Elevation of the building facade (pic credit - dhaka smritir sahar)
Vulnerable buildings demolished (photo credit - daily star)
View of Shankhar Bazar lane
A Hindu temple (Mandir) in the lane
Bangles from Conch Shell (Shankha)
Foreign visitors in the shop (photo credit - New Age)
James Wise (1883) had written most about the Shankharis (shell artisans) and recorded that of the total 11,453 artisans in Bengal, 835 used to live in old Dhaka alone. Legend goes that these group of craftsman were brought to Bikrampur south of Dhaka district long time ago by a local ruler Ballal Sen. Later, the Mughals brought them to Dhaka city and gave them tax free land to settle.
'Shankharis' due to restriction of land space, built their houses without side windows on narrow slices of plot 10-12 feet wide and 20-30 feet in length with a front facade of 3-5 feet in width. A small front door gives access to the house and a slim long corridor passes deep inside that lead to the stairs to climb to upper floors (2-4 floors). Every house has a tiny central courtyard open to sky for ventilation and lighting.
Hindu women, who are not well off, wear cheap white plastic bangles, which look like Shankhas. The Shankhari artisans say that they are living from hand to mouth. They have lately been switching to other professions. Of the original 142 Shankha shops of the lane, only 15 remains today.
Many temples stand on the narrow streets of Shankhari Bazar. Over the years it has become the most popular centre for Hindu religious festivities. Being one of the most densely populated areas in the world, Shankhari Bazar also has the largest concentration of the Hindus in Dhaka. There are about 10,000 people living in Shankhari Bazar within an area of 4.6 acres of land.
The narrow slender buildings built about 200 years ago, are too old and dilapidated to live in. A number of these structures collapsed in 2004 killing 19 lives. Shankhari Bazar’s centuries old buildings have an architectural value that outstrips their utility as places of residence. The place and way of life of the Shankharis is now a tourist attraction.