The majestic Taj Mahal — one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and arguably its greatest monument of love — required 20,000 laborers, 1,000 elephants and 20 years to complete. By comparison, it took 45 days for 15 artisans to craft a shimmering silver- and gold-clad replica studded with 50,000 diamonds and cubic zirconia.
Called “Wow! Jewel Taj,” the nine-foot-tall replica was presented by the organizers of the Sparkle International jewelry show in Surat, India, to showcase the brilliance of Indian design and craftsmanship.
Organizers boasted that more than 40 pounds of silver and 3.3 pounds of gold were used to adorn the impressive replica, which mimicked the main mausoleum and four towering minarets of the actual Taj Mahal. A Thailand-based firm donated 35,000 cubic zirconia in 8mm, 9mm and 10mm sizes to support the project.
The “Wow! Jewel Taj” artisans were inspired by their visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra, a 42-acre marble mausoleum complex built in the early 17th century by a grief-stricken Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife, Queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth.
According to legend, with her dying breath Mumtaz asked her husband to build her a mausoleum more beautiful than any in the world. Six months later, the foundation was laid for the Taj. The tombs of the Emperor and his wife are aligned side-by-side inside this beautiful piece of architecture.
Its original design featured precious gems embedded in its walls. The valuable stones were plundered and looted by the foreign invaders, but the structure remains magnificent. Often called the “Jewel of India,” the Taj Mahal is recognized worldwide as a tribute to unconditional love. More than four million people visit the site every year.
“Wow! Jewel Taj” was intended to be auctioned off to benefit a girl’s education program of the state government, but no bidder was able to meet minimum price of 125 million rupees (about $200,000).