Strain Heritage Series: Strains of India
Published on 11/16/22
When most folks think of the nation of India, many different things come to mind. Some might think about the nation's rich history and culture dating back thousands of years. Others might think of astounding, jaw-dropping cultural landmarks like the Taj Mahal, jaw-dropping natural sights like Ranthambore National Park, or the various palaces and temples dating back thousands of years scattered across the nation. Others may jump right to thinking about the nation's swelling population, trailing only behind China in the sheer mass of humanity at 1.38 billion citizens.
For the cultured stoner, however, India represents something far different than landmarks and population numbers. That's because many consider India to be the original landmark of cannabis culture. It might surprise some, however, that when it comes to cannabis culture, few nations on planet Earth have a longer, richer, and deeper history with the cannabis plant than India.
As a result of that deep and storied history with the cannabis plant, the nation of India has developed some rich and rare landrace cannabis strains. That's why as part of our ongoing Strain Heritage Series, we here at Where's Weed wanted to highlight some of the best landrace strains that the nation of India has to offer.
Not only will this article be a deep dive into the history of the Indian people and the cannabis plant, but we'll also review and provide a comprehensive list of all landrace strains sourced from India. Think of this article as your one-stop resource for tracking down and enjoying the best Indian landrace strains on dispensary menus today!
So without further ado, let's get right into it!
History of Cannabis in India
Before we get into exactly which Indian-sourced strains you should keep an eye out for, we first should dig into the history of cannabis in India. After all, there's arguably no other place in the whole world that has as long and as storied of a connection with the cannabis plant as India does.
Ancient Hindu texts dating back to as early as 2000 B.C. mention the use of the cannabis plant for both relaxation and religious purposes. Some historians think that the link between cannabis and India dates back as far as 8000 years. That's likely due to the fact that many historians believe cannabis is naturally native to these areas.
With that in mind, it's no surprise that so many rich and diverse landrace cannabis strains have come out of India. Considering the different climates, terrains, and cultural/religious traditions you'll find in this part of the world, it shouldn't come as a shock to see a wide variety of different types of cannabis being born as well! As a result of developing their culture alongside cannabis for thousands of years, the Indian people have come up with a wide variety of ways to enjoy their cannabis.
As always, smoking is and has pretty much always been a go-to option. Not only have religious and cultural groups long been ritually smoking cannabis with the belief that it can open their minds, cure illnesses, and ward off evil spirits, but the spiritual use of cannabis in India still exists today. That's where bhang comes in!
Often associated with the god Shiva, bhang is one of the most popular forms of cannabis consumption in modern-day India. Not only is it technically legal under Indian law since it's made from the leaves of the cannabis plant and not the flowering buds and upper regions of the plant, but it has a religious significance.
Most often sold and consumed during festivals like Maha Shivaratri and Holi but often infused in everyday beverages like bhang lassi and bhang thandai, bhang is currently the closest and most accessible form of legal cannabis for everyday folks in India.
And, of course, we can't talk about India's history with cannabis without mentioning hashish. With a long, storied history throughout India and the middle east, hash can be smoked via a pipe, bong, vaporizer, joints, and blunts, or even just chewing it up orally. And India's history with hashish is nothing to sneeze at.
Take the now-famous village of Malana. World-renowned by cannabis enthusiasts and world-wandering 420 tourists, this tiny mountainous village nestled in the Himalayas is well-known for producing some of the planet's finest hashish.
Referred to as "Malana Cream," this high-purity, hand-rolled hashish is widely regarded as not only the best in India but the best in the whole world. Despite cannabis still being widely illegal in India, this town's biggest money-making export. For example, about 12 grams of pure Malana Cream sells for an astounding $250 at coffee shops throughout Amsterdam.
With all of this incredible and diverse cannabis culture in mind, however, it's important to note that essentially all forms of cannabis are technically illegal in India. Thanks to British colonial rule and the passage of the 1985 Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act, India has seen the use of cannabis criminalized throughout much of its recent history. Times have been changing in that regard recently, however.
