N. Ranga Rao & Sons / Woods

In the short version of this review, I’d link to this Mystic Temple review, make the note that N. Ranga Rao & Sons Woods incense is virtually identical to Mystic Temple’s Sacred Woods and then be done with it (and cheers to Janet for making the association in the comments there), and if I did so I’d be fairly accurate. Even on separate occasions I might have noticed each incense’s similarity to the fresh greenness of Shrinivas Sugandhalaya’s Patchouli Forest blend or made note of the high woody oil content it contains. However as is always the case with incense sometimes even two different batches of the same incense often have some differences.

Most noticeable here is that the Woods stick is much bigger than the more standardized Mystic Temple Sacred Woods. I toyed with including these with a (now future) review of various floras, and then thought I might move it to the champas but at the last moment thought better of it, in some ways it’s a hybrid of the two styles, but I think there’s an oil content here that perhaps makes it a one (or perhaps two) of a kind. In terms of “Woods” I think we’re talking of the Woods as a synonym for the forest, rather than the normal aloeswood and sandalwood associations that pop to mind with incense. Although there certainly seems to be a sandalwood in the mix, so much of what we’re smelling here is green, and I’d note again the Mystic Temple review where I compare this to some of the celtic or forest resin blends. That is, where there might be oils here, there are also, perhaps, pitches and resins. My nose picks up a bit of high quality cedar oil in there, waves of evergreen oils that could be anything from cypress to juniper to pine and that almost lilting fresh patchouli-like scent mentioned earlier, less the dark and earthy oil than the fringes around the edges that speak more of the fresh than the harvested. And all of this has the layers of sandalwood oil that help root the scent and give it a somewhat ancient vibe. It’s really a brilliant piece of work, a highly attractive incense that most will enjoy in either of its forms. I dare say it might be iconic despite its spin off.



  1. Jeff said,

    February 9, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    The box that I have recently bought directly from India (I live in Thailand) is not perforated. Never having tried this before, I can’t say if it is an old stock box or a relatively new one. I can say that is one of the most different Indian fragrances I’ve had. It is not a sweet, floral, perfumed type of fragrance. I find it to be rather low key, perhaps better for small spaces, as many Japanese incense can be. While drinking tea with my wife, I asked her what she thought of the fragrance. She said I smell Sandalwood mixed with other herbals. I told her I didn’t really get the Sandal aroma but certainly the herbal, woody aromas, and as some other commenter mentioned, patchouli and possibly some cedar. All in all, this is a very impressive stick that is growing on me. It nothing like a Champa in the sense of deep, pervasive fragrance. This one is more refined, understated, and ancient.

    • Jeff said,

      February 17, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      I must make a correction here to my earlier post on Woods. Somehow my description got mixed up with another incense. Not a perforated box. Sticks are in a re-sealable foil pouch. Nice touch. This is definitely not akin to any Japanese incense and is decidedly Indian. It is a very powerful, but smoky fragrance, probably due to the overly large wood sticks that are used to hold the masala. Contrary to what Stephanie posted about the color of the wood sticks, mine are tan, definitely not dyed yellow. I can’t discern the predominant scent, patchouli or a sandal. Mike’s suggestion of a champa hybrid is a good one. Really too strong for me. Very aggressive. For those looking for an overwhelming attack on the nose, this could be it.

  2. Richie said,

    December 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I have the perforated version which I believe is now discontinued and the new formulation, they are significantly different, in fact its smells like burning leaves with some cedar chips. The older version was this minty green sandalwood with a strong patchouli note.

  3. John Gensler said,

    July 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I think in the newest version of Woods they have removed the pure Sandalwood oil component. Definitely not the same incense anymore. Something cheaper now.

    • Richie said,

      November 18, 2012 at 4:20 am

      Yes they did, the newest versions smell like cheap synthetic cedar and burning wood, no sandalwood and no patchouli. I will probably just buy the the Mystic Woods version in future.

