The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in honor of Mughal emperor Shahjahan’s wife, Mumtaz, who died while giving birth to their 14th child in the 17th century in the northern Indian city Agra.
Anand Prakash Chouksey, 52, was inspired to build a smaller version of the Taj Mahal in his birthplace of Burhanpur as a “monument of love” for his wife of 27 years. So he gave a building team 20 million rupees ($260,000) to build a four-bedroom Taj Mahal replica, complete with ornate latticework, minarets, and rich interior.
The white marble tomb, considered an immortal emblem of love, is one of the best representations of Mughal architecture. Before the pandemic, it was India’s most popular tourist attraction, attracting thousands of visitors each day, including world dignitaries.
“The Taj Mahal too was supposed to be built here, but later due to technical difficulties, Shahjahan decided to build it in Agra. So, this monument is my tribute to the town as well as my wife Manjusha,” Chouksey added.
The Taj Mahal has been reduced to one-third of its original size. It is a two-story, four-bedroom house on 50 acres of land. The house’s built-in interior areas are around 3,500 square feet and feature one kitchen, a library, a meditation room, an entrance hall with marble columns, a curving staircase, and a gilded ceiling. However, because the structure is intended to be a dwelling, the interior is not an exact imitation of the original and is not purely Islamic in design. A second garden has also been built within the house’s premises.
Initially, Mr Chouksey planned to build an 80-ft-tall house in his wife’s honour, but when local officials denied that plan, he settled on a scaled-down replica of the iconic Taj Mahal. It took him three years to build, he said.
The pair travelled to Agra and used a variety of 3D designs accessible to ensure their rendition of the white marble tomb included all of the essential aspects.
“Like the original Taj Mahal, we have also used Makrana marbles from Rajasthan to build our house. We also brought artisans from Indore and Kolkata to come and work on the carvings inside the house,” he said.
The Burhanpur Taj Mahal has received a lot of attention, and Anand claims that visitors come to see his property. He doesn’t meddle because his monument is a gift to both the town and his wife.
“A lot of people have also started to do their pre-wedding shoots here,” Mr Chouksey said. “I don’t stop them because, in our town, we are a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone. So, my house is open for all.”
With religious prejudice and hatred increasing in India, Mr Chouksey hopes that his new home will symbolise love for everybody.
“Our message is one of love. We only want to share love and spread the message that humans should love each other and not fight in the name of religion and caste,” he said.
It’s worth remembering that this isn’t the first Taj Mahal constructed in honour of a spouse. Faizul Hasan Kadari, an Indian retired postal, rose to prominence in 2013 when he used his life savings to recreate the monument for his late wife.