boat At an altitude of 1,938 metres in the Lesser-Himalayan terrain, the Naini-lake 1,372 metres long and 457 metres broad and maximum 25 metres (95 feet) deep is perhaps the only lake in the world surrounded by such lofty peaks soaring to the heights of 2,610 metres (Naina peak) facing the Himalayas. It can be described as an open valley running east to west, encompassing on three sides by the hills are dotted with residential houses, hotels, lodging houses,hotels,lodging houses,schools and clubs. Near the margin of the lake are Boat House,a picturesque temple (Naina-devi Mandir),Gurudwara and a very sacred rock shrine called Pashandevi. At a little distance from this shrine new temple of Golu Devta-a legendary Kumauni god has been build recently.

Mr. Peter Barron an English wine-baron of Rosa (Shahjahanpur) is creadited as the discoverer of this hill-resort on 18 November 1841. Writing under the pen-name of pilgrim in Agra Gazeteer, he gave a vivid picture of the discovery of this lake-land in his “Notes of Wanderings in the Himalaya”.

“On reaching the lake, we found that on the level ground,a fair was held every year. In the centre of the present market site is erected a very large swing of most substantial construction with massive iron chains, suspended from it. None told about the purpose for which the fair was held. It struck me and my friend that very probably it might be the scene of some rites or ceremonies or orgies which the natives wishes to conceal from the knowledge of the local officers of the Government.

Mr.Traill, the Commissioner of the division from 1815 to 1835,who is said to have paid a visit to this lake many years many years ago,exercised most extraordianary influence among the natives of the hills because of his peculiarly liberal ideas regarding the harmful influence due to the influx of European visitors into the province. He therefore did his best to conceal the existence of such a place as Nainital form all Europeans, knowing the once they know of such a beautiful spot, it could not fail of being selected as a site for an ideal town to escape from scorching heat of the plains. As he held the office till 1835,it is therefore evident that he must have paid visit to this lake more than a decade before Mr.P.Barron disclosed its existence to the outside world in 1841. As indicated the Commissioner was very popular with the local people who visited this place mostly during day time from nearly habitats with their cattle. He never desired that their feelings be hurt as the local people despised visit of foreigners in the the surroundings of the lake which they loved, admired and adored as a holy place since the lake was considered secred and they did not want it to be polluted by the intrusion of Europeans. In point of fact there is no mention in records about his visit to this lake-land but his writings definitely reveal that he was in the fully know of this place.

It would be salutary to bear in mind that Mr. P.barron who extensively travelled around this region before and after his visit to this place must have experienced the perfect profile of Nature’s unmatched beauty in the form of mountain scenery, impressive mountain ranges,beautiful meadows, unscaled snow-capped peaks outlined against the back-ground of blue skies and dotted with rippling streams and glaciers.

Truly Mr.P.Barron the discoverer of the region craved the epigrammatic saying of Keats “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. Its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness.”

Being an Englishman the scoarching heat of the U.P.Plains must have been torturous to him and it became imperative for him and people of like mind to see that mind to see that this lake region be developed as was fered by Mr. Traill. He found Nainital endowed with natural scenic beauty along with the bracing climate so akin to England. Naturally the place was exploited to the best advantages for the foreigners.


The gods in Hindu mythology have always had their abodes high in mountains. In these austere, silent but beautiful surroundings they performedpenance and gained omnipotence.

It is said that king Daksh father of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati held a “Yajna” and insulted Lord Shiva and his consort by not inviting them to that religious gathering. Parvati unable to bear this insult to her Lord,leapt into the raging flames of Havan-Kund. Lord Shiva overcome with grief and anger, destroyed Daksha’s kingdom and carried the charred body of his beloved to Mount-Kailash. He was so overcome by his grief that he wandered from place to place carrying the body of his beloved, forgetting his duty as “Sangharkarta” or Lord of Destruction. This led to utter confusion and chaos which prompted Lord Vishnu to dismember the body by his Chakra. Wherever the pieces of Parvati’s body fell are now known as “Shatipeeths”Goddess Parvati’s left eye had fallen at nainital which is therefore of the Eighteen Shakti paths and hence derives its name “Nyna (Eye) Tal which later on became Nainital.

