It's been copied in Las Vegas and hangs on a thousand keyrings all over the world. Now another replica of the Eiffel Tower is to be built in former French-occupied India, 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) from the original.
- The replica is being built at a cost of 450 million rupees
- The replica will have a restaurant, a viewing gallery with telescopes and an elevator
Authorities in Pondicherry, the one-time capital of French India, have started construction of a 100-metre (330 feet) model of the famous iron landmark to attract tourists to the southeastern coastal region.
AdvertisementThe replica, being built at a cost of 450 million rupees (10 million dollars) in the enclave of Yanam on India's east coast, will have a restaurant, a viewing gallery with telescopes and an elevator -- much like its sister in the French capital.
From the top, visitors will have panoramic views over the Bay of Bengal, surrounding green coconut groves and the seaside town of Kakinada, promoters say.
Yanam legislator and Pondicherry Minister for Revenue and Sports, Malladi Krishna Rao, told AFP visits to France had inspired him.
"When I first saw the Eiffel tower I was fascinated by its beauty and grandeur and when I again visited the tower last year I thought I should have a similar tower in my region."
In colonial times, France vied with fellow European powers Portugal and the Netherlands for control of India, before losing out to British domination.
On November 1, 1954, after long years of freedom struggle, control of Pondicherry and the other enclaves was transferred to India. The rest of India gained independence from British rule in 1947.
Today, a strong French influence can be felt in Pondicherry and other former French enclaves that have well-maintained colonial architecture as well as street signs and cobbled streets reminiscent of those days.
The Yanam enclave lies hundreds of kilometres to the north of Pondicherry town. Four separate areas of former French India dotted around southern India comprise the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
So far about 35 percent of the work on the tower, including the massive foundations, has been completed.
It will be about a third of the size of the real thing, which stands 324 metres high on the left bank of the River Seine, and smaller than the roughly half-scale model that towers above casinos in Las Vegas.
"The work is going on in full swing and we are planning to throw open the tower to the tourists in November this year," Rao added.
India's biggest company, Reliance Industries, is funding more than half the cost of the construction project, with the central and local governments bearing the rest of the expense.