Visiting places around Nainital

Approximately 23 kilometers away from Nainital is a group of lakes clustered together. There are seven lakes in all and they are called Sattal. The word Sattal actually means seven lakes. To get there one must climb up to an altitude of 1370 meters above sea level. The unspoiled charm of the place still exists as it did in the past, for modernization hasn’t got round to defiling it as yet.

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The largest lake in the vicinity of Nainital is Bhimtal. This lake could be likened to a jewel or pearl enfolded by an adorable and immaculate valley. At an altitude of 1371 meters, it is only 22 kilometers away from Nainital. The sapphire blue sparkling body of water encircles a tiny island, which makes it even more charming.

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Neem Karoli Baba, a saint from the twentieth century instituted a modern pilgrimage centre at Kainchi. Located at a height of 1400 meters, 20 kilometers from Nainital, devotees and tourists alike, arrive in masses to visit Kainchi.

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Situated in the Kumaon hills, approximately 36 kilometers from Almora in Uttar Pradesh, is a town full of temples called Jageshwar Dham. This place stands at a height of 1900 meters above sea level and is home to 200 large and small temples. The place is acknowledged for its fragrant sandalwood and deodar trees, which appeals to the senses of the visiting tourists.

At a distance of 67 kilometers to the east of Nainital is a town called Almora. Almora is positioned at an altitude of 1646 meters above sea level. This town has a rich heritage of culture and history. The town is shaped like a saddle positioned on the back of a horse. This town is an infusion of an old worldly charm and contemporary opulence.

Map of Badrinath

Below is the map of Badrinath, in Uttarakhand. Move the scroller towards “+” to zoom in and “-” to zoom out.
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Fairs and festivals of Nainital

If adventure and excitement isn’t enough for you then you should participate in the colorful festivals. Nainital is a fusion of people of various sects. Sankranti is observed at the transition of the sun from one constellation to another. A fair or festival is celebrated in different parts of the Kumaon at each Sankranti.

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Uttarani is celebrated on 14th January on a huge scale. This is one fair which is held concurrently at Salt Mahadev, Bageshwar, Pancheshwar Ranibagh, Nainital and Rameshwar. Batsavitri is celebrated all over. Women pray for the well being of their spouses on this day by worshipping Savitri or the Banyan tree.

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Hariyala, which is celebrated in the month of Shravan falls approximately on the 16th of July. This festival is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva’s wedding to Parvati.

Phooldeyi Phooldeli is celebrated by young girls. They place the first bloom of flowers on the porches of all the houses in the village for fortuity throughout the year. Gheeya Sankranti is celebrated on the first day of Bhado. Khatarua is celebrated on the first day of Ashwin. It connotes the arrival of autumn. It is celebrated with children dancing around bonfires.

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Basant Panchami is celebrated during the month of Magh. It is celebrated to mark the end of winter and the commencement of spring. During this festival locals use a lot of yellow in every form as it is considered auspicious. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on Basant Panchmi.

Bikhauti is celebrated in the month of Chaitra. It marks the first day of Navratri. Brothers offer gifts to their sisters, which are called Bikhauti. Last but not the least is the Nanda Devi fair.

The Nanda Devi fair is celebrated simultaneously in Almora, Dandidhara, Ranikhet, Nauti, Munsyari and Nainital of the Kumaon region. It attracts hordes of people here. It is observed in honor of the Goddesses Nanda and Sunanda. People pray for prosperity during this celebration.

Badrinath videos

Traveling to Badrinath

The camera shakes a lot but the road snaking up is awesome.

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Badrinath Temple

Short video of Badrinath temple and surrounding scenery.

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Fog

Another video taken en route Badrinath. Excellent scenery including the fog covered rocky mountain view.

Janmasthami

Janmashtami in Badrinath Celebrated by some bussinessmen of Shri Badri Dham.

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Adi-Badri Temples

Adi Badri is one of 5 holy Badri Temple Group. These are a cluster of 16 temples out of which 14 are still existing as original. There are highly amazing architectural sculptures here. The road cut from Karanpryag (at Haridwar-Badrinath Road) to Nainital.

