48 hours in Nainital: Winter Vacation

Grey sky, 
Chill in the surrounding,
Freezing cold wind,
It is December.
Winter is here!

Coming from Mumbai, it started for me as I set foot in blissful Nainital.

Nainital welcomed me with the sight of its gem, Naini lake as we drove through the famous Mall Road from Mallital side to reach our abode for three days, Fern Villas.

A full circle and then a climb, I was lost in the winding roads which were only going high up from the lake. It was getting mysteriously dark in the middle of the day from sunny side down at the lake. It felt like I have to come to another world, an excitingly dark one. Once I reached up hill, I could finally see some sunlight far away. Why not here? I said out loud. My driver immediately responded, Madam! This is Ayarpatta. In Kumaoni Ayar means pitch dark, he added. In my mind, Welcome to the dark side 😜

[Ayarpatta is the anglicized version of the Kumaoni term 'anyar patt' meaning 'pitch dark'. Ayarpatta hill is a bed of dense forest which completely blocks the light out and is thus also always colder than the other side]

Fern Villas - Picture by Megha

Soon we reached Fern Villas. A 60° climb; cab in full gear and zip zap zoom, I was here. 

"Wow! That is a beautiful villa", the kind I had always imagined staying in one day. Even though it was only for three days, I am going to make most of it, I thought.

My Stay in Fern Villas, Nainital

Fern Villas - Picture by Megha
My hosts Nupur and Amit were waiting for us, they greeted us with their smiles and welcomed us in to their lovely place. I was there with my family and we were allotted two spacious rooms on Ground Floor which did not feel like ground floor at all.

They have two huge villas with another 160 year old ancestral home on the opposite side which my hosts are planning to convert in to heritage resort. They also have forest area which starts from the back of their ancestral home where they plan to have camps in future. But presently the two G+1 villas on the South side of the property uphill are open to guests. On the first floor of both villas, the family lives while ground floor is for the travellers. Each Villa has 3 to 4 rooms, both has dining space and kitchenette while only one is functional at present where the food magic happens.

160 years old property at Fern Villas - Picture by Megha

Fern Villas has all the basic amenities in their rooms. The rooms are quite spacious so are the bathrooms, like a 1 RK of Mumbai 😛 (Mumbai people will get it). Fern Villas offers the stay with complimentary breakfast at a great price and I believe that among everything, breakfast is their USP. Tani Ji cook amazing food and you can choose between omlette paratha/bread and stuffed parathas with hot chai/coffee. Do try their chai, it is something special, gives a good start to the morning. 

If you want and inform them in advance, lunch and dinner can be provided too but at an additional cost of Rs.300 per person per meal. Although, if you don't want that, you have the option of bringing your food packed from outside or can even order, there kitchen is open to use cutlery and gas to reheat food.

Come during winters and they will arrange bonfire as well right outside your villa. Have some moongfali (groundnuts) and enjoy the heat as long as you can. Hosts warmth and ever smiling faces makes your stay even more wonderful. Nupur and Amit are indeed lovely people. 

While we enjoyed every bit of their hospitality, we couldn't be more happy with not so much crowd around. Got to visit all the places and enjoy them at our own pace.

The first place we visited in Nainital was Naina devi, one of the 51 shakti peeths.

This beautiful temple in white and red can be seen from far away. Naina devi is situated on the bank of Naini Lake and has a beautiful view to offer. One can spend all of their time here, the temple is so peaceful and charismatic. 

As you enter the temple you see Lord Hanuman's statue and it feels like he is showering his blessings on the visitors as one walk inside. On the left is the main temple dedicated Naina Devi. The legend behind the name is that Goddess Sati’s eyes (Nayan) fell at this place when Lord Vishnu cuts her body into 51 different parts (hence 51 shakti peeths). In fact, Nainital, Naini Lake and Naina devi temple, all three are named after this legend.

We spent our whole evening here followed by a stroll through the Tibetan market which is right outside the temple. There are also many dhabas where you can eat your heart out. But do try momos at sonam food centre.

[Don't set your expectations high for Tibetan Market here, unlike other Tibetan markets it has not much collection and you will find most of the imports from Delhi. Although you can buy some gloves here or socks, they are in abundance]

The next day we were blessed with clear sky, so we headed directly for Himalaya Darshan. It was a pretty sight with fantastic blue sky, snow-clad contrasting white mountains, cold breeze and snow all around. Do pay visit to Satyanarayan Temple which is on the way to Himalaya Darshan point.