It is also mentioned in “Skand Puran” as the Tri-Rishi-Sarovar after the names of the three great sages : Atri,Pulastya and Pulaha.

Generally it is accepted that the Naina-Devi temple is named after the Goddess Nanda who was the sister-in-law of a Chand Princes. Many myths are current about the name of the sister-in-law of a Chand Princess. Many myths are current about the name of the goddess Naina after whom Nainital got its name. At present Naina is considered to no more than Nanda Devi the favourable of the last rulers of Chand dynasty of Kumaon. Some even hold her to bethe Nanad (sister of the husband) of a Chand princess. Some say her worship as goddess was started after the death of that sister when she was killed by a buffalo while easing herself in a plantain grove on her way to her in-laws. Goddess Naina was depicted on Kushan King Kanishka’s coins. She was also worshipped as Bibi naina in Baluchistan and as Naina Devi in Kulu Valley.

With the passage of time during British regime,goreigners, people of rich and priviledged classes, industrialists and big merchants began to throng into newly established township. The foreigners realised that the region has all the potentials of developing into the Switzerland of Asia,provided the development of tourism is taken in right earnest and expert advice sought and implemented. They felt the necessity of keeping the settlement well timbered in order to prevent slips,attract rain,economise water supply and preserve the beauty of the lake basin.

During British regime great precautions were taken and consciousness was shown to keep the natural beauty and cleanliness of the lake intact.

The British Authorities were perturbed when in the year 1871 the peculiar colour the water of the lake assumed and the disagreeableodour it emitted a places on the banks became the subject of notice. In the year 1872 the colour disappeared and in connection therewith a fact of interest seemed worthy of notice. On the 27th May,1871, a severe shock of an earthquake was felt throughout the settlement.On the following morning the colour of the lake was milky white. It was thought possible that the previous discolouration was due to some such volcanic agency.

On 18th Sept;1880,Nainital suffered a massive landship which claimed 151 lives and destroyed Hotel Victoria where many foreigners resided. The old Nanda Devi Temple (which was near Pt. pant’s statue) was also totally destroyed. The present Municipal Garden (Near Boat House Club is believed to be the place where many bodies of the landslip victims are still buried. It is in the memory of these unknown persons that this garden has been created and no construction whatsoever is permitted at this site.)

It was this tragedy which led to construction of storm water drainage system to prevent landslips.

It is a well known fact that the britishers are craven for navigation,so when they finally developed this place as a settlement,they endeavoured to have some yachts to sail on this lake at such a high altitude.

The earliest records of sailing on Nainital lake dates back to 1880, when the yachts sailed were of the cutter type with lead keels.Mr.J.M.Clay,the then DeputyCommissioner,Nainital,In his Historical & descriptive account in his book”Nainital has given the vivid picture of the beginning of Sailing activity in Nainital lake, the extracts are as under:-

About the year 1880 Mr. Fleet-Wood Williams I.C.S. Commissioner of Meerut,built a schooner yacht at St Asaphs (now Oek Ridge) and launched it on the lake by means of a trolley. A twin-hulled boat “Gemini” was also built and sailed by Colonel Henry,whilst M/s Murry and Co. imported three Belfast Lough type sailing boats, called “Coya”,”Doodles” and “Dorothy”and let them out on hire for several years.The Nainital Sailing Club which was finally started in1897 sailed”sorceress””Wave””Spray”and “Sheila”type vessels.

In 1910, the Nainital yacht club club was formed on the initiative of the brothers Carey,C.W.Carey,a Major in the Guides and F.Carey,a captain in the Royal Artillery who introduced the present “one-design”class,which gradually ousted the yachts of older type until there are none now in existence”.In the time of the formation of the Club the entrance fee was Rs.30-and the monthly subscription was Rs.10/-for permanent members and Rs.15/-for temporary members.

