Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife

NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian man has built a one-third sized replica of the historic Taj Mahal for his wife, but unlike the original, it’s their residence, not a mausoleum.

Constructed with white marble from the same city in Rajasthan state that provided the Taj Mahal’s stone, the imitation includes the real monument’s large dome, intricate minarets and even some of its artwork.

The famed 17th century Taj Mahal, often called a monument to love, was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the northern Indian city of Agra in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz.

She died in Burhanpur, the site of the newly built replica, while giving birth to their fourteenth child.

Her body was temporarily buried in the city and later exhumed and taken to Agra, according to Anand Prakash Chouksey, 52, who built the replica.

“I jokingly told my wife, if you pass over, then I will build a Taj Mahal,” said Chouksey, 52, a hospital owner who lives in Burhanpur. “She obviously refused and said she doesn’t want to die. Then I said, not a problem, I will make a Taj Mahal you can live in.”

The replica took three years to build and artisans from Agra were hired to recreate the artwork on the marble.

Emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built between 1632 and 1654 after Mumtaz died. The complex houses both of their graves and a mosque, as well as several graves of lesser Mogul royalty.

The monument, acclaimed for its delicate lattice work, is India’s biggest tourist draw, attracting millions of visitors every year. The tourists keep hundreds of thousands employed and Agra’s economy moving.

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