Temple of Incense / Krishna, Om Masala, Oudh, Perky Pandit

Temple of Incense Part 3
Temple of Incense Part 5
The entire Temple of Incense review series can be found at the Incense Reviews Index

I began writing this the day after I received my third order from the wonderful Temple of Incense folks across a country and an ocean and am posting a little after my fourth. As you go into the line you realize just how large the scope is. If you have been into Indian incense for a while then a journey through their catalog is like discovering new friends but also rediscovering old ones. I find as much pleasure out of this feeling that wow I have not smelled this scent in something like 25 years as I do coming across something surprisingly fresh and new. This is one thing you discover fairly fast with ToI and that’s this sort of modern approach from a traditional foundation feel. Even when the line goes into fruity incenses or perfumed incenses there’s still this feeling that nothing is synthetic or off, which often allows you to sort of reappraise some modern variations. I’m still sort of mindboggled they’ve managed a line that is well over 50 incenses now. We also continue to to be aware that Temple of Incense and the Happy Hari and associates have a lot of shared scents and will point those out whenever possible, but this gives people options in the US and UK. So onto batch four…

Krishna has a woods, vetivert and musk mix and it may be extremely close to what you would imagine for such a description. To me this is a dyed in the wool Indian traditional that feels like it’s stripped down almost to its bare essentials. In terms of the woods this does have something of a sandalwood presence, although not so much in the sense of the powerful sandalwoods used in the more specific incenses in the line, but a more lighter wood content. But it’s also background for the very clear vetivert and musk mix, a pair that do go fairly well together, earthy and sweet. So overall this is going for something of a more simpler, basic blend and overall it makes it a somewhat lighter and milder affair. It’s an incense that calms rather than stimulates.

In a lot of Indian incense reviews I’ll be able to go hey this one smells like Satya Natural or Honey Dust, or this one reminds me of Mystic Temple. It’s this sort of personal history of having known the masala style through numerous variations sold by all sorts of companies and recognizing similarities in not only recipes but often the dyed end of a bamboo stick that helps to solidify that connection. However, there are also times like with Om Masala where you are smelling something almost painfully familiar where memory just can not provide the link back to history. But this recipe too used to be a very common one and it just brings me right back to they heyday of all the really great champas. In fact Om Masala even has halmaddi resin as an ingredient along with strong woody overtones. So without remembering previous iterations I can say for sure this one is a classic reborn. Maybe it was something of a specifically named spice champa because you get this whole mix of woods, spices, musk and resin sweetness in the mix. But overall if you want to check out something that smells exactly as I remember it from 25 years ago this is a perfect pick. Highly recommended for sure.

I’ve mentioned before that some Temple of Incense scents have a very strong correlation with those in the Happy Hari Line and there’s no question their Oudh is right in the pocket there with the Happy Hari Oud Masala. This agarwood masala is undoubtedly impressive as long as it has this kind of complex oudh oil in the mix and I’d be splitting hairs comparing the two incenses. This is a brash, powerful, spicy and earthy scent that really has to be tried, whichever brand you pick, and unless you want to try everything you might only pick one or the other. But it’s unquestionably an Indian incense essential and while oud masalas are really nothing like Japanese aloeswoods they have a whole range of complexities that make them a different kind of joy. Think of a really high quality cologne with a strong woody profile and you’re getting close. Whether you pick Happy Hari’s Oud masala or this one, it’s an essential for the collection.

And after two blazingly powerful incenses, Perky Pandit and it’s single audumber note seems like a complete change of pace. This is apparently an aromatic from the Indian Fig Tree and it is a very quiet, mild aroma that is really utterly unique and not comparable to anything else. It’s something of a combination of dry, slightly woody, and mildly fruity elements and it really doesn’t remind me so much of the aroma of your regular fig except very fleetingly. It feels like it’s still based in a masala format with champa characteristics and has those elements but they’ve been toned down enough to fit the mildness of the top note. After a few sticks I’m not super sure about this one as while its unique in its overall tone, it doesn’t cut through so much with any sort of distinctiveness. Honestly I’d probably mostly recommend this to someone who wants a quiet more subtle scent, but sure enough if part of your love for incense is getting used to a wide variety of scents than this will surely be a new one for your nose.

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4 Comments

  1. scandojazz said,

    August 8, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    Mike, I would love to know how you go about determining whether a stick is charcoal based or not. It is rare that the mfg or seller mentions that their stick is a charcoal.

    • Mike said,

      August 9, 2021 at 6:26 am

      With Indian sticks I think it can vary how much charcoal is used in an incense, but I think it’s most obvious when the stick underneath is black and firm. This tends to be hidden by the dusting powder on it, but I also think certain aromas are better at hiding the charcooal’s scent. Charcoal can be mixed with other ingredients into something resembling a hybrid which is more common in Madhavadhas family incenses (like Pure Incense). It looks to be a bit different in Satya style incenses that are more like masalas and the stick tends to be a bit softer and more pliable. If Stephen’s around he could probably weigh in a bit on all of this too as he’s very good at identifiying the make up of incenses and has moved my thinking quite a bit on this subject.

  2. jenmaclean14 said,

    August 6, 2021 at 6:38 am

    I am loving this company. I burned the Amber Supreme last night, sublime.

    • Mike said,

      August 6, 2021 at 7:25 am

      Yes that’s a really nice one for sure!


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