Scent of centuries

- August 23, 2023
| By : Aditya Rai |

A perfume shop, over 200 years old, continues to provide its connoisseurs with natural fragrances

<strong>SWEET SMELL:</strong> An array of perfumes in the Gulabsingh Johrimal shop

Among the iconic shops in Dariba Kalan in Delhi’s oldest market, Chandni Chowk, lies Gulabsingh Johrimal, a small shop selling attar (oil-based perfume) and ruh (pure essence) for over 200 years. 

Its clients, who swear by its scents extracted from flowers, woods, herbs and spices, are spread all across the globe.  

“There is naturalness in our fragrance. We have been making different aromas of attar like sandalwood, jasmine, rose and many more. Apart from attar, we also deal in soaps, gulab jal (rose water), agarbatti (incense sticks), dhoop batti (thick incense sticks/cones) and other household items,” said Mukul Gundhi, seventh generation owner of the shop which was established by Lala Gulab Singh and Lala Johrimal in 1816. The two had moved to Chandni Chowk from what is now Jhajjar in Haryana.

“We haven’t discarded the old techniques but have tried to make our products according to the requirements of the customers. All the commercial flowers that can be converted into natural attar are found over here. Apart from that, we also provide synthetic attar as required by the customers.” 

One can find all the prominent fragrances in the shop like rose, jasmine, molsiri, kewda and khass.

ADDRESS: The shop is located in Dariba Kalan and opens from 10.30 am to 7 pm

While the cost of natural attar ranges from Rs 4,400 to Rs 36,000, synthetic attar starts from Rs 600. 

“Apart from supplying our products to different parts of our country, we also export them to other nations in Europe, South America and even Australia. We also provide jasmine body oil which is made through a special process, used only by us.”

Vibhu Gundhi, an eighth generation owner of the shop, is a third year student at Satyawati College, DU. He says he has been visiting the shop since childhood. 

“I used to visit the shop with my father when I was a child and would look around and understand things. I really like the fragrances here and was curious right from the start. My brothers and I also invented certain fragrances on our own. It takes a lot of time to gain expertise in fragrances. But it is the wait that makes the fragrance more aromatic. The best thing about our attar is that we haven’t tampered with the fundamentals.”

The shop is popular even among foreign tourists. Chloe Jean, a traveller from Paris came to purchase attar for her friends and family. 

LIFTING SPIRITS: A variety of incense sticks is available in the shop

“I got the idea of this shop from one of my friends and since then, I have been excited to know about it more. I had this chance to come here and buy the various types of attar available. The most important thing about their attar is naturalness and rustic fragrance. And since it is a historic shop, the trust is always there. One of the fragrances I personally liked the most is rose,” he said.

The shop opens from 10.30 am to 7 pm.