JAIPUR: Barely 200 meters from the revered shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer is a century-old shop named Lala Sitaram Ayodhya Prasad. The shop is run by a Hindu family and sells ‘ittar’ (scent) to devotees visiting the Sufi saint’s shrine. For visitors, the name ‘Ayodhya Prasad’ means just one thing — the only place to look for quality scents.
Originally from Kannauj, the founder of the shop, Ayodhya Prasad, came to Ajmer in 1851 with the sole aim of selling ‘ittar’ to the devotees of the Khawaja. Over the years Ayodhya Prasad’s ittar has become a brand name among the Khwaja’s devotees. The shop has a dedicated clientele, most of whom are Muslims. In the last 60 years, the temple-mosque dispute at Ayodhya may have been a source of discord between the two communities, but the sellers of the ‘ittar’ have never faced any problem because of the shop’s name or its owners’ religion in dealing with the clients.
”After demolition of Babri Masjid, our relatives suggested dropping the name ‘Ayodhya’ from the shop, fearing a drop in clientele. The family, however, decided not to change the name,” said Rajendra Gupta, a fourth-generation owner of the shop in the Muslim-dominated area.
Even today the youngest family member of the shop’s founder is called as ‘Ayodhya Prasadji.’ The family has two shops located in Dargah Bazaar and Madaar Gate areas with the same name. And, both are located on the route that leads to the shrine. At first glance, the shops look like antique museums with 1,500 different kinds of fragrances, besides a century-old collection of decanters, flasks made from camel skin imported from France and the Middle East, respectively.
The most expensive scent in India costing Rs 8,000 per 10 gm has found many takers here.