Vasudhara falls

On the trekking route to Lake satopanth, Uttaranchal Himalayas. This excellent camp site is under Bhoj tree forest, a place called Lakshmivan, just near Alakapuri glacier, source of River Alaknanda.

We will add some more videos soon.

Adventures in Nainital

There is a mini golf course in Nainital that you could visit. It has nine holes and is open in the night too, as it can be played under flood lights. There is a cover charge on the time of usage. This charge includes using the golf clubs and balls.

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Several options are available for people who enjoy trekking. You could trek up to Tiffin top or up the Milam Glaciers trek, Nainital Kainchi trek, Nainital Kunjkharak trek, Pindari Glacier trek, Nainital Binayak trek, Snow View trek Nainital Kilbury trek, Naina Peak trek and Nainital Betalghat. Services by expert guides are also available to escort you, if required.

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The words Thandi Sadak literally mean cool road. One could take a walk down Thandi Sadak for an unforgettable experience. The crisp cool air and the unspoiled terrain are a delight. This is the most charming spot in all of Nainital. Since the entire road is lined with pine trees, oak trees and deodar trees, it blocks the sun’s rays from coming down hard on you. The alluring landscape, chirping birds and the gentle breeze will transport you to a haven of pure ecstasy.

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That is not all! Nainital offers numerous exciting adventures that one could partake. You could enjoy Yachting, River Rafting, Sunset Hikes, Rock climbing, Kayaking, Jeep tours, Caving and Mountain climbing.

Shopping is also very good here. There is an open air market open seven days a week. You can also find several good shops on the Mall where you can purchase woolen products, handicrafts, ornamental pieces made from wood, locally produced jams, juices and squashes, and also attractive color candles.

Activities in Badrinath

There is an interesting spot where you will find a boulder that resembles a serpent. This is called Sheshnetra or the eye of the serpent named Sheshnag.

You could also visit the Vasundhara Waterfall, which is only 8 kilometers from Badrinath.

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Neelkanth is a snow covered peak that serves as a backdrop or shelter to Badrinath. It is more widely known as the Garhwal Queen.

In the vicinity of the temple there is a natural hot spring that you could visit. You could take a holy dip here before entering the temple. The hot water spring is said to have therapeutic properties. It is called Tapt kund.

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The pier on the banks of the Alakananda River where the Hindus perform rites for their deceased ancestors is called Brahma Kapal.

There’s a beautiful meadow here with a boulder where you can get a glimpse of Lord Vishnu’s footprints on a boulder. This place is called Charanpaduka, which actually means footprints.

Those who love flowers must visit the valley of flowers. There is a myriad of flowers that blossom here. In the milieu of Rataban peak and with the Puspawati River flowing here, it might be one of the most enticing places you could come across.  The best time to see the flowers in their full glory is in the months of July and August.

There is an impressive Gurudwara at the spot where the Alakananda converges with the Lakshman Ganga River. This Gurudwara is called Guru Gobind Singh. Therefore it is named the Gobind Ghat. This spot can be found between Joshimath and Badrinath.

Lok Pal Hemkund is a Gurudwara situated at a towering height of 4320 meters above sea level. The ascent is quite steep and grueling, so you need to be prepared. Hemkund Sahib is considered one of the most celebrated Gurudwaras. The Sikhs hold it in the highest regard. The pristine waters of the Lok-Pal Hemkund Lake near the Gurudwara and the four crests cradling it are a sight to behold.

The locals believe Guru Adi Shankaracharya had arrived here from Kerala to perform reparation. He set up a spiritual center subsequent to his enlightenment. He named it Jyotirmath. Later it came to be known as Joshimath.

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There is an interesting little hamlet at the border of India and Tibet. The populace here is fundamentally an Indo-Mongolian tribe. The natural beauty here will hold you in awe.

