The British may have “accidentally stumbled” upon the stunning lake in Nainital and built a colony for themselves in the region's serene surroundings, but the beautiful town of Nainital finds a mention in ancient legends and texts. It is is said that Nainital is mentioned in ‘Manas Khand’ of the 'Skanda Purana’ as the Tri-Rishi-Sarovar, the lake of the three sages, Atri, Pulastya and Pulaha who had come here on pilgrimage. Finding no water to quench their thirst, they dug a hole here.
Legend says that Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva consigned herself to the sacrificial fire when her father Daksha insulted her lord. In grief, Shiva danced the tandava with the lifeless body of Sati, until Vishnu cut it into bits scattering it all over the land. It is said that the left eye (nayan) of Goddess Sati fell here. It is said that the lake is formed in the shape of an eye. Naina Devi temple is located at the northern end of the lake. The seven hills surrounding the town are popularly known as Sapta Shring – Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi-Bandi, Naina, Alma, Lariya-Kanta and Sher-Ka-Danda.