Shroff Channabasappa / Dashanga (Burning Powder), Frank Incense, Guggal Bathi, Green Durbar, Parrot Green Durbar

Shroff Channabasappa Part 1
Shroff Channabasappa Part 2
Shroff Channabasappa Part 3

Often, just when you think you’ve finished a project, you end up finding you’re only half way through or less. In Shroff Channabasappa’s case, I’m hoping that now I’ve finished reviewing the 20 blends that have been imported into the US that I’ll find out I’m not finished reviewing them after all because of a new batch making its way over. This is a company that offers a high quality product at a ridiculously low price and is often one of the best buys in incense as a result. In fact Shroff may just about ruin other Indian incenses for you once you become familiar with their products.

However, it looks in many ways that I’ve saved, perhaps, my least favorite incenses among that first 20 until last in at least four cases here, so I’m pleased to reference Nancy’s latest top 10 as a counterweight to a couple of the reviews here. It demonstrates at least that Shroff probably has an incense or two for everyone’s tastes and in no ways should my reviews here prevent anyone from trying the lot if they get a chance. That is, my feelings on these are probably more related to the ingredients involved than to the craft.

Dashanga is definitely the black sheep in this first group, being the only powder in a group of sticks. It’s also not nearly as potent an aroma, close only to the most earthy ambers and other resin/dry blends in the Shroff line up. Dashanga’s ingredients volatize in a completely different way whether you use the powder on a heater or charcoal making the incense very different depending on how you use it. It’s perhaps most effective on a heater as the powder burns very quickly on charcoal, losing a lot of its subtleties. On charcoal you do get an impression of sandalwood and benzoin , with both sweet and earthy qualities but one must keep the heat to a minimum to prevent the floral qualities from being completely lost. On a heater these qualities come through in bunches, a multitude of floral aromatics, certainly rose on the top, as well as a talcum powder, leather, and butter in the mix. Perhaps the main criticism is it isn’t as distinct in its aroma as many of the sticks are making it a tough one to remember after the fact.

We’re generally very spoiled with frankincense in an age where we get an abundance of imported Hougary Frankincense as well as high quality frankincense sticks from Tennendo, Minorien and Shoyeido. If it weren’t for these I might give Shroff’s Frank Incense higher marks as it does indeed hit the right frankincense notes, it just does so in a less resinous and more perfumed/masala like way that strikes me as not being quite as superior as the abovementioned frankincenses. In this case there’s obvious sandalwood aroma (which I suppose makes the Minorien version perhaps the closest in a way) and due to the woodiness it’s not far from Shroff’s own Singapore Loban. Along with the ambers and the below Guggal Bathi, it remains one of the line’s driest incenses and, of course, it remains eminently affordable, although at least in this case I can’t see it as a particularly superior masala compared to others in, say, the Mystic Temple or Incense from India line. But that probably speaks more to how great frankincense is in any form.

As a contrast, I’m not nearly as fond of guggal gum. I’ve occasionally seen it referred to as an alternative or even “false” myrrh due to both aroma and the closeness of the two different plants on their respective family tree. Both gums can vary widely in quality and my experience with guggal is you really need a high quality gum for it to be even enjoyable. Shroff’s Guggal Bathi does indeed get the better quality aroma down in a stick, but even at this quality it’s not a scent I personally relate to, with high quality myrrh being a close but much more enjoyable experience. With that said, it’s something of a simple stick and close to the Frank Incense and Singapore Loban sticks in being a masala delivery method for its particular resin with all of these incenses sharing qualities of sandalwood and benzoin in the mix. I’d again reference Nancy’s latest (May) top 10 list for a more positive take than I can give on this one.

Shroff’s Green Durbar is my favorite stick in this subgroup and perhaps the definitive aroma of its type. Both Mystic Temple and Incense from India have Green Durbars, however at least in terms of the definition of durbar being more like a champa type incense, only those two are in that classification. That is the Shroff Green Durbar is still a drier masala like most of the incenses reviewed so far, but as such it doesn’t have some of the harsher qualities of modern durbars with a reduced halmaddi content. Green in this case refers to minty, herbal (think patchouli or vetivert), and even lime, all of which makes you wonder if the name or the aroma comes first due to all the connections. Needless to say an aroma like this may not appeal to everyone, but its connection to the primal, verdant and prehistoric always has a great subconscious effect on me. Plus it’s difficult not to smell the Shroff signature on this one.

