The Myths and History of Bhimtal Lake
Bhimtal Lake Photo by Brijesh meena

The Myths and History of Bhimtal Lake

In a small hill town of Shivalik range, one of many among the Kumaon, lies a body of water engulfed in mist. It is part of the districts known as Devbhoomi, the Land of the Gods. The Pandavas (of the Mahabharata) are believed to have visited here during their Vanvas (exile in a forest). Legend says when their wife Draupadi was parched, Bhima hit the ground with his mace, and the water spouted out. This is the genesis lore of Bhimtal Lake.

Island in Bhimtal
Island in Bhimtal Photo by Rajesh Takyar

The Bhimtal lake is the largest lake in the region with a little island in the center, and a masonry dam built in 1883. The dam was built when the Kumaon region was under the British Raj following the Anglo-Nepal War creating a much-needed storage facility in the area. The atmosphere and weather here are serene and salubrious. Spring and harvest time are a delight to the senses, summers are toasty but pleasant, and winters turn the land into a blanket of white. 

Bhimtal Lake is named after Bhima, of course. As per geologists, the origin of the lake is attributed to a number of faults which occurred due to a shift in the Earth’s crust. This caused a blockade of the overland flows and resulted in the creation of a lake. There is a famous ancient temple of Lord Shiva, the Bhimeshwara Mahadev Mandir, that is also attributed to Bhima. According to the Skanda Puranas, when Bhima once travelled to the Himalayas all by himself, a divine voice from the sky intervened and commanded him to build a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, as a mark of his devotion to the deity. Bhima built the temple on the mountain, and hence its current namesake. The present temple was rebuilt in the 17th century by the King of Kumaon, Baz Bahadur of the Chand dynasty. 

There are a few other famous temples to visit near Bhimtal lake, such as the Kainchuli Devi temple. Built for a local goddess who is believed to be the protector of boatmen at the Bhimtal lake. Her shrine marks the site of the original temple which submerged when the dam was built on the lake. The temple is located on the shores of Bhimtal lake.

Photo by Rohit Arya


Bhimtal is an ideal place to stay if you prefer nature and quiet for your holiday. At the Bhimtal lake, row boats along with a boatman are available for hire. Row away on a delightful short trip around the lake and the picturesque island at the middle of the lake. Bhimtal is also an adventure destination with activities such as paragliding, kayaking, ziplining, horse-riding, biking, rock-climbing, river crossing. 

Aquatic life is also plentiful in the lake. Common snowtrout, catla, rohu, silver carps and grass carp, to speak of a few. Also recorded are common carp and major carp. In the proximity of Bhimtal there are other famous lakes like Naukuchiatal, Sat Tal, Panna Tal, Nala-Damayanti Tal. Bhimtal is ideally located at a distance of 22 km from its more famous neighbour Nainital. Sat Tal is a short hike away and Naukuchiatal is 5 km from Bhimtal. 

Overall, Bhimtal offers splendid vistas of nature’s beauty for a memorable experience in an idyllic setting, isolated from the daily din. It is blissful and laden with history and biodiversity. Bhimtal is well connected by roads and is a perfect destination to visit during any month.

Junoon in the Hills


Junoon in the Hills, a dreamy place overlooking the valley with glowing, panoramic views of Trishul and other peaks of the Greater Himalayas. Bhimtal is 40km away from Junoon in the Hills making for a great day trip.

Bhimtal Lake is a lake in the town of Bhimtal, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand

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