While it is said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery , the Taj Mahal seems to have a record number of inspired clones of itself around the world.
While many have argued that the Taj Mahal itself has elements that have been inspired from earlier Mughal monuments such as Humayun’s Tomb and the Itimad-ud-Daulah Tomb, there is no doubt the Taj Mahal was a superlative concept that eclipsed all previous Mughal garden tombs of South Asia.
Nothing comes close to the real thing
The massive scale of the Taj Mahal, its indescribable beauty and the depth of thought in the concept has ensured that even after the passage of nearly half a millennium, the Taj Mahal remains unmatched as a symbol of eternal love.
Having said that, there has been no dearth of Taj Mahal inspired clones that started sprouting up soon after the construction of the original. The first known “inspired design” of the Taj was built by Emperor Aurangzeb, the son of Shah Jehan, the Mughal emperor who commissioned the original Taj.
Aurangzeb built a smaller, albeit clearly inspired copy of the Taj Mahal in the city of Aurangabad in South India in memory of his decesased wife. Titled “Bibi Ka Maqbara” (the Tomb of the Lady), the complex is also called the Deccani Taj (The Taj of the Deccan) and is a major tourist attraction in the city to this date.
Not to be outdone by the Mughals, many other nations since then have tried replicating a Taj Mahal clone in their country, a near full scale replica has been built near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka by a private business man. The monument was created so that the poor people of Bangladesh who could not travel to Agra to see the real thing, could enjoy the feeling of seeing the Taj in their own country. The replica took five years to build because machinery was used along with the same type of marble as the original Taj Mahal for the same effect. The total price tag of this clone is said to have cost US$ 56 million.
Another full scale model featuring a luxury hotel and a marriage hall is expected to come up in Dubai in the next few years. Furthermore a scaled down version has been made in Shanghai in the Window to the World Theme Park. In the continental USA, two buildings, the Tripoli Temple Shrine and the Trump Taj Mahal Tower both claim that they have been heavily inspired by the Taj Mahal.
While the story of the Taj Mahal and the matchless beauty of its design may continue to inspire clones through the ages, none has ever come close to even being a shadow of the real thing in Agra.
Small wonder then, that the original Taj Mahal continues to be popular with tourists from around the world and gets over 3 million visitors a year who come to revel in the feeling of selfless love and undying devotion that the monument inspires.