Kannauj, once the capital of King Harshavardhana, has long been known as India’s perfume city. It was under Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s patronage that the ‘ittar’ industry grew many folds with an array of soul-soothing and innovative perfumes. However, the industry started fading away with the introduction of a new range of synthetic fragrances. These synthetic perfumes have more variety, and are significantly cheaper than natural fragrances.
Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, has taken note of this and has taken steps to put Kannauj’s Ittar market on the global stage. He commissioned two projects, namely, International Perfume Museum and Perfume Park, by laying the foundation stone for both, along with his wife and Member of Parliament from Kannauj, Dimple Yadav.
The Perfume Park project will put Kannauj on the global pedestal by increasing export of locally made perfumes. Though it isn’t the first time that the industry has been opened to foreign markets, the fragmented nature of the industry has limited exports to just a handful of players. There are hundreds of small units scattered around, where people use copper vessels above wood stoves to extract and develop six types of perfumes, namely rose, bela, mogra, mehndi, hina shamama and mitti.
In addition to this, last year, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav along with his wife Dimple, lead a delegation, comprising government officials and a few Kannauj traders to Grasse in France. There, they signed a deal which permitted 10 to 15 practitioners of Kannauj’s perfume trade to visit Grasse for training in perfume industry.
All these initiatives by Akhilesh Yadav to project an industrial state, especially the perfume market, is a shining example of measures taken by the CM to develop Uttar Pradesh. The special perfume manufacturing zone to be developed by UP State Industrial Development Coporation in Kannauj for modern distillation and extraction units is bound to generate employment for the youth and is also expected put the ‘ittar’ community of Kannauj at a global pedestal like never before.