In general, the world has four registered seasons but Nepal boasts six unlike anywhere else and they are called “Ritu” in the local dialect. Ritu is pronounced as “Hritu”, the mildest of “h” sound just before the “r” and that is what makes the Nepali Ritu special.
The six seasons of Nepal in a particular order starting in mid-March are Basanta, The Spring; Grishma, The Early Summer; Barkha, The Summer Monsoon; Sharad, The Early Autumn; Hemanta, The Late Autumn, and Shishir, The Winter.
How is “Hritu” Formed
The five climatic zones of Nepal corresponding to the altitudes from below 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) to above 4,400 metres (14,400 ft) form varying climate patterns throughout the country.
The three main geographic variations; plains, hills and mountains; is the main factor that makes up these six seasons of this beautiful country. Northern Nepal lying in close proximity to the Himalayas experienced harsh winters for more months. The mid-hills have moderate temperatures that are not so extreme during any time of the year. But Terai (Southern Plains of Nepal) experiences temperatures between 40 – 45 C, in Summers.
The extra two seasons might sound very much like a local exaggeration but travelling during different times of year to Nepal will best attest to the six-season theory of Nepal.
The Six Hritus of Nepal
Basanta Hritu (Mid-March to Mid-May)
Right after the winter when new buds grow in trees and flowers bloom, Basanta, the Spring officially kicks in Mid-March through Mid-May that brings in the Nepali New Year. This time of the year is best and favourable for travellings/trekking/hiking throughout Nepal.
Trekking is especially recommended during Basanta for the weather is mostly stable with the high breeze and light rainfall in some regions. Trails are spectacular during Nepali Spring with blossoms like Rhododendrons, the national flower, primulas, Laburnum, wildflowers, orchids etc. And the Jacaranda especially paints the Kathmandu Valley purple through May.
Grishma Hritu (Mid-May to Mid-July)
When the flowers wither and trees start fruiting, the Grishma Hritu entails the honest season in Nepal. The country sees harsh temperature gains in all parts of it, and the impact is even more prevalent due to global warming. The Northern destinations; the Himalayas and upper Hills are spared from the high heat but the Southern Terai belt can see the temperature rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The cities, like Nepalgunj, Biratnagar etc, are/were vulnerable to extreme heatwaves in the last few years.
The season is best for agriculture, to grow crops. Planting paddy and other summer crops is all done during Grishma. Also, Trekking above 3000m. such as Upper Mustang, Lower Mustang, and Upper and Lower Dolpa are popular during Grishma Hritu.
Barsha Hritu (Mid-July to Mid-September)
Barsha means monsoon, and lasts from mid of July to September. This season sees most of the regions of Nepal experience light to heavy rainfall daily, many trigger unfortunate incidents; floods and landslides. In 2020, the whole village of Melamchi was drowned. A region that is not affected by Barsha Hritu is the Trans Himalayan Region, thus making trekking routes in regions like Upper Mustang, Manang, Limi Himal Routes and others popular.
Sharad Hritu (Mid-September to Mid-November)
Autumn in the local language is the Sharad Hritu. This season sees rapid changes in the landscape of Nepal, even the urban centres as it is also the festival season. Major festivals such as Teej, Kartik Naach, Indra Jatra, Dashain and Tihar fall during this season. Nepal in Sharad Hritu is a travellers’ paradise; see the Himalayas, explore the National Parks, participate the Nation’s national festivities, or take a long car drive to the Southern plains.
The skies are crystal blue, the weather is moderate, cool breeze on hair and the snow-capped Himalayas, this season is the perfect season to travel and experience Nepal. Like purple/red/pink in Basanta, in Sharad, all of Nepal is painted yellow with marigold flowers.
Hemanta Hritu (Mid-November to Mid-January)
Winter is divided into two parts in Nepal; Hemanta is the pre-winter season and Shishir is a harsh one. This period sees a gradual decrease in the average temperature around Nepal yet is considered a fair season for trekking activities. Popular trekking routes for Hemanta Hritu are Ghorepani Poonhill Trek, Manang Gosaikunda Trek, Manjushree Trail etc.
For the native farmers of the region, pre-winter is also the harvesting season, farmers make sure to collect their crops and store them for the upcoming winter as soon as the Dashain-Tihar festival is over.
Shishir Hritu (Mid- January to Mid-March)
The winters in Nepal have quite a variation according to its various geographical regions. The Southern plains of Nepal experience an average temperature of 20-24ºC with cold waves impacting the whole life rather harshly. The mountainous regions experience heavy snowfall some even start with Hemanta and continue up to Basanta.
Mostly known as the dry season of tourism but many travellers and animal lovers come to see snow leopards and red pandas and bird lovers for bird watching.