My love affair with Shergaon – The charming hamlet of Arunachal Pradesh
Shergaon – A name I did not know until about recently, must be a month or two before we planned our trip to Arunachal Pradesh. And yet here I am, dreaming of the days we spent in this quaint little village in Arunachal Pradesh. A place blessed with remarkable natural beauty and a temperate climate, but more than that the most wonderful people with hearts of gold. A little stroll under the morning sun, moments of solitude by a waterfall hidden inside the forest and incredible warmth shown by people to two strangers in their land – I fell hopelessly in love with Shergaon.
Why Shergaon became my favourite
The Natural Beauty
Shergaon is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty. It is cradled by lofty mountains. River and brooks with the clearest of water flow joyously through it. Farmlands and fruit orchards brimming with life dot the landscape. Even the wild flowers and different shrubs add so much to the charm of the place. And at some places, man made wooden and iron bridges adorned with prayer flags make it look just like a postcard.
What I loved more is that Shergaon is not yet very commercialised. We did not see too many home stays under construction like we later saw in Dirang. The natural beauty is still intact and it is the perfect place to explore by foot, to take life slow and to relish everything nature has to offer..
The Stay experience
It was late evening when we reached Shergaon. So our first experience of Shergaon was the warm welcome of our hosts into the homestay. After a cup of hot coffee, we joined our hosts by the traditional heater called Bukhari, that is part of almost every home in this cold region. Delicious smelling chicken curry was slowly cooking on the Bukhari and the atmosphere for conversations was set.
Our host offered us some home made rice wine and while we sipped on it, he explained the nitty-gritty of the wine making process from fermented rice. Then the topic shifted to local culture, lifestyle and festivals of the village and how it has helped shape lives in the region. We ended the evening singing together some beautiful Bollywood and Odia oldies and enjoying a hot home cooked meal. It truly felt like being part of someone’s home and we went to bed happy and excited about what Shergaon would reveal the next morning.
The Hidden Waterfall
Choskorong waterfall is like a hidden treasure of Shergaon. I say hidden, because the waterfall is located inside dense foliage away from the main road and is not visible to the outside world. It requires a little hiking (not very difficult) to reach the waterfall. And on the day we visited, there was no other soul around. Just the two of us, sitting under a tree overlooking the falls, entranced by the beauty in front of us. Prayer flags fluttered in the winter breeze. A little birdie was flying around merrily, and the sun peeped through the tree branches swaying in the wind. It felt like a different world, a world away from all the chaos. We stayed there for almost 45 mins enjoying that solitude, with hearts full of gratitude.
It is not just the waterfall that is beautiful, even the walk to that fall offers lovely views, passing by cutesy wooden bridges, streams and a fruit orchard. The orchard looked so colourful with the leaves of the Persimmon trees turned Orange and many trees laden with Persimmons. The last part of the patch was a bit steep, but felt absolutely worth treading when it opened to the view of the waterfall. It took us around 30 mins to reach the fall from the main road. But vehicles can go till the farm and then a 10 min hike can take you to the source of the fall. What an experience it was!
Shergaon is home to 2 monasteries, Zengbu Gompa on the hill that dates back to almost 400 years and the other one just at the foothills of Zengbu. The latter is a recent addition where locals mainly gather. When we visited, Zengbu Gompa was closed, so we could not see inside. But the surrounding of this gompa is one of the most peaceful we found in all of Arunachal. With forest all around and a wall of prayer flags beside it, the monastery had the most meditative vibes. It is just 5-7 mins drive from the lower gompa. So if you have time, you can even hike to this gompa for a different experience.
While Zengbu Gompa was devoid of any people, the monastery at the foothills was bustling with villagers. They were having their regular Panchayat meeting when we made a stop. One of the villagers showed us inside the monastery and the interiors were tranquil and colourful. He told us about the tribe, their rituals and faith and how things still work like old days in Shergaon. The villagers even invited us to join them for tea and sipping butter tea while talking about life to the humblest people we met, I will say this was the highlight of our Shergaon trip. Our quick visit turned into a longer one, but I would never trade that time for anything else in the world.
The Amazing People
Everywhere in Shergaon, we were greeted with a bright smile and warmth. It felt like HOME, a place where you feel comfortable, welcome and most of all HAPPY. We met a lady in the monastery who gave us two sacred threads wishing us a safe trip. And we had known her not even for 5 mins. The locals that we met at the monastery made us feel like one of their own, sharing their time and life with us, asking about us with genuine interest. Then came the farm worker who led us close to the waterfall when we were confused about the route, making conversations on the way, not expecting anything in return.
Shergaon felt like a different world, where people still live by the fundamental principles of Simple Life and Atithi Devo Bhava (Guest is God). They take pride in their culture, work as a community to protect environment and are honest and hardworking. We felt lucky to have got a chance to experience their hospitality in the little time we had. This I would say was the most fulfilling experience of our whole Arunachal trip.
The Heavenly Buddha Park
I am so thankful to our homestay owner for recommending this place to us. He also guided us about the route as it is still a new attraction and hardly known by tourists or taxi drivers. This park is yet to be inaugurated, but it still looks like a piece of art. A magnificent Golden Buddha statue is seated on an ornate platform on top of the hill, surrounded by several stupas and prayer flags of all colours. The valley view is absolutely gorgeous too. The interiors of the temple are still in progress and may need another month to complete. Even so, this is one of the most beautiful parks we have seen across India.
Google Maps may not work as this place is not yet known to many. It is not exactly in Shergaon, but in in Mushaksing village which is close by. You need to drive till Jigaon and then take right after crossing the bridge. Then drive uphill for almost 20 mins to reach this park.
If I had a chance, I would have liked to spend a couple more days in Shergaon. But in a time bound trip, I was still grateful to have experienced it in the best way possible. I know in my heart, this was not our last visit and I would return back again into the lap of nature, to those forever welcoming people, to take a walk in the village, to eat fresh fruits from its orchards and drink the clearest water from its streams. But for now, I will look back and smile, keeping those precious moments close to my heart.
Refer our detailed Arunachal Pradesh guide here.