Testy relations know no bounds in South Asia, where India, Pakistan and Bangladesh pester one another other over myriad issues such as border penetration (from terrorists in Kashmir to Bangladeshis seeking a better life in India) and the neighborhoods geographic and religious animosity.
Stepping above the fray, the Bangladeshi film maker Ahsanullah Moni decided to give the Bangla people a gift: the Taz Mahalo.
“Everyone dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the trip because it’s too expensive for them,” he has said. So in 2008 Moni began building a replica of the Taj about 20 miles outside of Dhaka, the country’s capital.
Five years and 58 million dollars later, the Taz was complete. “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,” he has said.
The Taz’s marble and granite were imported from Italy, diamonds from Belgium and 160kg of bronze were used to complete the dome.
Despite the monument’s homage to the original Taj and for-the-people roots, not everyone was happy with the Bangladeshi version. “You can’t just go and copy historical monuments” an official of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka has told the press.
The Taj Mahal was built as a symbol of love, the Taz Mahal as a gift to the Bangladeshi people. It’s unfortunate the copy-cat flattery doesn’t override the testy South Asian temperament.
At least there’s no room for argument about the two monument’s shared beauty.