Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bangladeshi filmmaker builds replica of Taj Mahal, and Sonargaon braces for tourist onslaught

A Bangladeshi film director has constructed a $58 million replica of the Taj Mahal in Sonargaon, a town about an hour's drive from the capital, Dhaka. In 1994, my brother and I were in Bangladesh and we visited Sonargaon. It was, as I recall, a rather sleepy little town; checking my (unfortunately) cryptic notes on the trip to refresh my memory, I see that Sonargaon had several tourist attractions, including some ruins and a Folk Art Museum. The idea of a Taj Mahal plunked down there is a mite bizarre, but the notion apparently is to let Bangladeshis see a Taj since many don't have the money or opportunity to travel to Agra to see the Taj. I suppose it also says something about the relative success of Bangladesh in recent years that a filmmaker can spend $58 million on this project, importing Italian marble and Belgian diamonds.

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