Shrinivas Sugandhalaya / Kanhaiya, Natraj, Neelkant, Shri Krishna, Super Sandal

There’s no particular rhyme or reason for this batch of Shrinivas incenses, in fact they’re sort of close to the bottom of my personal barrel in that they’re the second to last group to review of the ones I currently own. Of all the incense companies out there Shrinivas have changed the most by far since they started changing their recipes. At one point their Blue Box Nag Champa was the virtual standard for the style, nowadays that it could be the very worst of the style will be the anchor for a survey of champas I plan on getting to in the near future.

In fact Shrinivas have been quite busy of late, releasing a stream of new incenses (and lines), but they’re really not the same company they used to be and with the wave of great incenses reaching these shores of late, I’m not in any hurry to survey them. The next group of reviews I’ll eventually cobble together (and I’m not at all in a hurry to do so) are a number of incenses that are basically perfumed masalas, likely synthetic, that seem like a concerted effort to move away from the company’s almost patented champa style, which has really taken a hit over the years. To say the least, the popularity of the company’s incense undoubtedly rests more on reputation than on quality at this point.

Shrinivas Sugandhalaya have a line of incenses that are mostly available in 100g packages. Sporting names that will be likely unfamiliar to the Western consumer, they’re very difficult to get a grip on scentwise and I’ve seen very little information on these at all. And the reason for this, I believe, is because many of these are what I’d describe as slight tweaks to their popular champa formulas such as the blue box Nag Champa, Satya Royal, Satya Natural, Super Hit and others. In fact they’re so slight as to defy description for the most part. The first four incenses in this group come from the 100g batches, the masala Super Sandal I’ve thrown at the end on a whim.

Kanhaiya is easily the best of this quartet if at the very least it has the most overt distinction, being a highly fragrant combination of floral and resin notes, all mixed in a durbar style. There are perhaps too hints of frangipani or lavender in the mix, although it’s difficult to tell whether these scents come from the oils or the collison thereof. In fact I’ve often wondered just how old this sample is as it seems to have a bit of overt halmaddi in the mix, yet the incense is at a strength that implies it would have faded much more than it has over a decade. Overall it mixes the qualities of Satya Royal, Super Hit and Beauty and is quite pleasant, although I can’t imagine being able to pick it out in a blind Shrinivas scent test.

Natraj on the other hand is what I referred to earlier as a small tweak on the Nag Champa scent. It’s easy to get the vanilla and sandalwood aromas as it is in nearly any durbar style, but other than that it’s very difficult to say much about, except that it’s perhaps slightly musky. In many ways it’s a posterchild for how difficult it is to say anything about so many of the 100g scents.

Neelkant is perhaps a little more distinctive than the Natraj but not by much. It’s extremely sweet and powdery with some similarities to Satya Nectar (although it misses that incense’s power by a long way) and also seems to have a little more sandalwood scent, but the differences are so minor I’ve often thought it would be just as easy to imagine the differences as note real ones. One wonders how quickly the oils or perfumes have faded from the stick.

My Shri Krishna sample was noticeably more potent than the previous three and I believe it’s quite a bit newer, but the freshness doesn’t help at all to distinguish it from the usual vanilla, sandalwood, sweet and musk mix typical to this line. Like the Neelkant the sandalwood might be bit more intense, but whether that’s age or intent is difficult to gauge.  At this point it’s difficult not to long for scents that mark themselves out by their obvious notes or distinction from other incenses.

Super Sandal is a great deal different from the previous four, of course, but as a sandalwood masala in an age where we’re provided with fantastic sandalwood masalas from Shroff, Pure Incense, and Purelands, it comes up quite flat. The sandalwood scent seems to come almost entirely from an oil that doesn’t seem authentic as much as it does a substitute or inferior perfume. The stick is extremely smoky, more so than all of the previously mentioned sandalwoods more than inferring its origin, and the scent only holds a dimension or two, including an orangey subnote that tends to be absent in better versions. Honestly it’s easier to get purer sandalwood hits out of many of the company’s champas than this masala.

Overall, it’s hard to recommend any of these incenses, perhaps only marginally the Kanhaiya, but be sure to check out a sample first rather than going for 100g, I can imagine being very disappointed in getting a large stock in something you know you won’t burn much. The rest of these just wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, particularly at a time where you can get much better incense without necessarily paying more money. Shrinivas themselves actually have much more interesting incenses than these anyway, with none of these being truly central to their more popular items.


  1. Malchus said,

    October 31, 2009 at 3:16 am

    It seems to me that Shrinivas Sugandhalaya has launched another few lines of incense, of whom some could be interesting, although i was not really satsified with the Yoga Series… Still i guess Bergamot and Coriander could eb interesting. You can find some pictures here (Site 6 & 7) :

    Well, lets see how fast they will enter the market elsewhere.

    • Mike said,

      November 2, 2009 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks for the info Malchus. It seems Satya has decided to go in a very different direction with their incenses, or at least many of them are no longer durbar or champa styles but a plain masala drenched in perfume oil. Most of these aren’t all that great so I’ve been hesitant to try any of the new lines.

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