In the cultural development of civilizations, a quality which lifts mankind above all others is that aesthetic sense of appreciation of the finer things in life. Nothing brings to life that sense of divine as beautifully and vividly as a pleasing perfume.
Perhaps that is what made Shri Munshi, a poet and former governor of U.P. remark, “If you want to visit a perfumery town, visit Kannauj. It is art — it is culture and it is a heritage.” That is how the famous attars of Kannauj were perceived in the ages gone by, with its silks, jewelry and archaeological wonders as far back as 600-700 A.D. in the Gupta period. Kannauj is to India what Grasse is to France, but with a perfumery tradition far more ancient.
The history of Indian perfumes is inextricably linked to the history of Kannauj for it is here along with Jaunpur and Ghazipur that the industry took its root. Kannauj, however, took an increasingly leading role maintained to this day as the center for the manufacture of the entire range of Indian attars while the former two towns concentrated on the manufacture of floral attars from Chameli (Jasmimum Glandiflorum) and Gulab (Rosa Edward and Damascena).