News

Bangladesh Gets a Preview of Faux Taj Mahal

Multimedia

Audio

The famed Taj Mahal has long inspired copies made from such materials as matchsticks, plastic blocks, or sand.  Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, built a three-quarter-sized replica for a shopping festival several years ago. And there is a luxury hotel-casino in the U.S. state of New Jersey named the Taj Mahal.

While armchair architects may decry such attempts to replicate the Mughal masterpiece that has not dissuaded a Bangladeshi man from spending millions of dollars to build what he claims is a life-sized copy of the original.

The Taj Mahal - the 17th century Indian icon built by an emperor to memorialize his second wife.  

Now, there is a Taj Mahal, 2009 version, constructed by a filmmaker known for his Bangla language remakes of Bollywood movies.  

The original, adorned with Rajasthan marble, Chinese crystal, Tibetan turquoise and silver from Ceylon, was made with backbreaking manual labor over 12 years.

The waterproof replica is taking less than six years to complete with the help of machinery. Its builder claims inclusion of Italian marble and granite, diamonds from Belgium and 160 kilograms of bronze for the dome.

His detractors say the fake Taj appears rather amateurishly adorned with a generous helping of local brick and bathroom tiles.

What is now Bangladesh was once under the rule of Shah Jahan, who built the original Taj. But India is not amused by Ahsanullah Moni's tribute to the heartbroken Mughal Emperor.

Indian diplomats have muttered their dissatisfaction, warning of possible copyright infringement against their country's best known historical monument.

Moni, who participated in the 1971 independence revolution against Pakistan, says he is ready to do battle with India and will not be bullied into demolishing his Taj Mahal.  

"No matter what… our land, our brain, our money are put here for all people," Moni said. "I'm a fighter. You can't fight with me. Anybody."

The film director and producer says he came up with the idea of erecting the Bengal Taj in his home village because few of the 150 million Bangladeshis can afford to visit the real thing in neighboring India.

Asked if he was trying to impress his wife with a creation that he says cost him nearly $60 million, the flamboyant filmmaker contends his love is more encompassing.   

"I love my people. I love country, I love my people. I made this all for [the Bangladeshi] people, not [my] wife," he stated.

Sneak previews prior to the official unveiling in March have already attracted 100,000 paying visitors, at $1 per head.

Some Bangladeshis, such as Abdul Hakim back for a visit to see his family from his job in Italy, believe the replica Taj could give a boost to his country's anemic tourism industry.

"It's very important. After Agra I like this [copy]. This will be famous in the world, in America and Europe," Hakim said. 

That is exactly the reaction Moni wants to hear from visitors as he makes plans to expand the property to include a hotel, amusement park and multimedia production studio.

He believes Shah Jahan, if not the contemporary rulers of India, would be impressed with his tribute. 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs