Bhubaneswar: Among many shops that were demolished as part of beautification drive around Lingaraj Temple last week was the 120-year-old ‘Baidya Store’ which will appear in new avatar elsewhere in Bhubaneswar’s Old Town.
With its old-time look, charm and values, the Baidya Store was a landmark in the Old Town’s market. It was one of many small shops that lined the main road near the Lingaraj Temple. The antique-looking store, with a board proclaiming it to be the ‘Baidya Store’ had been in place since the last part of the 1800’s. The little shop was a window to the traditional past of Bhubaneswar.
But more than just a shop, this tiny place was more about upholding traditions. Ever since the store was started, it had been selling Ayurvedic medicines and puja materials for ceremonies and functions like house warming, marriages, Yagnas etc. Though the original thatched and tin roofs gave way to modern structure, the old shop with wooden roof beams lay snuggled between two double-storey buildings before it was brought down.
Dasarathi Mohapatro, the fourth-generation owner of this store said the shop was started by his great grandfather who had handed it over to his grandfather Kailash Mohapatro. It was later run by his father Ghanshyam.
“I have been here since 1975,” he said, adding that he has seen the transformation of the Old Town from a sleepy laid back village to a crowded market. He remembers hearing stories about the olden times from his grandfather. Pilgrims would come by bullock carts from the railway station and many would stop here for their puja requirements. The double-storey sanatorium at the far end of the Bindusagar too had patients from Bengal who would stay here for weeks, imbibing the medicinal mineral waters from the Kedar Gouri spring, and many of them would buy medicine from the Baidya Store.
Sitting in his shop amid a peculiar aroma of spices and herbs and walls lined with numerous drawers that held various powders and dry herbs, Dasarathi said the new commmercial brands selling Ayurvedic products are no threat. Rather they would provide a thrust to the market. Many people are moving back Ayurveda and using Ayurvedic products, he added.
“We had a range of usual and unusual products, and procured everything from different parts of the country. The customers came from different walks of life, diverse age groups and from different places in the state,” he said.
His knowledge is generational. He learnt it from his forefathers. Customers came for various items, ranging from bath ingredients for babies to treatment for various health conditions. The shop had Ayurvedic herbs, roots, oils besides all the paraphernalia used in religious ceremonies. “I had even seen old tins and boxes of products made in France and England,” said Dasarathi.
Talking of future plans, Dasarathi said the shop would now be relocated at the Sanatorium Chhak near the Kedarnath Gabesana Kendra. It will be run in the same way as it has been, nothing will change.
“Most importantly, like his forefathers, he too would maintain the quality and variety that has helped this shop stand the test of time. The old timers may miss the friendly contact with the owner. But they will always remember the Baidya Store with gratitude,” said Dasarathi.