Naina Devi Temple in Nainital, Uttarakhand

Naina Devi Temple

Nestled amidst the picturesque hills of Nainital, Uttarakhand lies the revered Naina Devi Temple. This sacred abode of Goddess Naina Devi, perched atop the northern end of the Naini Lake, draws thousands of devotees throughout the year. Not only is it a prominent pilgrimage site but also a significant landmark imbued with history, mythology, and captivating beauty.

Unveiling the Veil of History

The exact origins of the Naina Devi Temple remain shrouded in the mists of time. However, local lore suggests its existence dates back to the 15th century, possibly even the Kushan period. Legends associate the temple’s origin with the holy narrative of Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Unable to bear the insult of being excluded from her father’s yagna (fire sacrifice), Sati sacrificed herself. Overcome with grief, Lord Shiva carried her body across the land. According to legend, Nainital, meaning “Lake of the Eyes,” is believed to be the place where Sati’s eyes fell. It is upon this sacred spot that the Naina Devi Temple is believed to have been established.

While the temple’s antiquity is undeniable, historical records indicate a reconstruction effort in 1883. A devastating landslide in 1880 destroyed an earlier structure, prompting the faithful to rebuild the temple as a testament to their devotion. Since then, the temple has stood as a guardian deity, protecting the town from calamities.

How to reach Naina Devi Temple

By Air

The nearest airport to Nainital is Pantnagar Airport, located  65 kilometers away. From the airport, visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Nainital. Pantnagar Airport is well-connected to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

By Train

The nearest railway station to Nainital is Kathgodam, situated around 34 kilometers away. Kathgodam is well-connected to major cities like Delhi, Dehradun, and Lucknow. From Kathgodam, visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Nainital. Several trains ply between Kathgodam and other major cities regularly.

By Road

Nainital is well-connected to major cities in North India by road. Visitors can reach Nainital by driving via well-maintained roads or by taking state-run or private buses. The town is approximately 300 kilometers away from Delhi, and the journey takes around 7-8 hours by road. Several buses operate daily between Delhi and Nainital, offering convenient transportation options for travelers.

Local Transportation

Once in Nainital, visitors can easily reach the Naina Devi Temple by local transportation options such as taxis, auto-rickshaws, or on foot. The temple is situated at the northern end of Naini Lake, and it’s a short walk from the main town area or Mall Road. Alternatively, visitors can hire a taxi or take a horse ride to reach the temple if they prefer not to walk.

Unveiling the Temple’s Environs

Reaching the Naina Devi Temple is a pilgrimage in itself. Devotees can choose from a leisurely walk along the scenic path bordering the Naini Lake or a cable car ride offering breathtaking panoramic views. The entrance to the temple is marked by a majestic Peepal tree, considered sacred in Hinduism. Flanking the entrance are idols of Lord Hanuman, the monkey god known for his unwavering devotion to Lord Rama, and Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, the remover of obstacles.

Stepping inside the temple complex, devotees are greeted with an air of serenity and devotion. The main sanctum sanctorum houses the murti (idol) of Maa Naina Devi. Unlike traditional representations of deities, the idol here is a depiction of two divine eyes – symbolic of the eyes of Sati that fell upon this very spot. Flanking the central idol are statues of Mata Kali Devi, a fierce aspect of the Divine Mother, and Lord Ganesha.

The temple complex also houses several smaller shrines dedicated to various Hindu deities, including Shiva, Parvati, and Surya (the Sun God). These shrines offer devotees the opportunity to pay their respects to a wider pantheon of divine beings.

Rituals and Observances

The Naina Devi Temple pulsates with the rhythm of daily rituals and special occasions. Every morning, the temple doors open to the chanting of mantras (sacred hymns) and the aroma of incense filling the air. Devotees offer prayers, light lamps, and present offerings to seek the blessings of the Goddess. Aarti, a devotional ceremony involving the offering of light, is performed at specific times throughout the day, drawing devotees to witness this mesmerizing display of faith.

One of the most significant festivals celebrated at the temple is Bhandara (community feast). Held annually on the auspicious occasion of Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami, the festival features a grand procession and the immersion of a murti in the lake behind the temple. This tradition, observed since 1918, echoes similar celebrations held in Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Another noteworthy observance is the Meena Bazaar, a vibrant fair held during the summer months. This lively market offers a plethora of traditional goods, souvenirs, and delectable local sweets, adding a festive touch to the pilgrimage experience.

Unveiling the Allure of Nainital

A visit to the Naina Devi Temple is not merely a spiritual journey; it’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in the captivating beauty of Nainital. The emerald waters of Naini Lake, surrounded by verdant hills, create a picture-perfect backdrop for the temple. Tourists can indulge in a scenic boat ride on the lake, soaking in the tranquil atmosphere and the majestic views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges.

