India has a rich and fascinating history of perfumery that dates back thousands of years. Perfume and fragrance have been an important part of Indian culture, used for both religious and secular purposes. Compared with the perfume history of Europe, India has a much older and deeper history to tell. Kannauj, located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is known as the perfume capital of India. The city has a rich history of perfume making (see how to create your own perfume) that dates back over a thousand years, and it is still a hub of the perfume industry in India today.
The perfume industry in Kannauj (also see Grasse, the European old perfume capital) is based on the traditional method of attar making, which involves the steam distillation of natural ingredients such as flowers, herbs, and spices. Aroma molecules are not used (see Iso E Super or hedione). Kannauj is particularly famous for its rose attar, which is made from the petals of the Rosa damascena flower that grows in abundance in the region.
One of the earliest mentions of perfumery in India can be found in ancient Hindu texts such as the Vedas and the Upanishads, which describe the use of scented oils and incense in religious rituals. The practice of using perfumes and fragrances for personal grooming and cosmetic purposes can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed in India over 5,000 years ago.
Interesting to mention is the famous perfume ingredient sandalwood. In India, sandalwood has been an important part of the culture and religion for thousands of years. It is used in many Hindu and Buddhist rituals, and is considered sacred in many parts of the country. Sandalwood paste is used for religious ceremonies, and it is believed to have many spiritual and medicinal properties.
Sandalwood oil is one of the most expensive and sought-after essential oils in the world. It is extracted from the wood of the sandalwood tree using steam distillation, and is used in the production of perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics. However, due to its high demand, sandalwood has become a scarce resource, and illegal harvesting and smuggling of sandalwood has become a major issue in India. Mysore sandalwood is known for its high quality, and has been used in the production of perfumes, incense, and other fragrant products for centuries. Let’s hope this will be the case also in the future.