At the other end of the more than 100-year-old workshop, Mohd Ayaz is putting a mix of herbs in the bhabhka (a copper vessel) for winter scent ‘Shamama’, Kannauj’s typical fragrance, to be prepared for the next day. He looks up and says, “The expressway has come as a relief to us in the attar industry here.”
He explains how. “Once I was coming back from Delhi with cash that we had received as payment. After Saifai, on the highway there lay a sari-clad woman on the road. It was a tricky situation and we decided not to stop. We turned the car into the fields; a tyre got punctured from the nails thrown in the field by robbers, but we didn’t stop. The expressway has made it safer for us when we undertake these unavoidable trips to markets in other cities with our product,” he says.
Making attar is a tedious process that involves big earthen and copper ware. The source of the perfume is boiled, rolled, steamed and sun-soaked. It takes over one-and-a-half months to prepare 15 litres from one cauldron. And those connected to the industry in Kannauj believe the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, along with the upcoming perfume park, will spread these fragrances far and wide.
“It took us around 10 hours to reach Delhi. Now the time has been cut down to just six hours. We can not only make more round trips but that one trip takes just a day is a huge advantage,” says Mohd Alam, whose family has been in the business since 1896.
A number of perfumers in the area also believe that with the trip time being cut, it is possible to do the processing in Lucknow itself. Many of them have their outlets here while workshops are still based in Kannauj.
“Roses are grown extensively in Hathras district. Our labourers leave the fields from there with the flowers before sunrise and deliver the flowers to the processing unit in Kannauj by 11 am. With the travel time cut short by at least three hours, the freshness of flowers will be maintained,” explains Saif Samadi.”In the time to come, we could bring the flowers to Lucknow and process them here as well,” he adds. (As told to Times of India)