Haldwani is the third most populous city in Uttarakhand, and is known as the Gateway of Kumaon. In Kumaoni, the local dialect, the place is called Halduvani, literally forest of Haldu, after the tree named Haldu often referred to as Kadamb, found in abundance prior to deforestation for agriculture and settlement.
A fair called Uttarayani (also called Ghughutiya in Kumaoni) is held here on Makar Sankranti (on 14–15 January) every year. To the south of Haldwani lies Pantnagar famous for its Pantnagar University. The Gaula river runs to the east, and to the west is the fertile agricultural region of Lamachaur and Kaladhungi merging into the world-renowned Corbett National Park.
Haldwani is settled on a piedmont grade (called Bhabhar) where the mountain rivers go underground to re-emerge in the Indo-Gangetic plain. It has historically been a trading post and then a hub between the hilly regions of Kumaon and the Indo-Gangetic Plain.