We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do”
- Barbara Ward
A winding road takes you from the dusty heat of Haldwani through a cooling oak forest, past the Gaula River and finally over a mountain lip to the Nainital. Nainital is a town built at 1937m in the Kumaon hills of India. A friend who visited Nainital in the 1980s described it as a beautiful town surrounded by greenery and distant snow-capped mountains, where one can take a boat ride on the lake and see helicopters landing in the playgrounds of boarding schools. This description amongst others started to build the town into a fantastical place that I could not wait to see. There is no doubt that my first views of Nainital lived up to the stories. The emerald kidney-bean shaped lake, surrounded by seven forests covered hills and multi-coloured houses were stunning. But as I walked around the town this impression began to fade. The more I looked the more I saw the rubbish in the streets, drains and even in the lake, the traffic churning up dust and the evidence of landslips. This beautiful and deeply spiritual place had become deeply degraded and as I stared around at all the shops, hotels and recreational boats I realised that as a tourist I was very much part of the problem.
Nainital has long held significance in Hindu scripture, however, it was only after a British sugar trader, Mr P. Baron built the first house in 1839 that Nainital developed into a summer capital, where British colonialists could escape the summer heat for the cool tranquillity of Nainital. Ever since Nainital has been a popular place to visit.