A former British health resort, Nainital also has quite a bit of history to intrigue the travelers visiting the land. Just like other Indian hill stations of Mussoorie, Darjeeling and Kodaikanal, the British were the first to discover the town of Nainital and push it to prominence. Much of the history of this quaint hill station is intertwined around the chronicles of several developmental activities undertaken during the Victorian and the Edwardian period. From an uninhabited landscape of the Himalayan mountain range to a peaceful hilly hamlet for the English, Nainital metamorphosed into a thriving hill station in a very short span of time. The British first captured the Kumaon Hills during Anglo-Nepalese war that took place in 1814-1816. However, the hills remained out of spotlight for over two decades. The history of Nainital mainly stands on the drastic changes that took place within 42 years from the time it was first revealed. Read the article below to know more about the history of Nainital.
Origins Of Nainital
Like most other Indian cities, the chronicles of early origin of Nainital is also veiled in ancient mythology, thereby, weaving an intriguing tale of the city's past. The early reference of the city can be traced back to the Puranas and the ancient epic tale of 'Manas Khand,' which forwards an interesting anecdote on the origin of the lake. It is believed that three sages -- Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha dug a large pit and named it as Tri-Rishi-Sarovar, which later came to be known as Nainital Lake or Naini Lake. The water in the lake was purportedly lugged from the sacred lake of Manasarovar in Tibet. The town has many such interesting fables to narrate that refer to the strong mythological import of the place.
Discovery Of Nainital
Nainital does not boast of any strong monarchial influences nor has any interesting anecdotes of gallant warriors to relate. Prior to its discovery, Nainital remained as a thick dense forest covered by copious vegetations until the 17th century. In 1841, a well-known European merchant named P. Barron came across a huge lake that was sheathed by acres of green land. He was awe struck by the sheer beauty of the place's natural surroundings. Words of the sugar merchant's description on Nainital reached the ears of many curious British officers who took it upon themselves to explore the landscape of Nainital. By 1846, the district came to be crowded by many English families who saw it as a potential health spa and later, as their summer retreat.
In the 17th century, Nainital experienced three landslides within a decade's time. The first landslide took place in the year 1866 followed by another mudslide in the year 1879. Although the records on casualties remain unknown, the damaged caused by the catastrophe casted a deep scar into the heart of the city. In 1880, parts of Nainital were submerged in a landslide and buildings like Bell's shop, Naina Devi Temple, Victoria Hotel, Volunteer Orderly Room became a part of its muddy rubble. The 1880 avalanche was said to be the worst and is believed to have claimed at least 151 lives. Post the calamity, the foothills of the Alma Hill was flattened and paved and was renamed as 'Flats'. Today, the flats serve as a recreational centre that is usually occupied by sport aficionados.
By the year 1880, Nainital had earned a name for being an exclusive British summer getaway in India. During the 19th century, the place became home to some of the best English schools that was only reserved for the English children. It was only in the 20th century that the place came to be populated by Indian bureaucrats, civil administrators and other professionals. By this time, the place had lost its English exclusivity tag as their numbers slumped by 1947. Many British families sold out there dwellings either to explore other parts of the sub-continent or to move back to England.