Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Bangladesh to open own Taj Mahal

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

Taj replica in Bangladesh, image from 5 December
Work on the replica was continuing just last week

A life-size replica of the Taj Mahal, often described as the world's most beautiful building, is due to open for visitors in Bangladesh.

The replica has been built by a Bangladeshi filmmaker.

Ahsanullah Moni said he wanted his countrymen to experience the beauty of the Indian monument even if they were too poor to travel to see the original.

The 17th Century Taj was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal.

The emperor is buried next to his queen in the monument in the northern Indian city of Agra, which is visited by millions every year.

The $58m (39m) replica has been built in Sonargaon, a small town in the Bangladeshi countryside.

'Marble and diamonds'

Mr Moni, who is a successful director of Bangladeshi films, says he hopes his replica, which has been built an hour's drive from the capital Dhaka, will also attract foreign visitors.

Taj Mahal
Millions of people flock to the Taj Mahal every year

It took 20 years and 20,000 workers to build the original Taj.

Thanks to modern technology, construction of Mr Moni's Taj has taken five years and fewer people.

But it has been neither easy nor cheap.

Mr Moni says he has imported marble and granite from Italy and diamonds from Belgium.

Architects were sent to India to copy the dimensions of the original.

Work on the surrounding grounds and ponds has still not been completed.

Only then will Bangladeshis be able to judge whether Mr Moni has truly copied the beauty and purity of the original Taj Mahal.

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