A 52-year-old Indian businessman has built a scaled-down replica of the iconic Taj Mahal as a home for his 27 year old wife.
Anand Prakash Chouksey constructed his “monument of love” in Burhanpur city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
“It was a gift for my wife but also for the town and its people,” remarked Chouksey talking to media persons.
The house cost about 20 million Indian rupees ($260,000) to build, he said.
The Taj Mahal is a 17th Century mausoleum in Agra city of India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to a child.
The stunning marble monument, famed for its intricate lattice work, is one of India’s biggest tourist attractions. Before the pandemic, it attracted as many as 70,000 people per day – a list that has included celebrities and dignitaries. Chouksey’s replica – nestled deep inside his sprawling 50-acre property, which includes a hospital, has also been attracting a steady stream of visitors.
People walk in the lawns and click pictures, he said. “A lot of people have also started to do their pre-wedding shoots here,” he added.
“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.”
Chouksey said that not all visitors are allowed inside the house because “after all, it is our home and we live there”.
But sometimes, the family indulges its guests who come and marvel at the house’s lush interiors – the intricate flower motifs that decorate the marble walls and floors, and its overarching lattice windows.
The house consists of two main bedrooms that are located on two separate floors. It also has a library and a meditation room. The drawing room flaunts marble columns, a curving staircase and a gilded ceiling.
Although the Taj Mahal was the ultimate inspiration, Mr Chouksey said the interiors are not strictly Islamic in design but are infused with contemporary influences, which is evident from the choice of sofas and the curtains.
Building the replica of the famous monument took three years and a flurry of visits to the city of Agra, where the Taj s located, so Mr Chouksey and his wife could study various aspects of the mausoleum.
“We also used a lot of 3D images of the Taj Mahal on the internet to build our own,” Mr Chouksey added. The idea was to build something similar, so the engineers reduced the size to one third of the actual monument.
Chouksey is not the first one to be inspired by the beauty of Taj Mahal.
In 2013, a retired government official in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh had also built a replica of the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife. But Chouksey says his house is not dedicated to his wife alone. “Today, there is a lot of hate in our country. People are being divided in the name of religion and caste,” he added.