Bhimtal is a picturesque hill town in the state of Uttarakhand. Situated at a height of 1370 metres above sea level, it is revered for its aesthetic natural beauty. With the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas, this pristine small town offers a refreshing and calm ambience, away from the hullabaloo of a city life. Owing its vicinity to Nainital, it is well connected by roads and is an ideal travel destination in any month of the year.

Here’s some useful and interesting information about this lake city, which is fast gaining popularity amongst tourists in India.

History of Bhimtal

Named after Bhima, a mythological character in the Mahabharata, Bhimtal is an ancient town in the hills of Kumaon. The town also hold religious significance because of the Bhimeshwar Temple. Situated at the banks of Bhimtal lake, the old Bhimeshwar Mahadev temple is believed to been built when Bhima visited the place during the period of Pandavas banishment. The present temple was built in the 17th century by the King of Kumaon , Raja Baz Bahadur Chand. Bhimtal has been a place of stoppage for travellers of the region for a long time and is much older than the town of Nainital. The old pedestrian road is still in use today, which might have been part of the ancient “silk route”.

History of Bhimtal- Bhimeshwar Mahadev Temple
Bhim Tal Kumaon, India. 30 July 1878. Oil painting on paper, by Marianne North. wikipedia

The Bhimtal Lake

Folklore has it that the lake was formed by Bhima’s “gada” (Mace). As the legend goes, when the Pandavas were travelling all over Kumaon during their exile period, one warm day, Draupadi asked for water. Bhima looked for it but was not able to find some. Frustrated and angry, he hit his mace to the ground with such force that it created a crater, which miraculously filled with water.

Bhimtal Lake

The largest lake in the entire Kumaon region, Bhimtal Lake is the centre of attraction and a major tourist site for the town. The 14.8 metres high masonry Victoria dam was built on it in 1883 under the British Raj, creating a water storage facility. Spread over an area of 48 hectares, the lake harbours an island in its middle, which provides a panoramic view of the lake and its surroundings. About 91 metres from the bank, the island houses the Bhimtal Lake aquarium. Wildlife like the barking deer, Kalij pheasants, Koklass pheasants, ducks and geese can be seen around the lake. Tourists can also enjoy boat rides, do kayaking and indulge in water zorbing. The lake provides drinking water supply and supports aquafarming with a variety of fish species like common snow trout, catla, rohu and silver carp.

dam by the Bhimtal Lake
The dam by the Bhimtal Lake and the Bhim temple at Bhimtal, 1895. wikipedia

Places to visit in Bhimtal

Apart from the Bhimtal lake and Victoria Dam, there are other places and spots where tourist can visit. Some of these are the Bhimeshwar Mahadev temple, Hidimba Parvat, Nal Damayanti Tal, Vankhandi Aashram, Karkotaka temple, Folk Culture Museum etc. Around Bhimtal too one can visit places like Jim Corbett National Park, Nainital, Naukuchiatal (Lake of Nine Corners) and Sattal (Seven Lakes). Apart from these, one can do sightseeing, trekking and nature walk.

Naukuchia Taal - Places to visit in Bhimtal
Naukuchia Taal. himaalayan_soul/Instagram

Institutions and Schools

There are many government and private institutions in Bhimtal, like the Birla Institute of Applied Sciences, Tasar Regional Research Centre (Ministry of Textile), National Cold Water Fisheries Institute. Vikas Bhawan building now houses many District Administration offices of Nainital District. Almost a 100 years old, the Government Model School is the oldest school in the area, running since the time of the British. Mount Alvern Convent School and Lakes International School are some other schools in the area. Lilawati Pant Inter college and Government Girls Inter College are two other government educational institutions in Bhimtal.

BIAS Campus Bhimtal
BIAS Campus as seen from Bhimtal. birlainstitute

Climate and weather

The climate is pleasant during the summers, with a temperature ranging from 20 °C to 30 °C , while in winters the weather is really cold, ranging between 04 °C to 18 °C. May is the warmest month of the year. Summers have good deal of rainfall, while winters have very little.

Bhimtal Lake Uttarakhand

Demographics of Bhimtal

As per the 2011 India census figures, Bhimtal had a population of 7,722, with a sex ratio of 885. The average literacy rate is 93.67%, which is much better than the National Average of 74%. Hindi and Kumaoni are the official languages of the area.

Bhimtal on Map

How to reach Bhimtal by Air, Rail and Road

The nearest airport is at Pantnagar, about 58 km from Bhimtal. 30 km away, Kathgodam is the closest railway station to Bhimtal. The town is well connected with roads from all major cities of Uttarakhand like Haldwani, Kathgodam, Nainital and Almora.

How to reach Bhimtal- Kathgodam Railway Station
Kathgodam Railway Station. Ashwin Joseph/Flickr

So next time you want to experience a peaceful and quiet weekend gateway in the Kumaon hills, visit Bhimtal and enjoy the splendid landscapes and beauty of the place.