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Ajmer

Ajmer is the city in Rajasthan (which means Land of the Kings) famed for the dargah (court) of Muninudin Chisti, a famous Sufi mystic of the 12th century. On a lane outside the Amber Fort, Rajasthandargah precincts many flower venders have artistically decorated trays of freshly harvested Edward Rose prepared for pilgrims to purchase and offer at the tomb of this great mystic who is revered by Hindus and Muslims alike. The Rose is the symbol of perfection amongst the Sufis and the rich warm roseaceous aroma of Edward Rose with its distinctive green, honey, precious woods notes pervades the atmosphere of this sacred place. Many small farms near Ajmer and Pushkar grow Rosa bourbonia for making attar, rose water, a ayurvedic rose petal jam known as Gulkand, as well as for the fresh flower market.

Traveling through Rajasthan one year just prior to the monsoon, we saw the agricultural community busily plowing the fields with their oxen teams and camels so that when the life giving rains came the earth could easily receive the precious drops. We were fortunate to see the rains arrive and to smell the intoxicating aroma arising from the contact of earth and water. Perfumers in Kannauj long ago perfected the technique of capturing this smell by distilling baked earth collected from rivers and ponds into sandalwood to make Mitti Attar.

In the sacred city of Nathdwara we encountered clay pots that had a type of rope wound about them composed of vetiver roots. As the water gently evaporated through the clay during the day it came in was absorbed by the vetiver roots which in turn perfumed the air with its deep rich, earthy, mossy bouquet. One then sees how its oil is aptly christened, "the oil of tranquility" as the aroma creates a fine natural coolness wherever it is present.

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