Naini Lake is a natural freshwater lake, of tectonic origin, located amidst Nainital city of Uttarakhand. It is lunar-shaped and has an outlet at the southeastern end. Naini Lake is one of the four lakes in Kumaon hills, the three other being Sattal Lake, Bhimtal Lake and Naukuchiyatal Lake. The lake is bordered by three mountain peaks – the tall and sharply inclined Naina peak on the north western front, Tiffin Top on the south western front and Snow view peaks on the northern front. Balia Nala is the main feeder-stream of the lake. Other than this, 26 major drains, including the three perennial ones, feed it.
Naini Lake obtains flows from the catchments, which consist of the hill slopes and springs. This captivating lake is a major tourist spot in Nainital, as it provides tourists with opportunities of boating and yachting. There are many mythological stories related to this lake, especially its origin. The first story states that Naini Lake was earlier known as ‘Tri-Rishi-Sarovar’, meaning ‘the lake of the three sages’. Three sages – Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha – of the saptirshi group landed in Naintal, during a pilgrimage, and did not find water to drink. They dig the ground and worshipped there, for getting water at the spot.
It is believed that the worship of the three sages resulted in filling up of the dug hole with water, drawn from the sacred Mansarovar Lake. Hence, the localities’ consider it sacred to take a dip in Naini Lake. The historical records say that the lake was discovered in 1839, when Mr. P. Barron, a British businessman, came across this lake on a hunting expedition. A news magazine, the Englishman Calcutta, also reported its discovery. Whatever be the myths and records, the fact is that, today, the life of Nainital’s people revolves around Naini Lake. All the elite hotels are in the lake’s vicinity and it is also a popular recreational spot.