Replica Taj Mahal Near Dhaka Welcomes Visitors
In the 17th century Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, in loving memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth. Now, in the 21st century, wealthy Bangladeshi film-maker, Ahsanullah Moni, has built an exact replica of India’s iconic mausoleum and has been quoted as saying “Sha Jahan built the Taj for the love of his wife. I built my Taj for the love of Shah Jahan.”
Before partition, Bangladesh, along with the rest of the Indian subcontinent, was ruled by Shah Jahan. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest Mughals in history and his reign is often referred to as the Golden Age of Mughals. The name Shah Jahan means “King of the World” in Persian and he certainly left a legacy to be remembered by, including many exquisite examples of architecture. Paintings from his reign indicate the prosperity and tranquility the Mughals enjoyed during his reign and also reflect his interest in romance.
One of the motivating factors behind Ahsanullah Moni’s project was to give fellow Bangladeshis who had the desire, but did not have the means, to visit the original Taj Mahal, the opportunity to visit the next best thing. The true-to-scale structure cost around 58 million dollars and took five years to complete. Located just 30 kilometers (18 miles) northeast of Dhaka, the replica Taj has been built with precise attention to detail.
It was in 1980 that Moni first visited the original Taj Mahal and was inspired to replicate it in his home country. He made the trip six more times in pursuit of his goal. He hired specialist architects and had them measure and record the dimensions of the real Taj Mahal. He also brought six expert technicians from India to assist in the project. Once all the preparation had been done, work on the actual structure began in 2003, and the new Taj will open its doors to the public during December 2008.
Marble and granite was imported from Italy and diamonds from Belgium. More than 160 kilograms of bronze was used for the dome. While the same materials were used as in the ancient Taj, the methods of construction were modern and undertaken with state-of-the-art equipment. The original Taj took around 22 years to complete and used a workforce of more than 22,000 workers. Over 1,000 elephants were used in the transportation of building materials during construction and precious metals and stone were brought from all over India and Asia.
In addition to attracting local visitors, it is anticipated that foreign tourists will also be drawn to the magnificent Taj Mahal replica when exploring the fascinating country of Bangladesh, and it will become a major tourist attraction for Dhaka.