Parrot Green Durbar, perhaps unfortunately, also brings some of the same mental connections with it and I perhaps hesitate in noting which ones, although anyone who’s cared for a bird probably can guess. The color is definitely a lighter, indeed avian-like, shade and along with the deeper green has gone the more herbal, evergreen and minty like scents of the regular durbar, leaving behind a bit more the lime and a much lighter, almost animal-like scent with hints of lacquer-like resin with it. The animal nature of it, whether its suggestion or part of the mix, definitely restrains my opinion of it, but surely it’s an incense like no other.

So overall, of the five in this batch, perhaps only the Green Durbar can garner a strong recommendation from me, especially when compared to my reviews of the other 15 scents in previous Shroff reviews, most of which I can stand behind wholeheartedly. Although fortunately this is unlikely to be the last you’ll hear about this great company from ORS given the plethora of new scents possibly crossing the Atlantic or Pacific as we speak.

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23 Comments

  1. June 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

    […] Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  2. C.J. said,

    December 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    I have to admit that I LOVE Parrot Green–it has a naughty musky undertone, but WELL DONE! Maybe I suffer from never having had birds to clean up after, but this reminds me of a musky animal scent, sweet, challenging, REALLY UNIQUE. I don’t think bad–although it will certainly clash if you are burning Japanese or Halmadi’s. Go out onto the porch or into the yard/patio, after a day without other scents, and try it. I’d class this as a scandalous royal scent! Nowhere else in the incense world will you find anything like this–it is UNIQUE! Close sisters are Jasmine 1940, Amber 707 and Amber Rose. A cousin Paneer, perhaps Mysore Sandal.

  3. October 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

    […] Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  4. October 4, 2011 at 6:57 am

    […] Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  5. October 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

    […] Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  6. November 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

    […] Vanilla) Shroff Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  7. January 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

    […] Shroff Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  8. January 6, 2010 at 10:22 am

    […] Shroff Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff […]

  9. January 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    […] Shroff Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part […]

  10. January 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

    […] Shroff Channabasappa Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part […]

  11. Hamid said,

    May 28, 2009 at 7:36 am

    My own position vis a vis Shroff is slightly different I suspect from many on the ORS message boards , in that as a generalisation I much prefer the better Indian incenses to those of Japan or Tibet. The Shroff range appears to provide a meeting point on which devotees of different incense styles of different provinence can find common ground.

    • Mike said,

      May 28, 2009 at 9:12 am

      With Indian incense I think there are two influential factors. The first is that by and large the smoke content is much higher with masalas than it is with Japanese incense and if you experience any irritation with smoke at all they’re more difficult to get used to. The second factor is that so many Indian incenses have had obvious changes in their formulas over the years due to ingredient shortages and I think this has harmed their reputation. I remember when Shrinivas Blue Box champa was a golden standard among all incenses. When halmaddi started becoming rarer and the quality of the incenses started getting weaker I believe Indian incense started to fall in its esteem. So in a way I think Shroff starting to increase their exportation has done a lot to restore the reputation of Indian incense back to its rightful place. I think for any incense lover, diversity has a positive effect on all and that’s why I’m also glad to see American companies like Mermade and Fred Soll offer their own unique incense styles with their own strengths alongside the better Japanese, Tibetan and Indian offerings. And of course as good as Shroff is, there are also wonderful offerings by Mother’s Fragrances and Nandi to name a couple (I’ve got a batch of Nandi reviews forthcoming), and I’m also looking forward to trying the Pure Incense and purelands sticks you’ve mentioned in your comments. Despite dwindling natural supplies it still seems like a good time to be an incense lover.

      • Hamid said,

        May 28, 2009 at 11:19 am

        Hi Yes I have been a fan of Fred Soll’s incenses for a while. I am awaiting my first purchase of Mermade, its in the post !
        Today, between the Shroffs , I burned an old favourite , one of the Sandalwoods , in fact the Sandalwood and Cedar, from Jivada, another of the UK based companies ( with their own website ) that import from small family makers on South India. The creamy sweetness of the sandal balanced by the deeper tangy note of cedarwood. Highly recommended. No overtone of synthetics. A very harmonious stick.

      • Maharani said,

        August 8, 2009 at 9:06 am

        I have a question about loban/benzoin. Obviously its a resin with a long history, but I myself only recently found a loban incense this year, where I usually shop for incense, Indian grocery stores (no longer!). I sniffed it and thought-why would anyone buy this? To my nose it had a very unpleasant scent that reminded me of old socks or dirty feet! I have no idea whether this is because I dont like Loban, or poor quality ingredients. Any thoughts? Can you recommend a Loban that I might enjoy? The irony is I am very tolerant, but the stuff I saw the other week really was nasty, and it has scared me away from even trying a loban incense.

        • Mike said,

          August 8, 2009 at 1:31 pm

          Loban’s pretty rough in my experience as well and I don’t tend to like the style all that much, although I’d say Shroff’s Singapore Loban’s probably the best of the ones I’ve tried. Benzoin itself is a pretty mellow resin so I think it just might be apt to being overwhelmed by other ingredients in the incense, particularly if they’re low quality.

          • Maharani said,

            August 9, 2009 at 7:13 am

            I will definitely try the Shroff C. version in that case. You point out a number of their masalas have Loban in them, but they are not affecting me in the same way. On the other hand I found that even the cheaper oodh incenses smell great-I am dying to try a really good agarwood incense-any recommendations? I ordered the Pure Incense version, but a good Japanese would be of great interest as I am not at all familiar with that style.

            • Mike said,

              August 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

              Japanese agarwood incenses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and vary from the exceedingly expensive to the more affordable, so the question would be what your budget is. You get higher quality for the money you spend and the aloeswoods in the lower budget realms tend to be more blends than pure woods themselves. I’d say 90% of the incenses in the top 3 categories on the Japanese Hall of Fame page linked to the left are aloeswood incenses, so it would probably help to take a look at those and guess where you want to start in the price ranges.

              • Maharani said,

                August 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

                Thank you for the recommendation: I will look into the incenses listed in the Japanese Hall of Fame. I like a highly perfumed incense, so it will be interesting to check a few of them out.

          • clairsight said,

            August 10, 2009 at 9:49 pm

            Loban seems to be a pretty broad category. Some believe it to be one of the frankincense’s, others a form of benzion. Check out this picture from Maya Ethnobotanicals( pretty fun site/store to brows through also).
            http://www.maya-ethnobotanicals.com/product_browse.phtml/catid/subid/herbid_067/formid_103/
            There is some talk it may also be a mixture of resins, which judging from the picture might be compressed together into blocks.

  12. Masha said,

    May 27, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I tried it (Parrot Green Durbar), Mike, and I completely agree with you. It reminded me very much of being in Parrot Jungle in Miami! I’ve certainly never smelled that in an incense before, but I like the Green Durbar very much.

    • Mike said,

      May 27, 2009 at 8:45 am

      Ha! I know exactly what you mean about the Parrot Jungle in Miami too! I still wonder what I’d think of it had they just left “parrot” out of the name…

  13. Mike said,

    May 27, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Glad you like them Masha! Would be interested to hear what you think of the PGD when you get to it too.

  14. Masha said,

    May 26, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I was just trying out my Dashanga on a warmer for the first time when I opened your review! I didn’t think I liked Indian incense until I tried Channabasappa. Heated very gently, I like the Dashanga very much, and it’s completely smokeless, so I think it will do well when a subtle effect is required. I also got a pack of Parrot Green Durbar, but haven’t got the nerve to try it yet! My favorite Channabasappa stick is Sugandhi Bathi, an amazing floral! Thanks for introducing me to these!


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