According to an ancient belief, Nainital was the site where one of
Parvatis eyes fell. When Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva, the
Hindu Destroyer of the Universe, died, Shiva was filled with grief and
carried her corpse wherever he went. Parts of Parvatis body fell
on Earth, and her eye fell in Nainital, forming a large crater that
became Naini Lake. In fact, Naini Lake derives its name from the Hindi
word, naina, which means eye.
¤ Discovery of Nainital
Nainital remained undiscovered till 1839, when a sugar
maker called P Barron found the huge lake amidst forested mountains.
Following an intuition, Barron met the local chief, and tried to
convince him to relinquish his claim on the region. But Barron had to
handle this cleverly.
He took the chief for a boat ride on the lake, and offered him two
options: either he give up Nainital, or drown in the lake. The chiefs
common sense prevailed, and he signed a deed right then, abdicating
his control over Nainital. The British built villas around the lake,
and made Nainital their summer capital, along with Mussoorie.
¤ Massive Distruction Faced By The Region
Nainital suffered a drastic reversal on 18 September, 1880. The hill
at the northern end of the lake on which stood the Victoria Hotel, was
washed away by two days of incessant rain. Landslides crushed houses
in their path, burying people alive.
Soon after, the hill over the Victoria Hotel collapsed, crushing a
rescue team of soldiers and civilians. More than 150 people died in
the landslides, after which the area was flattened, and is now known
as the Flats.