Pure-Incense / Absolute / Golden Champa, Green Champa, Magnolia, Vrindavan Champa, Vrindavan Flower, Vrindavan Leela

Pure Incense Part 1
Pure Incense Part 2

For installment 3 of the Pure-Incense series, one of two British outlets for the incense made by Haridas Madhavada, we’re going to move away from the current Connoisseur line into the Absolute range for the next several installments, a group of incenses that has already grown by five new scents since I started writing about them. This group roughly covers the champa and Vrindavan scents along with the very similar Magnolia stick and perhaps the commonality among these scents is they’re mostly very sweet florals and among the most accessible of the catalog’s aromas.

It’s worth noting something that really does affect all the incenses in the Pure Incense range, the base of charcoal, vanilla and sandalwood. Unlike many incenses this base is always aromatic enough to be part of every incense’s bouquet and this is no more true than it is in the Absolute line. In the Connoisseur range, the heavier amount of oils often plays this base scent down a little, but it’s very noticeable in the Absolutes, particularly so in a group of incenses like these where the sweetness of the base matches the scent. So it has to be said that vanilla plays a part of all these incenses, some more so than others. This is a tendency that can often be quite strong depending on one’s moods and it really does set apart the Madhavada family incenses from other scents, and perhaps ironically few of these are pure scents of any kind. On the other hand they’re still very very good.

Both Purelands and Pure-Incense have a similar Golden Champa. They’re both masala styles and thus completely different from the Sai Flora clones that show up with the same name. Between the two masalas, this one’s slightly the superior, with a rich, full, sweet blend full of vanilla, honey, spice and a floral oil that’s like a different take on a blooming jasmine or magnolia like aroma. The only thing this incense does share with the Sai Flora clones is the sort of sugary/confectionary-like sweetness at heart, but other than that everything else is different, there’s no power shock here, no soil-like earthiness or coppery overtones. But despite being a mellower stick, it’s still very rich and thus matches the idea of “golden” as being something a little more special. And as an Absolute range incense it’s already topped out on the perfume, so it would seem no connoisseur version is even necessary.

Pure-Incense’s Green Champa mixes up the champa quite a bit, removing the central richness the Golden version exhibits, giving a much drier note that lets the floral oils come to the fore. This is one of those incenses where aromatic fatigue would easily kill the top note, in a cleared out room this is actually a very special incense on top, with a wonderful flowery scent. While a green incenses often hints at evergreen, mint, patchouli, and/or vetivert there aren’t really huge hits here of any of these scents, rather the greenness is almost a result of its individuality rather than any added ingredients. And it leaves the Green Champa slightly diffficult to describe as you’d really have to check a stick out to get an idea of its unique personality.

From gold to green to distinctly red, the Magnolia in this range definitely has some similarities with the other sweet and friendly red scents such as the Vrindavan Champa or Pink Sayli, which makes it fit quite nicely in this group. Those who know the Primo version of this scent will already be roughly familiar with it, but even at the Absolute level this incense is far more deluxe, with a nice redolent magnolia on top. As I mentioned earlier this is one of those incenses where the vanilla is almost equal to the top note, which too makes this an incense close to champa regions as well as having some similarities to jasmine. The fruitiness of the scent also blends in quite nicely with the floral and vanilla elements, leaving this incense quite attractive. And again it’s hard to imagine the benefits of a Connoisseur version except that it might knock out the heavy vanilla a bit. However in this case you might not want that.

The Vrindavan descriptor refers to a town in north India where I believe the creators of all these incenses originates, a town with a rich religious heritage. Thus, unlike many Pure-Incense scents these seem to be variations on themes rather than direct aromatic representations and as such some of the more interesting incenses in this Absolute line. The Vrindavan Champa is a glorious, sweet and rich champa masala with a fruity floral blend not terribly far from the Pink Sayli (as implied above). The sandalwood peaks through quite nicely here and gives the background a nice bit of breadth and depth. I get lots of cherry and strawberry along with the heady champa oil and the type of pleasant tangyness that helps the whole from getting too sweet. Perhaps my appreciation for this is that I’ve already burned through about half of a 50g package of this already.

Vrindavan Flower is totally different and it’s been an incense discussed around here in the comments before. In this case we’re talking about a variation on a similar theme as that of the Purelands Flower, Desert Flower or other masalas that tend less to the rosy and sweet than to a sort of exotic dry and herbal blend. However in this case the incense goes even farther into a much more intense, oil rich blend that has a really heavy lime and citrus scent to it a long with the herbal florals. It has also been pointed out to me on a couple of occasions that it does also have some soapy notes to it, which perhaps leaves me to feel this is an exception to the rule, an incense I like very much even with those sorts of overtones. Indeed this probably won’t be for everyone and its participation on our Indian Hall of Fame is probably on the fence, but it still knocks me out every time, and I do think it’s unlike any other scent even those that roughly fall in the same family.

