Karnataka is famous for a few unique products like Mysore Silk Sarees, Mysorepak and most important, Sandal Wood. Sandalwood tree is known for its fragrance and the oil extracted is an important ingredient in cosmetics. Sandalwood is the king of all aroma plants because this wood retains the fragrance for a longer period compared to other fragrant wood.
Santalum album, commonly known as Sandalwood, is grown naturally in the forests of Karnataka. People can also cultivate sandalwood in their private lands now, which was not permitted earlier. The weather condition of Karnataka suits sandal wood growth. The Sandalwood tree has to be at least 15 years of age to extract products from a Sandalwood tree. There are around 85-90 species of sandalwood, but all of them do not have the same commercial value. Only the species of Santalum are in great demand. Santalum album trees grow to a height of 5-10 meters and have a life span of 100 years.
The main uses of Sandalwood tree are:
1) In Cosmetics
3) Handicraft Items
4) Worshipping in different cultures
5) It has medicinal value also
Sandalwood Handicraft items are in great demand as they are unique and have intricate carvings. In Karnataka carving is comes as family business and there are excellent sculptors who produce unique pieces which are a personification of art. Sandalwood carved items are in demand not only in India but have excellent market all over the world, especially the sandalwood grown in Western Ghats of Karnataka region. This region produces high quality sandalwood. Red Sandalwood or Pterocarpus santalinus also belongs to sandalwood species, which is equally valued and in demand. Sandalwood is listed as an endangered species as it is over exploited for its commercial value.
There are many artisans in Karnataka who have taken up sandalwood carving and export of sandalwood products as their occupation. All sandalwood products like carved items, sandalwood powder, sandalwood paste and sandalwood oil have good demand and are highly priced. In India, sandalwood is an inevitable part of any pooja, either in the form of a paste or Dhoop or agarbatti.
Mysore Sandal Soap has international market and Sandalwood dust and sandalwood oil is used in many beauty creams, body sprays, powder and so on.
The cost of Sandalwood is around Rs. 6000 per kg at present and also it is not available in the open market. Artisans and manufacturers have to buy them through Government stores only and the quota released is limited based on the product manufactured. Unauthorized possession of sandalwood is considered an offense in India.
Sandalwood is the king of all trees and Karnataka is blessed with this tree in abundance. Export of sandalwood products and cultivation of sandalwood is a major industry in Karnataka.