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A visit to Nainital where I found both natural beauty and peace of mind
It was the month of September and a rainy season. I and my husband were planning for a holiday. I was surprised when my husband told me that we will go to Nainital because there are many other hill stations which we could have chosen. Still I was happy because we were going out for a holiday and I was little curious about Nainital, because I had never been there.

The journey began from New Delhi; we boarded Shatabdi train at Anand Vihar at 6am and after six hours we reached Kathgodam, our first stop. From there we had to catch a taxi or bus to reach Nainital - a popular hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

The climate was just awesome and as our taxi moved on the high mountains, mist followed us as if it was playing hide and seek with us. I was feeling like I am in heaven. After 40 minutes’ journey, we reached Nainital, Mall Road. The road runs through the heart of the Nainital town parallel to the lake connecting the two ends of the town.

Mall road has a number of hotels, travel agencies, banks, showrooms, departmental stores, shops, restaurants and cafes. We decided to stay in the Grand Hotel. The hotel was built by the British in 1872 and this heritage property is one of the first hotels built in Nainital. There was also a reason to stay in this hotel because we found a panoramic view of the emerald green lake and the mountains which tower along its edge. The hotel is also located very near to Naina Devi Temple. Considered as one of the 'Shakti Peeths' and a significant religious site, the Naina Devi Temple is one of the most important places of worship in Nainital. It is dedicated to Goddess Naina Devi. The temple is situated atop the Naina hillock near the Naini Lake, and draws thousands of devotees every year.

It is also believed that the Naini Lake is one of the 64 Shakti Peeths, or religious sites where parts of the charred body of Sati (Parvati) fell on earth while being carried by Lord Shiva. The spot where Sati's eyes (or Nain) fell came to be called Nain-tal or lake of the eye. The goddess Shakti is worshipped at the Naina Devi Temple on the north shore of the present day lake.

I was so happy but little tired; we ordered two cups tea and some cookies. After an hour we decided to hang out, because we knew that we were there for making fun. The cool breeze blowing across the lake has its own charm. My husband was very excited for the boating; he told me that boating is the main attraction of the visitors coming here. The lake is the prominent feature of this hill station. It is a fresh water natural lake and there are different types of boats in which you can sail and enjoy.

We grabbed tickets for a boat ride. We wore our life jackets and start boating there. The boatman was very interesting; he told us so many things about Naini Lake. It is kidney or crescent shaped and has an outfall at the southeastern end. The Nainital Lake was known as ‘Tri-Rishi-Sarovar’, meaning the lake of the three sages. In the middle of lake there is a Hanumanji temple. It was raining and boat man asked us to visit the temple.

There are two main shopping areas - The Mall and Barra Bazaar. Traditional articles include shawls, scarves, cardigans and local jams. You can also buy wooden handicrafts which are good and cheap option for souvenirs.

I bought a hat, Jacket, shawl, shocks and a woolen kurta. It’s 8pm and both of us were feeling hungry. We picked up variety of foods and variety of drinks too and rushed to the hotel.

Next morning sun was smiling from behind the peak of a mountain and wishing good morning. The hotel balcony was looking awesome. Roses were waiving, birds were chirping, green lake was shining with the rays of sun. We ordered morning tea. We took some photographs and started to get ready.

First we visited Naina Devi temple. The temple is very beautiful and very auspicious. After visiting the temple we had our breakfast. We asked our restaurant manager about the places we should visit. He told us about snow view, Nanda Devi Temple, Garden of caves, Nainital Zoo, Sariyatal, Khurpa Tal and many more places.

After visting the zoo and Garden of Caves we reached Khurpa Tal. It was the most eye-catching places. At an altitude of 5500 ft (1635 MT) there lies just another beautiful spot at a distance of 12 km from Nainital popularly known as Khurpa Tal. It is considered to be angler’s paradise having clear water and a good harvest of fishes.

After seeing so many places we reached Sher-Ka-Danda Ridge. Located at an altitude of 2270 m, Snow View offers spectacular views of the Naina Devi Peak. It can be reached by the Aerial Express Ropeway. Round trip costs Rs 100. There is a place called Mountain Magic, which offers Bumping cars and Go karting facilities.

We visited Golf Course. It was a great experience. This is an army area and many soldiers were practicing there. After that we moved to Jhula Devi temple. It is situated at a distance of 7 km from the town of Ranikhet near Chaubatia. It is said that the dense jungle near the temple was once full of wild animals; leopards and tigers used to attack local villagers. The villagers prayed to Maa Durga for protection, and one day Goddess Durga came in a shepherd's dream and advised him to excavate her idol. This temple was constructed at the spot where the shepherd found Goddess Durga's idol. Since then pilgrims come to make a wish to Goddess Jhula Devi. And when their wish is fulfilled they come again to thank Jhula Devi Maa by offering a bell to the temple. The popularity of the temple can be realized by the number of bells hanging over the temple walls.

Now we had moved in the direction of Almora City. We were interested to see the natural beauty of Uttrakhand so our driver took us from a short cut route. Car was running on high mountains amidst few villages located on the sides of road. There was a dense forest too.

Suddenly the driver stopped the car because a leopard was crossing the road. That was an amazing moment. All of sudden, we found another leopard with cubs.

Almora, a picturesque district in the Kumaun region, East of Uttarakhand in India, with a breathtaking panoramic view of Himalayas, summons tourists worldwide to its alluring grandeur of natural beauty.

There are so many eye catching places, where you will find natural beauty and peace of mind.  One can have a panoramic view of the snowy peaks of Himalayas on any clear day. Nearby places of tourist interest where an excursion can be made within a day are Bright End Corner’s unforgettable sunsets, Chitai temple with its unique collection of brass bells of all sizes, gifted to the temple by devotees since centuries. Kasar Devi is home to many Europeans who fell in love with the place so much that they settled down there.

Next we moved to Jageshwar Dham. Jageshwar Temple is located about 35kms from Almora. Jageshwar is considered one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by glorious Deodar trees. The temple city comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD, with many preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which include Dandeshwar Temple, Chandi-ka-Temple, Jageshwar Temple, Kuber Temple, Mritunjaya Temple, Nanda Devi or Nau Durga, Nava-grah temple, a Pyramidal shrine, and Surya Temple amongst which the oldest shrine is the 'Mrityunjaya Temple' and the biggest shrine is the ' Dandeshwar Temple'.

Jageshwar Dham is the most peaceful place. The view of running lakes between hotel and mountains, passing behind Jageshwar temple was awesome. After staying there for a day we returned to Kathgodam, boarded the Shatabdi that took us to Delhi – our home.

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