India miffed over Bangladesh's version of Taj Mahal

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London, Dec 12 (ANI): A diplomatic fracas between India and Bangladesh has erupted over the exact duplication of the Taj Mahal by a Bangladeshi film director, raising the niggling issue of whether or not it is possible to claim copyright on a historical monument.

The row began after Ahsanullah Moni, a wealthy Bangladeshi film director, gave the first glimpse of his copy of the Taj Mahal this week, The Times reported.

The project has cost about 40 million pounds and is being built about 20 miles northeast of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.

Deepak Mittal, a spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh, said that one can't just go and copy historical monuments.

"Someone will go out there and have a look. This [the original Taj Mahal] is a protected site we are talking about, so we need to find out if it really is the exact size."

Mittal said that the matter was being investigated. "We have heard about this new Taj. We are checking the details," he said.

For their part, Bangladeshi officials are incensed by suggestions that some sort of copyright protects the Taj Mahal -which was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and completed in 1653, The Times reported.

"I'm not sure what they are talking about," one said. "Show me where it says that emulating a building like this can be illegal."

To make his Taj, Moni imported marble and granite from Italy and diamonds from Belgium to add to 160kg (350lb) of bronze.

He hopes that his version of the mausoleum will attract tourists to Bangladesh, a country that is well off the beaten track for Western holidaymakers.

Construction work began five years ago, but Mr Moni says that he came up with the idea in 1980 when he first visited the real Taj in Agra, northern India. (ANI)

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