Mahal : Made in Bangladesh
construction of an exact copy of the Taj Mahal has sparked a diplomatic
fracas between India and Bangladesh - raising the vexing issue of whether
or not it is possible to claim copyright on a building.
Dec 11 (PTI) A giant replica of Taj Mahal near the Bangladeshi capital,
which cost a whopping USD 58 million, is fast becoming a major tourist
draw since its inauguration two days ago with thousands of visitors queueing
up daily to have a feel of India's famed Monument of Love.
built it to pay honour to Emperor Shahjahan and enable the ordinary people
including students to have an idea about the heritage as most of them don't
have scopes to visit Agra spending huge money," the wealthy builder of
te structure in the suburban Sonargaon district, Ahsanullah Moni, told
who bore the entire cost of building the life-size structure, said it took
hundreds of workers and designers, many of whom were Indians, some seven
years to build the 'Taj Mahal', which was opened for all in exchange of
entry fees though "it is not built with a commercial purpose." The replica,
located 30 kms northeast of Dhaka, has been built on over four acres of
land while the complex is much bigger in size to accommodate a five-star
motel, a huge film studio and amusement park.
dreams to see the Taj Mahal but few people of our country can make the
trip as it is too expensive to visit there," said Moni, also a film director
row began after Ahsanullah Moni, a wealthy Bangladeshi film director, gave
the first glimpse of his copy of the Taj Mahal this week.
project has cost about £40 million and is being built about 20 miles
northeast of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital. But the Indians are upset.
“You can't just go and copy historical monuments,” an official at the Indian
High Commission in Dhaka told a reporter this week.
will go out there and have a look. This [the original Taj Mahal] is a protected
site we are talking about, so we need to find out if it really is the exact
Mittal, a spokesman for the High Commission, confirmed to The Times that
the matter was being investigated. “We have heard about this new Taj. We
are checking the details,” he said.
their part, Bangladeshi officials are incensed by suggestions that the
Taj Mahal - which was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his
favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and completed in 1653 - is protected by some
sort of copyright.
not sure what they are talking about,” one said. “Show me where it says
that emulating a building like this can be illegal.”
make his Taj, Mr Moni imported marble and granite from Italy and diamonds
from Belgium to add to 160kg (350lb) of bronze. He hopes that his version
of the mausoleum will attract tourists to Bangladesh, a country that is
well off the beaten track for Western holidaymakers.
work began five years ago, but Mr Moni says that he came up with the idea
in 1980 when he first visited the real Taj in Agra, northern India.
said that his homage had been built because most people living in Bangladesh
- where nearly half of the population exist below the poverty line - cannot
afford to travel to India to see the real thing.
dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the
trip because it's too expensive for them,” he said.
Moni first visited the original in 1980 and has made six return trips.
So enamoured was he of the site that he hired a group of architects and
sent them to India to measure it.
said: “I used the same marble and stone as in the original Taj. We used
machinery, which is why it took less time. Otherwise it would have taken
20 years and 22,000 workers to complete it.”
night Mr Mittal, at the Indian High Commission, did concede that the replica
was unlikely to detract from the magnificence of the original.
also admitted that visitors were unlikely to mix up one with the other.
“A copy is a form of flattery, I suppose,” he said.