Another place that confirms the Mahabharata is Bhim pul. An enormous rock forms a natural conduit over the gushing Saraswati River. A magnificent and treacherous view of the waters that surge through the narrow passage under the rock is a wonderful sight. The belief is that Bhim positioned this rock here.

There is a charming waterfall five kilometers from Badrinath. This pleasant place is worth visiting. This place is 3 kilometers off Mana village. Another fascinating place is a cave built out of rock where Ved Vyas is supposed to have penned the Mahabharata and Pauranic annotations.

Attractions of Nainital

Naina Peak is a popular attraction in Nainital. It is also known as China Peak. It is the highest peak in Nainital at a height of 2615 meters. It tenders a fascinating view of Nainital town, the Himalayas and the Terai regions of Kumaon. One can also spot the Nanda Devi Peak and the mountains on the Tibet border. Being a 6 kilometer walk from the northern end of town it is a stimulating hike. For those who can’t leg it, they can hire ponies to take them up. A forest of rhododendrons, deodars and cypress greet you on both sides on the climb up. A word of caution: Take a picnic basket with you as there is nothing available to munch out here.

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You could also visit Tiffin top. This hilltop is situated at a height of 2292 meters above sea level. It is also called Dorothy’s Seat. A stonework picnic perch was built on the hilltop in honor of an English artist named Dorothy Kellet. It was erected here in her memory by her husband after she died in a plane crash.

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A church by the name of Saint John was established here in the year 1844, at the northern end of town. Daniel Wilson laid the foundation of the church. There is a brass memorial in the church to commemorate the memory of the landslide victims. A graveyard next to it accommodated the few bodies that could be salvaged from the rubble.

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A major attraction here is the Naina Devi temple which had originally been destroyed in the landslide and had been rebuilt later. It is dedicated to Naina Devi.

A visit to Gurney House would take you to the former residence of Jim Corbett. It is located on the Ayarpatta Hill. It has since been turned into a museum with Corbett memorabilia.

Another exciting place to visit would be the Snow View. It can be quite an experience for those who have never been on a cable car (ropeway). It is situated on Sher-ka-danda Ridge at a height of 2270 meters. The vista of the snowbound high Himalayas is truly impressive. Also you could catch sight of Nanda Kot, Nanda Devi and Trishul.

Significance of Badrinath Temple

The major lure to this town is the Badrinath temple. Legend has it that Shankara stumbled upon a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made from Shaligram in the Alakananda River. Initially he preserved it in a cave close to the Tapt Kund hot springs. Later the king of Garhwal shifted the idol to the present temple somewhere in the 16th century.

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Being that the temple is pretty ancient and it was damaged in an avalanche the temple has been revamped several times. The kings of Garhwal decided to enlarge the temple during the 17th century. In the year 1803, there was a massive earthquake in the Himalayas, which damaged the temple extensively. It was the King of Jaipur who reconstructed it later.

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This 50 foot temple stands proud with a gold gilt roof. The frontage is stone and the windows are arched. To get to the main entrance one has to climb up a broad stairway. The temple has a semblance of Buddhist architecture. This temple too has a bright colored portico which is typical of Buddhist temples. The main entrance opens up to a mandapa, which in turn leads to the main shrine. Elaborate carvings adorn the walls and pillars of the mandapa. The complex holds altogether 15 temples. The main image of Badrinath (Vishnu) has been chiseled in black stone. Some of the other statues found here are of Laxmi, Garud, Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh.

The best time to visit the temple is from June to September. It is a pretty arduous journey that takes two days from Kedarnath, one of the other sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage or even from Hemkund Sahib, a significant pilgrimage site for the Sikhs. Since both Kedarnath and Hemkund Sahib precede Badrinath, the road that leads you there can be pretty busy during the pilgrimage season. Badrinath is incredibly close to the Indo-China border.

