Stories from the Road is a collection of stories about my own photographic adventures in South Asia. Sometimes the stories are exciting and sometimes mundane and at times emotional. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story.
Update: Sorry I have missed some posts. One week I worked a lot of overtime at work. The next week I went to Philadelphia to see the exhibition, Picture This: Contemporary Photography and India, which I will discuss in another post. Then this past week my mom was visiting me.
On this day last year, My mother and I left Bangladesh and came home. One thing I was super excited to see was the Taj Mahal replica just outside Dhaka in Sonargaon. We actually went to this site on our first day in Bangladesh. We were lucky enough to have a guide and a private car as it would have been a much harder place to reach by bus. However, the bus might have made for a more interesting story.
This Taj Mahal replica was built by Ahsanullah Moni, a Bangladeshi filmmaker. Construction began in 2003 and it was finished in 2008. Mr. Moni said he wanted to build it for his countrymen who did not have the funds to travel to India and see the great monument. The Taj Mahal and other Mughal sites are apart of Bangladeshi as well as Indian history as the Mughal’s ruled over what is present day Bangladesh.
I wanted to visit this site so badly because I have a love affair with the Taj Mahal, even though I have never visited it (I discuss this in another post Photo Focus: Dayanita Singh’s Continuous City #15). If you have ever visited Dhaka you know it is a crowded and dusty city. However, just outside of town, here at the Taj replica it is tranquil. There were not many visitors there so we could look around and make photographs without interruption. I took the classic Taj Mahal photograph as you can see above. However, I wanted to get some more detailed shots.
Several of the articles I have read about the construction of this replica say it was supposed to be life size or to scale with the original. However, as you can see in the above photograph of the minaret, it is not. The minarets here seem much more squat than the ones at the original.
The photograph above of the central building is probably my favorite of the bunch. It has a very nice two-point linear perspective. My nerd art side loves that. Something about the building is magical. I think it is the fanciful color combination of white accented with blue, pink, and gold. It is like a little girls fantasy doll house.
The above photograph is of a niche in one of the corners of the building. Here you can see the marble tiles along with floral printed ceramic tiles. The dark tiles in the center of the niche are actually mirrored. It is interesting you can see yourself reflected in history. This would be more powerful for a Bangladeshi I would imagine as I have no direct connection with the Mughal empire, however, it is nice to know Mr. Moni wants his countrymen and women to have a greater appreciation for their past.
Once you get close to the building you see that other color like oranges and greens are mixed in. The detail above shows floral motifs that are representations of the carved floral motifs at the original Taj Mahal. This is my second favorite photograph of this small series. The cross section of design and color gives a good overview of the overall design and color scheme of the replica.
After taking in the site we had lunch there, chicken biryani. It was nice. The grounds at the Taj Replica were well maintained. The atmosphere was ideal as it was outside the city. Some people probably think it is super cheesy, but I think it is a great place to go and relax. I would go back.