  4. vinny said,

    May 17, 2011 at 1:18 am

    The package with the perforations is stronger and has a stronger sandalwood componend , that package is meant for export (15g , 28g)
    The Indian local version has more sticks (30g, 70g) and has a stronger cedar note but does not spread as much, but also is less smokey then than the international version. None the less , this is a top notch incense , this and Ranga rao’s Oudh and Yagna

  5. raj said,

    April 20, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Woods incense is a gem and i love the way the fragrance spreads and retains in the surroundings even after several hours of burning and lighting off!!the harmonisation of notes is deep and melodious —i love it and did you see the new pack with holes–you could actually smell the fragrance through the pack!!cheers

  6. Stephanie said,

    June 18, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Hello ORS!

    This is my first post ever with you, btw. Sorry if break any house rules unwittingly.

    I live in the UK and have just received a box of (N.RangaRao) WOODS that I ordered immediately after reading the great review posted on Dec15. I have to say that whilst what I received bears some similarity to the descriptions of Woods and Sacred Woods, it falls rather short of the intricate, multilayered poetry of the writeup. Namely:

    1. No discernable “citrus” element as emphasized in the Sacred Woods review.

    2. The stick doesn’t appear to be all that thick (almost the same as a Mother’s India Fragrances durbar).

    3. Unlit it just smells like a pongy Sai Flora variant, with no evergreen tang to speak of.

    4. Unless I’ve forgotten what Sandalwood smells like, I don’t get “layers of sandalwood oil” or an “ancient vibe”.

    5. “Waves of ((a variety of)) evergreen oils” seems like quite an exaggeration. I do get some evergreen vibes, but mostly just a static, deep, patchouli-esque verdance. I was expecting a startlingly fresh “Old-Growth-Forest” astringent coniferous bonanza from your review!

    So why the disparity, I wonder? Could of course be my inferior nasal apparatus and lack of imaginative projection. I’m no connoisseur! But I fear this may betray a recipe change or variation between batches. For instance in one product pic I saw (here: http://www.spicesofindia.co.uk/acatalog/Woods-Natural-Incense-Sticks.html ) , the sticks look very different to what I got. So here’s a description of what mY purchase looked like, perhaps someone might notice a difference with their Woods stock and point it out to me…pretty please?

    – Definitely the same box as sold at Incense Guru.
    – Interior packaging is an opaque silvered plastic wrapper, fully sealed with a tear-open notch at top, and the product logo printed on it.
    – The (bamboo?) stick itself is dyed yellow (like, for example Shanthimalai sticks) and the incense material is dark brown with a (minimal) dusting of light-colored wood powder on top (not obscuring the brown color much at all)

    That ring true/false for anyone here at the ORS? I’d love to know 🙂



    • Mike said,

      June 21, 2010 at 8:44 am

      Hi Stephanie, thanks for posting. I don’t think there are any simple answers to your post. Yes it’s possible that there has been a recipe change (and for sure my Woods incenses are definitely larger than the Mothers incenses you made a comparison to), but I think it’s probably more likely your nose is just picking up the same incense in a different way. After all how we experience incenses is largely subjective and there’s just no way each person’s references and experiences are going to be identical. And of course, while many might look at ORS reviews and see “connoisseurs,” from my perspective I’m just a guy who started writing about the incense I liked one day only for the blog to grow into something else. So I wouldn’t at all agree that your “nasal apparatus” is inferior, just different. 🙂

    • vinny said,

      January 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      They changed up the formula the old one was like how Mike described it , the new is exactly like you desrcibed , i am dissapointed

      • vinny said,

        May 17, 2011 at 1:20 am

        [edited] it is superb and I think its a very green incense but grounded by the sandalwood.

  7. janet said,

    December 28, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I’m glad – again – that you took to this the way I did!
    This incense is unmatched, to me, in the combination of scents at work here, as well as the size and richness and potency of the stick – it’s not for the faint of heart, but it really just sings (loudly) with the quality of the different elements, which truly harmonize perfectly for those who like deep, forest-type blends.

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