Indian Fragrances has a rich history of perfume and aromatic scents. India has always placed social and cultural importance upon scents and smells. How many of us knew about this small city in Uttar Pradesh, Kannauj : The perfume capital of India?
Kannauj is one of the most ancient places of India and has a rich archaeological and cultural heritage. And now Kannauj is famous worldwide for its Ittar or Attar (Perfume). It is so famous for Perfumes, that it is known as Ittar ki Nagri ( City of Perfumes) or even mentioned as the Perfume Capital of India. Kannauj has been the perfumery town in India for thousands of years, and the aroma of Ittar is all over the city.
Kannauj Ittar (Attar)
Kannauj has been distilling flowers to make perfume for more than 400 years, since the time of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. There were once over 800 perfume distilleries in the region. The skills of Ittar manufacturing are passed from generation to generation in Kannauj. Ittars are manufactured from flowers and natural resources, like musk, camphor, saffron, and other aromatic substances. Flowers like white jasmine and plants like vetiver are common ingredients for summer varieties. While the soil is used for monsoon variety, known as Mitti ittar that gives the scent of wet earth, Heena ittar, and musk ittar are winter varieties.
The natural perfume is free of alcohol and chemical, except for some productions. Fragrant attar from rose has a strong smell, while attar that made from sandalwood oil has a lasting fragrance.
Another famous ittar from Kannauj is the ‘shamama’, made from a co-distillation of different herbs and spices. There are several families who make the shamama but each has its own secret recipe, which is a strongly guarded secret.
‘Kannauj Perfume’ received a Geographic Indication (GI) tag in 2014, which formally identifies the traditional Ittar making process indigenous to this town. Today, Kannauj is the only Ittar-making hub left in India. The number of these industries has fallen majorly. It continues to fall every year as the use of synthetic perfumes overtakes that of Ittars. It is important to address this issue to allow the traditional industry to maintain its authenticity and growth.
Although Kannauj perfume has local and international markets and about 20 companies export to foreign countries such as UK, USA, Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Singapore, France, Oman, Qatar, etc. Despite that, it still hasn’t received the recognition it deserves, the Grasse of India.