The idea for sandalwood soaps came to being when the Maharaja of Mysore was gifted a rare gift pack of soaps made using sandalwood oil produced in India.

Iconic Mysore Sandal soaps maker turns 102 a brief history Mysore Sandal Soap/Facebook
news History Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - 18:28

The state-run Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd. (KSDL), the company that manufactures the iconic Mysore Sandal Soaps, completed 102 years on May 10. The soap was first launched in the market in 1918. 

History

KSDL, the company that manufactures the iconic Mysore Sandal Soaps, completed 100 years on May 10, 1916. The soap was first launched in the market two years later in 1918.

The Maharaja of Mysore Nalwadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar and Diwan M Visvesvaraya set up the Government Sandalwood Oil factory in Mysore to extract sandalwood oil from sandalwood.

A view of the Sandal Oil Factory (L) and the Government Soap Factory in 1918 (R); Image source: KSDL website

The idea for sandalwood soaps came to being two years later when the Maharaja was gifted a rare gift pack of soaps made using sandalwood oil produced in India. 

Sandal Wood Oil Extraction; Image source: KSDL website

SG Shastry, an industrial chemist, went on to develop the sandal perfume. The Government Soap Factory was established by the Maharaja in Bengaluru and the first indigenous sandal soap with sandal note as its base fragrance was produced and introduced in the market under Mysore Sandal Soap brand in 1918.

 Image source: KSDL website

Another turning point came in the year 1980 when the "Government Soap Factory was converted into a Public Sector Enterprise and the Company was incorporated on 9th July 1980 and re-named as KARNATAKA SOAPS & DETERGENTS LIMITED". 

In 2006 Mysore Sandal Soap, said to be the only soap in the world that contains natural sandalwood oil, got the Geographical Indications (GI) tag along with Mysore sandalwood oil and Kasuti embroidery. 

In the same year, cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, reportedly the first popular figure to promote Mysore Sandal soap, was appointed the brand ambassador of the brand. 

Image source: Quora

Later however, things turned sour between the stellar sportsman and one of the world's oldest soap manufacturers with the latter blaming Dhoni for "defaulting on his commercial commitments". The five-year long legal battle between the two parties ended with the Karnataka High Court ruling in the cricketer's favour. 

Image source: KSDL website

In 2012, KSDL launched the priciest soap ever, a super-premium soap called the Millennium. Priced at Rs 720 for a 150 gm bar, it was reported to be the costliest indigenously produced soap with each bar containing 3 per cent pure sandalwood oil.

Mysore Sandals Millennium Super Premium Soap/Facebook

KSDL has manufacturing units at Bengaluru, Mysuru and Shimoga and produces a host of commodities including soaps, detergents and cosmetics. 

Image source: KSDL website

Over the years, the brand and the company has had to face several hurdles including competition from bigger MNCs and reduced cultivation of sandalwood trees. 

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.