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Wah, there's a Taj Mahal in Kashmir

March 14, 2024 08:25 IST
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The Taj journeys to Kashmir.

Three talented Kashmiri artists have carved an awesome-looking Taj Mahal-shaped igloo out of snow.

Zubair Ahmed, one of the artists with ice scrapers as powerful as chisels or paintbrushes, claims it is a world first because visitors -- who are making a beeline, bundled up in puffy parkas to chilly Sonmarg to see it -- can actually step inside and seat themselves within the snowy version of the ancient Agra mausoleum. The igloo has insulation, quite like the Inuit dwellings of the Arctic, so tourists have a cosy visit into the igloo, given the teeth-chattering temperatures.

Created as a special collaboration project between the state's tourism department, Sonamarg Development Authority and Ganderbal District Administration, the aim is to hike up visitor arrivals in Sonmarg, which has already been having quite a busy tourism season. The snow is already a draw and Mughal monument replicas is ic(ing) on the cake.


IMAGE: Inspiration, coming post the triumph of the snow horse cart created last month, was another round of heavy snowfall in the foothills of Thajiwas mountains, where Sonamarg is located. The Taj igloo stands 25 ft high and is  34 ft wide. All photographs: Umar Ganie for


IMAGE: The three Kashmiri master sculptors and wannabe Shah Jahans, scrapers in hand, in front of their magnum opus.


IMAGE: Notice the wee minorets. Adorable.


IMAGE: The snow landmark attracts crowds.

IMAGE: One of the craftsmen touches up the sculpture. A little swish here and whoosh there to keep its elegant lines.


IMAGE: It's not easy to imagine how they magically carved the domes and arches of the snow wonder. And imagine what a frigid and arduous job it would have been, only to melt as the first signs of spring in the Valley.


IMAGE: The dome gets a loving smoothening.


IMAGE: The Sonmarg Taj needs a grand entry path too, even if it cannot be a reflecting pool.


IMAGE: Imagine how pretty the snow sculpture must look from above, from one of the lookout spots like Zero Point.


IMAGE: It's likely that like any igloo, this Taj needs regular maintenance, while the snows lasts. If Kashmir continues on this path, building tourist enthusiasm through populations of sculptured beauties in winter, it could eventually become a hot cold destination like the world-famous fest held annually in Harbin, Heilongjiangin, China.

Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/

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