Nainital offers a plethora of options for leisure activities. Tourists can explore charming walking trails, experience the thrill of a horse ride, or simply relax amidst the serene natural beauty. The town also boasts a vibrant marketplace teeming with local handicrafts and souvenirs.

A Beacon for All

The presence of a Gurudwara, a Church, and a Mosque within a radius of 1 kilometer from the temple exemplifies the spirit of religious harmony that permeates Nainital. This unique juxtaposition of various places of worship underscores the town’s commitment to inclusivity and mutual respect.

A Lasting Legacy

The Naina Devi Temple is more than just a place of worship; it’s a cultural and historical landmark that embodies the essence of Nainital. Its captivating blend of mythology, history, and spiritual significance continues to draw devotees and tourists from all walks of life. Whether seeking blessings, experiencing the serenity of the Himalayas, or simply marveling at the architectural beauty, the Naina Devi Temple offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Nearby Places to Explore Naina Devi Temple

Naini Lake

The crown jewel of Nainital, Naini Lake is a mesmerizing emerald-green lake surrounded by lush hills. Tourists can indulge in a scenic boat ride on the lake, soaking in the tranquil atmosphere and the majestic views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges.

Snow View Point

For breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayas, head to Snow View Point, located about 2 km from the Naina Devi Temple. You can either trek up the hill or take a cable car ride to reach the viewpoint. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Kedarnath.

Eco Cave Gardens

Situated close to Mallital, Eco Cave Gardens is a man-made wonder. These fascinating caves showcase a variety of artificial stalactites and stalagmites, along with a mini zoo and a wax museum.

Governor’s House

Built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, the Governor’s House (Raj Bhavan) is the official summer residence of the Governor of Uttarakhand. Located atop Observatory Hill, it offers stunning views of the surrounding area. While the house itself is not open to the public, the surrounding gardens are a welcome respite for nature lovers.


Located about 23 kilometers from Nainital, Bhimtal is a scenic lake town. Here, you can enjoy boating on the Bhimtal Lake, explore the Victoria Dam, or visit the Vyas Cave, an ancient cave temple dedicated to sage Ved Vyasa.


Nestled at an altitude of 7,746 feet above sea level, Mukteshwar is a hill station known for its tranquil environs and majestic views of the Himalayan ranges. This quaint town is a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. You can visit the Mukteshwar Temple, embark on a nature trek, or indulge in activities like rappelling and paragliding.


Situated about 56 kilometers from Nainital, Ranikhet is a charming hill station known for its mesmerizing beauty and colonial heritage. Here, you can explore the Golf Course, visit the Army Museum, or trek up to the Ranikhet Fort (Kali Kumaon Fort) for stunning panoramic views.


A visit to the Naina Devi Temple promises an enriching experience that transcends the boundaries of religion. It’s a journey that allows visitors to delve into the rich cultural heritage of Uttarakhand, witness the captivating beauty of the Himalayas, and experience the profound peace that emanates from this sacred abode. So, pack your bags, embark on a pilgrimage to Nainital, and discover the magic that awaits you at the Naina Devi Temple.

FAQs about Naina Devi Temple, Nainital

1. What is the significance of Naina Devi Temple in Nainital?

The Naina Devi Temple holds immense religious significance as it is believed to be the spot where the eye of Goddess Sati fell. Devotees visit the temple to seek blessings for prosperity, happiness, and protection from the presiding deity, Goddess Naina Devi.

2. How old is the Naina Devi Temple and what is its architectural style?

The origins of the Naina Devi Temple date back to ancient times, steeped in mythological lore. It is built in the traditional Kumaoni style of architecture, featuring intricate wood carvings, ornate pillars, and vibrant frescoes that adorn its sacred precincts.

3. What is the best time to visit Naina Devi Temple?

The Naina Devi Temple can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit is during festivals such as Navratri when the temple is adorned with vibrant decorations and experiences heightened spiritual activity. Additionally, the months of March to June and September to November offer pleasant weather for exploring the temple and its surroundings.

4. How can one reach Naina Devi Temple in Nainital?

Naina Devi Temple is situated at the northern end of Naini Lake in Nainital. Visitors can reach Nainital by road from major cities like Delhi, Dehradun, and Lucknow. The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, which is well-connected to major cities. From Nainital town, the temple can be reached by a short walk or by hiring a local taxi.

5. Are there any accommodation options near Naina Devi Temple?

Yes, there are several accommodation options available near Naina Devi Temple ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Visitors can choose to stay in hotels located around Naini Lake or in the nearby Mall Road area, which offers easy access to the temple and other attractions in Nainital.

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