Perfume making in India is an art that dates back to the first civilizations of the Indus Valley. The smell of India is a mixture based on sandalwood oil with the distillate of plants and flowers. This creates some of the most refined essential oils in the world.

The smell of India - Essential oils

© Seksak Kerdkanno

When talking to other travelers, it is not strange that they mention the smell of India . Italian director Pier Paolo Passolini entitled his travel chronicle. The intense trace left by the sensations experienced in India is difficult to match. The range of colors and textures, spicy, sweet or spicy flavors are part of the memory , but there is nothing more vivid than the smell of India .

The traditional production of essential oils in India is as old as the Indus civilization itself. Medicated oils are used in ayurveda to purify and regenerate the body . Through massage the energy is moved, the chakras are worked and the air of negativity is cleaned. Originally focused on medicinal uses, the production of aromatic oils to treat different ailments made Indian perfumes popular all over the world . To the traditional smell of India , sandalwood or camphor, new products were added in the successive Muslim sultanates such as the distillate of roses, jasmine, musk or gray amber that perfumed the sultans and maharajah courts .

The smell of india - Frangipani facing the sea

© Anna Martellato

In contemporary India, the city of Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh 200 km from Agra is the most famous place for the production of perfumes and essential oils . Among the oils based on flowers are nag champa or frangipani, rose and jasmine. 8000 jasmine flowers are needed to get 1 ml of your essential oil! If you especially like the essence of roses, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, they specialize in marketing rose water for cosmetic or food uses. Old Delhi and the bazaars of Rajasthan are good places to get drunk with the perfumes of vetiver, patchouli or tulsi. However, the smell of India remains strongly linked to sandalwood. This oil is manufactured from sandalwood powder and is used as the basis for most fragrances. Mysore, in southern India , a short distance from Bangalore, is the place where its most delicate version is made for medicinal and ritual uses.

The smell of India - Ayurvedic massage

© Kerala Tourism

You will find essential oils in their most traditional form in bazaars throughout the country . However, it is increasingly common to find quality Ayurvedic cosmetics in pharmacies or specialty stores, thanks to brands such as Himalaya, Kama or Blossom Kocchar a new company especially dedicated to essential oils.