Perfumes of Hyderabad

Perfume is the most intense form of memory

Jean-Paul Guerlain

Lalit Bhatt
Lalit Bhatt

The perfume industry in Hyderabad dates back to the 16th century when the city was ruled by the Qutb Shahi dynasty. The rulers were known for their love for perfumes, and they encouraged the production of fragrances in the city. The city’s location on the Deccan plateau, which is rich in natural resources such as sandalwood, rose, jasmine, and other flowers, made it an ideal place for the production of perfumes.

Hyderabadi Ittar or Attar
Hyderabadi Ittar or Attar

Edward Balfour, a Scottish surgeon records 10 different kinds of ittar or attar displayed at the Hyderabad exhibition in 1854 in his travelogues. 

The perfumes of Hyderabad are known for their unique blend of floral and woody fragrances. The city’s perfumers use traditional techniques to produce fragrances that are rich, long-lasting, and have a distinctive character. The most famous perfume from Hyderabad is “Ittar,” which is a traditional Indian perfume made from natural ingredients such as sandalwood, musk, rose, jasmine, and saffron. Ittar has a rich, earthy aroma that is both exotic and alluring.

The process of making Ittar is a closely guarded secret, and only a handful of families in Hyderabad are known to have the knowledge and expertise to make it. The process involves distilling natural ingredients in copper stills and then mixing them in specific ratios to create a unique fragrance. Ittar is known for its longevity and can last for days, unlike synthetic perfumes that tend to fade away quickly. Approximately 8000 kg of roses produce one kg of pure extract. The extract is further mixed with a base oil to make perfume. 

Apart from Ittar, Hyderabad is also famous for its “Gulabari” or rose water. The city’s perfumers make Gulabari by distilling fresh rose petals in water. The resulting liquid is then collected, and the rose oil is separated from it. The rose oil is then used to make perfumes, while the rose water is used as a natural skin toner.

Hyderabad’s perfumes are not just famous in India, but they are also popular all over the world. The city’s perfumes are exported to countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Middle East. The perfumes are particularly popular among the Indian diaspora, who use them to stay connected to their roots.

Hyderabad’s perfumes are a testament to the city’s rich history and culture. The city’s perfumers have perfected the art of making fragrances using traditional techniques and natural ingredients. Hyderabad’s perfumes are not just a sensory delight, but they also have therapeutic properties. They are a must-try for anyone visiting the city or looking to experience the magic of Indian fragrances.

In spite of popularity, the art of fragrance making is dying down as it is getting replaced with canned deodorants and high end perfumes of west. 

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