Those of us who have been to Nainital know that the whole town centres around the lake, literally! Nainital district is called the Lake District of India and Nainital Lake is one of the four lakes of Kumaon hills. While most of the happening events/places are either on or around it, others are not too far away either. My personal favourites have always been a combination of land and water, so this town stays very much on my ‘go-to’ list! Now, while it forms a crucial part of our stay in Nainital, not many of us are aware of the history of this lake. We bring to you some of those lesser known facts related to the Naini Lake that not many people are aware of.
The Naini Lake is a natural freshwater body located in the township of Nainital in Uttarakhand at an altitude of 6,358 feet. The depth of the lake begins with 6 metres and goes up to 28 metres and covers a perimeter of 2 miles.
Origin of Nainital Lake
The origin of this lake has been described by three different theories. As per Indian mythology, Naini Lake is the place where goddess Sati’s eyes fell out of her charred body while being carried by Lord Shiva in extreme anger and grief upon her death. Hence, the name Nain-Tal which refers to lake of the eye and is considered to be one the ‘Shakti Peeths’. The goddess is worshipped by the locals at the Naina Devi Temple, built on the north shore of the lake.
According to another legend, this lake was primarily known as ‘Tri-Rishi-Sarovar’, meaning the lake of the three sages (Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha), as they discovered this place and dug up a hole in search of water. Upon appearance of water, they started worshipping there and the lake became sacred. This also finds its mention in the Hindu scripture Skanda Puran. However, as per the historical records, a business man in sugar trade, Mr. P Barron, accidentally came across this lake on a hunting expedition during 1839. He was so impressed with its beauty that he decided to build a European Colony on its shores.
Geology- Naini Lake is a seismically active lake of tectonic origin
Rocks comprising slates, marls, sandstones, limestones and dolomites play major role in the geological formation of the lake’s surroundings. The lake is fed by 26 major drains out of which 3 are perennial. The hill slopes around it are highly vulnerable and landslide is a common occurrence. Frequent occurrence of landslides in the hill slopes surrounding the lake happens due to mass movements of humans. Several landslides have occurred in past.
Topography and Hydrology
The lake is fenced by seven never-sleeping hills covered in coniferous forests namely, Alma, Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi Bandi, Cheena Peak, Laria Kanta and Sher Ka Danda. While on the north west side lies the Naina Peak (Cheena Peak) with massively steep slopes, Tiffin top surrounds it in the south west side and snow clad Himalayan peaks in the north.
It receives flows from the surrounding catchment basin comprising of hill slopes and springs and has an outfall in the south-eastern end.
Water quality of the lake
The water on Naini Lake is reported to be alkaline in nature and is home to various species of fish like Mahseer, Hill Trout and Mirror carp.
Acts as dividing body
Naini Lake serves as a dividing line between the two sections of Nainital, Mallital and Tallital which refer to upper section and lower section, respectively.
The lake faces various threats such as excessive growth of phytoplankton, algal bloom and pollution of water through sewage, drains and open defecation. High siltation and landslides have also led to accumulation of deposits in the lake, which has resulted in the reduction of its original depth of 28 metres to the current 19.6 metres.
Nainital Jheel Parikshetra Vishesh Kshetra Vikas Pradhikaran is a Special Purpose Vehicle that has been set up for implementing restoration works at the lake such better solid waste management, soil conservation – slope stabilisation, improved sanitation around the lake and in the catchment and controlling the dredging of the lake.
Naini Lake is host to the Annual Kingfisher Yachting Competition(Regatta) which is held in the third week of June.
Tourism Department also holds a Kumaon Festival every year during October and November which portrays the local culture and traditions of this region.
If you wish to go yachting, this is the place to visit as Naini Lake has a Nainital Boat Club which offers yachting facilities through a fleet of Half Raters which are designed by Linton Hope.
Naini Lake is one of the four lakes of the ‘Lake District – Nainital’, the other being Sattal Lake, Bhimtal Lake and Naukuchiyatal Lake. Out of all the four lakes, Naini Lake is the most popular and most frequented. The tourism here, has developed like none other. We hope these facts about the Naini Lake gave you a better understanding about its history and the future.