Arguably for the first time in history, a dream venture discarded centuries back is being revived. A Miniature Black Taj Mahal is being created 2.5 x 2.5 meter in dimension – large enough to capture the grandeur, true details and mystifying beauty of the Taj Mahal. The Black Taj is being made by using the same technique that was used in construction of white Taj Mahal; pietra-dura (inlay work), bas relief, carvings, screens (jaali) etc. Complete in every detail and reduced to scale, the Miniature Black Taj promises to be the ultimate masterpiece.
The base material of Miniature Black Taj is Ebony. It is the hardest wood that has life of thousands of years. This wood is perfect miniaturized-form of black marble; a piece of 1 sq inch of ebony-wood carries almost the same number of grains which can be seen in a piece of 144 sq inch of black marble.
Taj Mahal took 12 years and 20,000 workers for completion, but this miniature masterpiece is being made by one man. To expedite work, Iftakhar has himself designed special machines, tools and jigs to create this masterpiece. Over 200 such customised tools and jigs have been designed by him - an incredible feat in itself.
The Taj Mahal measures 367 ft x 367 ft. or 1,34,689 sq. ft. whereas the Miniature Black Taj measures 8.3 ft x 8.3 ft (approx 67.27 sq. ft.); the scale of 1:2000. Despite being reduced to scale, all the finest artistry has been copied exactly.
The four main arcades in the original Taj Mahal have 8 delicately carved screen (2 in each arcade). The holes in the screens add up to a staggering 28,888 full holes and 12,560 half holes. Exactly the same number as it is in the Taj Mahal.
The journey started in 1983, when Iftakhar vowed to make a miniature white Taj Mahal using white styrofoam or thermocol. After 11 months of continuous hard work he created a miniature white Taj Mahal of 1.5 × 1.5 meter dimension. The calligraphy of the Taj Mahal, which is one of its main decorative elements, was replicated exactly as it appears. Bas-relief and carving was done with the help of sharp tools. This styrofoam Taj accurately matched the proportions of the actual Taj and its spell-binding workmanship.
Two years later, this miniature white Taj miniature white was awarded the State Award by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on 19 December 1986.
In the last quarter of 1992, Iftakhar started crafting a Dream. He commenced work on another miniature-Black Taj Mahal. The aim was to create a true masterpiece – a Black-Taj-Mahal reduced to scale but, an exact replica of the white Taj in every aspect - size, shape, artistry and even the technique used in its construction. Besides raising funds, there were a few important points that needed consideration; Khan prepared a project blueprint to set the wheels in motion:
The consideration and thorough analysis of all related factors brought Khan to a point where it seemed impossible to handle everything with his limited funds. But instead of giving up on his dream, he decided to implement work in a feasible manner: “the unique but long-term two-step-plan.”
He decided that a prototype of the miniature Black Taj would be made with ebony wood in a smaller size (1 x 1 meter) and the coloured inlay would be done by hand painting different colours. The prototype was much smaller than the planned size and the execution of artistry was done without using expensive equipment. Therefore it was substantially cheaper than the originally envisioned larger one. This prototype also proved to be an appropriate learning ground for Iftakhar, since he had never worked on the wood medium before this. Khan committed to fund the prototype himself with a little bit of help from his father.
Although, the prototype of the Black Taj Mahal was made with the intention of experimenting, Khan had left no stone unturned in capturing the Taj'sdetails and fineness. The prototype of "Black Taj" was completed on 20 February 1996, after 24 months of continuous hard work. The creation was unprecedented - until then no replica of the Taj Mahal had been created with such perfection in any medium, size or colour. This prototype was given National Award from the Govt. of India on 24 December 1996.
We aim to establish a benchmark Visit-arium on the Taj Mahal. The Miniature Black Taj would be showcased in it along with a unique multi-platform show, combining traditional and modern scientific methodologies. It would become an added attraction for connoisseurs of ancient Mogul history, art and architecture.