Many things have changed around the city, yet nothing much has changed at 332, Pitambar Shah Store, Bakshirhat.
This traditional herbs shop, situated in the trade hub of Chattogram city, could take you on a time travel journey to the 19th century.
It is not just a shop, rather a living museum telling the story of the last 200 years of trade and traditional medical care in the port city.
Despite the buzz of urban development, the appeal of this one-story shabby establishment has not abated a bit. For centuries, it has held a reputation all over and across the country.
Even now, many customers from West Bengal prefer to shop here for Puja, or medicinal purposes.
The outlet, along the hectic narrow streets of Bakshirhat, at the entrance of Khatunganj, will give you an antiquated first impression.
It may remind you of a small heritage building of Old Dhaka or a structure of an archaic shop of Kolkata.
If you are new, then the inside is full of surprises.
It may even leave you puzzled for a while, as many of the products are unique and uncommon.
Along with the ancient vibe, the display can be considered a package of diversification, colour, uniqueness, and art.
The colourful Puja materials and wreaths give the shop a vibrant look, while the mega-sized two to four feet tall candles reflect its unique collection.
The ceiling, followed by the old-fashioned shelves, tell the story of the British period and the traditional Godi (cash box) shows the commitment towards saving its legacy.
The fourth generation of Pitambar Shah now runs the shop.
According to the descendants, the ancestral root of their family lies in India. Later they settled in undivided Bengal and started to live in Chattogram and Dhaka.
The successors of Pitambar Shah told a very interesting story.
One of them, Bhaskar Madhab, claimed, "The glorious journey started approximately 170 or 180 years back when young Pitambar Shah decided to come to Chattogram to start a business following his religious guru's instruction. He came all the way on foot with only some dry food in his bag. It took him three weeks to reach here. After some days, he acquired the place in the trade hub of Chattogram and opened the shop."
With a collection of unique products, and credibility, Pitambar Shah gradually became a monopoly in the country's herbal medicine business.
There was a time when leading herbal treatment organisations like Kundeswari, Mojaher, and Sadhana Medicine House (Owshadhaloi) collected their materials from Pitambar Shah Store.
"It is the shop with the rarest herbs, medicinal roots and plants. There is an old saying that from our birth to death, anything and everything necessary can be found in Pitambar Shah. If you ask what is on their list, I would say what is not there!" says Amanat Kabir, a local trade shop owner of Bakshirhat.
The list consists of more than a thousand items. Starting from common medicinal herbs and tree cortex like Arjuna bark, Ashoka plant, trifola, licorice, asparagus, zinc, neem seeds and oil, basil, sandalwood seeds to rarest of herbal medicines, ayurvedic and Unani treatment products that you can hardly name.
Iran's Meshak's Grain, Assam's red sandalwood powder, Tripura's kumkum, Kashmir's saffron, Odisha's 'bhurjapatra' or birch tree', nutmeg, mace, Himalayan birch, mugani, and kasturi make their list richer.
The list stretches by offering more, which starts from a little needle to Sundarbans' pure honey, or from palm candy to any item needed for weddings, Pujas, and Bengali festivals.
Shraboni Deb Barman, a homemaker from Chattogram, told The Business Standard, "If I cannot get a small item for Puja in another shop I have to come here. This place has every single item for our worship and it is a source of many products under one roof. So every year, before the Puja festivals, I have to come here."
Most of the employees have a long attachment with the shop as some of them started working here in their childhood. It became a family for them, and they are dedicated to grow old in it.
Masud Milad, a business journalist in Chattogram said, "In this modern trade era, many century-old merchants of Khatunganj-Chaktai turned their business into an industry or other mega-profitable trade. Yet the successors of Pitambar Shah are running the business in its default form to keep the legacy going. This is an admirable example and honestly very amazing. Holding the tradition and keeping the glory for centuries is surely a unique success story in the business sector".