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Previously Badrinath was not accessible by road but now buses and other vehicles can take you directly to the temple. All terrain vehicles are a better choice since the roads are pretty narrow. Buses are available to take you there from New Delhi, Rishikesh and Haridwar. The closest railway stations are at Kotdwar, which is at a distance of 327 kilometers, Rishikesh is at a distance of 297 kilometers, while Haridwar station is 310 kilometers from Badrinath. As far as airports go, the closest one is in Dehradun, which is at a distance of 317 kilometers.

An important point to note is that the Badrinath temple remains closed in the winters.

Boating at Nainital

The biggest crowd puller in Nainital is the Naini Lake. The Naini Lake is the centralized feature in Nainital.  It is flanked by the mountains like it was being cosseted from the world. Families bring their children for a pleasant boat ride here. Scores of Honeymooning couples too can be spotted a mile away snuggling while attempting to control their row boats. Groups of youngsters too will be seen here enjoying the boat rides as they unsettle the others with their merry making. It’s all in good fun though. These row boats or pedal boats can be rented from several places along the Mall. A few yachts are also available for rent at the Nainital Boat Club.

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Other facilities at the Nainital Boat Club include a bar, a ballroom, a library and a restaurant. The club used to be very exclusive in the past. An amusing story is linked with this club. At one time, Jim Corbett was denied membership to the club as he wasn’t a pakka sahib since he was born in India.

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The main road running through the town parallel to the lake is called the Mall road. There are bazaars at both ends of the Mall. These are called the Tallital and the Mallital. The Tallital is in the southern end while the Mallital is at the northern end. Walking down the Mall in the evenings can be quite delightful because of the cool breeze blowing from the lake.

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A major landslide had occurred here on 16th September 1880 leading to a disaster. 151 people who were at the Assembly Halls at the time of the landslide got buried underneath. Since then the place has been turned to a recreation ground known as the Flats. Today several games are played and various activities take place at the Flats.

Religious importance of Badrinath

Of the four sites of the Char Dham pilgrimage Badrinath is considered the most important. Situated on the banks of the Alakananda River in the Garhwal hills, this holy town is in the Chamoli district of the Uttarakhand state of India. It is located as high up as 3416 meters above sea level.

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It was in the 9th century that Adi Shankara became aware of the importance of this place and established it as a major pilgrimage site. The Badrinath temple is particularly sacred to the Vaishnavs. Nevertheless Badrinath attracts multitudes of other pilgrims besides the Vaishnavs.

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The sacred scriptures and legends of India have had a special place for Badrinath over thousands of years. Lord Vishnu is said to have been incarnated as the sages Nara and Narayana, who have been performing penance for the benefit of mankind. This has been cited in the Srimad Bhagavatam.

This place supposedly derives its name from a berry called Badri that is indigenous to this region whereas nath is indicative of Lord Vishnu. The Indian Jujube tree is known as Badri in Sanskrit. There is mention of a wealth of Jujube trees in Badrinath according to some of the scriptures. Folklore has it that the berries are actually a form of Goddess Lakshmi. She materialized in this form so her spouse, Lord Vishnu could be sustained during his long penance in the austere Himalayan environment.

In the Hindu scriptures, Badri is mentioned as Badarikaashram. This place is predominantly sacrosanct to Lord Vishnu chiefly in his twin form of Nara-Narayana. When Shiva addressed Arjun in the Mahabharat, he informed him, “You were Nara in your previous birth, and you performed severe penance at Badri for countless years with Narayana for company”.

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The Padma Purana refers to the vicinity of Badrinath as reserve of spiritual wealth. As per the Skanda Purana, There is no shrine anywhere in heaven, earth or hell that comes close to Badrinath. It is believed that Badrinath is the earthly dwelling of Lord Vishnu. Several Brahmasuthras and Upanishads have been written here in Badrinath. Religious intellectuals like Madhawacharya, Ramanujacharya and Vedanta Desika composed these sacred texts. In keeping with another belief, Goddess Ganga was appealed to descend on earth. Since the earth wouldn’t be able to survive the strength of her descent, the mighty Ganga was divided into twelve holy conduits. Alakananda, which flows here, was one of them.