[You can either go to Himalaya Darshan Point by road or take a ropeway trolley to Snow View point]

After enjoying sometime here we left for Hanuman Garhi, another big and beautiful temple. Officially built by Neem Karoli Baba in  the 1950 s, the place exudes holiness. In the premise apart from main temple of Lord Hanuman there are many other temples dedicated to devi, lord Ram, Shiva and even Bharat. After spending some time here in the ambiance of fragrance of many flowers which adorn the top floor of the temple we left for other spots. [Photography ain't allowed here].

Our driver took us to the base of tiffin top from where you can take a horse ride up to the top, an idea I don't really enjoy. You can trek too, if you like, an idea I insist upon. 

Then our driver took us to a waterfall, I would suggest against strongly. It was not in my plan but my driver anyway took us there, but we left as soon as I saw it from outside. 

Picture by Hemant Kumar

Our next stop was Raj Bhawan which I was really looking forward to see. Also, called Governor's House, it is a beautiful 2 storey property comprising of 113 rooms, a golf course and many gardens. Entry ticket is Rs.50 which includes a 15 min guided tour. It is a green, grand place covered in deodar and pine trees [Look for the trishul shaped tree]. It is a nice place but they don't show you everything inside Governor's house. Visitors are not allowed beyond lobby and lobby is the only thing you get to see along with artifacts kept in here. Wish they start showing a little more than that although the stories and history as told by guide are interesting.

There is also a very old church near Raj Bhawan. St. Francis Home Church is more than 100 years old, visit for some time alone in peace or just come and pray, you will feel wonderful. Surrounded by tall trees and greenery all around, it is a lovely place to be one with inner self and almighty, if you believe in one. When I visited this church, it was 24th December, so, I got to witness beautiful decoration for Christmas as well. 

Christmas Carnival - Picture by Megha

By afternoon we got dropped at the Mall road, where we also witnessed Christmas carnival. There are so many restaurants by the road where you can enjoy a good meal overlooking lake and as you head towards Nainital club park you will see the road full of street food hawkers. It is in fact a food heaven with vendors selling variety. Buy bun tikki, chowmein, omlette or bhutta and enjoy your snack sitting by the lake watching colourful boats dancing to the tune of Naini waves. 

We spent a good deal of time in sync with Naini lake and its picturesque surrounding before heading to Fern Villas. 

If you wish and have time you can also visit Gurudwara and Jama Masjid which are in the same area and within 100 m of Naina devi temple.

It was winter so evenings get dark pretty early and Ayarpatta's evening are way darker so we left as soon as clock struck 5. On the way up you can see High Court on right which is also an architectural delight. 

Picture by Megha
That was our last night in Nainital and in Fern Villas. It was dark and cold night, we sat below the tall deodar trees and enjoyed bonfire with our hosts while Bholu, the dog was playing hide and seek with us. It was fantastic, talking nonstop about our respective travels and sharing many stories from our childhood among many other experiences.

If you are planning a trip to Nainital and are looking for a place away from the crowd, you must stay in Ayarpatta area and if you are also looking for a reasonably priced, calm, offbeat, fancy and comfortable villa stay, Fern Villas is the place to spend your holidays at. They hosts groups and families both. 3 people can be accommodated per room. 

[Rates at Fern Villas as of 2019 along with breakfast: Economy - 3000, Delux - 3500 for two. For more details check - Fern Villas]

Picture by Hemant
48 hours in Nainital: A short itinerary

Day 1 - Evening at Naina Devi temple, Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Shopping and binging on food.

Day 2 - Himalaya darshan, Hanuman Garhi, St. Francis Home Church, Raj Bhawan, St. John's the Wilderness Church, Jama Masjid, Boating in Naini Lake

Day 3 - Kainchi Dham and Frog point (around 20 km from Nainital)

[I chose Nainital for my Winter Vacation against popular choice of it as a summer abode because I love to visit a place during off season. It helps avoid crowd and you can explore the place at your own pace. I love it like that]

Kainchi Dham aka Neeb Karori Baba Ashram

Frog Point - Picture by Vandana from Amma ki rasoi

If you like and have time, head to Kausani via Ranikhet after visiting Kainchi Dham. My Winter vacation included Nainital, Ranikhet, Kausani, Almora and Jageshwar. For next leg of journey, click here - Himalayas and Temples: 24 hours in Kausani.

Happy Holidays.

Yours truly,
Me and My Suitcase

P.S. All pictures are taken by me unless and otherwise mentioned.


  1. This brought back memories from my trip many years ago.
    And that property looks absolutely stunning. Such a cosy place! :)

    1. I am glad that my post helped bringing back those memories 😊

  2. Nainital is a gem of a place despite being touristy. I have been there quite often. A mere walk around the Naini Lake, especially Thandi Sadak is therapeutic.


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