Aerodene: An Emblem of Vintage Shillong
Eclectic Northeast|September 2020
A heritage bungalow, Aerodene plays host to travellers from all around the world
Mrinal Paul

Built-in 1950 by the late Dharmananda Das, last serving Chief Secretary of undivided Assam, ‘Aerodene’ in Scottish means ‘Little Knoll’ or hill. No one is clear when or how this compound came to be spelled ‘Aerodene’. In the early days (prior to the 1950s), it was a large compound. The land stretched all the way down to the Umshyrpi River. It originally belonged to a Mrs Williams. As she aged, she sold portions of the compound and this is how Das came to acquire a part of the land. We get in touch with owner Sharlene Das to know more about the cottage and its legacy.

‘The cottage was built in the practical yet sturdy Assam-type style that was made popular by the British, who in their wisdom allowed Chinese wood craftsmen, from the Yunnan Province, a free hand to construct buildings which soon came to be referred to as “Assam-type bungalows”. They realized that stone or other heavy construction material did not suit this region, which experiences heavy rainfall for the better part of the year and lies along an earthquake-prone zone. The entire plinth which is a wooden frame stands on a strategically placed stone support that roughly measures about 1 ½ to 2 feet in height and depth. The structure is raised off the ground for two reasons; to keep it safe from heavy rains and dampness and secondly, since the floors were made of wooden planks, it needed air circulation. We are always careful to keep these gaps open and clean,’ stated Sharlene.

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