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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

How Are Perfumes Made in Kannauj? A Chef Demonstrates in His 120-YO Dwelling

To me Kannauj — solely a two or three hour drive away from my metropolis, Agra — at first seems as a typical, dusty city in North India, marked by slender streets, vibrant markets, and thronging crowds. However the scent of a wonderful previous captivates the historian in me whereas I stroll by way of these lanes and take within the sharp scents of roses, sandalwood, and jasmine. 

This historic surprise was as soon as the stronghold of Emperor Harsha, who made it his empire’s capital. As I traverse its expanse, I notice how, whereas its glistening appeal might have gotten rusty through the years, it’s unperturbed in some ways — most popularly for its distinct tradition of perfumery or attar-making. 

A 200-year-old historical past 

Although modern-perfume making has posed a risk to this conventional business, a number of Kannaujwalas (residents of Kannauj) attempt to maintain the centuries-old occupation alive. Amongst them is Pranav Kapoor, an eighth era perfumer who turned his 120-year-old haveli (mansion) right into a peculiar retreat as a method to hold his household’s work alive. 

“Eight generations of my household have been perfumers, and I spent my childhood across the manufacturing facility,” the 35-year-old notes. “One among my fondest reminiscences is when my grandfather would ask me to determine fragrances.” 

On the haveli, by way of which he operates his enterprise Fragrance Tourism, Pranav presents friends a peek into his household’s 200-year-old historical past of fragrance making, their recipes and combos all year long, and the way the painstaking course of takes place. 

perfume tourism
Pranav transformed his 120-year-old haveli right into a retreat; Image credit score: Pranav Kapoor

The variety of distillers in Kannauj has been on a continuing decline, notes Stay Historical past India, and even measures like the supply of a Geographical Indication tag in 2014 haven’t helped the numbers from dwindling. 

Pranav’s Fragrance Tourism not solely comes as a a lot wanted recourse, but additionally marries an in depth perception into the centuries-old business along with his love for cooking and elaborate meals. 

‘Wished to do that for my metropolis’ 

Pranav says that he initially pursued a culinary course in 2010.  “Since flavour and perfume go hand in hand, I went to Delhi and did a culinary course to turn out to be a chef. Cooking and perfumery had been my ardour, and I wished to discover a method to merge these two,” he provides. 

In 2017, whereas on a trip to Jaisalmer, he stayed at a comfortable homestay that first impressed him to unite these two passions. 

“The place had been transformed right into a resort, which gave me the thought to transform my 120-year-old haveli into one thing related. I used to be fairly shocked that nobody within the metropolis had considered it earlier than. It solely made sense for me to return and do that for my metropolis,” he says.

“It took me practically six years to work out a plan of motion,” he provides, noting that COVID put a spanner within the works. “However in 2022, I made a decision to make the leap.” 

An fragrant expertise 

In 2022, Pranav began to refurbish his ancestral haveli to make it a pleasant keep for the friends. “I labored on the web site of the enterprise and in addition deliberate a full seven-course menu that revolves across the festivals that we host,” he says. 

He continues, “Within the haveli, now we have a courtyard, a perfume gallery, and a fragrance bar the place folks can come and make their very own perfumes too.” 

In March 2023, Pranav hosted his first group of friends to have fun the ‘rose competition’.

Explaining the itinerary, he says, “We break down our festivals into seasons, as a result of each flower has a unique flowering season. For instance, February to March is the ‘rose season’, so we had a rose competition. All the things was centred round roses, together with the meals.”  

perfume tourism
Fragrance Tourism has hosted folks from throughout India and nations like Australia and France; Image credit score: Pranav Kapoor

“The friends are taken to the rose subject the place they pluck the flowers for the perfumes. They’re then taken to the distillery the place they’ll witness the entire course of of constructing scents. Then, we take them to the fragrance bar the place they’ll make their very own perfumes with my assist,” he provides. 

Fragrance Tourism additionally serves as a seven-course meal centred across the flower in query. To this point, they hosted greater than 40 friends and are at present working a ‘jasmine competition’. 

“Since jasmine flowers have to be plucked at evening, the itinerary is modified accordingly. With the temperatures hovering, this has come to us as a bonus as it’s cooler throughout the nights,” he says. 

“Other than the eating and fragrance expertise, we additionally give them a fast historical past of Kannauj and the distillery, in order that they perceive the essence of the town. The friends then benefit from the haveli that now we have created for them and rejuvenate,” he explains. 

They’ve hosted folks from all around the world together with France and Australia in addition to from Indian cities like Coimbatore, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. 

Shreeparna Khaitan, who visited the rose competition says, “It was fairly an thrilling expertise. We got a brief historical past of the place, after which we plucked flowers and noticed how perfumes are literally made. We had been additionally in a position to make our personal perfumes. Essentially the most attention-grabbing a part of the entire itinerary was the meal that was deliberate. It was round roses, so each meal has some element of rose in it. I bought to know in regards to the Indian important oils which can be utilized in perfumes and the wealthy historical past behind them.”  

Pranav notes, “With this enterprise, my thought is to advertise each side of my hometown and really make Kannauj the fragrance capital. Folks are likely to look in direction of manufacturers or nations like France for perfumes, forgetting that a lot of these import scents from Kannauj. I wish to ask them to look inwards and expertise the wealthy historical past with the perfect smells there are,” he says. 

“I consider that once we begin a enterprise in a small city, it provides rise to extra work alternatives and promotes extra companies throughout the metropolis. I hope that with this endeavour an increasing number of folks will work on related concepts and produce again the town to its former glory,” provides Pranav. 

You’ll be able to go to Fragrance Tourism right here

Edited by Divya Sethu

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