It is widely believed that the first proper hookah pipe originated in India during the 16th century. Around this time, Portuguese trading vessels regularly carried cargoes of Brazilian-grown tobacco leaves through subcontinental trade routes, along with other tradeable commodities. Naturally, the tobacco was traded at Indian ports and subsequently transported inland to major cities by trade caravans.
As the story goes, Emperor Akbar was tributed with some tobacco leaves by the Moghul ambassador Asad Beg. Concerned about the health effects of smoking tobacco through an unfiltered pipe, Akbar’s chief physician, a Persian named Abu’l-Fath Gilani, suggested that the tobacco smoke be passed through water before inhalation. A moulded glass vase was procured, and the first hookah pipe was invented.