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102-year-old shop in Kashmir, still makes rose water in the traditional way, with Koshur gulab

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: May 28, 2022 8:00 PM

Read Time: 3 minute

A rose water shop in the downtown area of Srinagar city is more than a century old. It is locally known as Arq-I-Gulab Waan, it is the only surviving rose water distillery in Kashmir Valley, located few steps from the famous Khanqah-e-Moula shrine.

The smell of roses fills the air in Fateh Kadal locality as the shop owner Abdul Aziz Kozgar who is 66 years old , sells several litres of rose water daily in unlabelled plastic containers that aren't pre-filled or stamped.

Kozgar sells 1 litre of rosewater in just Rs 45

Abdul Aziz Kozgar does not talk much and mostly remains busy with his customers. A litre of traditionally made rosewater is sold in just Rs 45, due to which it has attracted young and old customers. Not only local people, a good number of foreign tourists have been visiting this historical shop which carries 500 years of Kashmir’s legacy.

Preserved bottles of his great grandfather’s time

Inside the shop made of wood and brick , there are pictures of Sufi saints pasted on the walls. The shelves are stocked with dark coloured glass bottles and antique-looking jars of varying sizes, there are also a handwritten Urdu and Persian slips pasted on walls. “I have been making and selling rose water since childhood,” says Kozgar . Some of the bottles in the shop have gathered years and dust, but Kozgar wants to preserve them in remembrance of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father.

Uses of rose water

Kozgar says that rose water can be used as a skin care, as a coolant for the stomach, and can also be added to Kashmiri Kahwa to get more fragrance. Rose water is also a common ingredient in South Asian sweets—Ladoo, Gulab Jamun and other dairy-based varieties.

Kozgar’s rosewater is traditionally sprinkled on devotees in masjids, shrines, temples, gurdwaras and during wedding celebrations. It is also used in numerous dishes during cooking to get the aroma and as a refreshing addition to Sharbats as well as sprinkled on handkerchiefs during intense summer days.

Remedy of making rose water

The rose water is distilled from Koshur Gulab (Kashmiri roses) which is sourced from various parts of Kashmir. Kozgar don’t use any machines for making rose water, he it manually. He refused to share the skills and techniques he uses to make the rose water .

People familiar with rose-water distillation in Kashmir say that the rose petals and other herbs are boiled in a copper cauldron, and the vapours travelling through the mass of coils are condensed and distilled. However, rosewater through traditional distillation is a slow process which takes almost 3 to 4 hours.

Benefits of rose water

Natural rose water is said to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains antioxidants that can help protect skin cells against damage. Rose water has traditionally also been used to soothe sore throats. Rose water is commonly used in aromatherapy, to help relieve headaches. It is also found in beauty products aimed to reduce wrinkles, and in folk medicine, rose water has been used to aid in digestion and reduce digestive upset.

History of kozgar’s shop

In 1820,Kozgar’s grandfather Habibullah Kozgar opened the shop and he imported jars, decanters and other things from France and the UK to open a business in Srinagar. Kozgar acquired the skill of make rosewater from his forefathers who moved to Srinagar from Turkey more than 400 years ago. The craft of making rose water is now a dying tradition.

Though rose water is the USP of Kozgar’s business, the shop also sells perfumes, herbal syrups for stomach and kidneys, besides providing traditional Perso-Arabic medicines for different ailments.


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