Enormous lake with an island at center
Bhimtal is a popular tourist destination located in the Nainital district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is located at an altitude of around 1200 meters, and is named after Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata.
The town of Bhimtal is popular among tourists and local travelers alike due to its proximity to the hill station of Nainital. Bhimtal is famous for the enormous Bhimtal Lake in the region which is bigger than Naini Lake and offers good boating facilities. The lake has an island in its centre which can be accessed only through boats.
About 22 km from Nainital, the lake is surrounded by the Kumaon hills all around. Geologists believe that the lake was formed by the chain of faults caused by the movements in the earth’s crust. The blockade of surface drainage water led to the formation of Bhimtal Lake.
Bhimtal supports a wide variety of animal species like black eagle, wall creeper, tawny fish owl, bulbul and emerald dove.
Best time to visit:
The climate of this region can be classified as sub tropical, with the basic seasons of summer, winter and monsoon. Summers in the town of Bhimtal are very mild and winters are cold, thus making it an ideal destination for honeymoons. The best time to visit the town of Bhimtal would be during the summer months and also during early winter.
Summers in the town of Bhimtal extend through the months of March, April and May. These three months will experience a maximum temperature of around twenty seven degrees (27°C) and a minimum temperature of around ten degrees (10°C). This is an ideal time to visit the town.
Bhimtal is a place of religious significance as well. A temple complex is located in the town and this complex attracts pilgrims from in and around the region. Called Bhimeshwar, the temple complex was built in the 17th century. Its exquisite architecture is an additional attraction.
You can also travel to the nearby locations of Almora, Pangot, Ranikhet and Mukteshwar during your trip to Bhimtal.
Bhimeshwara Mahadev Temple: It is an old Shiva temple, located on the embankment of Bhimtal Lake. It is believed that a temple was in existence there during the time of Bhima, when he had come to this place during the exile period of the Pandavas.
The present temple was built by Baz Bahadur – a king of the Chand Dynasty along with the Raja of Kumaon. The 17th century temple is located by the 40 feet high Victoria dam.
Hanuman Garhi: Hanuman Garhi or Hanumangarhi is located some 3.5 km from the Tallital or South End bus stop; at an altitude of 6,401 ft. Lord Hanuman – the monkey god of the epic Ramayana – is the main deity of the temple. The place also offers some good views of the setting sun over the Himalayas. The statue of Hanuman located here is about 4 m high.
Folk Culture Museum: The Folk Culture Museum, popularly known as Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya, houses a good collection of information and artifacts about the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh. The collection of artifacts includes important information on various topics like stone implements, traditional rites, rituals and archaeologically important items. It also has an impressive collection of photographs and reproductions of rock art.
Hidimba Parvat: Hidimba Parvat of Hidimba Hill is located some 5 km from Bhimtal and is named after the demon wife of Bhima – Hidimba of the Mahabharata. Vankhandi Maharaj, an environmentalist and monk has developed a refuge for wild animals. The wildlife asylum is known as Vankhandi Ashram.
Victoria Dam: Victoria dam is located at one end of Bhimtal Lake and has terraced flower gardens that are placed on either side of the dam. There is also the 17th century Bhimeshwar Temple devoted to Shiva, located very next to it.
Tourists can take a walk through the huge forests that surround the lake. The dam is 40 feet high and offers sights of nature that is very rare in other parts of the country. The gorge is decorated with wild flowers that give it a beautiful look, which attracts good number of tourists every year to this place.
Aquarium: Bhimtal Lake has an island located within it, which once had a restaurant. The restaurant was closed down due to pollution issues and an aquarium was created in its place by the Nainital Lake Development Authority. The aquarium is now home to fish brought from countries like China, South Africa and Mexico.
Karkotaka Temple: The hill of Karkotaka is quite well known for the Nag Temple and is visited by thousands of pilgrims who come here to worship the serpent god, Nag Karkotaka Maharaja on the event of Rishi Panchami. Karkotaka hill is named after a mythical cobra named Karkotaka. It is believed that the temple with the serpent god protects the villagers from snake bites.
How to reach:
By Air: Flights can be taken to the minor airport located in the town of Pantnagar.
By Bus: Buses to Bhimtal run from many destinations including Nainital, Dehradun, Haridwar and even Rishikesh. Buses from Nainital are frequently available.