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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs