About 22 km from Nainital, Bhimtal at a height of 1370 meters is yet another magical tourist destination, famously known for the Bhimtal Lake. Legends state that Bhima of Pandava fame built a temple to Lord Shiva on the banks of the Lake while the brothers were traversing the country during their vanvas period. The old temple no longer exists but in its place, you can find a temple that dates back to the 17th century. Nainital may appear crowded these days and Bhimtal is relatively peaceful. Bhimtal was an important stop on the historic silk route and the road still exists, with the route following a path that is accessible via Kathgodam leading onto Nepal.
Things to See and Do
Bhimtal is a place where you relax and recharge yourself. The Lake is the main attraction and it has a small island too. Boating is a highly relaxing and pleasurable activity. While at the Lake you can pay a visit to the Bhimeshwara Mahadev temple. About 5 kilometers away is Hidimba Parvat with a small wildlife sanctuary, worth a visit. Go on to Karkotaka Hills and you can have a Darshan at the Nag Temple.
Fishing is a popular activity. From Bhimtal you can also go trekking into the dense forests around or go along trekking trails up into the hills. The hills also provide opportunities for rock climbing and rappelling. Shopping along the Mall is a popular pastime for tourists. Then, about 4 km away is Naukuchiatal and Sattal Lakes, two popular places for fishing and boating. From here too you can go trekking if the mood takes you.
Another place worth a visit is the Nal Damyanti Tal, a small lake about 2 km from Bhimtal. It is said King Nala drowned in this lake and it is considered sacred. A much-visited place in Bhimtal is Sayad Baba ki Mazar, where people from all religious denominations congregate to pay their respects as also to have a wonderful view of the lake, the island and the dam on the lake.
Bhimtal is not only famous for its peaceful and serene surroundings which are extremely breathtaking but it is also well known for some of the following places: Hidimba Parvat, Victoria dam, Butterfly research institute, Hanuman Garhi, Karkotaka temple, Bhimtal lake, folk culture museum and Nal Damyanti Tal. Apart from these popular destinations in Bhimtal you can also go on a hiking adventure to the nearby places of interest like Sattal, Naukuchiatal and Nainital.
Fairs & Festivals
Being located in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, each and every fairs and festivals are celebrated with immense vigor and exuberance. Some of the most significant fairs include: Basant Panchami – celebrated during the onset of spring and lasts till the end of winter season, Uttarayani – held on every 14th January annually, Phool Dei – held during the 1st day of every Chaitra month i.e. March and Nanda Devi – takes place during the month of September. Each of these fairs and festivals are extremely colorful and celebrated with great enthusiasm among the locals. Religious and spiritual people from far and wide visit Bhimtal during this month to be a part of the celebrations.
Fly in to Pantnagar airport, about an hour’s drive from Bhimtal. Kathgodam is the nearest rail station only about 22 km away. The Ranikhet Express arrives at Kathgodam each day from Delhi. From Kathgodam you can travel by private taxi or bus to Bhimtal. From Delhi it is 300 km should you decide to drive over direct or go by bus. Walking is the best way to get around in Bhimtal. The best time to visit Bhimtal is between April and October, May and June being the best.
Best Time to Visit
Summer (March – June) – These months are considered to be the best time to visit this hilly escape. With the maximum temperature going till 27 degree Celsius and the minimum temperature dipping till 1 degree Celsius the overall climate in this area remains engulfed in pleasant and comfortable weather conditions.
Monsoon (July – August) – During the monsoon season Bhimtal experiences heavy rainfall and it is not a good idea to visit since your sightseeing will be interrupted due to rainfall. Apart from this the region also remains prone to avalanches and landslides.
Winter (September – February) – The winter months at Bhimtal are extremely cold and chilly with the average temperatures ranging between 15 to -3 degree Celsius. You can visit Bhimtal during the beginning months of winter i.e. September, October and November.
Accommodation and Food
Though small, Bhimtal has no dearth of accommodation for tourists and the hotels of Bhimtal are all equipped with modern amenities for the tourists flocking there to drink the quiet tranquil beauty of Bhimtal. Hotels may or may not offer meals to the tourists lodging there. Some hotels may have a restaurant attached serving the ever popular Punjabi dishes and continental cuisine. You may want to try local delicacies such as Ras and Baadi that use a combination of lentils. Then you have Bhatt Ki Churkhani and Aloo ke Gutke with Gulgulas a popular sweet dish.