Tazias slogged for four years to create this Taj Mahal

A model of the Taj Mahal made of board and thermacol at Dholka village in Gujarat.  K Bharwad

Sometimes they made bigger replicas and customers lapped them up. Then one of them got a brainwave and now it has turned into a reality - a near real-size reproduction of the Taj Mahal at Dholka village, about 40 km from Ahmedabad. Made out of wood board and thermacol, the ‘monument’ can be dismantled and shifted to another venue.

Even tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain would have remarked “Wah, Taj!” looking at the structure, reminding one of the famous tea ads on TV. Carla Bruni, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was eager to have a look at the famed marble structure, which symbolises supreme love. She was immensely pleased having spent time at Taj Mahal at Agra. This model would have left even super model exclaiming ‘magnifique!’

As many as 54 Tazia makers in Bavla town tirelessly worked for four years to create this masterpiece measuring 51 feet in height and 72 feet each in breadth and width.

How did the idea come about? “We used to make small tazias. And one of them used to be a small Taj Mahal. And we got number of requests suggesting that we increase its size and make a bigger ones. That is when we thought of getting together and create this magic,” said main architect and tazia maker Ishtiyaq Ali.

It was a challenging task. As a first step, the artisans first mobilised raw material and then discussed the architectural plan. It took around four years to make the ‘monument’ at a cost of about Rs 95 lakh. “We set up a mini workshop just near the site, where the Taj erected now. We worked meticulously since the foundation of the Taj was important,” said Rizwan. The artisans mobilised funds from their own community to fulfill their dream.

As they worked on the project, they realised that it could be turned into a
commercial venture. They decided to go in for a dismountable version. “It could be dismantled loaded in about 35 trucks and shifted to another place where it can be set up again. As of now, we are considering it as a social service. But, we are not averse to shifting it to other places provided there was response from the people,” says Ishtiaq.

The marvellous structure is already drawing a huge crowd. People from
distant places are flocking to Bavla to witness the impressive structure. “We came all the way from Nadiad (over 100 km from Bavla),” said Mukesh. “If you cannot afford to go to Agra, may be you can come here and look at this monument,” remarked a Bavla resident. Mukesh was elated that the town had become famous because of the Taj's replica.
The rave reviews of their creation have left the creators of the model extremely pleased.

The creators are looking at registering themselves for some record book.
“We are all illiterate and we do not know the process for getting into record books. But we are confident that this movable monument will make it to the record books,” says a confident Ishtiyaq. And given what they have created, their recognition of hard work and creativity are surely something that is being appreciated at least by the common
people.

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