Theprominent members fo the first N.T.Y.C.were :-
Commodore: - Sir Wm. Nalcolm Hailey GCI.E,K.C.S.I.
Vice-Commodore:- Lt.Col.C.W.Carey
Real Commodore :- N.C.Stiffe Esq. O.B.E;I.C.S.boat

This Club was later registered and affiliated with Royal yachting Association of England.The original NTYC was wound up on the occasion of the Matelots dance in October 1947,most of the Challenge Cups were given outright to the sailors who won them in the Regatta of October 1947And the entire bank balance was used up in a very lavish celebration for the matelots Dance of October 1947.Although the then parent body of NTYC,the Nainital Club Ltd;had decided to close the Club and sell all the yachts, some enthusiasts with the active help of the then Chairman of Municipal board Late Shri Jasodh Singh Bisht, formed a new Club-the Boat House Club Ltd.To keep sailing alive. Some of the founder members of this new club Late Shri Dan Singh Bisht, Late Jim Stephens, Rajkumar Giri raj Singh,Raja harichand Singh (Raja Kashipur) and others pooled enough money amongst themselves to pay the Nainital Club for the yachts as well as for the transfer of the lease of the Club (the present Building ) to the Boat House Club Ltd. The main building of the dissolved Club was handed over to the U.P.Government and is still known as Nainital Club although it is no longer a Club.

It can therefore besaid that for the brief period of suspension of time between the handing over of NTYC from nainital Club to boat House Club Ltd, the N.T.Y.C.has continued uninterrupted.

Thus it is interesting to note that N.T.Y.C. is the second oldest Sailing Club in the country and perhaps the highest in the world in terms of altitude. It has also the distinction of sailing the class of boats which are sailed no wheels.

This year Nainital Yacht Club and Boat House Club, Neonatal together celebrated the Centenary of Sailing in NeonatalLake from Ist June to 11thJune. The Centenary consisted of 10 races with attractive prizes i.e.I prize Rs.4000/- II prize Rs 2500/-III prize Rs.1500/- and a carry away trophy for the winners.

Many renowned Companies as well as individuals came forward to Sponsor the Races and helped in generating tremendous enthusiasm for sailing particularly amongst young boys and girls.

At present N.T.Y.C.has got 10 yachts. The visitors even from abroad praise the yachting and other facilities given to them by the Club.

Yachting which till early 70’s used to be an exclusive priviledge of Club members, has now been thrown open to the general tourists. This has been possible due to generous grants given by U.P.Government and the fine guesture of Municipal Board by giving on lease a piece of land near Sitapur Eye Clinic for erecting tourist jetty.

During British period the cost of one sail was about Rs.110/-only which has been now increased to Rs.18,000/-per sail,hence penury of funds comes on the way to increase the strength of the fleet at this juncture and the Club is also feel disturbed at the pitiful pitiful plight of the Naini-lake at present.

We are pained to point out that Nainital is no longer the beauty spot it used to be just a few years ago. It now wears the ugly scars of deforestation and the Naini-lake has become the dumping-ground for the sewage from the tree corners of the town adding hazards of pollutation to those of siltation. The hills have been brutally stripped of vegetation,ignoring the warnings of experts, geologists and scientists from time to time. The erosion of slopes continues due to the fact that a large number of hotels,lodging houses are being constructed particularly in prohibited areas in the hills as well as around the lake to appease the hunger of the capitalists.

It is most disheartening that the Government is not very serious to take immediate remedical measures to keep the natural lake clean. All the silt,debris,rubbish is indiscrimately being thrown in the storm water-drains leading to the lake. The storm-water drains themselves are already in bad shape and need immediate repairs. Though the Government have set so many committees during last 30 years for up-keep of the natural lake, yet nothing substantial has been achieved except some findings and paper-schemes.

The evasive, apthetic and irresponsible attitude adopted by the Government and the house-owners of the town,has brought in its wake a host of serious environmental problems which if left unattended as herebefore,will put into question the sustainability of human life in this beautiful town.

The need of the hour is to provide the town with an improved environmental phased planning. Well planned public awareness campaigns would also help minimise health hazards arising out unclean surroundings and distruction of the ecology of this region.

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