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Why is Kannauj Perfume famous?

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Due to the role of perfume production in Kannauj, the city is known as "the perfume capital of India". Additionally, one writer said that "Kannauj is to India what Grasse is to France". An expert stated that "Kannauj has been the perfumery town of the country for thousands of years".

Kannauj Perfume, also called Kannauj Ittar, is a traditional Indian fragrance crafted in Uttar Pradesh's city of Kannauj. It's safeguarded under the Geographical Indication (GI) of the TRIPS agreement. Recognized as item 157 in the GI Act 1999 by the Indian Government.


The art of making Kannauj Perfume has been handed down over generations. One artisan, whose family has been in the field for centuries, proudly mentions his son as the 30th generation practitioner. The perfume, derived from flowers and natural elements, incorporates substances like musk, camphor, and saffron. Varieties include summer blends with jasmine and vetiver, monsoon type using soil (Mitti attar) resembling the earthy smell after rain, and winter kinds like Heena attar and musk attar. These perfumes are typically free from alcohol and chemicals. For example, rose-based perfumes are potent, while sandalwood attar lasts long. The meticulous crafting of a small bottle takes around 15 days. This unique perfume from Kannauj has gained popularity both locally and internationally, with approximately 20 companies exporting to regions ranging from North America and Europe to the Middle East, Central Asia, and Oceania.

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