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India constructing larger replica of Angkor Wat
The new version of the landmark is set to become the world's largest Hindu temple complex
Imitation might be the the sincerest form of flattery, but in the global tourism racket replication is the sincerest form of poaching on someone else's turf.
There's the "Eiffel Tower" in Las Vegas, and, of course, the entire Austrian village currently being cloned by a Chinese company.
None of these "if you can't beat 'em, copy 'em" projects, however, are as audacious as the one now underway in India, where a larger version of Cambodia's UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat is being built on the banks of the Ganges in the state of Bihar.
A foundation-laying ceremony for the temple took place on March 5 at the 16-hectare site near Hajipur, about 25 kilometers north of Bihar's capital Patna.
The Mahavir Mandir Trust will undertake the US$20 million project that will take an estimated 10 years to complete. The trust has built a number of hospitals and temples in Bihar, mainly funded by donations.
"The launch of the project has been timed to coincide with the ongoing centenary year celebrations of the foundation of Bihar," the trust's secretary, Acharya Kishore Kunal, told The Hindustan Times.
Angkor Wat is Cambodia's national icon and was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II.
It was first a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Later it became a Buddhist site.
Bihar's version of Angkor Wat will be called Virat Angkor Wat Ram temple. It hopes to claim the title of world's largest Hindu temple complex with the tallest point reaching 67.6 meters, slightly taller than the original.
"The selected site for construction of the temple has mythological significance," said Kunal of the site in the Vaishali district. "It is believed that the deities Ram, Lakshman and Vishvamitra had visited and were welcomed by King Sumati of the Vaishali kingdom."
Angkor Wat is Cambodia's biggest tourist draw and appears on the Cambodian flag. The number of foreign visitors at Cambodia's Angkor Wat Archaeological Park reached 206,000 in January 2012, nearly 30 percent more than the same month last year.