Bhimtal – A complete travel Guide

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Bhimtal is a small city present in Uttarakhand. The pride of this town is the lake of Bhimtal. Revered for its aesthetic beauty, the lake of Bhimtal sits atop an elevation of 1,370 meters above sea level. This lake city is located in close proximity to Nainital, and hence it is rapidly gaining popularity.

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The lake is situated at a scenic spot with an island in its center. The view from this island is extremely beautiful. Bhimtal houses amazing natural vistas and it has been blessed with an abundance of nature’s bounty. Bhimtal is an ideal destination to visit in any month.

History of Bhimtal :

Bhimtal is an ancient place named after Bhima of Mahabharata. Bhimeshwar Mahadev Temple, an old Shiva temple in the bank of Bhimtal lake, is believed to have been built when Bhima visited the place during the exile of Pandavas. The present temple was built in the 17th century, by Baz Bahadur, a King of the Chand dynasty, and the Raja of Kumaon.

Bhimtal is older than nearby Nainital as the city of Nainital is just 150–160 years old. But Bhimtal has been a stoppage for the travellers of the region from hills to plains or vice versa for a long time. The old pedesterial road is still in use here and this road connects nearby Kathgodam to all Kumaun region and even to Nepal and Tibet. It was a part of the famous ancient silk route.

Geography of Bhimtal :

Bhimtal lies in the Nainital district in the Kumaon region.  To it’s north is Almora district and to its south lies the Udham Singh Nagar district. Champawat district flanks it in the east and district of Pauri Garhwal is in the west. It lies in the laps of the Himalayan mountain range which is located to the north of Bhimtal.

The highest peak of the district is Bandhan Thali which is situated at a height of 2623 meters from the sea level. The foothill area of the district is known as Bhabhar. The name Bhabhar is derived from a tall growing grass growing in the region. The underground water level is very deep in this region.

Kosi is the main river of the district. River Kosi, arising out of Koshimool near Kausani flows on the western side of the district. There are number of smaller rivulets like Gaula, Bhakra, Dabka, Baur etc of which most have been dammed for irrigation purposes.

Climate of Bhimtal :

Bhimtal experiences subtropical highland climate according to Köppen–Geiger climate classification system as the city’s climate is influenced by the elevation. The city is a bit dry during winter and very wet during summer due to South Asian monsoon system. The lowest precipitation total occurs in November with total 7.9 millimetres, while the highest precipitation total occurs in July with total 725 millimetres.

Like most places in temperate region, Bhimtal has relative cool summer. The hottest month is July with temperature ranging from 16.4 °C to 23.5 °C, while the coldest month is January with temperature ranging from 1.7 °C to 10.7 °C.

The best time to visit Bhimtal are during the summer months when the temperature is relatively cold compared to the hot temperature conditions of the plains. April through July are the months most favored by tourists to visit Bhimtal.

How to reach Bhimtal :

By air :

Bhimtal doesn’t have an airport of its own, but due to its proximity from Nainital, people can visit Bhimtal from Nainital’s airport which handles domestic flights by the name of Pant Nagar airport. It is situated at a distance of 53 kilometers from Bhimtal and it takes about 2 hours to reach Bhimtal from this airport. Pantnagar airport is one of the least busiest airports in India and it handles only 6-8 scheduled flights in a week. This airport is well-serviced by Air India.

By road :

There are daily buses run from Delhi. Delhi is at a distance of 313 kilometers from Bhimtal and it takes about 7 hours to reach Bhimtal from Delhi. It is connected by the National highway 9. Public buses and private transfers are available which provide transport till Bhimtal.

One can also drive till Bhimtal, as Bhimtal is well serviced by an extensive system of roads.

By rail :

The nearest railway station is Kathgodam which is located at a distance of 20 kilometers away from Bhimtal. One can book a taxi to reach Bhimtal from the railway station. You can also walk out of Kathgodam station and reach the bus station which is at a distance of 1.5 kilometers away, and take a bus to Nainital. This is an economical option. One can also hail a taxi to reach Bhimtal from Kathgodam railway station.

Things to see and to do in Bhimtal :

Visit the Bhimtal lake :

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Bhimtal lake is a picturesque lake situated in the city on Bhimtal. This lake is named after the second brother of Pandavas, Bhima. There is an island in the middle of the lake which houses a huge aquarium which is the habitat for hundreds of fish.

Explore the Hadimba parvat :

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Hadimba parvat is a lush green terrain located at a distance of 5 kilometers from the city of Bhimtal. This hill is named after the wife of Bhima, the second brother of the Pandavas. This hill now acts as a shelter for animals. Exploring this beautiful terrain is an amazing experience.

Visit the Bhimtal aquarium :

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The lake of Bhimtal has an island situated in it, which once housed a restaurant. The restaurant has since been closed due to pollution problems and in its place an aquarium has been built and is maintained by the government of Uttarakhand. This aquarium provides a safe habitat for hundreds of fish.

Explore the Garg Parvat :

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Garg parvat is a pristine hillock located near Bhimeshwar temple. This luscious terrain has been blessed with an abundance of nature’s bounty. Garg Parvat is the source of the Gargi river. The foliage of the river and the natural vistas of the parvat are indescribably beautiful.

Learn about Butterflies in the Butterfly research center :

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The butterfly research center is located on a hillock near the Bhimtal lake. This research center is the fourth largest butterfly and moth research center’s in India. Out of the 1,300 species of butterflies, Bhimtal alone houses more than 240 species of butterflies.

Visit the Bhimeshwar Mahadev temple :

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Named after the powerful Bhim of the Pandavas, a character from the Mahabharata, this temple is located along the banks of the river of Bhimtal. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is said to be built by Bhima.

Explore the Nal Damyanti Tal :

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This is a small natural located at a distance of 2 kilometers from Bhimtal. This serene lake is considered sacred by the locals and the foliage of the lake is eye-captivating. Nal Damyanti Tal is the best place to enjoy the wonders of nature. This lake has shallow waters and the water is pure and cold.

Visit the Karkotaka temple :

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Named after a mystical cobra, countless pilgrims come to worship the serpent god Nag Karkotaka Maharaj on the event of Rishi Panchami. It is believed that this temple protects the people from snake bites and it’s the most famous snake temple in Uttarakhand.

Visit the Victoria Dam :

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Victoria dam is located at one end of Bhimtal lake and it is beautifully decorated with garden terraces. A 17th century Bhimeshwar temple next to the dam attracts lots of tourists to the Dam.

Food in Bhimtal :

Bhimtal has quite a few restaurants and eating joints which offer multi-cuisines ranging from Chinese, continental to the scrumptious Indian cuisine – both North Indian and South Indian. Apart from that, one can also enjoy street food like Momos which are available all over the place and enjoy coffee by the lake side. The resorts and high-end hotels have in-house restaurants and bar.

Here is a list of some of the restaurants that serve some of the most delicious food in Bhimtal:

  • Machan restaurant
  • Singh’s restaurant
  • Variety restaurant
  • The Heera’s restaurant
  • Geethanjali restaurant
  • Mid way restaurant
  • The Bliss restaurant

Where to shop and what to buy in Bhimtal :

The Mall road market :

Mall road market is the most happening marketplace in Bhimtal. One can find ample number of products and items here. Mall road offers great shopping experience and some of the best items to buy here are exquisite wooden handicrafts, organic products and handmade candles.

Clothes to pack to Bhimtal :

Bhimtal usually has a very pleasant climate. The clothes to pack usually depends on the season of your visit. If you are planning on visiting in the summer months, pack a lot of light clothes. In the winter months, Bhimtal gets pretty cold, so pack lots of warm woolen clothes.