In recent years, legal cannabis advocates have pushed for reforms like legalized hemp and cannabis production, medical use, and descheduling. The nation's first government-sanctioned medical cannabis clinic even opened up in Koramangala, Bangalore in 2020. On top of that, surveys and studies show that the recreational use of cannabis in India is still widespread despite its legal status. According to a 2019 All India Institutes of Medical Science study, about 7.2 million Indians consumed cannabis within the last year. Another recent study showed that nearly 31 million Indians were considered active cannabis users.
The way we see it, it's only a matter of time before the modern-day cannabis culture in India catches up with its storied history!
Top Indian Landrace Strains
Now that we've touched on the storied history of cannabis culture in India, here are some of the country's top-notch landrace strains! Interestingly enough, most of the entries on this list will be sativas. That's because, despite what their name might suggest, landrace indica strains are actually quite rare.
Let's start the list off with a bang, shall we? Perhaps the rarest and most expensive entry on our list of landrace strains in Malana. Remember that little Himalayan village that makes the top-notch hash we mentioned before? This is the cannabis they make it out of!
Puffing on this strain with a serious punch of up to 25 percent THC will leave users feeling giggly, creative, and sociable after their session. Great for those dealing with issues like chronic fatigue, depression, stress conditions, and glaucoma, this strain is useful and effective for both medical and recreational users alike.
Known for its sweet, fruity flavor notes and spicy floral overtones, users, often describe this strain as earthy, floral, and spicy, with notes of coffee and sugary sweets thrown into the mix!
If you can find it on your local dispensary menu, we highly recommend getting your hands on some!
This strain is the closest thing we have today to a modern-day cannabis dinosaur. Originally thought to be extinct in the early 70s but brought back to life in the late 90s, this top-notch Indian landrace strain is about as good as it gets when it comes to Indian cannabis.
Hailing from the now-famous Kerala district, this strain exploded into prominence along with American cannabis culture in the late 60s. Thanks to the region's mild tropical, wet climate, moderate temperatures throughout the year, and little changes in daylight, thanks to its placement only 9 degrees North of the equator, Kerala became the go-to spot for cannabis production for Western demand.
Said to provide an invigorating, energizing mental high and euphoric onset body high, this wonderful sativa is great for those dealing with issues like anxiety, ADD and ADHD, and arthritis. On top of that, this is a flavorful strain as well. Often said to taste of sage and spicy herbs and containing terpenes that leave notes of floral, sour, and woody flavors, it's no wonder this strain leaves users feeling focused, creative, and giggly.
If you can find it on dispensary menus near you, we highly recommend this strain! However, this strain might be one that you're better off home growing.
Hailing from Eastern India, the next entry on our list is another highly sought-after Indian landrace strain. This West Bengali strain comes from the hot, humid climate of India's coastal states, leading to a strain that smells like fine floral incense, grapes, and fresh green guavas.
With a relatively low THC concentration of only about 9 percent, this is a mild strain that won't exactly blow your socks off when it comes to cannabinoid power. Great for just taking the edge off without getting melted into the couch or way too high to handle, this strain is a lively wake-and-bake sativa option!
Don't let that lack of THC power deter you, however. This strain still has a lot to offer those who manage to get their hands on it.
The next time you're taking a trip through India or happen to see this or its seed pop up on a dispensary menu, go ahead and snag some. You won't regret it!
One of the most widely known and well-loved Indian landrace cannabis strains out there today, Sheelavathi is one of the most potent and sought-after India-based strains.
Known for its astounding terpene profile that adds to its flavor notes of pine and aromas of wildflowers, spices, and top-notch Indian hashish. It's also noted that this sativa variety builds on the back of previously mentioned top-quality Indian cannabis strains like Kerala Gold or Idukki Gold, this strain is the evolved and refined version of both.
No matter how you slice it, this strain is about as good as it gets when it comes to the massive array of top-notch Indian landrace cannabis strains. Whether you're a medical user looking to take the edge off your symptoms or a recreational user looking to chill out after a long, hard day, this strain has a little bit of something for everyone!