April 08, 2016
The story of Indian perfumes is as old as the civilization itself. In ancient India, Ittar or perfume (also called Attar which is essentially an Arabic word meaning ‘scent’) was prepared by placing precious flowers and sacred plants into a water or vegetable oil.
Perfume Capital of India
In Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh’s perfume capital, several ambitious initiatives are afoot to rejuvenate the local attar industry, as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in his wife Dimple Yadav’s parliamentary constituency had announced to develop a perfume industry last year.
As you enter the Bada Bazaar in Kannauj, a multitude of fragrances whirl in the air, that come from the dozens of perfume shops that line the market. Shopkeepers emerge from their stores, welcoming you with a dab of perfume on your wrists, reminding you that the fragrance is exactly as it used to be in the Mughal era.
Kannauj, once the capital of King Harshavardhana, has long been known as India’s attar city. “We have the ability to extract fragrance from the soil,” says Asim Afaq, a perfume trader. It is exactly this talent that UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is banking on as he spearheads initiatives to establish Kannauj attar as an international brand.
The Chief Minister said the new generation should be trained according to new techniques in the perfume industry used at the international level. “This will not only help generate more employment opportunities for the Kannauj youth but they would also be able to contribute to the development of the traditional industry,” the official said.
With this aim in mind, Akhilesh has decided that a group of 10 to 15 students will be sent every year to Grasse in France for training programmes in the perfume industry through the skill development mission and the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation.
A Scented Deal
when land holdings are shrinking. The acquisition of 7.68 hectares of land for the project has been done. This is not the first time Yadav has shown interest in Kannauj’s perfume industry. Last year, along with his wife Dimple, who represents Kannauj in the Lok Sabha, Yadav led a delegation, comprising government officials and a few Kannauj traders, to Grasse in France, regarded as the perfume capital of the world. There, they signed a deal which allows 10-15 practitioners of the city’s perfume trade to go to Grasse for training in the perfume industry.
Uttar Pradesh government also plans to develop an aroma park and museum in Kannauj that will focus on showcasing the industry in its best light.