Vrindavan Leela (also known as Ponds) is an incense I’m fairly confused about. I received a nice sample of this which included a package of three red sticks and instantly fell in love with them, it was yet another group of red floral sticks similar to some of the others I mentioned above, but yet again a different direction. So I was surprised to find out when I ordered a 50g package that I received a completely different scent, one that was colored green and while nice, nothing I’d have been in a hurry to restock. This green stick is more similar to something like the Primo Original Musk blend with some floral topping, it’s much more a generic type of Madhavada stick then the red stick was where the milder ingredients end up letting the base come through a bit too much. Anyway I’m not sure what the change was, if perhaps a mix up was made in the sample (because there wasn’t a mix up with the 50g package given the label), but it’s perhaps the one among these six I can’t immediately recommend. Even after some time and use I haven’t felt this assert its personality.

More Pure-Incense sticks to come, I’m counting at least another 20 we haven’t covered yet…

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9 Comments

  1. Rob Jarvis said,

    May 29, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Hi,it’s not every day i feel compelled to comment on anything, but the Vrindavan flower,awakens in me an otherworldly nostalgia,the agarwood is sweet and beautiful.The blue lotus[connoisseur] is just excellent. Ive just ordered some more to stock up.These together with Vrindavan champa and Nepal musk are simply the best aromas i have ever encountered. I can almost hear a music from their scent. Ive been burning incense for over three decades and can honestly say nothing comes close to this.

  2. glennjf said,

    August 20, 2010 at 1:49 am

    I have some of the Pure-Incense Vrindavin Flower now and it’s a strange on alright, all said and done I like it .
    The soapy aspect exists without doubt but it’s offset well emnough by the lime and citrus notes, as described in the review. It keeps me guessing this one. I get a sense of something and I’m suddenly drawn in, still for the life of me cannot determine what the “something” is?

    • Mike said,

      August 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

      I just think it’s rare to find lime notes like that in any incense, so in many ways that attribute makes it worthwhile even over the soapy subscent. I should say I’ve never tired of it since I wrote the review either. It’s one of a kind.

  3. hezz said,

    May 7, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I used to buy Vrindavin Flower when I was in England. I love it dearly and haven’t been able to find it. Also looking for other temple type incenses like rasleela and nataraj. Can you recommend a place to purchase these in the US?

    • glennjf said,

      May 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

      I found a US site offering a red floral stick version of Vrindavan Leela, at least the image show a red stick but then again, the same image is used for all of that line? Might pay to email first and ask for confirmation of stick colour if thinking of buying. They’re located… Bowling Green KY USA 42102

      http://www.greenearthstones.com/product/pure-incense-vrindavan–leela

      for hezz…

      For rasleela incense… I typed just those two words into the google search engine, got a fair result, the help you need is hopefully residing on that page.

      Regarding nataraj. I did the same thing but results were more sparse. You should see what you think.
      If you do find what you’re looking for then posting back here your good result might turn out to be good news for the next seeker.

      • glennjf said,

        May 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm

        Mike, the links above to Parts 1 and 2 might need attending to. Seems they’re combined as one link to take you to Part 2 only.

        Now that I’ve had a read of all three reviews I am feeling courageous and hopeful, first time in years, enough so to add a couple of Indian Incenses to my wish list! This is a pretty amazing thing for me to do. Certainly it’s something I thought I’d be a long time away from doing after trying on and off throughout my life to “get into” indian incense but without any sign of success.

        Minus any help or guidance being given, I’ve blindly bought indian types over the years that both I and those selling them to me knew next to nothing about. Time and again I’d go the route of buy, light, cough, gag, get raging headache, send to landfill. Now there’s finally some help and advice at hand.

        Just two I’ll add for now, those being Pure-Incense’s Absolute Rose and from the Connoisseur line, Sandalwood.

        Hmmm… that wishlist just grows and grows….

        • Mike said,

          May 10, 2010 at 8:19 am

          Thanks for pointing that out Glenn, should be fixed now. I’d also recommend checking out the Shroff line for Indian incense! – Mike

      • tacololo said,

        October 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

        I recently ordered from pure incense UK .
        Their vrindavan leela is a lovely red stick.

        So far my favourites are agarwood and parijata.
        Then vrindavan champa and vrindavan leela.
        I find the golden champa a bit to dry. The blue lotus and nepal musk are ok too.
        But there is a lot I still have to try.

    • Mike said,

      May 10, 2010 at 8:27 am

      Click on the home page, scroll down quite a bit and check out some of the links on the left under the heading Suppliers, they all go to reputable and consistent US dealers and I suspect you’ll be able to find most of the incenses you want. In particular for what you mentioned Essence of the Ages should stock them all, you can probably use their search engine to find them.


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