K Chhawnthuama is no Shahjahan. But he has done what the Mughal emperor might have found to be an uphill task — build a Taj Mahal at 3,800 ft.
Durtlang village has had the reputation of being Aizawl’s biggest supplier of milk and vegetables.
The “tribal Taj Mahal” has now given this village, located 15 km from the Mizoram capital, a new identity.
Measuring 128 sq mt, Chhawnthuama’s “monument of love” in memory of his deceased wife Rosanpuii Varte isn’t as awe-inspiring as the marble mausoleum Shahjahan built to immortalise Mumtaz Mahal. But like the monarch, he had marble and granite hauled all the way from Rajasthan to build his variant of the Agra landmark.
The monument was completed last September and it cost a whopping Rs 1.10 crore. For the 54-year-old it wasn’t too much of a price to pay for the love of his life.
If the tomb has turned heads for unmatched grandeur in Mizoram, there’s a strong reason: Mizo women are second class citizens, their marriage warranting a bride price equivalent to the tag a pig for feasting carries.
Chhawnthuama had saved part of the money — Rs 31 lakh to be precise — to go on a world trip with his wife, who taught at the family-owned KV Multipurpose School at Durtlang.
“I had no use for the money when she died in a car crash on November 27, 2001. Subsequently, I decided to put in into something to remember her by,” he said.