhimtal include the 17th-century Bhimeshwar temple, the Garg Parvat, the Hidimba Parvat, the Karkotaka temple, the Victoria dam (and its adjacent garden), and the folk culture museum. Bhimtal is about 11 km from Nainital. One can even shop shawls and other woollen garments from Bhimtal.



GHORAKHAL & BHOWALI


View from the Ghorakhal temple (left); the bells inside the Ghorakhal temple


Ghorakhal and Bhowali lie about 11 km from Nainital and are home to some really beautiful places. The Ghorakhal temple here is very popular amongst the locals and boasts of a unique feature; the temple has over a hundred bells in different sizes hung by the devotees. Golu Devta, the presiding deity here is an incarnation of Shiva, and people believe their wishes are granted here. The devotees write their wishes on a piece of paper and hang them inside the temple periphery. Whenever their wish is granted, they return to the temple and tie a bell in exchange. You can come across a sea of bells here along with scribbled notes! Just outside the temple, there's a market with limited shops that sell bells in different sizes and forms. The Ghorakhal temple gives a taste of our culture and is a must-visit place. The view near the temple is mind-blowing and you are sure to forget your worries amidst the twinkling of the bells and the cool winds blowing.


Yet another attraction in Ghorakhal is the tea garden and factory. You can buy your own organic tea from their tiny shop, and I believe, the Uttarakhand tea is a perfect souvenir to take back for your friends and family. You can shop the Himalayan Orthodox Long Leaf tea and for the green tea drinkers, you have that available here too. The tea garden is well-maintained with clean toilet facility. If you have some time, just relax with a good book as the surrounding tea aroma soothes your soul. The ticket is Rs 20 to enter the garden and factory. One can even view the process of how tea is made at their adjacent factory from collecting the leaves to drying and finally crushing them (enquire the timings from the factory beforehand).



KILBURY

Kilbury is about 12 km from Nainital and is located at an elevation of 2,528 metres. It is an ideal place for a weekend getaways. It is popular for its greenery and birds. One can view the Himalayas along with Tarai and Bhabhar regions. Kilbury is a charming, picturesque place which is lined by lavish oak, pine and rhododendron forests. On the other hand, you can watch Brown Wood-Owls, Collared Grosbeaks, White-throated Laughing Thrushes, Forktails, etc. Kilbury is a notable birding ground with about 580 types of birds. There is a forest lodge for accommodation purposes. The Kilbury & Pangot Bird Sanctuary is a must visit for birders.

Chauli ki Jali (left); Naag Fana (right)

MUKTESHWAR

Mukteshwar is a popular place among travellers, if not tourists. It is famous for its temple and the breathtaking views of Himalayas. Just near to the Mukteshwar temple lies two minor sights: the Naag Fana and the Chauli Ki Jali. The former is a rock that looks like a snake's hood hence the name Nag Faana. Chauli Ki Jali, on the other hand, is a cliff with a hole. It has a lot of legends associated with it. Walk near the cliff for a beautiful view of the snow-clad Himalayas. 

Mukteshwar is situated at an elevation of 2,285 metres above sea level and boasts of apple orchards and coniferous woods. For nature lovers, you can come across many short trails around. The stay options here range from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly cottages. Mukteshwar is largely an unruffled site where solitude is guaranteed. Adventure activities include rock climbing, paragliding, trekking to Almora or Peora, and camping.

PANGOT

Pangot or Pangoot is a hamlet about 15 km from Nainital. The whole drive is through the forested region of Cheena Peak Range and is incredible for birding. Pangot is the perfect escape to be with birds and an untamed life. One can see an assortment of Himalayan birds here. About 150 bird species were recorded at Pangot and neighbourhood areas. This area is also home to leopards, yellow-throated Himalayan martins, Himalayan palm civet, ghoral, barking deer, etc. Pangot have one of the most extravagant oaks, pine and rhododendron woods in the territory. This land boasts of a gigantic assortment of Himalayan vegetation. There are many trails through the encompassing wilderness. You can pick your own trail. One of the well-known trails is from the Kilbury forest lodge to Pangot. 
One can get a look at the Himalayas and that of the Terai region of Nepal.

Stays can be booked online. This small place is dotted with many resorts for a pleasant stay amidst nature. The Kilbury & Pangot Bird Sanctuary is a must visit for birders.

Khurpatal village as seen from the UT SH 41

KHURPATAL

Khurpatal is yet another hamlet near Nainital. At a height of 1,635 metres, it is 12 km away from the city. Khurpatal has a crystal clear lake, which is visited in a lesser degree and the reason why its virgin beauty touches one's heart. You can get a top view of this hamlet on your way towards Ramnagar on the Uttarakhand State Highway 41. Khurpatal is preferred for its charming atmosphere and clear lake. One can do fishing or angling at this lake. Khurpatal has active vegetable ranches. This place is hidden in the hills, because of which it is rejuvenating. One can visit it simply to get lost in nature and admire the unending green fields. 

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