The Himalayan Botanical Garden and the Nainital Zoo (Pandit G. B. Pant High Altitude Zoo) top our list of favorite places in Nainital.
If you love the outdoors, enjoy a hike (warning: moderately steep slopes included), and are curious about Uttarakhand’s flora and fauna, Nainital has two special attractions that definitely merit a visit.
Wildlife, Scenic Views, and a Quaint Temple at the Nainital Zoo (Pandit G. B. Pant High Altitude Zoo):
Junior was excited about the Bolero ride! The zoo shuttle transported us from the India hotel to the entrance of the Nainital Zoo, on a hilltop. Located at a height of 2100-2150 m above sea level, this zoo has numerous paths connecting the animal enclosures. As we followed the trails uphill, we halted often to simply gaze at the fantastic views of the mountains around us. Sometimes, we stopped to catch our breath. And to inhale lungfuls of fresh air!
Among the zoo’s residents are several leopards, a Himalayan black bear, and a red panda. The winged residents include a wide variety of pheasants – Amherst, Kaleej, Cheer, and Golden pheasants. Junior had numerous questions about the Himalayan marten, the civet, and the Tibetan wolf. We didn’t have answers then (oh, the life of a parent!); Google came to our rescue later.
Bonus Tip: There’s a small temple inside the zoo. Don’t miss it!
So, grab a bottle of water, board the zoo shuttle, and head to the beautiful Nainital zoo.
After all the walking, you deserve a sumptuous meal (your stomach will demand one!). You can opt to eat something near the zoo entrance or head down to Mall Road by the zoo shuttle and take your pick from the numerous restaurants there. Our choice was Gianni’s on Mall Road.
The Magical Kingdom of Plants at the Himalayan Botanical Garden:
On one of our day trips outside Nainital, the taxi driver halted at a beautiful location in the mountains. He pointed toward the Himalayan Botanical Garden and asked us whether we would be interested in visiting it. Well, we are suckers for green spaces, and so the decision was easy! We seemed to be the only visitors at the garden (we were unfazed because we’ve been in that situation several times :)).
About 5 km from Nainital town lies Sariyatal, where the Himalayan Botanical Garden is located.
As we entered the garden, a friendly gentleman came by to give us an introduction to the place and an overview of the various sections. He even showed Junior some cute caterpillars and shared some stories about the creatures. What a great start!
We walked along the trails, exploring and learning about the herbs of this region. Uphill, downhill, learn, discover. We entered the fernery and orchidarium. Here, Junior was introduced to the world of spores. And the exotic orchids.
Onward to the geodesic domes housing the cactii. More discussions. Then, we took a break and spotted a variety of birds in the garden. What a perfect spot for bird-watching!
As we proceeded to a viewpoint, the only sound we heard was the twittering of birds.
Even today, a mention of Nainital brings back vivid and fond memories of the Himalayan Botanical Garden.
– The Nainital Zoo can be accessed by the zoo shuttle. For more information, please see http://www.nainitalzoo.org.in/nainitalzoo/index.php
– The Himalayan Botanical Garden is located in Sariyatal, about 5 km from Nainital town.