Kannauj, located in Uttar Pradesh (India) is known for its famous perfume production. Kannauj city has a rich history and it was a capital during Harshavardhana’s rule in North India, the Indian emperor’s empire that ruled most of the north and northwest India. This city is also famous for the Tripartite Struggle – where three of the strongest empires (Pala empire, Rashtrakuta empire, and Pratihara empire) fought in the 9th century to establish their rule over the city of Kannauj.
Apart from highly being known for its rich history, the city is one of the few cities in India where the holy river of Ganga flows, this river is sacred for the Hindu’s and has been a lifeline to most of the people living in India. Kannauj also has the most ravishing and unique architecture including the famous Jama Masjid, King Jai Chandra fort, MakdhumJahan in a Devi temple of Annapurna, Baba Gauri Shankar temple and a beautiful bird sanctuary Lakh Bahosi where a total of 50 bird species can be spotted.
Kannauj manufactures traditional Indian perfume – Kannauj Perfume or Kannauj Ittar that is protected under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and is listed as item number 157 under the GI act with Government of India’s registration. This perfume had a long history and the city used to trade perfumes with the Middle Eastern countries and therefore with years of manufacturing perfume makes this city the “perfume capital of India”. The city has been involved with more than 5000 years of trade and about 80% of the population in this city is involved in the perfume business and the entire place produces up to 20 lakh liters of scent every year.
In the ancient times, this city was also known for distilling natural fragrance and it is said that the famous Emperor Shah Jahan found fragrant oils. The skill of perfume or ittar making has been passed from various generations and it is made from flowers like white jasmine, vetiver, rose, sandalwood, Mittiittarheenaittar, oud and other aromatic substance like camphor, musk, and saffron. Perfumes made from such natural substance have no alcohol or chemicals added and each bottle of perfume at least needs production time of about 15 days.
Kannuaj perfume comes with a heavy price tag that can be compared to buying a luxury car, the fragrance of oud costs up to INR 28 lakhs per liter and other fragrances can cost about INR 50 lakhs. The perfume is exported to about 50 countries all around the world, some of the most famous are the United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Singapore, France, and Qatar.
Due to the increasing rates, the cost of production of Ittar is high and therefore the tradition of this city is fading away, where people are using chemical based perfumes and forgetting about the rich culture natural based ittar. Hence, before the cities fade the tradition one needs to visit and experience the God’s gifted city.
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